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Lewis v. Stoddard

United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division

March 10, 2017

CATHLEEN STODDARD et al., Defendants.


          Janet T. Neff United States District Judge

         This is a civil rights action brought by a state prisoner pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court has granted Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, Pub. L. No. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321 (1996), the Court is required to dismiss any prisoner action brought under federal law if the complaint is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A; 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c) . The Court must read Plaintiff 's pro se complaint indulgently, see Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), and accept Plaintiff's allegations as true, unless they are clearly irrational or wholly incredible. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 33 (1992). Applying these standards, Plaintiff's claims against Defendants Stoddard, Christle, Dickinson, Mosley and Richards will be dismissed for failure to state a claim. The remainder of the action will be dismissed for improper joinder.

         Factual Allegations

         Plaintiff Tony Doitrelle Lewis presently is incarcerated at the Newberry Correctional Facility, though the actions about which he complains occurred while he was housed at the Carson City Correctional Facility (DRF). He sues the following DRF officials: Warden Cathleen Stoddard; Deputy Warden (unknown) Fenby; Resident Unit Manager (RUM) C. Miller; Assistant Resident Unit Supervisors (ARUSs) (unknown) Milks and (unknown) Mosley; Hearing Officer W. Anderson; Grievance Coordinators S. Duncan and (unknown) Kline; and Correctional Officers D. Christle, (unknown) Richards, C. Dickinson, (unknown) Hopkins, (unknown) Ward, (unknown) Koenigsknecht, G. Morris, J. Hutchinson, (unknown) Arens, and (unknown) Cook.

         Plaintiff's complaint consists of a litany of alleged constitutional violations by 18 different officials over the span of three months, between January 30, 2014, and May 2, 2014. He alleges that, on the day he arrived at DRF, January 30, 2014, Defendant Christle denied him hygiene necessities, despite Plaintiff advising Christle that he had not yet received his property. Christle also made remarks about Plaintiff becoming a “fuc*in pain in the ass already, ” and threatened to keep Plaintiff from going home if he continued to be a problem. (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.5.) Shortly thereafter, Christle allegedly retaliated against Plaintiff by transferring him to the observation cube. Plaintiff requested the hygiene supplies again the following day, but Christle did not provide them. Plaintiff filed a grievance, but the grievance respondent denied it, based on Defendant Christle's statement that he could not confirm that Plaintiff had not received his property. Plaintiff filed a second grievance about the transfer to the observation cube, but Defendant Mosley denied it, despite not knowing why the move was made.

         On January 31, 2014, Plaintiff talked to Defendant Miller about his need for hygiene necessities. She told Plaintiff that they did not have care packs for everyone. Plaintiff wrote another grievance, which Defendant Mosley denied as duplicative of his first grievance.

         On February 3, Petitioner asked Defendant Mosley for toilet paper. She told him that she did not have any. On February 4, Plaintiff asked Defendant Richards for toilet paper. Richards asked Plaintiff how long he had been at the facility. After hearing Plaintiff's renewed request, Defendant Mosley told Plaintiff to use his shirt. Plaintiff submitted a grievance on February 4, which was denied by Defendant Miller, because the unit was out of paper. Miller stated in her response that it was unlikely that Plaintiff, having been given a roll on January 30 when he arrived, would need more on February 3. She also indicated that prisoners could obtain additional supplies from other prisoners.

         Also on February 4, Plaintiff asked Defendant Mosley for two envelopes for his legal mail. She did not provide them and, when he persisted, she asked him if he “want[ed] her to pull envelopes out of her a**.” (Id.) Plaintiff filed a grievance, which was denied by Defendant Miller on the allegedly false grounds that Plaintiff had available funds in his institutional account.

         Plaintiff was transferred to another facility for a few weeks, so that he could meet with a legal writer. He returned to DRF on March 6, 2014, and he was placed in the same cell in the Level-I part of the facility about which he previously had grieved. On March 7, Defendants Christle and Dickinson searched the cube and confiscated a plastic store bag from inmate Chapman, a watch from inmate Rachal, and a lock from inmate Reeves. Defendant Dickinson allegedly did not file a misconduct against the inmates who possessed the contraband, but Dickinson filed a purportedly false misconduct against Plaintiff for the plastic bag, which he claimed to have found in Plaintiff's locker. Inmate Chapman told Plaintiff that Defendant Christle told Chapman that he wanted to get Plaintiff and Nolan out of the cell. Plaintiff attempted to file a grievance, which was rejected as duplicative. Defendant Milks found Plaintiff guilty of the misconduct. Plaintiff sought rehearing, which was granted by the deputy warden. However, Milks told Plaintiff that his result would be the same, regardless of rehearing, and he ordered Plaintiff out of his office. On one of Plaintiff's grievance reponses, the responder indicated that Dickinson issued no misconduct against Plaintiff.

         On March 8, 2014, Plaintiff spoke with Sergeant Chandler, asking to speak with Captain Kilcherman. When Chandler asked why, Plaintiff explained that he was being harassed and subjected to retaliation by staff in D-Unit because of his grievances. Shortly thereafter, Defendant Dickinson called Plaintiff to the unit office and told him to pack his things, because he was being moved to F-Unit. Dickinson followed Plaintiff to F-Unit and spoke with the unit officers in the office. Plaintiff suspected that Dickinson was telling the officers to retaliate against Plaintiff, so Plaintiff wrote a grievance. In denying the grievance, the grievance respondent indicated that Defendant Dickinson had not issued any misconducts against Plaintiff and Dickinson had denied any wrongdoing. Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff was placed on modified grievance access.[1]

         In his next set of allegations, Plaintiff complains that, on March 30, 2014, Defendant Hopkins searched Plaintiff's area and left it in disarray. Plaintiff did not grieve the matter, as he feared further retaliation. On March 31, Defendant Hopkins moved Plaintiff from his assigned bunk to an observation cube. When Plaintiff asked why he had been moved, Hopkins allegedly responded that it was because he wrote grievances. Plaintiff then requested a grievance form from Defendant Kline, who provided a form. Defendant Milks, in reviewing the grievance, falsely reported that Plaintiff had come to the office and stated, “[N]o comment, ” after which Milks found the grievance to be unfounded. (Id., PageID.7.)

         On March 31, 2014, Plaintiff asked Defendant Ward for a roll of toilet paper. Ward initially said that he did not have any. When Plaintiff pointed to the toilet paper in front of Ward, Ward yelled, “You're writing all of those fuc*en grievances use t h e m . ” (Id.) When Plaintiff started to walk away, Ward gave him a direct order to return, at which point he handed the toilet paper to Plaintiff. Ward again told him to write a grievance, if he wanted to. Plaintiff requested two grievance forms, but Defendant Kline refused them, indicating that Plaintiff had received his toilet paper.

         Also on March 31, Plaintiff went to the guard shack in the yard and asked the officer to allow him to speak with Sergeant Ward to complain about Defendant Ward's conduct in harassing Plaintiff. When Plaintiff returned to the unit, he found his area in disarray and Defendant Ward reading his legal mail. Plaintiff went to the control center, as instructed by the guard-shack officer. Plaintiff was speaking with Officer Peterson when Sergeant Ward arrived. Plaintiff told Peterson and Sergeant Ward that Defendant Ward was harassing him for filing grievances and that he had observed Defendant Ward reading his legal mail. Shortly thereafter, Defendant Ward called out, “Did you tell my nephew hi[?]” (Id.) Plaintiff did not respond and walked toward his cell. Ward called out, “Boy you better lock up, because I[']m going to keep writing you fuc*en tickets so it would look like retaliation, so you go ahead and sue me, I don[']t fuc*en care. (Id.)

         The following day, April 1, Defendant Milks reviewed Plaintiff on an allegedly false misconduct ticket written by Defendant Ward for having books and envelopes stored in his duffel bag, in violation of rules, finding him guilty. Also on April 1, Plaintiff was reviewed on another misconduct written by Ward for insolence, alleging that Plaintiff had expressed anger about the shakedown of his cell and that Ward had been required to give a direct order for Plaintiff to leave. Defendant Miller found Plaintiff guilty, disregarding Plaintiff's version and declining to investigate further.

         On April 1, 2014, Plaintiff filed a grievance against Defendants Hopkins and Milks for reclassifying Plaintiff, on the grounds that he already had been reclassified only two months earlier. During reclassification, Milks asked Plaintiff what job he wanted, and Plaintiff requested MSI worker, legal writer and recreation official. Hopkins and Milks told Plaintiff that he could not request recreation official. Milks eventually told Hopkins to put Plaintiff down as refusing to choose, having him reclassified to “double 0” sanction for 30 days.[2] Plaintiff asked for a grievance form, but Defendant Kline declined to give him one because Plaintiff had refused to participate in the reclassification process. Plaintiff wrote to the warden about his concerns, but he received no response.

         Next Plaintiff complains that, on April 5, 2014, he returned to his cube and found Defendants Hopkins and Koenigsknecht reading his § 1983 complaint. When Plaintiff asked why they were reading the complaint, they told Plaintiff that they could read what they wanted to. They left Plaintiff's area in disarray. The shakedown was Plaintiff's third in seven days, evidence, Plaintiff contends, of retaliation and discrimination. Nevertheless, Defendant Grievance Coordinator Duncan refused Plaintiff's request for a grievance.

         On April 8, Plaintiff had a scheduled call-out. Under the policy, prisoners with call-outs are allowed to go to chow 30 minutes early, if they obtain a signed itinerary. Defendant Hutchinson signed Plaintiff's schedule, but, when Plaintiff went to early chow, Defendant Cook told Plaintiff that he was out of place and to stop arguing with him. Defendant Cook wrote a misconduct for being out of place. Defendant Miller reviewed the misconduct and found that Plaintiff was out of place for approximately ten minutes, but she found Plaintiff not guilty because Hutchinson had signed his itinerary.

         Plaintiff requested a grievance on April 9, in order to grieve Defendant Milks for upholding Ward's misconduct for storing items in his duffel bag. Milks allegedly told Plaintiff that his credibility was ruined because he was on modified access and that Ward had been promoted. He added that they intended to keep Plaintiff on sanction.

         Plaintiff met with the facility psychologist on April 9, to discuss the anxiety he was suffering because of the alleged retaliation. Because he was on loss-of-privileges status, [3] Plaintiff went back to his cell immediately. However, Defendant Hutchinson wrote a misconduct ticket, alleging that Plaintiff had stayed in the yard for 30 minutes after his appointment. Defendant Miller reviewed Plaintiff on the misconduct. She refused to examine the video recordings before finding him guilty of the misconduct, relying on the psychologist's statement that Plaintiff had left her office no later than 15:05 and had entered the unit at 15:35. Plaintiff sought a grievance form to file against Hutchinson for staff corruption, retalation and failure to follow rules. Defendant Kline refused to provide a form.

         On April 11, Plaintiff asked for a grievance form to complain that Defendant Miller refused his request to be moved away from retaliation staff. Defendant Kline denied the request for a grievance form. On April 14, Plaintiff asked for a grievance form to complain that Defendant Morris asked him what form he had gotten from the area where institutional forms are kept. Plaintiff indicated that he got a healthcare form. Morris stated that the form looked yellow, and that Defendant Milks had told him that Plaintiff was not to have grievance forms. When Plaintiff did not respond, Morris stated, “I got you.” Plaintiff took the statement as a threat. He asked for a grievance form, which Defendant Kline denied.

         That same date, April 14, 2014, Plaintiff asked for three additional grievance forms. Specifically, he asked for a grievance form to complain that Milks was creating a hostile environment, because of what he told Morris. Kline denied the form. In addition, Plaintiff requested a grievance form to complain that Defendant Milks had, on more than one occasion, denied him typing paper. Kline denied the grievance form request. Plaintiff also asked for a grievance form to complain that his area was searched while he was at dinner and that his legal mail and correspondence was thrown to the bottom of his locker. Defendant Kline again refused to provide a grievance form.

         On April 14, Defendant Morris issued Plaintiff a misconduct ticket for interference with administrative rules. Plaintiff, who was on loss-of-privileges status, walked to the unit lobby to sharpen his pencil. While doing so, Plaintiff also spoke to other prisoners while collecting paper forms from the unit clerk. Defendant Miller found Plaintiff guilty of the misconduct on April 15. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the decision was based on a fabricated rule. Defendant Anderson held a hearing and found Plaintiff guilty of a lesser charge, but he left in place the same sanction.

         On April 15, Plaintiff was paged to come back to his unit from the law library. When he arrived, he found that Defendant Arens had dismantled Plaintiff's area of control, though no one else's area had been disturbed. While Plaintiff was standing by the unit office, someone called Officer Kavanaugh and reported that Plaintiff was back in the unit. Plaintiff requested a grievance form, because his area had been dismantled for the sixth time since March 30, 2014. Defendant Kline denied the grievance form, because Officer Kavanaugh was not working F-Unit at the time in question, 19:15 hours.

         The following day, April 16, Defendant Hopkins came to Plaintiff's cell, yelling that she heard Plaintiff wrote a grievance against her for telling him that he was being moved to another observation cube. Defendant Koenigsknecht was with her, smiling. Plaintiff requested a grievance form, which Defendant Kline denied.

         On April 17, Plaintiff requested two grievance forms. The first, a form to grieve Defendant Kline for denying him due process, was denied by Kline. The second was a request to grieve Defendant Koenigsknecht for using the “N” word. Kline denied the form, indicating that Koenigsknecht had issued a misconduct against Plaintiff on the same date.

         Defendant Koenigsknecht issued a misconduct against Plaintiff on April 17, for interfering with the administration of the rules by standing in the kitchenette while on LOP and room restriction. Defendant Miller held a hearing on April 18, finding Plaintiff guilty of the lesser charge of being temporarily out of place. Plaintiff alleges that he was being denied the right to use the bathroom, so he had to leave the cube without approval. Miller found Plaintiff's assertion to be unsubstantiated.

         On April 18, Plaintiff was also reviewed on a misconduct ticket written by Defendant Hutchinson on the grounds that Plaintiff was not in his cell during Hutchinson's rounds. Defendant Milks heard the misconduct ticket. Plaintiff contended that, because he has prostatitis and needs to use the restroom frequently, officers engaged in a practice of denying him access to the bathroom and issuing misconducts. Defendant Milks found Plaintiff guilty of violating the housing rule.

         On April 19, Defendant Morris asked Plaintiff if he was enjoying his one day off sanction. Plaintiff asked for a grievance form, but it was denied by Kline. On April 22, Plaintiff was reviewed on a misconduct written by Defendant Hutchinson, which alleged that Hutchinson had overheard Plaintiff saying loudly, “I hope [I] don[']t have to talk to that retarded rum Miller.” (Id., PageID.13.) Hutchinson wrote that the statement was made to harass, degrade and cause alarm to Hutchinson and Miller. Officer Andersen heard the misconduct and found Plaintiff guilty.

         Plaintiff requested grievance forms on April 24, 2014, seeking to complain about Inspector Christiansen (not a Defendant), Defendant Warden Stoddard and Defendant Deputy Warden Fenby, as well as the grievance coordinator, for failing to respond to his kites about other officers and failing to give him grievance forms. On April 25, Defendant Morris paged Plaintiff to the unit office. When Plaintiff arrived, Morris told him, “[S]ince your black a** want[s] to try to file grievances against me, [I'll] make sure you stay on sanction you nigger.” (Id., PageID.14.) Plaintiff asked Defendant Hutchinson to call the shift commander to the unit, but Hutchinson told him to “fu*k ...

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