United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
CURTIS O. JACKSON, #282320, Plaintiff,
CATHY STODDARD, et al., Defendants.
L. Maloney United States District Judge.
a civil rights action brought pro se by a state
prisoner pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff is an
inmate at the Gus Harrison Correctional Facility. This
lawsuit arises out of conditions of his confinement in
between April 2013 and June 2014, when plaintiff was an
inmate housed in administrative segregation at the Ionia
Maximum Correctional Facility (ICF). Plaintiff named Warden
Cathleen Stoddard, Captain Fred Hogle, and Librarian Joe Novak
as defendants. Plaintiff alleges that Warden Stoddard
provided him with “tooth powder” rather than
toothpaste in violation of his rights under the Eighth
Amendment's Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause. He
alleges that defendants Novak and Hogle
“retaliated” against him violated his First
Amendment rights by destroying forms requesting unspecified
law library books. Plaintiff seeks an award of damages
against defendants in their individual
27, 2016, defendants filed a motion for summary judgment.
(ECF No. 82). Plaintiff has filed his response. (ECF No. 88).
For the reasons set forth herein, defendants' motion for
summary judgment will be granted and judgment will be entered
in favor of defendants on all plaintiff's claims.
Summary Judgment Standard
judgment is appropriate when the record reveals that there
are no genuine issues as to any material fact in dispute and
the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Griffin v. Hardrick, 604 F.3d
949, 953 (6th Cir. 2010). The standard for determining
whether summary judgment is appropriate is “whether
‘the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to
require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided
that one party must prevail as a matter of law.'”
Moses v. Providence Hosp. Med. Centers, Inc., 561
F.3d 573, 578 (6th Cir. 2009) (quoting Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986)). The
Court must consider all pleadings, depositions, affidavits,
and admissions on file, and draw all justifiable inferences
in favor of the party opposing the motion. See Matsushita
Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574,
587 (1986); Pluck v. BP Oil Pipeline Co., 640 F.3d
671, 676 (6th Cir. 2011).
the party without the burden of proof seeks summary judgment,
that party bears the initial burden of pointing out to the
district court an absence of evidence to support the
nonmoving party's case, but need not support its motion
with affidavits or other materials “negating” the
opponent's claim. See Morris v. Oldham County Fiscal
Court, 201 F.3d 784, 787 (6th Cir. 2000); see also
Minadeo v. ICI Paints, 398 F.3d 751, 761 (6th Cir.
2005). Once the movant shows that “there is an absence
of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case,
” the nonmoving party has the burden of coming forward
with evidence raising a triable issue of fact. Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). To sustain
this burden, the nonmoving party may not rest on the mere
allegations of his pleadings. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); see
Everson v. Leis, 556 F.3d 484, 496 (6th Cir. 2009). The
motion for summary judgment forces the nonmoving party to
present evidence sufficient to create a genuine issue of fact
for trial. Street v. J.C. Bradford & Co., 886
F.2d 1472, 1478 (6th Cir. 1990); see Newell Rubbermaid,
Inc. v. Raymond Corp., 676 F.3d 521, 533 (6th Cir.
2012). “A mere scintilla of evidence is insufficient;
‘there must be evidence on which a jury could
reasonably find for the [non-movant].'”
Dominguez v. Correctional Med. Servs., 555 F.3d 543,
549 (6th Cir. 2009) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at
252); see LaQuinta Corp. v. Heartland Properties
LLC, 603 F.3d 327, 335 (6th Cir. 2010).
argue that they are entitled to summary judgment on
plaintiff's claims against them on the basis of qualified
immunity. “Once [an] official[ ] raise[s] the qualified
immunity defense, the plaintiff bears the burden to
‘demonstrate that the official [is] not entitled to
qualified immunity.' ” LeFever v.
Ferguson, 645 F. App'x 438, 442 (6th Cir. 2016)
(quoting Silberstein v. City of Dayton, 440 F.3d
306, 311 (6th Cir. 2006)); see Hermansen v.
Thompson, No. 16-6197, ___ F. App'x ___, 2017 WL
438225, at *3 (6th Cir. Feb. 1, 2017).
government official sued under section 1983 is entitled to
qualified immunity unless the official violated a statutory
or constitutional right that was clearly established at the
time of the challenged conduct.” Carroll v.
Carman, 135 S.Ct. 348, 350 (2014); see Taylor v.
Barkes, 135 S.Ct. 2042, 2044 (2015); Lane v.
Franks, 134 S.Ct. 2369, 2381 (2014). The first prong of
qualified immunity analysis is whether the plaintiff has
alleged facts showing that each defendant's conduct
violated a constitutional or statutory right. See Saucier
v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194, 201 (2001). The second prong is
whether the right was “clearly established” at
the time of the defendant's alleged misconduct.
Id. Trial courts are permitted to exercise their
sound discretion in deciding which of the two prongs of the
qualified immunity analysis should be addressed first.
See Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 236 (2009).
qualified immunity defense can be asserted at various stages
of the litigation, including the summary judgment stage.
See English v. Dyke, 23 F.3d 1086, 1089 (6th Cir.
1994). The qualified immunity inquiry at the summary judgment
stage is distinguished from the Rule 12(b)(6) stage in that
generalized notice pleading no longer suffices, and the
broader summary judgment record provides the framework within
which the actions of each individual defendant must be
evaluated. At the summary judgment stage, “the
plaintiff must, at a minimum, offer sufficient evidence to
create a ‘genuine issue of fact, ' that is,
‘evidence on which a jury could reasonably find for the
plaintiff.' ” Thompson v. City of Lebanon,
Tenn., 831 F.3d 366, 370 (6th Cir. 2016); see
Holsey v. Wieber, 811 F.3d 844, 846 (6th Cir. 2016);
see also Zuhl v. Haskins, 652 F. App'x 358,
361(6th Cir. 2016).
Brosseau v. Haugen, the Supreme Court examined the
underlying purpose of the requirement that the law be clearly
Qualified immunity shields an officer from suit when she
makes a decision that, even if constitutionally deficient,
misapprehends the law governing the circumstances she
confronted....Because the focus is on whether the officer had
fair notice that her conduct was unlawful, reasonableness is
judged against the backdrop of the law at the time of the
conduct. If the law at the time did not clearly establish
that the officer's conduct would violate the
Constitution, the officer should not be subject to liability
or, indeed, even the burdens of litigation.
543 U.S. 194, 198 (2004); see also Mullenix v. Luna,
136 S.Ct. 305, 308 (2015) (“The dispositive question is
whether the violative nature of the particular conduct is
clearly established.”) (citation and quotation
omitted); City & County of San Francisco, Calif. v.
Sheehan, 135 S.Ct. 1765, 1774 (2015) (“An officer
cannot be said to have violated a clearly established right
unless the right's contours were sufficiently definite
that any reasonable official in his shoes would have
understood that he was violating it, meaning that existing
precedent placed the statutory or constitutional question
beyond debate.”) (citations and quotations omitted).
Qualified immunity is an immunity from suit rather than a
mere defense to liability. Plumhoff v. Rickard, 134
S.Ct. 2012, 2019 (2014).
Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the second prong of
the qualified immunity analysis “ ‘must be
undertaken in light of the specific context of the case, not
as a broad general proposition.' ” Brosseau v.
Haugen, 543 U.S. at 198 (quoting Saucier v.
Katz, 533 U.S. at 201); see White v. Pauly, 137
S.Ct. 548, 552 (2017). Moreover, courts are “not to
define clearly established law at a high level of generality,
since doing so avoids the crucial question whether the
official acted reasonably in the particular circumstances
that he or she faced.” Plumhoff v. Rickard,
134 S.Ct. at 2023 (citations and quotations omitted); see
White v. Pauly, 137 S.Ct. at 552.
burden of convincing a court that the law was clearly
established ‘rests squarely with the plaintiff.'
” Key v. Grayson, 179 F.3d 996, 1000 (6th Cir.
1999) (quoting Cope v. Heltsley, 128 F.3d 452, 459
(6th Cir. 1997)); see Shreve v. Franklin County,
Ohio, 743 F.3d 126, 134 (6th Cir. 2014); T. S. v.
Doe, 742 F.3d 632, 635 (6th Cir. 2014). The burden
applies to each claim that the plaintiff is asserting against
a defendant. See Johnson v. Moseley, 790 F.3d 649,
653 (6th Cir. 2015).
following facts are beyond genuine issue. Plaintiff is an
inmate held in the custody of the Michigan Department of
Corrections (MDOC) on criminal convictions. Plaintiff was an
inmate housed in administrative segregation at the Ionia