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Johnson v. Mackie

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

March 31, 2017

THOMAS MACKIE 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) . T h e C o u r t m u s t r e a d P l a i n t i f f ' 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 action will be dismissed for failure to state a claim. Plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order (ECF No. 3) and motion for guidance (ECF No. 6) will be denied.

         Factual Allegations

         Plaintiff Dwayne Anthony Johnson is presently incarcerated at the Oaks Correctional Facility (ECF) in Manistee, Michigan. Plaintiff was transferred to ECF on October 5, 2016, and placed in administrative segregation for a major misconduct of “incite to riot or strike.” (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.3.) Plaintiff reports that the Security Classification Committee has informed him that he will be confined in administrative segregation for at least one year. (Id.)

         Plaintiff complains of two problems he has experienced at ECF. First, he complains that he is allergic to the stick/gel deodorant permitted in administrative segregation.[1] Plaintiff wanted a powder/talc deodorant, but possession of the talc conflicted with custody rules for segregation prisoners. (Id., PageID.8.) Second, Plaintiff complains that one or more of the Defendants has failed to provide him more than ten sheets of typing paper per month for legal work. Plaintiff indicates he requires much more paper and that he is forced to choose between writing letters to friends and family or using the ten sheets of paper for legal work. (Id., PageID.14-15.)

         Plaintiff claims that Defendants' refusal to permit powder/talc deodorant or to provide more than ten sheets of paper violates Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) policies as well as Plaintiff's constitutional rights. Plaintiff asks the Court to declare that Defendants' actions or failure to act violated Plaintiff's constitutional rights, to issue preliminary and permanent injunctive relief ordering Defendants to provide or permit Plaintiff to purchase and possess powder/talc deodorant and more paper.[2]


         I. Failure to state a claim

         A complaint may be dismissed for failure to state a claim if it fails “‘to give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). While a complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's allegations must include more than labels and conclusions. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (“Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.”). The court must determine whether the complaint contains “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. Although the plausibility standard is not equivalent to a “‘probability requirement, ' . . . it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged - but it has not ‘show[n]' - that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)); see also Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010) (holding that the Twombly/Iqbal plausibility standard applies to dismissals of prisoner cases on initial review under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A(b)(1) and 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)).

         To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the violation of a right secured by the federal Constitution or laws and must show that the deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Dominguez v. Corr. Med. Servs., 555 F.3d 543, 549 (6th Cir. 2009). Because § 1983 is a method for vindicating federal rights, not a source of substantive rights itself, the first step in an action under § 1983 is to identify the specific constitutional right allegedly infringed. Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994). Plaintiff does not identify the constitutional protections abridged by Defendants; but, presumably he contends that Defendants' failure to provide his powder/talc deodorant violates the Eighth Amendment's protection against cruel and unusual punishment and Defendants' failure to provide adequate paper to permit Plaintiff to prepare and submit pleadings violates the First Amendment guarantee of access to the courts.

         II. Eighth Amendment claim

         The Eighth Amendment imposes a constitutional limitation on the power of the states to punish those convicted of crimes. Punishment may not be “barbarous” nor may it contravene society's “evolving standards of decency.” Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 345-46 (1981). The Amendment, therefore, prohibits conduct by prison officials that involves the “unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain.” Ivey v. Wilson, 832 F.2d 950, 954 (6th Cir. 1987) (per curiam) (quoting Rhodes, 452 U.S. at 346). The deprivation alleged must result in the denial of the “minimal civilized measure of life's necessities.” Rhodes, 452 U.S. at 347; see also Wilson v. Yaklich, 148 F.3d 596, 600-01 (6th Cir. 1998). The Eighth Amendment is only concerned with “deprivations of essential food, medical care, or sanitation” or “other conditions intolerable for prison confinement.” Rhodes, 452 U.S. at 348 (citation omitted). Moreover, “[n]ot every unpleasant experience a prisoner might endure while incarcerated constitutes cruel and unusual punishment within the meaning of the Eighth Amendment.” Ivey, 832 F.2d at 954. “Routine discomfort is ‘part of the penalty that criminal offenders pay for their offenses against society.'” Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 9 (1992) (quoting Rhodes, 452 U.S. at 347). In order for a prisoner to prevail on an Eighth Amendment claim, he must show that he faced a sufficiently serious risk to his health or safety and that the defendant official acted with “‘deliberate indifference' to [his] health or safety.” Mingus v. Butler, 591 F.3d 474, 479-80 (6th Cir. 2010) (citing Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994) (applying deliberate indifference standard to medical claims); see also Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 35 (1993) (applying deliberate indifference standard to conditions of confinement claims)).

         Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claim that he has been deprived of powder/talc deodorant is frivolous. Plaintiff does not allege that his ability to wash and keep himself clean was impaired in any way. The use of deodorant does not improve or impair cleanliness; its usefulness is merely cosmetic. Defendants' denial of deodorant therefore did not result in the denial of the “minimal civilized measure of life's necessities.” Rhodes, 452 U.S. at 347; see also James v. O'Sullivan, 62 F.App'x 636, 639 (7th Cir. 2003) (holding that the denial of a comb, deodorant and cleaning supplies cannot be said to have jeopardized a prisoner's health); Harris v. Horel, No. C 06-7761 SBA, 2009 WL 2761339, at *3-4 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 31, 2009) (denial of shampoo, lotion, deodorant, television and reading material for over one-and-one-half years did not offend the Eighth Amendment); Jordan v. Flowers, No. 06 C 6333, 2008 WL 5211552 (N.D. Ill.Dec. 9, 2008) (lack of deodorant does not state a sufficiently serious condition that implicates a constitutional concern); Crump v. Janz, No. 1:10-cv-583, 2010 WL 2854266, at *4 (W.D. Mich. Jul. 19, 2010) (holding complaint failed to plead an Eighth Amendment violation where inmate asserted “lack of deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste, postage, typing and carbon paper, and legal envelopes for 35 days”); Mitchell v. Kalamazoo Cnty. Sheriff's Dept., No. 1:14-cv-824, 2014 WL 7330974 at *6 (W.D. Mich. Dec. 19, 2014) (“The jail's failure to provide additional free items, such as deodorant, body lotion, wash cloths, underwear and socks does not constitute the denial of the ‘minimal civilized measure of life's necessities.'”). Accordingly, Plaintiff has failed to state a claim for violation of the Eighth Amendment based on denial of deodorant.

         III. First ...

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