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Wilson v. Harry

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

May 2, 2017

DAVID WILSON, Plaintiff,
SHIRLEE HARRY et al., Defendants.


          Paul L. Maloney 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 action will be dismissed for failure to state a claim.

         Factual Allegations

         Plaintiff David Wilson is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections at the Earnest C. Brooks Correctional Facility (LRF) in Muskegon Heights, Michigan. Plaintiff sues several MDOC official and employees from LRF: Warden Shirlee Harry, Business Manager Unknown Groenhof, General Office Assistant Unknown Dietz, Resident Unit Manager Unknown Cummings, and Assistant Resident Unit Manager Unknown Irby.

         Plaintiff's complaint centers on the rejection of mail he received on June 14, 2016. Plaintiff alleges that on that date he received three separate letters containing a number of photographs. The mailroom personnel combined the photos from the three letters and issued a notice to Plaintiff that the photographs were being rejected because the photos were simply too numerous to permit effective shakedown of their content. The rejection notice was signed by Defendant Dietz.

         On July 8, 2016, J. Minich conducted a hearing regarding the mail rejection. Minich determined that the photos themselves, with the exception of four photos, did not violate policy. Accordingly, Plaintiff anticipated receiving all but the four photos. According to Plaintiff, that did not occur because Defendant Cummings disagreed with the result of the hearing and ordered a new hearing.

         On July 27, 2016, Plaintiff was given a second hearing. The result was the same. The photos themselves did not violate policy. Following this result, Defendant Groenhof ordered that the photos be withheld from Plaintiff. Defendant Cummings ordered yet another hearing.

         On August 17, 2016, Defendant Irby conducted the third hearing. Defendant Irby concluded that the prior hearings had failed to comply with MDOC policy regarding voluminous mail and that it was the volume of the photographs that Plaintiff received, not the content that was at issue. Defendant Irby found that Plaintiff should not receive the photographs. Plaintiff states that he was able to view the photographs at the hearings and that the content of the photos was in no way objectionable.

         Plaintiff pursued a grievance regarding the rejection of the photographs. He claims that Defendant Cummings reviewed the grievance with Plaintiff at the first step. Plaintiff contends that Cummings should not have reviewed a grievance in which she was so deeply involved. Defendant Harry denied Plaintiff's grievance at the second step claiming the grievance was untimely. At the third step, the MDOC informed Plaintiff that there was nothing left to resolve because, according to information from LRF, Plaintiff had received the mail to which he was entitled. Plaintiff claims that Defendants (he does not identify which Defendant) misinformed the MDOC that numerous pictures were in violation of policy because they showed nudity.

         On March 13, 2017, Defendant Dietz informed Plaintiff that the pictures would be disposed of if Plaintiff did not mail them back.

         Plaintiff contends that Defendants violated his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. He seeks a declaration to that effect. He seeks an injunction against such violations and an order that Defendants' employment terminate if they violate the injunction and their conduct is determined to be malicious. Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages of $2.00 for each photograph rejected and punitive damages of $25, 000.00 from each Defendant.


         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 - ...

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