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Doss v. Maki

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

May 5, 2017

LINDA MAKI, et al., Defendants.



         This is a civil rights action brought by a state prisoner pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court has granted Plaintiff, Dominique Doss, 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, a state prisoner currently confined at the Marquette Branch Prison (MBP), filed this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants Hearing Officer Linda Maki and Corrections Officer Unknown McPherson. Plaintiff alleges that on July 30, 2015, he made the following statement to Defendant McPherson: “I'm going to beat your ass for playing with my mail.” Defendant McPherson told Plaintiff that there was no need to make threats and that he would check everyone's mail before he passed it out.

         On August 5, 2015, Plaintiff filed a grievance against Defendant McPherson regarding McPherson's handling of the mail. On August 10, 2015, Defendant McPherson threatened to have Plaintiff placed in administrative segregation for filing grievances. Plaintiff offers the affidavits of inmates B. Martin #251228 and Samuel Sams #698201, who both attest that they heard Defendant McPherson tell Plaintiff that a grievance would not get him anywhere but in segregation. See ECF Nos. 1-3 and ECF No. 1-4. Plaintiff's grievance was denied at each step.

         On September 10, 2015, Plaintiff filed a grievance on Defendant McPherson for placing his mail on the floor and kicking it under Plaintiff's door. On September 27, 2015, Plaintiff filed a grievance on Defendant McPherson for pouring shampoo on Plaintiff's legal paperwork while conducting a shakedown of Plaintiff's cell. Defendant McPherson told Plaintiff that he was lucky that he had not been set up by Defendant McPherson, and that only time would tell.

         On October 6, 2015, Defendant McPherson wrote a misconduct ticket on Plaintiff for threatening behavior. Plaintiff believes that the ticket was motivated by a desire to retaliate against him for his use of the grievance system. On October 7, 2015, Plaintiff filed a grievance on Defendant McPherson claiming that the misconduct ticket was retaliatory. Plaintiff provided five witness statements in support of this grievance. On October 12, 2015, Defendant Maki held a hearing on the misconduct ticket. Defendant Maki excluded all five of Plaintiff's witness statements from evidence at the hearing. Defendant Maki found Plaintiff guilty of threatening behavior and sentenced him to five days detention, thirty days loss of privileges, and placement in administrative segregation. Plaintiff's security level was elevated by seven points and the misconduct conviction was added to Plaintiff's file, which had a negative impact on Plaintiff's parole eligibility. Plaintiff's request for rehearing was denied by Richard D. Russell.

         Plaintiff spent two-hundred and six days in administrative segregation. Plaintiff claims that conditions in administrative segregation were harsh. Plaintiff claims that Corrections Officers in administrative segregation make rounds every twenty minutes, during which they bang a metal pipe against the cell doors, disturbing inmates who are attempting to sleep, study, or pray. This conduct caused Plaintiff to awake from sleep frightened, gave him headaches, and made him paranoid and anxious. Plaintiff claims that during his time in administrative segregation he was sexually assaulted by staff, slammed down on his head while restrained, and was given two class II misconduct tickets. Plaintiff also claims that other inmates in administrative segregation frequently bang on doors and walls, yell, sing, argue, and throw urine and feces. Plaintiff contends that he suffered mental and emotional distress and sleep deprivation.

         Plaintiff alleges that while he was confined in administrative segregation, a Corrections Officer stood next to him in the exam room whenever he visited health services. Sometimes Corrections Officers discussed Plaintiff's medical issues in his presence. Plaintiff also lost the opportunity to use the phone during recreation time, was in restraints whenever leaving his cell, and was only allotted five minutes to shower and shave. Plaintiff's educational, exercise, visitation, and religious opportunities were also either eliminated or severely restricted.

         Plaintiff claims that Defendants violated his rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages, as well as declaratory and injunctive relief.


         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 ยง 1983 is a method for vindicating federal rights, not a source of substantive rights itself, the first step in an action under ...

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