United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Northern Division
T. NEFF United States District Judge.
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.
Ronald Bennett, a state prisoner currently incarcerated at
the Kinross Correctional Facility (KCF), filed this pro
se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983
against Defendants MDOC Director Heidi Williams, Corrections
Officer Unknown Goodell, and Deputy Warden D. Dailey.
Plaintiff alleges that he was transferred to KCF on April 21,
2016. Upon his arrival, Defendant Goodell told Plaintiff that
his word processor was being confiscated because KCF did not
allow “typewriters that take disks.” Defendant
Goodell told Plaintiff that his word processor was never on
the historical approval list, and Plaintiff responded that
his word processor had been “grandfathered in”
pursuant to Cain v. Department of Corrections,
Ingham County Court No. 88-61119-AZ. Defendant Goodell told
Plaintiff that the Cain suit no longer applied and
that he was issuing Plaintiff a misconduct report for
possession of contraband.
April 27, 2016, the class III misconduct report was reviewed
with Plaintiff. On May 3, 2016, Plaintiff received a hearing
on the misconduct with Prison Counselor J. Metro. Plaintiff
presented a copy of the stipulation and order issued by the
Cain court. Plaintiff stated that the word processor
was sent to him while he was housed at the State Prison of
Southern Michigan in Jackson in 1992. At that time, a 1988
court ordered stay was in effect on the implementation of the
policy directive regarding prisoner word processors.
Plaintiff also told Metro that his property receipts had
mysteriously disappeared, but that he had four receipts from
two different repair companies indicating that the word
processor had been sent out for repair and returned to him.
Metro refused to investigate Plaintiff's claims and found
that his word processor had never been on the
“historical approval list.” Plaintiff's word
processor was found to be contraband and Plaintiff was told
he could have it sent home or destroyed.
filed an appeal, which was denied by Defendant Dailey, who
stated that “proof positive of ownership has not been
and could not be established by prisoner.” Defendant
Dailey also concluded that the Cain case was
irrelevant. On October 31, 2016, Plaintiff was called to the
property room and Defendant Goodell asked him for the receipt
for his word processor. Plaintiff presented his receipt, but
Defendant Goodell told him that it did not contain the proper
serial number. Plaintiff told Defendant Goodell “it
must have been the receipt to the word processor that was
mistakenly sent to him in 2008 by the company repairing his
word processor.” Plaintiff claims that he returned the
word processor that did not belong to him to the repair
company, and they subsequently returned his own word
processor to Plaintiff.
October 31, 2016, Plaintiff was reviewed on a class II
misconduct ticket for possession of forged documents. On
November 2, 2016, Plaintiff had a hearing before Hearing
Officer Menard. Plaintiff explained that he had given
Defendant Goodell the wrong receipt and that it was not
forged. Menard offered Plaintiff the opportunity to waive the
hearing and plead guilty, for which Plaintiff would only
receive one day loss of privileges. Plaintiff agreed because
he believed he was pleading guilty to a lesser offense.
November 3, 2016, Plaintiff received a copy of the hearing
report for the charge of “possession of forged
documents: forgery, ” which indicated that the receipt
was handwritten and easily forged “as prisoner can
obtain MDOC forms and write [their] own paperwork.”
See E C F N o . 1-1, PageID.19. Plaintiff's
subsequent appeal was denied on December 20, 2016. Plaintiff
states that because the misconduct was a class II, he was not
entitled to a hearing investigator.
claims that Defendants' conduct violated his procedural
due process rights. Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive
damages, as well as declaratory and injunctive relief.
Failure to state a claim
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)).
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 claims that his class III misconduct
conviction and the subsequent loss of his word processor
violated his due process rights under the Fourteenth
Amendment. The elements of a procedural due process claim
are: (1) a life, liberty, or property interest requiring
protection under the Due Process Clause, and (2) a
deprivation of that interest (3) without adequate process.
Women's Med. Prof'l Corp. v. Baird, 438 F.3d
595, 611 (6th Cir. 2006).
claims that Defendants' conduct violated due process and
resulted in the improper deprivation of his word processor,
despite the fact that he should have been allowed to keep it
pursuant to the Cain case. Initially, the Court
notes that it is clear that Plaintiff received due process of
law. In all cases where a person stands to be deprived of his
life, liberty or property, he is entitled to due process of
law. This due process of law gives the person the opportunity
to convince an unbiased decision maker that, for example, he
has been wrongly or falsely accused or that the evidence
against him is false. The Due Process Clause does not
guarantee that the procedure will produce a correct decision.
“It must be remembered that even if a state decision
does deprive an individual of life, [liberty], or property,
and even if that decision is erroneous, it does not
necessarily follow that the decision violated that
individual's right to due process.” Martinez v.
California, 444 U.S. 277, 284, n.9 (1980). “[T]he
deprivation by state action of a constitutionally protected
interest in ‘life, liberty or property' is not in
itself unconstitutional; what is unconstitutional is ...