United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Northern Division
ANTHONY J. HANNON, Plaintiff,
UNKNOWN BRINTLINGER, et al., Defendants.
J. QUIST 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, the Court will dismiss Plaintiff's complaint
for failure to state a claim against Defendants L. Rutter and
Brent Travelbee. The Court will serve the complaint against
Defendant Unknown Brintlinger.
Anthony J. Hannon, a state prisoner currently confined at the
Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility, filed this pro
se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983
against Defendants Sergeant Unknown Brintlinger, Inspector L.
Rutter, and Central Office STG Coordinator Brent Travelbee.
Plaintiff alleges that on May 20, 2015, he was approached by
Defendant Brintlinger, who stated that he thought Plaintiff
was a Sunni Muslim. Plaintiff responded that he was a Sunni
Muslim, and Defendant Brintlinger stated that prisoner
Richardson had accused Plaintiff of being “#2 in charge
of the East Coast” for the “Bloods.”
Plaintiff denied being in a gang, but Defendant Brintlinger
stated that he did not believe Plaintiff. Defendant
Brintlinger asked Plaintiff, “Why would [prisoner
Richardson] lock up on protective custody saying that you
tried to get him to carry out a hit on another
prisoner?” Plaintiff replied that he did not know.
August 3, 2015, Plaintiff received legal mail from Defendant
Brintlinger, who asked Plaintiff about his mail. Plaintiff
stated that he was suing some guards at another prison.
Defendant Brintlinger became angry and stated that he was
tired of prisoners always suing staff. Defendant Brintlinger
asked Plaintiff what he was crying to the judge about, and
Plaintiff told him that it was none of his business.
Defendant Brintlinger looked at Plaintiff's mail and
stated, “Oh, you got Greeley as your judge. I know him,
I'll just ask him about your case.” Plaintiff said
he did not care and that it would change nothing. Defendant
Brintlinger asked Plaintiff if he was still “hanging
around gangbangers, ” and Plaintiff responded by asking
if Defendant Brintlinger was angry about Plaintiff's
lawsuit. Defendant Brintlinger told Plaintiff that he would
not win anyway because prisoners always lose.
August 24, 2015, Plaintiff was called into Assistant Resident
Unit Supervisor Jill Denmen's office to sign a
renunciation paper regarding membership in the Bloods.
Plaintiff signed the paper, stating that he was not a member
of the Bloods. On September 19, 2015, Defendant Brintlinger
told Plaintiff that he was going to have Plaintiff placed on
STG [security threat group] status, even if it meant that he
would have to lie. Plaintiff asked Defendant Brintlinger why
he was willing to do that, and Defendant Brintlinger replied
that Plaintiff would think twice before he sued an officer
September 24, 2015, Defendant Rutter filled out a CSJ-102 STG
Member Identification form on Plaintiff, alleging that
Plaintiff was a member of the Bloods. Plaintiff asked
Defendant Rutter whether he was entitled to an administrative
hearing before being placed on STG status, but Defendant
Rutter told Plaintiff that all he needed was Defendant
Brintlinger's findings. Plaintiff never received a Notice
of Intent or a hearing. Defendant Travelbee placed Plaintiff
on STG I status without checking to make sure that
Plaintiff's rights had not been violated.
asserts that his classification as a member of a Security
Threat Group violated his Fourteenth Amendment right to due
process. In addition, Plaintiff claims that Defendant
Brintlinger's conduct violated his First Amendment right
to be free from retaliation. Plaintiff seeks compensatory and
punitive damages, as well as declaratory and injunctive
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); Street
v. Corr. Corp. of Am., 102 F.3d 810, 814 (6th Cir.
1996). 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).
Supreme Court has held that a prisoner does not have a
protected liberty interest in the procedures affecting his
classification and security because the resulting restraint
does not impose an “atypical and significant hardship
on the inmate in relation to the ordinary incidents of prison
life.” Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 484
(1995). In Rimmer-Bey v. Brown, 62 F.3d 789,
790-91(6th Cir. 1995), the Sixth Circuit applied the
Sandin test to the claim of a Michigan inmate that
the mandatory language of the MDOC's regulations created
a liberty interest that he receive notice and hearing before
being placed in administrative segregation. The court held
that regardless of the mandatory language of the prison
regulations, the inmate did not have a liberty interest
because his placement in administrative segregation did not
constitute an atypical and significant hardship within the
context of his prison life. Id; see also Mackey v.
Dyke, 111 F.3d 460, 463 (6th Cir. 1997). Without a
protected liberty interest, plaintiff cannot successfully
claim that his due process rights were violated because,
“[p]rocess is not an end in itself.” Olim v.
Wakinekona, 461 U.S. 238, 250 (1983).
the Supreme Court repeatedly has held that a prisoner has no
constitutional right to be incarcerated in a particular
facility or to be held in a specific security classification.
See Olim, 461 U.S. at 245; Moody v.
Daggett, 429 U.S. 78, 88 n.9 (1976); Meachum v.
Fano, 427 U.S. 215, 228-29 (1976). The Sixth Circuit has
followed the Supreme Court's rulings in a variety of
security classification challenges. See, e.g.,
Harris v. Truesdell, 79 F. App'x 756, 759 (6th
Cir. 2003) (holding that prisoner had no constitutional right
to be held in a particular prison or security
classification); Carter v. Tucker, 69 F. App'x
678, 680 (6th Cir. 2003) (same); O'Quinn v.
Brown, No. 92-2183, 1993 WL 80292, at *1 (6th Cir. Mar.
22, 1993) (prisoner failed to state a due process or equal
protection claim regarding his label as a “homosexual
predator” because he did not have a constitutional
right to a particular security level or place of
confinement). Plaintiff's ...