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Goodin v. Michigan Department of Corrections

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

May 30, 2017




         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, the Court will dismiss Plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a claim against Defendants Michigan Department of Corrections and Ionia Maximum Facility. The Court also will dismiss without prejudice for improper joinder the claims against Defendants Wood, Thurby, Stalbugh and Woktion. The Court will serve the complaint against Defendant Scott.


         I. Factual allegations

         Plaintiff Israel Louis Goodin presently is incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Marquette Branch Prison, though the actions about which he complains occurred while he was housed at the Ionia Maximum Correctional Facility (ICF). He sues the MDOC and ICF, together with the following ICF officials: Officers Amy Scott, Rebecca Wood, (unknown) Stalbugh, and (unknown) Woktion; and Prison Counselor Lloyd Thurby.

         Plaintiff's extensive allegations span the time period of September 29, 2015, to the first week of January 2016. His claims range from sexual harassment to retaliation to property damage and theft to denial of grievances to inhumane conditions of confinement. Plaintiff's complaint is challenging to summarize, as is not entirely chronological and includes what appear to be repeated allegations. The Court will attempt to comprehensively describe Plaintiff's claims.

         In his first set of allegations, Plaintiff complains that, in the third week of September 2015, Defendant Scott came to his cell and ordered him to remove the towel that was covering his cell window, because it was count time. When Plaintiff lifted the towel, Defendant Scott demanded to know whether Plaintiff was dressed, as he was bare-chested and close to the door. Plaintiff stepped back to show that he was wearing athletic shorts.

         On September 21, 2015, Defendant Scott made a “distasteful homosexual joke” when Defendant Scott announced to others that, whenever they saw Plaintiff's window covered, he was in his cell “sticking his finger up his a- -.” (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.4.) Plaintiff filed a grievance. On October 6, 2015, Defendant Scott called Plaintiff to the officers' station, asking Plaintiff if he wanted to talk about the grievance. Plaintiff indicated that he did not wish to talk to Scott. Scott allegedly told Plaintiff to “stick your finger up you're a- -; your [sic] a fooking idiot.” (Id.) Plaintiff allegedly told Defendant Scott that her conduct constituted harassment and then left the area. The following morning, Plaintiff was taken to segregation based on a misconduct ticket for threatening behavior issued by Defendant Scott, in which she claimed that Plaintiff told her, “B--ch when I get my hands on you, I'm going to f- -king beat your [sic] a- -, then throw you down and f- - k you.” (Id.) Plaintiff contends that he made no such statement and that the misconduct was written to retaliate against Plaintiff for filing a grievance.

         Plaintiff next complains that the segregation cell to which he was taken had a toilet that did not completely flush. The cell had dirt, feces, and urine on the toilet and floor. The cell also had been sprayed with chemical agent, which Plaintiff did not realize until he attempted to clean the cell with handsoap. His face, skin and genitalia were burned by the compound. He did not receive proper cleaning supplies for two weeks.

         In his next set of allegations, Plaintiff contends that, on October 13, 2015, Defendant Scott told him that she had seen the cases that Plaintiff was requesting from the law library, as well as the grievance he wrote, and she made the following threats:

How can you look yourself in the mirror. I come to work and your [sic] trying to press a law suit. I'll make sure you'll never get out of segregation. It's your life not mine nothing going to happen to me and you will still be in the system. Look I have nothing against you, let's call it a truce . . . No! This is not a game you can win. You know I work on your [sic] side of the unit and can still write you five more tickets. I come here to do my job and you wrote a grievance on me!

(Id., PageID.5.) Defendant Scott then attempted to make peace, suggesting that she had done Plaintiff a favor by keeping his Secure Pac from other inmates. Scott allegedly twice returned to Plaintiff's cell later that day, saying things like, “So we're good then right no hard feelings, ” and “No more lies right! We're cool.” (Id.)

         Plaintiff claims that he reported Scott's harassment to his therapist. She allegedly reported to Inspector Sanchez on two occasions. Shortly after the second report, Defendant Scott came to his cell, and signed “playing the smallest violin for all your crying.” (Id.) She laughed and taunted Plaintiff. Plaintiff then reported the problem to his psychiatrist, after which Defendant Scott came to his window and said, “I don't care about how many of your grievances you can write all you want I can give a f- - k about a grievance . . . I'll keep on writing tickets.”

         On October 27, 2015, Plaintiff was moved to a different cell. Staff had to kick the door to get it to open four inches and to pry it open further with their bodies. Plaintiff was put into the cell, which had feces, urine, blood and dirt on the floor and walls. The bed and bedding had black mold, food, and human feces on it. The toilet was stagnant and the window was welded closed. Again, Plaintiff was given no cleaning supplies and was forced to use his personal washcloth and handsoap to clean the cell.

         Plaintiff also alleges that, on September 29, 2015, Defendant Wood sat with Defendant Scott across from the showers while inmates were bathing. Defendant Wood denied Plaintiff a shower because he was wearing underwear or shorts in the bathing area. According to Plaintiff, he was already in the shower when Wood ordered him to leave immediately and go to his cell. Other inmates began calling to Plaintiff to leave immediately and to not rinse off, or Defendant Wood would place him in segregation. Plaintiff complains that female guards should not be in the area when male inmates are bathing.

         Plaintiff makes a variety of allegations against guards who are not named as Defendants. He alleges that Officers Walker and Lahr (not Defendants) performed a cell search and took his television, purportedly because it was broken, as well as hygiene items and stationery. Plaintiff alleges that the officers actually took the property in retaliation for his complaints against Defendant Scott. He spoke with Lieutenant Zwiker (not a Defendant) about Defendant Scott's actions, and Zwiker told Plaintiff to talk to the inspector. Zwiker also gave Plaintiff a decision of guilt on his Class-II misconduct, despite Plaintiff not having received a hearing. Plaintiff was sanctioned with 30 days' loss of privileges, and his television and electronics were confiscated. Plaintiff sought rehearing, which Deputy Warden Christiansen granted, after Plaintiff provided an extensive chronology and documentation showing that his television, if broken, was broken by officers. Lieutenant Rykse (not a Defendant) was the hearing ...

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