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Jennings v. Maclaren

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

July 27, 2017

MARK COLIN JENNINGS, II, Plaintiff,
v.
DUNCAN MACLAREN, Defendants.

          OPINION

          Janet T. Neff United States District Court 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 Mark Colin Jennings, II, is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Oaks Correctional Facility (ECF) in Manistee, Michigan. The events about which he complains, however, began while he was incarcerated at the Kinross Correctional Facility (KCF) in Kincheloe, Michigan, and continued when he was transferred to ECF in February of 2016. Plaintiff sues KCF Warden Duncan MacLaren; ECF Warden Tom Mackie; MDOC Deputy Director Kenneth McKee; KCF nurses Julie Hessenlink and Shannon Martin; and KCF Corrections Officer E. MacDonald.[1]

         Plaintiff alleges that from February 12, 2015, to March 12, 2015, he was restricted to non-contact visits by Defendant MacLaren. Beginning September 3, 2015 to date, Defendants have denied Plaintiff any visits. Plaintiff states that these restrictions have been imposed for no legitimate penological reason. Plaintiff's further allegations, however, shed some light on why he has been denied normal visitation privileges.

         Plaintiff acknowledges that he has been denied visits because of two substance abuse misconducts. MDOC policy provides in pertinent part:

HH. The Warden shall limit a prisoner of any security level to non-contact visits for a period of 30 days if the prisoner is found guilty of a Class I misconduct violation of substance abuse for behavior that occurred on or after August 27, 2003 . . . .
BBB. [T]he Director may restrict all of a prisoner's visits if the prisoner is convicted or found guilty of . . . [t]wo or more violations of the Class I misconduct charge of substance abuse for behavior that occurred on or after January 1, 2007, which do not arise from the same incident. This includes failure to submit to substance abuse testing.

         MDOC Policy Directive 05.03.140, Prisoner Visiting (eff. 5/22/2017).[2] It appears that Plaintiff's restriction to non-contact visits followed his first substance abuse misconduct and the total restriction followed his second substance abuse misconduct.

         Plaintiff's contention that his visitation privileges have been restricted without reason follows from his further allegations that the substance abuse misconducts were based on false, hearsay testimony and, thus, violated his right to due process as well as his right to confrontation. Plaintiff claims that Defendants Hessenlink and Martin, with the assistance of Defendant McDonald, wrote the substance abuse misconduct reports in retaliation for Plaintiff's filing of a grievance against Defendants Hessenlink and Martin.

         Plaintiff asks the Court to declare that Plaintiff's constitutional rights have been violated, enter preliminary and permanent injunctive relief ordering Defendants to restore Plaintiff's right to receive visitors; and grant costs, compensatory damages, and punitive damages.

         Discussion

         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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