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Johnson v. Sikon

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

August 29, 2017




         This is a civil rights action brought by a state prisoner pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court denied Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis, because he had three strikes within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). Plaintiff thereafter paid the entire $400.00 civil action filing fee. 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. § 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 Dwayne Anthony Johnson presently is incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections at the Oaks Correctional Facility (ECF). He sues ECF Librarian (unknown) Sikon.

         Plaintiff alleges that he was transferred to ECF on October 5, 2016. He was placed in administrative segregation on a misconduct conviction for “incit[ing] to riot or strike, ” based on his participation in a riot at Kinross Correctional Facility in September 2016. On February 21, 2017, Plaintiff sent two legal envelopes and a legal photocopy disbursement to the library. One envelope contained a 17-page complaint and 46 exhibits and a 6-page Motion for Injunction. Plaintiff asked for two copies of the contents of the first envelope. The second envelope contained an 8-page Petition for Judicial Review, together with a 34-page brief in support. He requested three copies of the contents of the second envelope.

         On February 23, 2017, Defendant Sikon brought both envelopes back to Plaintiff in segregation. Sikon informed Plaintiff that his photocopy requests were being denied, because he had insufficient funds in his account to pay for the copies. Defendant Sikon advised Plaintiff that, because he was assigned a legal writer, he could have the legal writer prepare legal documents, and copies would be provided for any documents drafted by the legal writer. Plaintiff, however, was not entitled to free copies of his own handwritten legal documents. He instead was required to hand-copy his legal documents.

         Plaintiff told Defendant Sikon that he did not need a legal writer, because he had a paralegal diploma and could prepare his own. Plaintiff then told Defendant Sikon that he believed Sikon had read his legal work, to which Sikon responded, “[S]o I guess you're gonna sue me too.” (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.5.) Defendant Sikon then slammed the door slot shut and walked away, purportedly with a smirk on his face.

         Plaintiff filed a grievance, which was denied at Steps I and II, on March 4 and April 7, 2017, respectively. On April 8, Plaintiff learned that Defendant Sikon had provided a loan for photocopies to prisoner Braddox, even though Braddox did not have sufficient funds in his prisoner account. Prisoner Braddox was confined to segregation for the same reason as Plaintiff. Plaintiff thereafter filed a Step-III grievance, which was denied on May 26, 2017.

         Plaintiff contends that Defendant Sikon violated his rights under the Equal Protection Clause, when Sikon denied him funds for copies of his documents, but granted a prison loan for photocopies to prisoner Braddox. Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages.


         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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