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Gonzalez v. Bauman

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

August 31, 2017

FORTINO GONZALEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
CATHERINE S. BAUMAN, Defendants.

          OPINION

          GORDON J. QUIST UNITED STATES DISTRICT 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, the Court will dismiss Plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a claim against Defendants Bauman, Giotto, Sprader, Jack, Prunick, Immel, Denman, Russell, Maki, and Harris. The Court will serve the complaint against Defendant Henley.

         Discussion

         I. Factual allegations

          Plaintiff Fortino Gonzalez, a state prisoner currently confined at the Alger Correctional Facility (LMF), filed this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants Warden Catherine S. Bauman, Corrections Officers Unknown Henley and Unknown Giotto, Deputy Warden Scott Sprader, Administrative Hearing Investigator G. Jack, Prison Counselor Karen L. Prunick, Deputy Warden Anthony Immel, Sergeant J. B. Denman, Grievance and Appeals Section Manager Richard D. Russell, Administrative Law Examiner Linda Maki, and Resident Unit Manager R. Harris.

         In Plaintiff's complaint, he alleges that he has been diagnosed as suffering from Degenerative Muscle Disease, which requires him to use a leg brace in order to walk. On March 21, 2016, at 8:25 p.m., Plaintiff was transferred to LMF from the Kinross Correctional Facility (KCF). Defendant Henley informed Plaintiff that he had been assigned to an upper bunk in the general population. Plaintiff explained that he could not use an upper bunk because of his disability and that he had an accommodation for a bottom bunk detail. Plaintiff told Defendant Henley that Patrick F. Gasperich, RN, had provided Plaintiff with a medical detail upon his arrival at LMF. Plaintiff attaches a copy of a “special accommodations orders” form to his complaint as an exhibit. The form states, “Housing: Bottom bunk” and is signed by Mr. Gasperich. See ECF No. 1-1, PageID.24. When Plaintiff attempted to show him the medical detail, Defendant Henley became visibly angry, refused to look at the medical detail, and ordered Plaintiff to place his hands behind his back. Defendant Henley then placed Plaintiff in restraints and took him to segregation.

         Defendant Henley subsequently wrote a class II misconduct ticket on Plaintiff for “disobeying a direct order.” In the ticket, Defendant Henley stated:

At 2025 Inmate Gonzalez #761448 Maple #227 upper bunk was brought into the unit on a transfer from Kinross. He was informed that he was going into cell #227 upper bunk. Gonzalez stated he couldn't lock in an upper bunk he had a bottom bunk detail. I contacted Control Center and was informed he didn't have a bottom bunk detail on OMNI put him on the upper bunk. Gonzalez stated put me in seg. I can't lock in an upper bunk I have a bottom bunk detail I then gave Gonzalez a direct order to lock in #227 for the time being and informed him I would check with Health Service to see if he had a detail in his file. Gonzalez then became argumentative stating he shouldn't be in Level IV, he was a Level II inmate again stated put me in seg. I can't lock in an upper bunk. I then placed restraints on Gonzalez and he was escorted to segregation. Gonzalez ID'd by his State ID Card and Maple Unit Master Count Board.

See ECF No. 1-2, PageID.26.

         Later that evening, Defendant Denman came to Plaintiff's segregation cell to review the ticket with him. Plaintiff told Defendant Denman that he had done nothing wrong and asked him to check with Health Care to verify that he had a bottom bunk detail. Defendant Denman told Plaintiff that he would look into his claims, and that if Plaintiff was correct, he would be released from segregation and the ticket would be “pulled.” Defendant Denman never contacted Health Care or returned to discuss the situation with Plaintiff.

         On March 22, 2016, at approximately 10:38 a.m., Defendant Jack came to Plaintiff's cell and asked if he wanted to write a statement or have any witnesses or documents obtained on his behalf for the misconduct hearing. Plaintiff stated, “I don't understand what the problem is, I can't get on a top bunk!” Plaintiff asked Defendant Jack why staff couldn't just look at Plaintiff's medical detail, which would confirm that Plaintiff was unable to climb up to a top bunk. Defendant Jack told Plaintiff that he would call Health Care to see if there was a medical detail, and that if there was a detail, he was sure Plaintiff would be released from segregation.

         Defendant Jack contacted Defendant Giotto and procured a witness statement. The statement indicated that Defendant Giotto had been contacted by Maple Unit to verify Plaintiff's bottom bunk detail. Defendant Giotto stated that a search of OMNI [Offender Management Network Information] did not find a medical detail for Plaintiff. Defendant Maki conducted Plaintiff's hearing on the misconduct ticket on March 23, 2016. Defendant Maki did not allow Plaintiff to speak during the hearing, demanding that Plaintiff “keep his mouth shut.” Defendant Maki found Plaintiff guilty and sanctioned him to 20 days loss of privileges, which lasted until April 13, 2016.

         Following the misconduct hearing, Plaintiff was seen by Security Classification Committee (SCC) members Defendants Prunick, Harris, Jack, and Immel. Plaintiff was informed that his bond would be revoked and that he would serve additional time in administrative segregation because he had not “learned how to jail” and “would get a taste of LMF justice.” Defendants also told Plaintiff that he was not in charge of running the prison and “just maybe, when you leave segregation after a couple months, you'll go to the bunk we tell you to, and not tell us what you're not gonna do.” Plaintiff stated that he was a level II prisoner and could not understand why he was being placed in a level IV housing unit. Plaintiff attaches copies of security classification screen reviews he received, dated March 21, 2016, and March 23, 2016, which show that Plaintiff is a level II prisoner, but that the nature of his misconduct warranted an increased security level. (ECF Nos. 1-4 and 1-5.)

         Plaintiff states that each time he was seen by SCC Defendants Sprader, Immel, Prunick, Harris, and Bauman from March 28, 2016, until May 8, 2016, they asked him if he was done playing games, and that they would keep him in segregation for as long as it took for him to learn. Plaintiff was finally released from segregation after forty-eight days. Following his release from segregation, Plaintiff filed a grievance with the help of a legal writer, which was rejected by Grievance Coordinator Mary Bonevelle as untimely. Defendants Bauman and Russell upheld the rejection on appeal. ...


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