United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
WILLIE J. HARRIS, # 292201, Plaintiff,
AMY SCOTT, et al., Defendants.
L. Maloney, United States District Judge
a civil rights action brought by a state prisoner under 42
U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff's complaint arises out of
conditions of his confinement in 2015 at the Ionia
Correctional Facility (ICF). The defendants are Corrections
Officer Amy Scott and Counselor Nakita Haynes.
alleges that Counselor Haynes violated his First Amendment
rights by filing a false Class II misconduct charge against
him on May 7, 2015, and transferring him from ICF's
housing unit 5 to housing unit 3 in retaliation for his
activities as a unit 5 representative to the Warden's
Forum. Plaintiff alleges that Officer Scott retaliated
against him in violation of his First Amendment rights. He
believes that Ms. Scott played some role in the issuance of
the Class II misconduct and plaintiff's loss of his
position as a housing unit 5 representative stemming from his
transfer to unit 3 because Ms. Scott had allegedly threatened
to transfer plaintiff two months earlier. Plaintiff sues
defendants in their individual capacities and he seeks an
award of damages.
matter is before the Court on defendants' motion for
summary judgment. (ECF No. 73). Plaintiff opposes the motion
(ECF No. 75-76). For the reasons set forth herein,
defendants' motion for summary judgment will be granted
and judgment will be entered in defendants' favor on all
Summary Judgment Standard
judgment is appropriate when the record reveals that there
are no genuine issues as to any material fact in dispute and
the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Griffin v. Hardrick, 604 F.3d
949, 953 (6th Cir. 2010). The standard for determining
whether summary judgment is appropriate is “whether
‘the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to
require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided
that one party must prevail as a matter of law.'”
Moses v. Providence Hosp. Med. Centers, Inc., 561
F.3d 573, 578 (6th Cir. 2009) (quoting Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986)). The
Court must consider all pleadings, depositions, affidavits,
and admissions on file, and draw all justifiable inferences
in favor of the party opposing the motion. See
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986); Pluck v. BP Oil Pipeline
Co., 640 F.3d 671, 676 (6th Cir. 2011).
the party without the burden of proof seeks summary judgment,
that party bears the initial burden of pointing out to the
district court an absence of evidence to support the
nonmoving party's case, but need not support its motion
with affidavits or other materials “negating” the
opponent's claim. See Morris v. Oldham County Fiscal
Court, 201 F.3d 784, 787 (6th Cir. 2000); see also
Minadeo v. ICI Paints, 398 F.3d 751, 761 (6th Cir.
2005). Once the movant shows that “there is an absence
of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case,
” the nonmoving party has the burden of coming forward
with evidence raising a triable issue of fact. Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). To sustain
this burden, the nonmoving party may not rest on the mere
allegations of his pleadings. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); see
Everson v. Leis, 556 F.3d 484, 496 (6th Cir. 2009). The
motion for summary judgment forces the nonmoving party to
present evidence sufficient to create a genuine issue of fact
for trial. Street v. J.C. Bradford & Co., 886 F.2d
1472, 1478 (6th Cir. 1990); see Newell Rubbermaid, Inc.
v. Raymond Corp., 676 F.3d 521, 533 (6th Cir. 2012).
“A mere scintilla of evidence is insufficient;
‘there must be evidence on which a jury could
reasonably find for the [non-movant].'”
Dominguez v. Correctional Med. Servs., 555 F.3d 543,
549 (6th Cir. 2009) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at
252); see LaQuinta Corp. v. Heartland Properties
LLC, 603 F.3d 327, 335 (6th Cir. 2010).
argue that they are entitled to summary judgment on the basis
of qualified immunity. “Once [an] official[ ] raise[s]
the qualified immunity defense, the plaintiff bears the
burden to ‘demonstrate that the official [is] not
entitled to qualified immunity.' ” LeFever v.
Ferguson, 645 F. App'x 438, 442 (6th Cir. 2016)
(quoting Silberstein v. City of Dayton, 440 F.3d
306, 311 (6th Cir. 2006)); see Estate of Hill v.
Miracle, 853 F.3d 306, 312 (6th Cir. 2017).
government official sued under section 1983 is entitled to
qualified immunity unless the official violated a statutory
or constitutional right that was clearly established at the
time of the challenged conduct.” Carroll v.
Carman, 135 S.Ct. 348, 350 (2014); see Taylor v.
Barkes, 135 S.Ct. 2042, 2044 (2015); Lane v.
Franks, 134 S.Ct. 2369, 2381 (2014). The first prong of
qualified immunity analysis is whether the plaintiff has
alleged facts showing that each defendant's conduct
violated a constitutional or statutory right. See Saucier
v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194, 201 (2001). The second prong is
whether the right was “clearly established” at
the time of the defendant's alleged misconduct.
Id. Trial courts are permitted to exercise their
sound discretion in deciding which of the two prongs of the
qualified immunity analysis should be addressed first.
See Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 236 (2009).
qualified immunity defense can be asserted at various stages
of the litigation, including the summary judgment stage.
See English v. Dyke, 23 F.3d 1086, 1089 (6th Cir.
1994). The qualified immunity inquiry at the summary judgment
stage is distinguished from the Rule 12(b)(6) stage in that
generalized notice pleading no longer suffices, and the
broader summary judgment record provides the framework within
which the actions of each individual defendant must be
evaluated. At the summary judgment stage, “the
plaintiff must, at a minimum, offer sufficient evidence to
create a ‘genuine issue of fact, ' that is,
‘evidence on which a jury could reasonably find for the
plaintiff.' ” Thompson v. City of Lebanon,
Tenn., 831 F.3d 366, 370 (6th Cir. 2016); see
Holsey v. Wieber, 811 F.3d 844, 846 (6th Cir. 2016);
see also Zuhl v. Haskins, 652 F. App'x 358,
361(6th Cir. 2016).
Brosseau v. Haugen, the Supreme Court examined the
underlying purpose of the requirement that the law be clearly
Qualified immunity shields an officer from suit when she
makes a decision that, even if constitutionally deficient,
misapprehends the law governing the circumstances she
confronted. . . . Because the focus is on whether the officer
had fair notice that her conduct was unlawful, reasonableness
is judged against the backdrop of the law at the time of the
conduct. If the law at the time did not clearly establish
that the officer's conduct would ...