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Reynolds v. Stewart

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

September 29, 2017

Brigitte Reynolds, Plaintiff,
v.
Anthony Stewart, et al., Defendants.

          PATRICIA T. MORRIS, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

          ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION [16]; OVERRULING PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTION [17]; GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS [13]; AND DISMISSING CASE

          Arthur J. Tarnow, Senior United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Brigitte Reynolds, a pro se prisoner, has brought claims against Defendants, Michigan Department of Corrections officials Anthony Stewart, Erica Reeves, Kari Osterhout, S. Holliwell, and Tackett. Plaintiff alleges violations of her First Amendment rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Specifically, she claims a violation of her right of access to the courts.

         Plaintiff sues Defendants in both their official and personal capacities. She seeks a declaratory judgment, injunctive relief, $350, 000.00 in punitive damages, $350, 000.00 in compensatory damages, and any appropriate attorney fees and costs.

         Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss [Dkt. #13] on April 24, 2017. On June 30, 2017, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation (R&R) [16] advising the Court to grant Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. Plaintiff filed her Objection to the R&R [17] on July 28, 2017.

         Factual Background

         The Court adopts the facts as set forth in the R&R:

Plaintiff Brigitte Reynolds (“Plaintiff”) is a prisoner incarcerated at Women's Huron Valley Correctional Facility (“WHVCF”), and filed this lawsuit, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, on January 25, 2017 against Defendants Anthony Stewart (“Stewart”), Erica Reeves (“Reeves”), Kari Osterhout (“Osterhout”), S. Holliwell (“Holliwell”), and Tackett (“Tackett”). (Doc. 1). She avers a violation of her First Amendment right of access to the courts because she was denied the ability to access a compact disc containing “transcripts of a hearing she had” in “the 26th Judicial Court in Alpena, Michigan” for “the return of her personal property.” (Doc. 1 at ¶ 4). “Plaintiff needed transcripts to request a reconsideration and appeal the court's decision, ” and she had “21 days from June 3, 2016, to request a reconsideration from the court for the hearing and for the return of Plaintiff's personal property.” (Id.). Tackett, a correctional officer, told her “she was not allowed to have the disc, ” as did Osterhout, Holliwell, and Stewart when she contacted them. (Id.). Other inmates “had been allowed” to “receive a viewing” of discs mailed them. (Id.). Following these rejections, Plaintiff “requested, but did not receive a hearing on” this rejection. (Id.).
On November 6, 2016, Plaintiff avers “a memo was posted in all housing units” stating that attorneys would be permitted to show inmates videos related to their cases on devices owned by the Michigan Department of Corrections (“MDOC”). (Id.). Because Plaintiff was representing herself in the state court proceeding, she was unable to utilize this policy. Ultimately, Defendants' actions “prevented her the possibility to prevail on a reconsideration and/or appeal of the 26th Circuit Court's decision and the possibility to recover her personal property from the county that prosecuted her on her criminal case.” (Id.). “Additionally, the prison staff has not completed the grievance process within the Michigan Department of Corrections policy's mandated 120 days.” (Id.).
Plaintiff filed a Response to the instant Motion, (Doc. 14), and I consider it “as part of the pleadings.” Brown v. Matauszak, 415 F. App'x 608, 613 (6th Cir. 2011) (quoting Flournoy v. Seiter, 835 F.2d 878, at *1 (6th Cir. Dec. 7, 1987) (unpublished table decision)). Relevantly, she elaborates somewhat on the state hearing, noting that “[t]he Alpena Court denied [the] return [of] property they seized from her apartment while she was confined in the county jail, ” and that she moved “for the return of her seized property that was not a part of her criminal convictions.” (Doc. 14 at 5). She does not allege that the state's post-deprivation procedures are categorically inadequate.

(R&R 1-3).

         Legal Standard

         The Court must make a de novo determination of the portions of the R&R to which Plaintiff has objected. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). “A judge of the court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge.” Id.

         On a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court must “assume the veracity of [the plaintiff's] well-pleaded factual allegations and determine whether the plaintiff is entitled to legal relief as a matter of law.” McCormick v. Miami Univ., 693 F.3d 654, 658 (6th Cir. 2012) (citing Ashcrof ...


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