United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Northern Division
MARCUS D. MAYS, Plaintiff,
UNKNOWN PERALA et al., Defendants.
J. QUIST UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
a civil rights action brought by a state prisoner under 42
U.S.C. § 1983. Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act,
Pub. L. No. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321 (1996) (PLRA), 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 Defendant Laplante. The Court will serve the
complaint against Defendants Perala and Corrigan.
is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of
Corrections (MDOC) at the Baraga Correctional Facility (AMF)
in Baraga, Baraga County, Michigan. The events about which he
complains occurred at that facility. Plaintiff sues
Corrections Officer Unknown Perala, Nurse Elizabeth M.
Corrigan, and Grievance Coordinator Thomas Laplante.
alleges that on October 14, 2016, Defendant Perala slammed
his arm in the food slot after Plaintiff refused to drop his
lawsuit against Defendant Perala's friend Hemmila.
Defendant Perala also subsequently wrote false misconduct
tickets on Plaintiff and refused to help Plaintiff when he
suffered a seizure. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Corrigan
refused to provide him with needed medical care for his
injured arm, stating that Plaintiff deserved to be assaulted
for filing a lawsuit on Doctor Oh. Finally, Plaintiff claims
that Defendant Laplante interfered with Plaintiff's use
of the grievance system on multiple occasions. Plaintiff
seeks compensatory and punitive damages, as well as
Failure to state a claim
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)).
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); Street
v. Corr. Corp. of Am., 102 F.3d 810, 814 (6th Cir.
1996). Because § 1983 is a method for vindicating
federal rights, not a source of substantive rights itself,
the first step in an action under § 1983 is to identify
the specific constitutional right allegedly infringed.
Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994).
noted above, Plaintiff claims that Defendant Laplante
interfered with his use of the grievance procedure, which
prevented Plaintiff from exhausting his administrative
remedies. Plaintiff has no due process right to file a prison
grievance. The courts repeatedly have held that there exists
no constitutionally protected due process right to an
effective prison grievance procedure. See Hewitt v.
Helms, 459 U.S. 460, 467 (1983); Walker v. Mich.
Dep't of Corr., 128 F. App'x 441, 445 (6th Cir.
2005); Argue v. Hofmeyer, 80 F. App'x 427, 430
(6th Cir. 2003); Young v. Gundy, 30 F. App'x
568, 569-70 (6th Cir. 2002); Carpenter v. Wilkinson,
No. 99-3562, 2000 WL 190054, at *2 (6th Cir. Feb. 7, 2000);
see also Antonelli v. Sheahan, 81 F.3d 1422, 1430
(7th Cir. 1996); Adams v. Rice, 40 F.3d 72, 75 (4th
Cir. 1994) (collecting cases). Michigan law does not create a
liberty interest in the grievance procedure. See Olim v.
Wakinekona, 461 U.S. 238, 249 (1983); Keenan v.
Marker, 23 F. App'x 405, 407 (6th Cir. 2001);
Wynn v. Wolf, No. 93-2411, 1994 WL 105907, at *1
(6th Cir. Mar. 28, 1994). Because Plaintiff has no liberty
interest in the grievance process, Defendant Laplante's
conduct did not deprive him of due process.
Defendant Laplante's actions have not barred Plaintiff
from seeking a remedy for his grievances. See Cruz v.
Beto, 405 U.S. 319, 321 (1972). “A prisoner's
constitutional right to assert grievances typically is not
violated when prison officials prohibit only ‘one of
several ways in which inmates may voice their complaints to,
and seek relief, from prison officials' while leaving a
formal grievance procedure intact.” Griffin v.
Berghuis, 563 Fed. App'x 411, 415-416 (6th Cir.
2014) (citing Jones v. N. C. Prisoners' Labor Union,
Inc., 433 U.S. 119, 130 n. 6 (1977)). Indeed,
Plaintiff's ability to seek redress is underscored by his
pro se invocation of the judicial process. See Azeez v.
DeRobertis, 568 F.Supp. 8, 10 (N.D. Ill. 1982). Even if
Plaintiff had been improperly prevented from filing a
grievance, his right of access to the courts to petition for
redress of his grievances (i.e., by filing a lawsuit) cannot
be compromised by his inability to file institutional
grievances, and he therefore cannot demonstrate the actual
injury required for an access-to-the-courts claim. See,
e.g., Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 355 (1996)
(requiring actual injury); Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S.
817, 821-24 (1977). The exhaustion requirement only mandates
exhaustion of available administrative remedies.
See 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). If Plaintiff were
improperly denied access to the grievance process, the
process would be rendered unavailable, and exhaustion would
not be a prerequisite for initiation of a civil rights
action. See Ross v. Blake, 136 S.Ct. 1850, 1858-59
(2016) (reiterating that, if the prisoner is barred from
pursuing a remedy by policy or by the interference of
officials, the grievance process is not available, and
exhaustion is not required); Kennedy v. Tallio, 20
F. App'x 469, 470 (6th Cir. 2001). In light of the
foregoing, the Court finds that Plaintiff fails to state a
cognizable claim against Defendant Laplante.
Court concludes that Plaintiff's claims against
Defendants Perala and Corrigan are not clearly frivolous and
may not be dismissed on initial review.
conducted the review required by the Prison Litigation Reform
Act, the Court determines that Defendant Laplante will be
dismissed for failure to state a claim, under 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(b), and 42 U.S.C. §