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Robinson v. Killips

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

November 28, 2017

UNKNOWN KILLIPS et al., Defendants.



         This is 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.


         I. Factual allegations

         Plaintiff is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at Chippewa Correctional Facility (URF) in Kincheloe, Chippewa County, Michigan. The events about which he complains occurred at that facility. Plaintiff sues Corrections Officer Unknown Killips and Sergeant P. Thompson.

         Plaintiff alleges that he has worked for the URF small yard crew since October of 2014. Plaintiff's current supervisor is Defendant Killips, and his supervisor is Defendant Thompson. Plaintiff states that in the past, he filed two grievances about his pay, which were resolved. Plaintiff claims that he worked 29 days between May 19, 2016, and June 18, 2016, which included 26 days for Defendant Killips and 3 days for Marty Terrion, the Horticulture Supervisor. However, Defendant Killips insisted that Plaintiff had only worked 24 days for him. Plaintiff attempted to get Defendant Killips to pay him what he was owed, to no avail. Defendant Killips told Plaintiff that if he filed a grievance, he would give him a ticket for being out of place when Plaintiff tried to check in for overtime. Prior to this, Plaintiff had been working overtime on a regular basis.

         On July 4, 2016, Defendant Thompson interviewed Plaintiff on his grievance regarding payment for his job. Defendant Thompson refused to listen to Plaintiff's claims and told Plaintiff that if he wanted to file grievances, he would make sure to take more money from Plaintiff's pay. Defendant Thompson also told Plaintiff that he would not be given any overtime. On July 5, 2016, Plaintiff asked Defendant Killips to pay him what he was owed, but Defendant Killips refused. Plaintiff claims that the July 6, 2016, payroll was not correct. On July 10, 2016, Defendant Killips told Plaintiff, “You can't work overtime, take it in.” On July 17, 2016, Defendant Killips again told Plaintiff that he could not work overtime and that he should “go write a grievance about that.” On July 25, 2016, Defendant Thompson repeated to Plaintiff that he could not work overtime. Plaintiff states that he has not worked since June 30, 2016, and that yard workers are paid five days per week, whether they work or not.

         Plaintiff states that Defendant Killips is supposed to use a check-in sheet to keep track of workers as they arrive and leave work, but that he does not use the sheet, so there is no way to prove that Plaintiff is telling the truth. Plaintiff claims that Defendant Killips provided false information regarding the hours that Plaintiff worked in response to his grievance. Plaintiff also claims that Defendant Killips paid a white inmate overtime wages for working regular hours.

         Plaintiff claims that Defendants violated his rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages, as well as declaratory relief.

         II. 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); 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).

         Initially the Court notes that the refusal to allow Plaintiff to work overtime does not constitute a violation of his constitutional right of ...

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