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McDaniel v. T. Bechard

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

November 28, 2017

CHRISTOPHER McDANIEL, Petitioner,
v.
T. BECHARD and P. STEELE, Defendants.

          ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION (DKT. 35), GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS AND FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DKT. 24)

          HON. TERRENCE G. BERG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Christopher McDaniel (“Plaintiff”), acting in pro per, is a state prisoner who was-at all times relevant to this action- incarcerated at Thumb Correctional Facility (TCF) in Lapeer, Michigan. On November 3, 2015 Plaintiff filed a lawsuit against T. Bechard and P. Steele (“Defendants”), employees who work in TCF's cafeteria, claiming that they had violated Plaintiff's civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Dkt. 1 at Pg ID 1.

         Plaintiff alleged that Defendant Bechard, with whom he has a history of “disagreements, ” filed a misconduct report against him that falsely accused him of physical assault. Dkt. 1 at Pg. ID 4. He further alleged that Defendant Steele “plotted” with Defendant Bechard to file these false assault charges against him. Id.

         This matter is before the Court on Magistrate Judge David R. Grand's Report and Recommendation dated August 2, 2017, Dkt. 35, which recommends that Defendants' Motion to Dismiss and for Summary Judgment, Dkt. 24, be granted, and that all of Plaintiff's claims be dismissed with prejudice except his Eighth Amendment claim alleging denial of food, which should be dismissed without prejudice. Dkt. 35 at Pg ID 313.

         The law provides that either party may serve and file written objections “[w]ithin fourteen days after being served with a copy” of the Report and Recommendation. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). Plaintiff filed timely objections to the Report and Recommendation.[1] Dkt. 38. Defendants filed timely responses to those objections on September 13, 2017. Dkt. 38.

         BACKGROUND

         The relevant facts about the underlying incident in this case were summarized in Magistrate Judge Grand's Report and Recommendation, Dkt. 35, Pg. IDs 292-95, and those facts are adopted for purposes of this order.

         After completing the Michigan Department of Corrections three-step grievance process, Plaintiff filed this Complaint on November 3, 2015.[2] Dkt. 1. He claims that 1) Defendants committed perjury by submitting retaliatory, false allegations about his conduct to the state; 2) Defendants violated his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment by a) prosecuting and holding him in temporary disciplinary confinement for an offense he did not commit and b) repeatedly failing to send him food-presumably while he was in disciplinary confinement. Id. at Pg ID 4.

         Plaintiff seeks $300, 000 in punitive damages, $20, 000 in compensatory damages, and injunctive relief. Id. at Pg ID 5.

         Plaintiff made seven objections, which can be boiled down to three major arguments that the Magistrate Judge erred in recommending that the Court grant Defendants' Motion to Dismiss and for Summary Judgment:

1. the First Amendment retaliation claim was valid because it alleged Plaintiff's continuous complaints about Defendant Bechard to her supervisors was a “motivating factor” in Defendant Bechard's decision to file the misconduct report against him, and a genuine issue of material fact remained regarding whether Plaintiff's history of disagreements with and complaints about Defendant or their single altercation on June 8, 2014, motivated Defendant Bechard to file the misconduct report Dkt. 38 at Pg ID at 327-31 (Objections 1, 3, and 4);
2. the allegedly false misconduct report constituted cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment because it subjected Plaintiff to disciplinary confinement and “severe mental anguish” over the consequences he would face if found guilty, id. at Pg ID at 324-26 (Objection 2);
3. the conspiracy claim against both Defendants was adequately pled because the sequence of events Plaintiff alleged-Defendant Bechard's first report without assault allegations followed by her second report with assault allegations and Defendant Steele's supporting statement-created a reasonable inference that Defendants had conspired to file a false statement against him, id. at Pg ID at 332-35 (Objections 5, 6, and 7)

         Defendants timely filed a response to Plaintiff's objections on September 13, 2017. Dkt. 39.

         Because Plaintiff timely filed his objections to the report and recommendation the Court VACATES its prior order of dismissal, Dkt. 37. The Court has reviewed Magistrate Judge Grand's Report and Recommendation, Plaintiff's objections thereto, and Defendants' responses to Plaintiff's objections. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's objections are OVERRULED, and the Report and Recommendation is ACCEPTED and ADOPTED as the opinion of the Court except that both Plaintiff's First Amendment retaliation claim and Eighth Amendment food deprivation claim are DISMISSED without prejudice and Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claims for the allegedly false misconduct ticket and his conspiracy claims are DISMISSED with prejudice.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A. De novo review

         A district court must conduct a de novo review of the parts of a Report and Recommendation to which a party objects. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). “A judge of the court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge. The judge may also receive ...


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