United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
Jamero Moses #231885, William Johnson #235820 Lamont Heard #252329 Plaintiffs,
Thomas Finco, et al., Defendants.
L. Maloney United States District Judge.
a civil rights action brought by three state prisoners
against three Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC)
employees under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
allege that Defendants Thomas Finco (MDOC Deputy Director),
David Leach (Special Activities Coordinator), and Michael
Martin (Special Activities Coordinator) violated their First
Amendment rights in various ways.
January 2, 2018, United States Magistrate Judge Ellen S.
Carmody issued a Report & Recommendation (“R &
R”) recommending that the Court grant in part and deny
in part Defendants' motion for summary judgment based on
the Plaintiffs' failure to exhaust their administrative
remedies. (ECF No. 60.) The matter is before the Court on
Plaintiff William Johnson's Objections to the R & R.
(ECF No. 61.) No other objections have been filed, and
Defendants have not responded to Johnson's objections.
dispositive motion, a magistrate judge issues a report and
recommendation, rather than an order. After being served with
an R & R issued by a magistrate judge, a party has
fourteen days to file written objections to the proposed
findings and recommendations. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1);
Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). A district court judge reviews de novo
the portions of the R & R to which objections have been
filed. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b).
those objections that are specific are entitled to a de novo
review under the statute. Mira v. Marshall, 806 F.2d
636, 637 (6th Cir. 1986) (per curiam) (holding that the
district court need not provide de novo review where the
objections are frivolous, conclusive or too general because
the burden is on the parties to “pinpoint those
portions of the magistrate's report that the district
court must specifically consider”). Failure to file an
objection results in a waiver of the issue and the issue
cannot be appealed. United States v. Sullivan, 431
F.3d 976, 984 (6th Cir. 2005); see also Thomas v.
Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 155 (upholding the Sixth
Circuit's practice). The district court judge may accept,
reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or
recommendations made by the magistrate judge. 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b).
objects to the R & R for three reasons. First, he says he
exhausted his administrative remedies relating to the alleged
denial of religious texts against all three Defendants-Finco,
Leach, and Martin. Second, he claims that the Defendants
failed to raise administrative exhaustion relating to the
alleged denial of religious meals because they did not
address one grievance in particular (URF 13-10-2819-20e).
Finally, Johnson argues that even if Defendants properly
raised administrative exhaustion of grievance 13-10-2819-20e,
he did exhaust this grievance despite not naming any of the
Denial of Religious Texts
Carmody concluded that Johnson exhausted his administrative
remedies on the denial of religious texts only for Defendant
Leach. The grievance related to this claim is
URF-15-10-3506-20c. (ECF No. 44-6 at PageID.446-50.)
grievance, Johnson stated, “[t]his grievance is on MDOC
Dir. Heyns, Dep. Director, A/Special Acts Coor. Leach, MDOC
Chaplain and U.R.F. Chaplain Rink.” (Id.)
Judge Carmody concluded that, since neither Finco nor
Martin's name appeared in the grievance, Johnson had not
exhausted claims against them. (ECF No. 60 at PageID.716.)
responds that he “specifically designated” Finco
and Martin by using “the official titles [he] believed
they possessed.” (ECF No. 61 at PageID.730.) As
support, he cites Reed-Bey v. Pramstaller and
Mattox v. Edelman for the proposition that the
ordinary rule- specifying the names of each person
responsible for the alleged wrong-does not apply to his
claims under relating to this grievance. 851 F.3d 586 (6th
Cir. 2017); 603 F.3d 322 (6th Cir 2010). True, prison
officials may waive procedural irregularities in a grievance
by addressing it on the merits. Mattox, 851 F.3d at
591 (citing Reed-Bey, 603 F.3d at 325.) However, the
court also explained that the purpose of the exhaustion
requirement “is to allow prison officials ‘a fair
opportunity' to address grievances on the merits, to
correct prison errors that can and should be corrected and to
create an administrative record for those disputes that
eventually end up in Court.” Id.
officials addressed Johnson's grievance on the merits
through Step III, even though he intermixed some named prison
officials with some identified only by their position. In
certain scenarios, identifying prison officials only by their
position may still provide fair notice of the claims being
raised by the grievance-if it is readily apparent who the
grievance is addressing and the substance of the claim.
See, e.g., Mahaffey v. Buskirk, No.
13-14646, 2014 WL 2864099 at n.13 (E.D. Mich. June 24, 2014)