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Carlisle v. Kalnins

United States District Court, W.D. Michigan

March 14, 2018

TRACY CARLISLE, Plaintiff,
v.
DAVID KALNINS et al., Defendants.

          OPINION

          Paul L. Maloney United States District Judge

         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 against Defendants Kalnins, Kirkland, and Fenby for failure to state a claim.

         Discussion

         I. Factual allegations

         Plaintiff is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Earnest C. Brooks Correctional Facility (LRF) in Muskegon Heights, Muskegon County, Michigan. The events about which he complains, however, occurred at the Carson City Correctional Facility (DRF) in Carson City, Michigan. Plaintiff sues the following DRF officials: Correctional Officer David Kalnins; Prison Counselor Christopher M. Kirkland; and Deputy Warden David Fenby.

         Plaintiff alleges that DRF Deputy Wardens David Fenby and Michelle Hill-Floyd issued a memorandum granting amnesty to DRF prisoners who placed contraband or excess items into the bin provided in the unit from 8:00 a.m. on April 20, 2017, through April 27, 2017. Inmates were advised that they must put the items into the designated bin in the unit. If they did so, no questions would be asked and no misconduct charges would be issued.

         Plaintiff alleges that, on April 20, 2017, at 2:00 p.m., he attempted to take advantage of the amnesty. Plaintiff does not allege that he attempted to place his contraband into the bin. Instead, Plaintiff alleges that he attempted to turn over his contraband items to Defendant Kalnins under unspecified circumstances. Kalnins issued Plaintiff a minor-misconduct charge, alleging that Plaintiff was in possession of contraband. Three hours later, Plaintiff was transferred to a different housing unit.

         Plaintiff reported to Defendant Kirkland on April 21, 2017, for a review of the misconduct ticket. Kirkland offered Plaintiff an opportunity to plead guilty of being in possession of contraband, in exchange for a sanction of five days' loss of privileges. Plaintiff refused. On April 25, 2017, Defendant Kirkland conducted a hearing, finding Plaintiff guilty of the misconduct charge and imposing a sanction of six days' loss of privileges.

         Plaintiff appealed the misconduct conviction, contending that the amnesty period prevented him from being found guilty. Defendant Fenby affirmed the guilty finding, concluding that the amnesty period did not prevent Plaintiff from being found guilty of having possession of contraband during the period.

         According to Plaintiff, Defendant Kalnins permitted over 70 inmates, “mostly non-blacks, ” the opportunity to turn in contraband items. (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.3.) Plaintiff alleges that, by ticketing Plaintiff, an African-American, Defendant Kalnins discriminated against Plaintiff on the basis of his race.

         Plaintiff also contends that the amnesty period provided him the right to immunity from sanctions for possessing contraband, and he suggests that issuance of and conviction on the misconduct ticket deprived him of due process. In addition, Plaintiff contends that the imposition of sanctions during the amnesty period amounted to cruel and unusual punishment, in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

         For relief, Plaintiff seeks punitive damages.

         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 - ...


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