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Roden v. Floyd

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

March 15, 2018

MICHELLE FLOYD, et al., Defendants.

          Anthony P. Patti Magistrate Judge


          Victoria A. Roberts United States District Judge

         Jonathan Roden (“Roden”) brought a Prisoner's Civil Rights case against Michelle Floyd (“Floyd”), Richard Cady (“Cady”), and Beverly Haynes-Love (“Haynes-Love”) (collectively, “Defendants”) under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He alleges that Defendants retaliated against him for filing grievances, in violation of his First Amendment Rights. Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. The case was referred to Magistrate Judge Anthony Patti.

         I. Background

         Roden was imprisoned at G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility (“JCF”), where he was enrolled in Jackson College as part of the “Pathways from Prison Education Initiative” in January 2015. Roden asserts that he worked as a GED tutor during the day. He was eventually promoted to academic tutor while attending classes at night. The director of the program testified at deposition that he was a good student, and one of Roden's professors testified that he did a nice job with the students he tutored.

         Roden filed numerous grievances while enrolled in Jackson College. In April and May 2015, he requested a study hall for students in order to avoid the violence in the prison yard, and made complaints about, inter alia, the lack of telephones and improper conduct of unit staff. Roden claims that in response to these grievances, the study hall was approved and more phones were ordered. In June 2015, Roden alleges that he filed a grievance against Defendants Floyd and Haynes-Love after Haynes-Love, a corrections officer, prevented him from attending one of his classes. Roden claims that in late June 2015, Floyd stopped him outside of class and threatened to transfer him for writing a grievance.

         In July 2015, Roden was named to the Dean's List, but was unable to attend the awards ceremony. He sent a handwritten note to Floyd thanking her for her support, but also saying that some cookies from the ceremony could have been saved for him. Floyd, a Deputy Warden, brought the note to the attention of Roden's supervisor David Clark, and to the attention of Warden Shawn Brewer. She requested that Clark terminate Roden from his tutor jobs and that Brewer transfer him. Brewer agreed that Roden's behavior presented a safety concern and that he could not remain at JCF. Roden claims that Floyd emailed the transfer coordinator and instructed that Roden be transferred. JCF terminated Roden from his tutor jobs on July 31, 2015. In August 2015, Roden submitted a grievance for what he considered to be an improper termination.

         In August 2015, Roden says that his schoolwork was improperly confiscated by an officer while he was in class. Roden submitted a grievance on the officer for taking his school work.

         Roden claims that on August 13, 2015, the grievance coordinator contacted Floyd to inform her that Roden had filed another grievance, which initiated another series of emails in which Floyd reiterated her desire to transfer Roden. His transfer was approved that day. According to Roden, on August 24, 2015, Cady, the Resident Unit Manager, instructed that the security classification be completed for Roden's transfer. Roden was told he was being transferred on August 26, 2015, and was ultimately transferred on August 27, 2015. The college program director testified that Roden was dropped from the program after he was transferred, around the first week of September 2015.

         On August 28, 2015, Roden submitted a grievance, alleging he was transferred in retaliation for filing grievances. He claims that because he filed these grievances, Defendants transferred him from JCF and removed him from the college program, which caused him to lose paid tuition and deprived him of the opportunity to earn his degree. The grievance was rejected; Defendants say it contained multiple issues.

         II. Motion for Summary Judgment and Report and Recommendation

         In their motion for summary judgment, Defendants argue Roden: 1) failed to exhaust administrative remedies; 2) did not allege personal involvement of Haynes-Love in the request or decision to transfer him; and 3) did not state a claim for retaliation. They also say they are entitled to qualified immunity.

         Magistrate Judge Patti issued a Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) recommending that the Court grant in part and deny in part Defendants' motion for summary judgment. Magistrate Judge Patti concluded that: 1) Roden's grievance did not contain multiple unrelated issues, and he properly exhausted administrative remedies; 2) Roden's claims against Haynes-Love should be dismissed because Roden failed to claim her personal involvement in his transfer; 3) genuine issues of material fact exist as to whether a) Roden's prison transfer was an adverse action; b) the transfer could be attributed to Floyd's request; c) Defendants would have taken the actions to transfer Roden absent his grievances; and d) Floyd and Cady should enjoy qualified immunity.

         Defendants filed two objections. First, they object to Magistrate Judge Patti's conclusion that Roden's: 1) grievance was improperly rejected for containing multiple ...

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