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Maye v. Klee

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

March 19, 2018

DERRICK MAYE, Plaintiff,
v.
PAUL KLEE, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER OVERRULING OBJECTIONS, ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION, GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT IN PART, GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT IN PART, DIRECTING SUPPLEMENTAL BRIEFING AND DISMISSING DEFENDANTS MARTIN, RILEY AND BARRETT

          THOMAS L. LUDINGTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         On February 25, 2014, Plaintiff Derrick Maye, an inmate at Cooper Street Correctional Facility, filed suit against various prison personnel, alleging they violated his rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Maye claims that Defendants denied him permission to participate in the Muslim festival of Eid-al-Fitr, [1] withheld religious materials, prevented him from filing administrative grievances, and retaliated against him for filing grievances. Defendants' initial motion for summary judgment was granted in part and denied in part, which resulted in dismissal of all named individual Defendants on the basis of qualified immunity, with the exception of Defendant Joseph Serafin, the Institutional Chaplain at the Gus Harrison Correctional Facility. See ECF Nos. 46, 51.

         Plaintiff was appointed counsel on May 29, 2015. See ECF No. 58. Plaintiff then filed a first amended complaint on October 24, 2015 after obtaining the Court's permission. See ECF Nos. 74, 75. The amended complaint reasserted Plaintiff's claims against Defendant Serafin, but also added claims against Michael Martin, William Taylor, William Riley, and Joseph Barrett “in their official capacities and for their intentional actions.” See ECF No. 75. Plaintiff filed a supplement to his amended complaint on February 3, 2016. See ECF No. 99.

         After the close of discovery, on July 15, 2016, Plaintiff and Defendants filed motions for summary judgment. See ECF Nos. 111, 112. In part, Defendants argued that summary judgment was appropriate as to all of Plaintiff's claims for money damages because Plaintiff had not sued them in their individual capacities. See ECF No. 111 In response, Plaintiff moved to file a second amended complaint, seeking to clarify his intent to sue Defendants in their individual capacities as well as their official capacities. See ECF No. 117. On December 12, 2016, Magistrate Judge Stephanie Dawkins Davis granted Plaintiff's motion for leave to amend his complaint, and denying Defendants' motion for summary judgment as moot. See ECF No. 128. The magistrate judge reasoned that, based on Plaintiff's first amended complaint and the course of proceedings, Defendants were on notice that they were being sued in their individual capacities. Defendants' subsequent objections were overruled by this Court.

         On March 3, 2017, Judge Davis issued a report, recommending that Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment be granted in part and denied in part. Specifically, she recommended that Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment against Defendant Serafin be granted as to Plaintiff's First Amendment and Equal Protection claims, but denied as to Plaintiff's Substantive Due Process claim. Defendant Serafin timely objected. See ECF No. 140. Then, on March 28, 2017, Defendants filed a motion for leave to file a third dispositive motion, seeking to challenge the merits of Plaintiff's individual capacity claims. See ECF No. 141. The Court granted the motion for leave to file a third dispositive motion. ECF No. 145. Judge Davis's March 3 report and recommendation (ECF No. 138) on Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment was held in abeyance. That report and recommendation will be addressed in conjunction with instant report and recommendation (ECF No. 154) on Defendants' third motion for summary judgment.

         I.

         A detailed factual and procedural summary is contained in Judge Davis's report. As neither party has objected to those summaries, they are adopted herein in full. For clarity, a brief overview of Judge Davis's pertinent findings is necessary. Judge Davis noted that the remaining disputed claims are the 2013 First and Fourteenth Amendment claims against Martin and Serafin along with the 2014 First Amendment claim against Taylor.[2] According to the Joint Statement of resolved and unresolved issues, as well the information provided during oral argument, Judge Davis determined that the disputed issues are: 1) whether Plaintiff exhausted his claims against Martin; (2) whether Martin and Serafin are entitled to qualified immunity for Plaintiff's 2013 First and Fourteenth Amendment claims; 3) whether Taylor is entitled to qualified immunity on the 2014 First Amendment claim, and (4) whether plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment claims against Martin and Serafin are barred because the First Amendment is the explicit source of Plaintiff's claims.

         Judge Davis found that, although Plaintiff had properly exhausted his claims against Martin, those claims fail because of Martin's lack of personal involvement in the decision leading to Plaintiffs injury. Rep. & Rec. at 17-20, 28. Accordingly, she recommended that Defendant Martin's motion for summary judgment be granted in its entirety.

         With respect to qualified immunity, Judge Davis found that Plaintiff's right to attend Eid in August of 2013 was clearly established based on Judge Avern Cohn's order in the Dowdy case and the corresponding policy directive issued by MDOC.[3] Rep. & Rec. at 23-25, ECF No. 154. Accordingly, Judge Davis found that Defendant Serafin was not entitled to qualified immunity for denying Plaintiff's request to attend Eid in August of 2013. Id. She further noted that this issue has already been resolved against Serafin in the Court's order denying his motion for summary judgment based on qualified immunity. Id. Judge Davis found that Serafin has identified no new facts that would justify revisiting the law of the case. Id. Judge Davis found that it was undisputed that Serafin expressly denied Plaintiff (a member of the Nation of Islam) the clearly established right to participate in Eid in 2013, and at the same time permitted members of the majority sect, Al-Islam, to participate. Id. at 29-30, 34-43. Accordingly, she recommended granting summary judgment for Plaintiff on his claims against Serafin for violating the Free Exercise Clause, Establishment Clause, and Equal Protection Clause. She recommended granting summary judgment for Serafin only as to Plaintiff's Substantive Due Process claim, which Judge Davis found was more appropriately grounded in the First Amendment.

         With respect to Defendant Taylor, Judge Davis found that, although Plaintiff's right to attend Eid in 2014 was clearly established, there is a question of fact as to whether Taylor ever received a request from Plaintiff to participate in the 2014 Eid. Id. at 40. Thus, Judge Davis determined that Taylor was not entitled to summary judgment on the Free Exercise claim. With respect to the Establishment Clause claim against Taylor, Judge Davis found Taylor was entitled to summary judgment because Plaintiff had not presented any evidence that Taylor's actions were based on a policy preferring one religion over another (whereas Plaintiff had provided evidence that Serafin expressly permitted members of the Al-Islam sect to participate in Eid while denying Plaintiff (a Nation of Islam member) the right to do so.). Plaintiff conceded that Taylor was entitled to summary judgment as to the Fourteenth Amendment claim. Accordingly, Judge Davis recommended that Defendant Taylor's motion for summary judgment be denied as to the Free Exercise claim, but granted in all other respects.

         Finally, she recommended that Defendants Riley and Barrett's motion for summary judgment be granted in its entirety, pursuant to the parties' agreement. Defendants filed timely objections to both the March 3 and January 24 report and recommendations. ECF Nos. 140, 155.[4] Plaintiff responded to those objections, but did not file objections of his own.

         II.

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72, a party may object to and seek review of a magistrate judge's report and recommendation. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(2). Objections must be stated with specificity. Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 151 (1985) (citation omitted). If objections are made, “[t]he district judge must determine de novo any part of the magistrate judge's disposition that has been properly objected to.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3). De novo review requires at least a review of the evidence before the magistrate judge; the Court may not act solely on the basis of a magistrate judge's report and recommendation. See Hill v. Duriron Co., 656 F.2d 1208, 1215 (6th Cir. 1981). After reviewing the evidence, the Court is free to accept, reject, or modify the findings or recommendations of the magistrate judge. See Lardie v. Birkett, 221 F.Supp.2d 806, 807 (E.D. Mich. 2002).

         Only 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). “The parties have the duty to pinpoint those portions of the magistrate's report that the district court must specially consider.” Id. (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). A general objection, or one that merely restates the arguments previously presented, does not sufficiently identify alleged errors on the part of the magistrate judge. See VanDiver v. Martin, 304 F.Supp.2d 934, 937 (E.D. Mich. 2004). An “objection” that does nothing more than disagree with a magistrate judge's determination, “without explaining the source of the error, ” is not considered a valid objection. Howard v. Sec'y of Health and Human Servs., 932 F.2d 505, 509 (6th Cir. 1991). Without specific objections, “[t]he functions of the district court are effectively duplicated as both the magistrate and the district court perform identical tasks. This duplication of time and effort wastes judicial resources rather than saving them, and runs contrary to the purposes of the Magistrate's Act.” Id.

         III.

         Defendants raise the following objections to the report and recommendation: 1) “The Magistrate Judge erred in concluding that Serafin was not entitled to qualified immunity under the First Amendment because the law was not clearly established in 2013 that missing a single religious service amounted to a constitutional violation;” 2) “The Magistrate Judge erred in concluding that Serafin was not entitled to qualified immunity under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because the law was not clearly established in 2013 that missing a single religious service amounted to a constitutional violation;” 3) The Magistrate Judge erred in concluding that Taylor was not entitled to qualified immunity under the First Amendment because the law was not clearly established in 2013 that missing a single religious service amounted to a constitutional violation;” 4) “The Magistrate Judge erred in concluding that Maye properly exhausted his administrative remedies against Martin.” (emphasis added).

         Although the first three objections are numbered separately, they largely raise a single objection, namely that “the law was not clearly established in 2013 that missing a single religious service amounted to a constitutional violation.” To the extent any of ...


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