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Theriot v. Woods

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

April 4, 2018

JEFFREY WOODS et al., Defendants.


          Janet T. Neff 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 for failure to state a claim against Defendants Woods, Huhta, Pesola, Dube, Kutchie, Hemmila, Petaga, Morgan, LaChance, Goodreva, Velma, Hennigs, Lee, Phillips, Skytta, Bray, LaForest, Evans, Marshall, Bessener, Berry, Horocs, Fliccano, Washington, Tussing, Russell, Unknown Hoffman, Raymond, Calzetta, Szagganlessory, Sunberg, and Bessner. The Court will serve the complaint against Defendants Latnen, Vitteleo, Huss, and Napel.


         I. Factual allegations

         Plaintiff is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Baraga Correctional Facility (AMF) in Baraga, Michigan. The events about which he complains occurred at that facility and the Marquette Branch Prison (MBP) in Marquette, Marquette County, Michigan and the Chippewa Correctional Facility (URF) in Kincheloe, Chippewa County, Michigan. Plaintiff sues Warden Jeffrey Woods, Corrections Officers Unknown Huhta, Unknown Pesola, Unknown Dube, Unknown Kutchie, and Unknown Hemmila, Inspector Unknown Petaga, Corrections Officers Unknown Morgan, Unknown LaChance, Unknown Goodreva, Unknown Velma, and Lieutenant Unknown Hennigs, Sergeant Unknown Lee, Corrections Officers Unknown Phillips, Unknown Skytta, Unknown Bray, Lieutenant Unknown LaForest, Corrections Officer Unknown Evans, Assistant Deputy Warden Unknown Marshall, Assistant Resident Unit Supervisor Unknown Bessener, Assistant Resident Unit Supervisor Unknown Latnen, Sergeant Unknown Berry, Assistant Deputy Warden Unknown Huss, Assistant Resident Unit Supervisor Unknown Horocs, Librarian Unknown Fliccano, Warden Robert Napel, Resident Unit Manager Unknown Vitteleo, MDOC Director Heidi E. Washington, Sergeant Unknown Tussing, Hearings Administrator Richard Russell, Administrative Assistant Unknown Hoffman, Hearings Investigator Unknown Raymond, Prison Counselor Unknown Calzetta, Hearing Officer M. Szagganlessory, Nurse Unknown Sunberg, and Corrections Officer Unknown Bessner.

         Plaintiff alleges that on January 29, 2013, officials at URF used excessive force when they used a chemical agent on him after he refused to pack up his property for a transfer. Plaintiff states that the use of chemical agent was ordered by Defendant Woods. On January 30, 2013, Plaintiff was transferred to AMF. Plaintiff states that while at AMF, he told SCC (Security Classification Committee) members about the January 29, 2013, excessive force.

         Plaintiff was transferred to MBP sometime in 2016, and immediately informed staff about the January 29, 2013, excessive force incident. Plaintiff sent documents regarding the incident to the Grievance Coordinator, Inspectors, and Defendants Napel, Horocs, and Huss, but they kept the documents and ignored Plaintiff's complaint in order to protect staff at URF. Plaintiff claims that these same individuals moved him frequently so that he could not pursue his claim. Plaintiff states that Defendants Goodreva, LaChance, Huhta, Velma, and Huss wrote retaliatory tickets on Plaintiff. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Goodreva had him placed in segregation on October 2, 2014, and Defendant Huss had him placed in segregation on April 29, 2016, both times in retaliation for Plaintiff bringing up the January 29, 2013, excessive force incident. Plaintiff also states that Defendant LaChance stole his deodorant.

         Plaintiff contends that he has been the victim of stalking and sexual harassment by Defendants Huhta, Pesola, Dube, Hemmila, Lee, Morgan, and Berry, as well as other prison officials. Plaintiff alleges that between June 5, 2014, and September 22, 2014, Defendant Hemmila sexually harassed him by tampering with Plaintiff's store lists, watching Plaintiff while he went about his business, standing too close to Plaintiff, and making gyrating motions of his hips while looking at Plaintiff. Plaintiff claims that between October 2, 2014, and December 28, 2015, Defendant Huhta “ogled” Plaintiff while passing out food trays and while Plaintiff was in the shower. Plaintiff claims that during this same time, Defendants Pesola and Kutchie made inappropriate comments toward Plaintiff, like referring to him as “big man, ” and peeked at Plaintiff while he was in the shower. Plaintiff also states that Defendants attempted to prevent female corrections officers from working around Plaintiff because they were jealous of Plaintiff being able to see any females. Plaintiff claims that Defendant Morgan purposefully shook Plaintiff and other prisoners down at shower time solely for his own sexual gratification. Plaintiff also makes numerous allegations against Assistant Resident Unit Supervisor Burke regarding stalking behavior. However, Plaintiff fails to name Assistant Resident Unit Supervisor Burke as a defendant in this case. Plaintiff claims that he “had so many sexual stalkers [he] would go to yard maybe only once a week and [for] haircuts.”

         Plaintiff contends that he has given numerous grievances, complaints, and documents on the issue of his January 29, 2013, assault to staff for mailing, but was never provided with an official address. Plaintiff states that Defendant Russell never responded to his request for a rehearing for some unspecified misconduct, which Plaintiff claims denied him due process.

         On April 29, 2016, Plaintiff received a misconduct ticket while in segregation, but never received a hearing on that misconduct. On May 3, 2016, Plaintiff was protesting the fact that he had been illegally gassed on January 29, 2013, and that he had been illegally placed in segregation on April 29, 2016, without the issuance of either a misconduct or a Notice of Intent. Plaintiff states that he got his aunt Cheryl Theriot and the block unit representatives involved in his case, which led to his segregation. In order to protest, Plaintiff claimed to be suicidal and said he would only come out of his cell if staff officially acknowledged his claim of excessive force, which occurred on January 29, 2013. Once confronted by staff, Plaintiff admitted that he was not suicidal and just wanted due process. Thereafter, Plaintiff was gassed and while he was unable to see, Defendant Lee stuck a finger or thumb in Plaintiff's rectum. A hearing was held on an assault charge against Plaintiff, but he was not informed of the hearing. Plaintiff was not cleared out of suicide watch by a psychiatric professional until May 6, 2016. Plaintiff wrote several grievances, which were never processed.

         Plaintiff continued to write the Michigan Democratic House Speaker, which forced Hearing Officer Maki to give Plaintiff a fair hearing and find him “not guilty” of the retaliatory ticket. Plaintiff claims that in her findings, Hearing Officer Maki noted that something had been placed in Plaintiff's rectum during his time in segregation and asked that a questionnaire be ordered on AMF personnel. It appears that Plaintiff was confined at AMF by the time the hearing was held, and he alleges that staff at AMF withheld the questionnaire in order to protect MBP personnel.

         While at MBP, Plaintiff attempted to bring attention to the misconduct of staff by sending complaints to Defendants Napel and Washington, and the Civil Service Commission, none of whom responded. When the evidence began to pile up, Plaintiff attempted to send copies of his complaints to Defendant Washington, Internal Affairs, the Ombudsman, Governor Rick Snyder, FOX News, CNN News, Humanity for Prisoners, the President of the USA, the Michigan State Police, the Department of Justice, and local news channels. Plaintiff claims that he had the correct amount of money in his account to cover the postage, but that Defendant Latnen refused to mail the complaints, citing a “trumped up” postage weight and saying that Plaintiff did not have enough money. Plaintiff claims that Defendants Vitteleo, Huss, and Napel approved this action. Plaintiff states that he could tell that his mail had been illegally opened and read, presumably by Defendants Latnen, Vitteleo, Huss, and Napel.

         On September 22, 2016, Plaintiff sent evidence of the mail tampering to the library to have copies made. Defendant Fliccano made the copies, but then called Defendant Latnen about the copies. Defendant Latnen then called Defendants Vitteleo, Huss, and Napel, who instructed her to keep the copies. After a couple of days, Plaintiff wrote to Defendants Fliccano and Latnen asking about the status of his copies. Both Fliccano and Latnen responded that they did not have the copies and did not know anything about them. Plaintiff then made an unsuccessful attempt to force staff to return his copies by breaking the cell sprinkler head and refusing to come out of his cell. Defendant Phillips wrote Plaintiff “retaliatory” tickets and Plaintiff was placed on food loaf.

         On November 21, 2016, Defendant Morgan, who Plaintiff previously named as a sexual stalker and harasser, grabbed Plaintiff's buttocks while Plaintiff was on the way to recreation yard. This was observed by Officer Maudrie. Finally, Plaintiff claims that on February 14, 2017, he was ordered to exit his cell after barricading himself in his cell because he was afraid of additional “assaults, sexual assaults, sexual harassment, sexual stalking and retaliatory tickets.” Plaintiff was removed from his cell by a move team pursuant to the orders of Defendants Marshall, and Bessner.

         Plaintiff claims that Defendants violated his rights under the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments. Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages, as well as declaratory and injunctive relief.

         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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