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Bailey v. Skytta

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

April 13, 2018

JERRY DOWELL BAILEY, Plaintiff,
v.
UNKNOWN SKYTTA 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 for failure to state a claim against Defendant Washington. The Court will serve the complaint against Defendants Skytta, Lesatz, Marshall, and Petaja.

         Discussion

         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. Plaintiff sues Corrections Officer Unknown Skytta, Warden Unknown Lesatz, Deputy Warden Unknown Marshall, Inspector Unknown Petaja, and MDOC Director Heidi Washington.

         Plaintiff alleges that he requested removal from the voluntary segregation incentive program on July 19, 2017, because it violates his rights. Prison Counselor Deforge refused to grant Plaintiff's request. On July 21, 2017, Defendant Skytta removed Plaintiff's television from his cell while he was in the yard. Plaintiff was given a contraband removal slip stating that he could not possess the television because he was not on step 4 of the incentive program. Plaintiff states that all segregation prisoners are required to volunteer for the incentive program in order to maintain possession of their personal property or be released from segregation. Plaintiff asserts that he had not had a misconduct since April 18, 2017, and that the reason he was dropped from stage 4 to stage 2 of the program was because he had been talking on third shift. Plaintiff states that he never received any warning or reprimand, but was just informed that he was no longer on step 4 of the incentive program.

         Plaintiff alleges that later in the day on July 21, 2017, another inmate flooded the hallway with toilet water, feces, and urine. Defendant Skytta came to clean the floor while Plaintiff was conversing with another prisoner. Defendant Skytta told Plaintiff to “shut the f**k up” and called Plaintiff a child molester, stating that he was going to get Plaintiff's file and read it “on the rock.” Defendant Skytta then took the squeegee that he had been using to clean the floor and used it to splash contaminated water onto Plaintiff's leg. Defendant Skytta then turned the water off in Plaintiff's cell and stated that Plaintiff “didn't have nothing coming in the block he's in.” Defendant Skytta worked a double shift and deprived Plaintiff of both his breakfast and lunch. Defendant Skytta also told all the other officers not to turn Plaintiff's water back on and stated that he was going to kill Plaintiff.

         Plaintiff asked several staff members for food and water, but they simply told Plaintiff to talk to Defendant Skytta. On August 24, 2017, at approximately 3:15 pm, Plaintiff begged Defendant Petaja to turn his water back on, to no avail. At approximately 3:30 pm, Plaintiff explained his situation to Defendant Marshall and begged him to turn his water back on. Defendant Marshall told Plaintiff to try his water, so Plaintiff attempted to turn his water on. When nothing happened, Defendant Marshall told Plaintiff to talk to Defendant Skytta. When Defendant Lesatz made rounds later that day, Plaintiff asked him to turn the water on in his cell. Defendant Lesatz told Plaintiff to try his water, so Plaintiff attempted to turn his water on. When nothing happened, Defendant Lesatz told Plaintiff to talk to his “rock” officer. Finally, Defendant Skytta came to Plaintiff's cell and stated that Plaintiff was a rat, which was not going to help him.

         Plaintiff began to suffer from severe dehydration, diarrhea and kidney pain, so he submitted a medical kite. On July 25, 2017, Nurse Sundberg asked custody staff to turn Plaintiff's water on. However, even after the water was turned on, it did not function in Plaintiff's cell because Defendant Skytta had stripped the nozzle that controlled the flow of water into Plaintiff's cell. Therefore, maintenance had to be called in to fix the problem. Plaintiff filed another kite on July 26, 2017, and was seen by Nurse Corigan, who took a urine sample and referred Plaintiff to the general practitioner. Plaintiff was seen by the general practitioner on July 28, 2017, who confirmed that Plaintiff was dehydrated, but stated that the kidney pain was properly muscular. Plaintiff continues to have pain in his kidney area. Plaintiff claims that he suffered without water and with very little food from July 21, 2017, until July 25, 2017. Plaintiff requested an HIV and Hepatitis test as a result of being exposed to feces and urine by Defendant Skytta.

         Plaintiff claims that Defendants violated his rights under the 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 - but it has not ‘show[n]' - that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)); see also Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010) (holding that the Twombly/Iqbal plausibility standard applies to dismissals of prisoner cases on initial review under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A(b)(1) and 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)).

         To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the violation of a right secured by the federal Constitution or laws and must show that the deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Street v. Corr. Corp. of Am., 102 F.3d 810, 814 (6th Cir. 1996). Because § 1983 is a method for vindicating federal rights, not a source of substantive rights itself, the first step in an action under § 1983 is to identify the specific constitutional right allegedly infringed. Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994).

         Plaintiff claims that his due process rights were violated by his forced participation in the Incentives in Segregation Program. “The Fourteenth Amendment protects an individual from deprivation of life, liberty or property, without due process of law.” Bazetta v. McGinnis, 430 F.3d 795, 801 (6th Cir. 2005). To establish a Fourteenth Amendment procedural due process violation, a plaintiff must show that one of these interests is at stake. Wilkinson v. Austin, 545 U.S. 209, 221 (2005). Analysis of a procedural due process claim involves two steps: “[T]he first asks whether there exists a liberty or property interest which has been interfered with by the State; the second examines whether the procedures attendant upon that deprivation were constitutionally sufficient.” Ky. Dep't of Corr. v. Thompson, 490 U.S. 454, 460 (1989). The Supreme Court long has held that the Due Process Clause does not protect every change in the conditions of confinement having an impact on a prisoner. See Meachum v. Fano, 427 U.S. 215, 225 (1976). In Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 484 (1995), the Court set forth the standard for determining when a state-created right creates a federally cognizable liberty interest protected by the Due Process Clause. According to the Sandin Court, a prisoner is entitled to the protections of due process only when the sanction ...


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