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Roden v. Plont

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

April 16, 2018

JOHNATHON STEWART RODEN, Plaintiff,
v.
DON PLONT 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. § l997e(c). The Court must read Plaintiffs pro se complaint indulgently, see Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), and accept Plaintiffs 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 Plaintiffs complaint for failure to state a claim against Defendant Trinity Food Service Group. The Court will serve the complaint against Defendants Don Plont.

         Discussion

         I. Factual allegations

         Plaintiff is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Kinross Correctional Facility (KCF) in Kincheloe, Michigan. The events about which he complains occurred at that facility. Plaintiff sues Don Plont, who was employed as a Food Steward for Trinity Food Service Group. The Court notes that Plaintiff has filed a motion to amend his complaint, as well as a proposed amended complaint (ECF No. 6). Pursuant to Rule 15(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a party may amend once as a matter of course before a responsive pleading is served. Therefore, Plaintiffs motion is properly granted and the Court will accept Plaintiffs proposed amended complaint as the complaint in this case.

         Plaintiff alleges that on August 30, 2017, he discovered a maggot crawling out of the banana on his dinner tray. Plaintiff immediately notified Sergeant Beauliu by showing him the maggot. Sergeant Beauliu instructed Plaintiff to get a new tray. Plaintiff asked if the chow line should be stopped and Sergeant Beauliu told him to go tell Defendant Plont. Plaintiff then approached Defendant Plont and told him that there were maggots or worms crawling out of his banana. Defendant Plont gave the banana a cursory look and said, "No there's not." Plaintiff again showed Defendant Plont the maggot and asked to see a supervisor. Defendant Plont responded by telling Plaintiff that the maggot was just goo, and stating that if Plaintiff did not go sit down, he was going to write him a misconduct for creating disturbance. Plaintiff then asked Line Officer Templeton if he saw the maggot. Officer Templeton stated, "eww." Defendant Plont then took the banana and said, "Oh yeah, I see. I must have looked at the wrong spot. You can get a new tray." Defendant Plont then instructed the line workers to pull all the bananas and serve apples.

         While in line to receive a new tray, Plaintiff asked the line workers "[w]hy aren't you sanitizing? Plaintiff also asked, "[w]hat is the food steward's name?" Defendant Plont then interrupted, telling Plaintiff that he had gotten a new tray and to just "leave it alone." Plaintiff stated that he was not going to leave it alone, and was going to file a grievance. Defendant Plont stated, "That's it. You're getting a ticket. Give me your ID." Plaintiff complied.

         Defendant Plont wrote Plaintiff a class II ticket for creating a disturbance, which accused Plaintiff of being loud and slowing down chow lines. Plaintiff had a hearing on the misconduct on September 7, 2017, and was found not guilty. Hearing Officer Menard viewed the camera footage of the incident, interviewed witnesses, and concluded:

Inmate had simply had a bad banana that had something on it, he requested a replacement by showing it to the [Sergeant] and the Food Steward [Plont]. No disturbance was observed.

See ECF No. 6-1, PageID.64.

         On September 14, 2017, Plaintiff wrote a grievance on Defendants Trinity Food Service and Plont, asserting retaliation and dereliction of duty. The grievance was denied as not grievable. Plaintiff also filed a grievance on Sergeant Beauliu for refusing to take a picture of the maggots. In the grievance response, Trinity employee S. Jones stated that there was no policy which required that a picture be taken.

         Plaintiff claims that Defendants violated his right to be free from retaliation from complaining about maggots in his food. Plaintiff also claims that Defendants violated his Eighth Amendment rights. Plaintiff seeks compensatory and 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.'" BellAtl. 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 plaintiffs 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 ...


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