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Carter v. Treado

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

April 19, 2018

VINCENT JOE CARTER, Plaintiff,
v.
MARK TREADO 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.

         Discussion

         I. Factual allegations

         Plaintiff is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Alger Correctional Facility (LMF) in Munising, Michigan. The events about which he complains occurred at that facility. Plaintiff sues Correctional Program Coordinator Mark Treado, Warden Catherine Bauman, and Deputy Warden Anthony Immel.

         Plaintiff alleges that prisoners in the MDOC are allowed to purchase MP3 players and songs, and that all songs purchased by prisoners remain their property. The Keefe MP3 players had a feature which required them to be connected to a kiosk every 30 days in order to prevent the player from being automatically shut down. In January of 2017, the MDOC changed vendors for the MP3 players to a different brand of player, which is called a JP5 player. Prisoners were given the option to purchase a new player, or to keep their old player and get a 10 year timer, so that the player would no longer have to be plugged in to a kiosk every 30 days.

         Plaintiff was sent to administrative segregation in October of 2016, prior to the change in the media players, and was never offered an opportunity to uplink to the kiosk prior to the March 1, 2017, deadline for the 10 year timer feature. Plaintiff wrote to the property room at LMF and was told that he had to be in general population in order to obtain the 10 year timer. Plaintiff then wrote to Defendant Treado, who reiterated that Plaintiff had to be in the general population to upgrade to the 10 year timer. On May 5, 2017, Plaintiff again wrote to Defendant Treado and asked if he could send the player to Keefe at his own cost. See ECF No. 1-4, PageID.13. Defendant Treado responded that he could not.

         Plaintiff filed a step I grievance, which was responded to by Assistant Resident Unit Manager J. Naeyaert, and reviewed by Defendant Immel. In the May 30, 2017, response, Naeyaert states:

Prisoner interviewed and his concerns were addressed. CPC Treado contacted. Prisoner has been advised: If a prisoner is unable to connect their player to the kiosk by (3/1/2017) due to restrictions (segregation), their player may be sent to Keefe to allow for a mortality timer upgrade. This option will be discontinued on 6/1/2017. Prisoner has been placed at the top of the list to be released to general population to help facilitate the process. At no time was the prisoner told that he would never be able to reset/listen to his player. Prisoner is encouraged to continue good behavior, progress through the incentives program and prepare for release to GP where he will be able to reset his MP3 player.

See ECF No. 1-5, PageID.14. Defendant Immel dated his review June 5, 2017, and the response indicates that it was returned to Plaintiff on June 6, 2017. Id. Plaintiff's step II appeal was denied by Defendant Bauman, and his step III appeal was denied by Richard D. Russell, MDOC Grievance Section Manager. Id. at PageID.15-PageID.17.

         Plaintiff was released from segregation in June of 2017, at which point he discovered a memo from Bernie Scott, an Administrative Assistant at the Correctional Facilities Administration in Lansing, which stated that the deadline for segregation prisoners to upgrade to the 10 year timer was June 1, 2017, and that this could be done by sending the player to Keefe. Therefore, Plaintiff contends that he should have been allowed to send his player to Keefe when he asked Defendant Treado about that option in May of 2017. Plaintiff filed a grievance based on the memo, which was rejected.

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Treado was given service tags by Keefe for the sole purpose of mailing in players for segregation prisoners. Plaintiff states that Defendant Treado purposely denied him the opportunity to send his MP3 player in for the timer upgrade in violation of Plaintiff's due process rights. Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages and costs.

         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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