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Jones v. Horsley

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

April 30, 2018

LARRY DARNELL JONES, Plaintiff,
v.
UNKNOWN HORSLEY et al., Defendants.

          OPINION

          ROBERT J. JONKER CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This is a civil rights action brought by a former state prisoner under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff was released on parole a couple of weeks before he filed this action. Nonetheless, Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis; thus, the Court is required to dismiss the action 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). 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 Freeman, McDaniels, Messer, Bruch, Dumas, Smith, Spencley, Ball, Mackie, Griffin, and McKee. The Court will also dismiss Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claim against Defendant Sergeant Unknown Porter. The Court will serve the complaint on Defendant Unknown Horsley with respect to Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment and First Amendment claims and against Defendant Porter with respect to Plaintiff's First Amendment claim.

         Discussion

         I. Factual allegations

          The events of which Plaintiff complains occurred while he was incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Oaks Correctional Facility (ECF) in Manistee, Michigan. Plaintiff sues ECF Corrections Officers Unknown Horsley, Unknown Freeman, K. McDaniels, Unknown Messer, and Unknown Bruch; ECF Sergeant Unknown Porter; ECF Nurse Lori L. Dumas; ECF Administrative Assistant Eric Smith; ECF Inspector John G. Spencley; ECF Deputy Warden Timothy J. Ball; and ECF Warden Thomas P. Mackie. Plaintiff also sues MDOC Administrator Miffer Griffin and MDOC Deputy Director Kenneth T. McKee.

         Plaintiff alleges that on November 13, 2016, while conducting a shakedown, Defendant Horsley pounded on Plaintiff's chest. Plaintiff contends the blow(s) damaged his heart valve which must now be surgically replaced. Plaintiff filed a grievance against Defendant Horsley based on the incident. All of the other Defendants are named because they played some role in responding to Plaintiff's injury or his grievance.

         Plaintiff names Defendant McDaniels and Defendant Freeman because they ordered Defendant Horsley to conduct the shakedown. Plaintiff does not contend that McDaniels or Freeman ordered Horsley to pound on Plaintiff's chest to cause injury, only to conduct a shakedown.

         Plaintiff filed a grievance regarding Horsley's actions, claiming that Horsley used excessive force. On November 23, 2016, the grievance was reviewed by Captain Holden and Lieutenant O'Brian. They noted that Defendant Horsley denied pounding on Plaintiff's chest. They reviewed the incident as “‘clearly captured on the video recorder.'” (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.8.) They concluded that the grievance was “totally false.” (Id., PageID.9.) Defendant Mackie responded to the grievance at Step II. He upheld the Step I decision. Grievance Section Manager Richard D. Russell upheld the decision at Step III.

         Plaintiff sought medical treatment for the problems he alleges following Defendant Horsley's pounding of Plaintiff's chest. He informed the nurse, Defendant Dumas, that Defendant Horsley had pounded on Plaintiff's chest. Defendant Dumas recorded that information in her report, along with a statement that custody staff said it did not happen. Plaintiff also alleges that he told Defendants Messer and Bruch about Horsley's excessive use of force. Apparently, based on Plaintiff's report to Defendant Dumas, or perhaps to Defendants Messer or Bruch, Defendant Porter, after reviewing the video recording of the incident, wrote a minor misconduct report against Plaintiff for lying to an employee. The report was written before Plaintiff filed his first grievance. (Compare MDOC Misconduct Report, ECF No. 1-1, PageID.57 with ECF Grievance 2016 113445176, ECF No. 1-1, PageID.52.) Although the misconduct report was served on Plaintiff, it was never pursued. Plaintiff claims the report was abandoned because it was determined to be “definitely false.” (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.11.)

         Plaintiff filed a grievance against Defendants Dumas and Porter claiming they retaliated against him for reporting that Defendant Horsley pounded on Plaintiff's chest. ECF Grievance Coordinator Bassett denied the grievance at Step I as vague. Defendant Mackie and Richard D. Russell upheld the decision at Steps II and III, respectively.

         The day after the incident, Plaintiff submitted a health care request to start the process of ordering surgery to replace his heart valve. Defendant Dumas responded that Plaintiff could discuss the issue with the medical provider at his appointment three weeks thereafter. The next day, Plaintiff submitted a health care request because of dizziness, numbness, high blood pressure, and sweating. Nurse Tasha Farris examined Plaintiff and directed him to seek assistance again if the symptoms returned or increased.

         Plaintiff claims that on November 18, 2016, Defendant Horsley threatened to write a misconduct ticket on Plaintiff for filing a grievance against Horsley. Plaintiff then filed a grievance regarding the threat. The grievance was denied at Step I. The denial was upheld at Step II by Defendant Mackie and at Step III by Richard D. Russell.

         Defendant Horsley did not write a misconduct ticket. He did, however, write a memorandum to Captain Holden where he indicated that Plaintiff had lied in his grievance and should be charged with a misconduct. Under MDOC policy, such a misconduct report cannot be pursued without specific approvals:

If a grievant intentionally files a grievance which is investigated and determined to be unfounded which, if proven true, may have caused an employee or a prisoner to be disciplined or an employee to receive corrective action, the grievant may be issued a misconduct report if approved by the Warden or FOA Area Manager; however, major misconduct for Interference with the Administration of Rules shall be issued only if approved ...

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