United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
J. QUIST, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
a civil rights action brought by a now-paroled state prisoner
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff has been granted leave
to proceed in forma pauperis. Under the Prison
Litigation Reform Act, Pub. L. No. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321
(1996) (PLRA), the Court is required to dismiss any 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). 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
against Defendants for failure to state a claim.
is a former prisoner who was incarcerated with the Michigan
Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Bellamy Creek
Correctional Facility (IBC) in Ionia, Ionia County, Michigan,
at the time of the events about which he complains. Plaintiff
sues MDOC Director Heidi E. Washington and IBC Warden Tony
alleges that he had always been classified as a Level I
offender, was not dangerous, and had no prison
misconducts. Nevertheless, for 164 days of the time he was
imprisoned, Plaintiff was reclassified to Level II and housed
at IBC, a facility that houses Level I, II, and IV prisoners.
According to Plaintiff, the placement forced him to mix with
prisoners with higher security classifications, including
some serving life sentences for murder. Plaintiff claims that
his placement caused him terror and violated prison policy,
due process, and the Eighth Amendment.
seeks compensatory damages, together with injunctive relief,
in the form of a policy ensuring that prisoners remain only
in their true classification levels and away from dangerous
Failure to state a claim
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)).
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).
extent that Plaintiff argues that his placement at IBC
violated prison policies, he fails to state a claim.
Defendants' alleged failure to comply with an
administrative rule or policy does not itself rise to the
level of a constitutional violation. Laney v.
Farley, 501 F.3d 577, 581 n.2 (6th Cir. 2007); Brody
v. City of Mason, 250 F.3d 432, 437 (6th Cir. 2001);
Smith v. Freland, 954 F.2d 343, 347-48 (6th Cir.
1992); Barber v. City of Salem, 953 F.2d 232, 240
(6th Cir. 1992); McVeigh v. Bartlett, No. 94-23347,
1995 WL 236687, at *1 (6th Cir. Apr. 21, 1995) (failure to
follow policy directive does not rise to the level of a
constitutional violation because policy directive does not
create a protectible liberty interest). Section 1983 is
addressed to remedying violations of federal law, not state
law. Lugar v. Edmondson Oil Co., 457 U.S. 922, 924
(1982); Laney, 501 F.3d at 580-81.
to the extent that Plaintiff claims that his placement at IBC
violated his right to due process, he also fails to state a
claim. The Supreme Court repeatedly has held that a prisoner
has no constitutional right to be incarcerated in a
particular facility or to be held in a specific security
classification. See Olim, 461 U.S. at 245; Moody
v. Daggett, 429 U.S. 78, 88 n.9 (1976); Meachum v.
Fano, 427 U.S. 215, 228-29 (1976). The Sixth Circuit has
followed the Supreme Court's rulings in a variety of
security classification challenges. See, e.g.,
Harris v. Truesdell, 79 Fed.Appx. 756, 759 (6th Cir.
2003) (holding that prisoner had no constitutional right to
be held in a particular prison or security classification);
Carter v. Tucker, 69 Fed.Appx. 678, 680 (6th Cir.
2003) (same); O'Quinn v. Brown, No. 92-2183,
1993 WL 80292, at *1 (6th Cir. Mar. 22, 1993) (prisoner
failed to state a due process or equal protection claim
regarding his label as a “homosexual predator”
because he did not have a constitutional right to a
particular security level or place of confinement). Because
Plaintiff does not have a constitutional right to, or liberty
interest in, a particular security level or classification,
he fails to state a due process claim.
also argues that his placement at IBC with prisoners who had
higher security classifications violated the Eighth
Amendment. The Eighth Amendment imposes a constitutional
limitation on the power of the states to punish those
convicted of crimes. Punishment may not be
“barbarous” nor may it contravene society's
“evolving standards of decency.” Rhodes v.
Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 345-46 (1981). The Amendment,
therefore, prohibits conduct by prison officials that
involves the “unnecessary and wanton infliction of
pain.” Ivey v. Wilson, 832 F.2d 950, 954 (6th
Cir. 1987) (per curiam) (quoting Rhodes, 452 U.S. at
346). The deprivation alleged must result in the denial of
the “minimal civilized measure of life's
necessities.” Rhodes, 452 U.S. at 347; see
also Wilson v. Yaklich, 148 F.3d 596, 600-01 (6th Cir.
1998). The Eighth Amendment is only concerned with
“deprivations of essential food, medical care, or
sanitation” or “other conditions intolerable for
prison confinement.” Rhodes, 452 U.S. at 348
(citation omitted). Moreover, “[n]ot every unpleasant
experience a prisoner might endure while incarcerated
constitutes cruel and unusual punishment within the meaning
of the Eighth Amendment.” Ivey, 832 F.2d at
have a constitutionally protected right to personal safety
grounded in the Eighth Amendment. Farmer v. Brennan,
511 U.S. 825, 8331977 (1994). Thus, prison staff are obliged
“to take reasonable measures to guarantee the safety of
the inmates” in their care. Hudson v. Palmer,
468 U.S. 517, 526-27 (1984). To establish a claim under the
Eighth Amendment, including a failure-to-protect claim, a
prisoner-plaintiff must show that he faced a sufficiently
serious risk to his health or safety and that the defendant
official acted with “‘deliberate
indifference' to [his] health or safety.”
Mingus v. Butler, 591 F.3d 474, 479-80 (6th Cir.
2010) (citing Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834); see also
Hudson, 468 U.S. at 526-27; Helling v.
McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 35 (1993). The defendant must
both be aware of facts from which the inference could be
drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists and he
must also draw the inference. Farmer, 511 U.S. at
837. While a prisoner does not need to prove that he has been
the victim of an actual attack to bring a personal safety
claim, he must at least establish that he reasonably fears