United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S REQUEST FOR
APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL AND SUMMARILY DISMISSING THE
F. COX UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
case recently came before the Court on plaintiff Scott
Dohn's pro se civil rights complaint for
monetary, declaratory, and injunctive relief under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. Plaintiff is a state prisoner currently confined
at the Saginaw Correctional Facility (SRF) in Freeland,
Michigan. The defendants are Heidi Washington, Director of
the Michigan Department of Corrections, and the following
individuals employed by the Department of Corrections at SRF:
warden O'Bell Thomas Winn; deputy warden William Foy;
special activities director Tia Clark; resident unit manager
James Zummer; and counselor Francis Szostak.
alleges that he was transferred to SRF in June of 2017 so
that he could be housed in a newly-created Veterans'
Housing Unit. According to Plaintiff, the purpose of the
Veterans' Housing Unit is to develop, create, and
implement rehabilitative programs for incarcerated veterans.
Upon arriving at SRF, Plaintiff was permitted to participate
in a 'P.T.S.D. Dog-Training Program.” He claims,
however, that even though he participated in the program for
a significant period of time without incident or any cause
for concern, defendant Szostak abruptly removed him from the
program without a proper hearing. Szostak's reason for
removing Plaintiff from the program was that Plaintiff was
not honorably discharged from the military and, therefore, he
was not a real veteran and did not deserve to reside in the
Veterans Housing Unit or participate in the dog-training
program. Defendant Zummer upheld Szostak's decision, and
Plaintiff was unsuccessful in obtaining relief through the
prison grievance system.
asserts that his rights to due process and equal protection
of the law were violated when he was removed from the
dog-training program. Specifically, Plaintiff states that the
defendants did not provide him with a proper hearing before
removing him from the program and their reason for removing
him from the program was discriminatory. He contends that,
had he been able to stay in the program, he would have
continued to earn a wage, he would have rehabilitated
himself, and he would have had a greater chance of release
Plaintiff's indigence, the Court permitted Plaintiff to
avoid prepaying the fees and costs for this action.
See Dkt. #2 and #4. Under the Prison Litigation
Reform Act of 1996, federal district courts must screen an
indigent prisoner's complaint and dismiss 'any
prisoner action brought under federal law if the complaint is
frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim for which relief
can be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant
immune from such relief.” Flanory v. Bonn, 604
F.3d 249, 252 (6th Cir. 2010) (citing 28 U.S.C. §§
1915(e)(2) and 1915A and 42 U.S.C. § 1997e). A complaint
is frivolous if it lacks an arguable basis in law or in fact.
Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989).
'A complaint is subject to dismissal for failure to state
a claim if the allegations, taken as true, show the plaintiff
is not entitled to relief.” Jones v. Bock, 549
U.S. 199, 215 (2007).
complaint 'does not need detailed factual allegations,
” the '[f]actual allegations must be enough to
raise a right to relief above the speculative level on the
assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true
(even if doubtful in fact).” Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (footnote and
citations omitted). In other words, 'a complaint must
contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true,
‘to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.' ” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009) (quoting 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.” Id. (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).
The Due Process Claim
prevail on his due process claim, Plaintiff must show
'that a protected property or liberty interest was
violated.” Wershe v. Combs, 763 F.3d 500, 506
(6th Cir. 2014). Plaintiff has not identified a protected
property interest, and to the extent he argues that he had a
liberty interest in not being discharged from the
dog-training program, his claim lacks merit because the
Supreme Court has 'rejected the notion that every state
action carrying adverse consequences for prison inmates
automatically activates a due process right.” Moody
v. Daggett, 429 U.S. 78, 88 n.9 (1976). Moreover,
prisoners have no constitutional entitlement to a particular
classification or eligibility for rehabilitative programs
sufficient to invoke due process. Id.; accord Argue v.
Hogmeyer, 80 F. App'x. 427, 429 (6th Cir. 2003)
(stating that '[p]risoners have no constitutional right
to rehabilitation, education, or jobs”); Manning v.
Unknown Parties, 56 Fed.Appx. 710, 711 (6th Cir. 2003)
('In general, a prisoner has no constitutional right to
rehabilitation.”); Ziegler v. McGinnis, 32
Fed.Appx. 697, 699 (6th Cir. 2002) (same). 'As long as
the conditions or degree of confinement to which the prisoner
is subjected is within the sentence imposed upon him and is
not otherwise violative of the Constitution, the Due Process
Clause does not in itself subject an inmate's treatment
by prison authorities to judicial oversight.”
Montanye v. Haymes, 427 U.S. 236, 242 (1976).
conclude, Plaintiff had no constitutional right to
participation in the dog-training program, and '[w]here
an interest is not a protected one, there is no cognizable
harm to the individual when deprived of that interest.”
Orr v. Hawk, 156 F.3d 651, 654 (6th Cir. 1998). The
defendants are not liable for the alleged misconduct, and
Plaintiff's due process claim lacks facial plausibility.
The Equal Protection Claim
alleges that the defendants discriminated against him when
they removed him from the dog-training program because they
disregarded his military service on the basis of their
personal opinions of what a veteran is and what constitutes a
valid separation from military service. Plaintiff maintains
that he is a veteran, as that term is defined in 38
U.S.C. § 101(2), and that the defendants' failure to
recognize this constitutes unfair and unequal treatment.
purpose of the Equal Protection Clause is to assure that
similarly situated individuals will be treated alike, ”
and “to establish an equal protection violation,
Plaintiff must allege or prove discriminatory intent or
purpose.” Kubik v. Brown, 979 F.Supp. 539, 551
(W.D. Mich. 1997). Here, Plaintiff has not shown that the
defendants treated him differently from similarly-situated
individuals. He ...