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Miles v. Michigan Department of Corrections

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

May 23, 2018

KUSHAWN S. MILES, Plaintiff,

          OPINION & ORDER

          Paul L. Maloney United States District Judge

         This is a civil rights action brought by a state prisoner. Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 21, the Court is permitted to drop parties sua sponte when the parties have been misjoined. Pursuant to that rule, the Court will drop as misjoined Defendants Schiebner, Christiansen, Larson, Turner, Novak, Rykse, and Unknown Party, and dismiss Plaintiff's claims against them without prejudice.


         I. Factual allegations

         Plaintiff is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Chippewa Correctional Facility (URF) in Chippewa County, Michigan, though the events about which he complains occurred while he was incarcerated at the Ionia Correctional Facility (ICF) in Ionia County, Michigan.

         Plaintiff sues the MDOC and the following MDOC employees at ICF: Deputy Wardens James Schiebner and John Christiansen; Residential Unit Manager (RUM) Jeffrey Larson; Prisoner Counselor Marcus Turner; Librarian Joe Novak; Lieutenant S. Rykse; and an unnamed transfer coordinator. He also sues CFA Special Activities Coordinator David Leach, who is employed by the MDOC at its office in Lansing.

         Plaintiff's complaint concerns two separate incidents, or series of incidents, giving rise to different claims against different state officials. The first incident occurred in February 2016, when Defendant Leach allegedly denied Plaintiff's request for a religious meal accommodation. Plaintiff alleges that he follows the Islamic faith under the doctrine of the Moorish Islamic Science Temple of America, Inc. Plaintiff alleges that every muslim organization other than the Moorish Science Temple of America, Inc. is accepted by the MDOC, and their followers are approved for Islamic religious meal accommodations.

         Plaintiff claims that Defendants MDOC and Leach violated his rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, and under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1(a)(1)-(2), by preventing him from practicing his religion and discriminating against his particular religious group.

         The second incident, or series of incidents, began on March 3, 2016, when Prisoner Counselor Turner allegedly began “verbally assaulting” Plaintiff and calling him derogatory names in front of other prisoners and prison officials. (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.9.) Plaintiff filed a grievance against Turner that same day. Defendant Turner allegedly retaliated against Plaintiff the following day by filing a “false” misconduct ticket on Plaintiff. (Id., PageID.10.) The misconduct ticket was dismissed, but Librarian Novak told Plaintiff that Novak's “superiors” were concerned about Plaintiff's possible misuse of state property, because it appeared that Plaintiff had used a laptop given to him for use as a prison legal writer to prepare a typed complaint against Defendant Turner. (Id.) Plaintiff explained that he paid another prisoner to type the complaint, using that prisoner's word processor. Novak allegedly accepted this explanation and dropped the issue.

         Several days later, RUM Larson called Plaintiff to his office to determine how Plaintiff prepared the complaint against Turner. Plaintiff gave the same explanation that he gave to Novak. Larson asked Plaintiff for the name of the prisoner, but Plaintiff refused to provide it because the other prisoner feared that he would be harassed by prison officials. Larson allegedly told Plaintiff that he hates prisoners who are “legal beagles, ” and that he takes an interest in “getting rid of prisoners who like[] to file grievances and complaints against his staff.” (Id.) Larson allegedly threatened to have Plaintiff fired from his work assignment if he did not reveal the name of the other prisoner, and told Plaintiff that “it would be in his best interest to make his complaint and his grievance go away[.]” (Id., PageID.10-11.) Larson told Plaintiff not to be surprised if he “ended up in the hole, ” was fired from his work assignment, or transferred to a more strict facility. (Id., PageID.11.)

         A few days later, Novak fired Plaintiff from his prison job and issued him a “false” misconduct ticket for misuse of state property. (Id.) Novak subsequently informed Plaintiff that Novak took these actions because he was following orders that he received from Deputy Warden Schiebner.

         On March 15, Turner told Plaintiff that he should not have filed the complaint and grievance against Turner because it “pissed off a lot of people above him” and it was only “a matter of time before plaintiff finds himself in a situation that he can't get out of[.]” (Id., PageID.12.) Turner told Plaintiff to “make a choice” about the grievance. (Id.) Out of fear, Plaintiff “signed off” on the grievance. (Id.)

         That same day, Plaintiff appeared before Lieutenant Rykse regarding the misconduct ticket against him. Rykse allegedly refused to admit or review any evidence that Plaintiff could not have committed the misconduct, found Plaintiff guilty of the misconduct charge, and sanctioned him with 30 days of restrictions.

         Plaintiff appealed the misconduct conviction to Defendant Christiansen, who allegedly failed ...

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