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Jackson v. Daugherty

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

May 25, 2018




         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.


         I. Factual allegations

         Plaintiff is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Ionia Correctional Facility (ICF) in Ionia, Michigan. The events about which he complains, however, occurred at the Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility (MTU), also in Ionia, Michigan. Plaintiff sues MTU Prison Counselor Chad Daugherty.

         Plaintiff alleges that, on April 1, 2017, he was elected to serve on the MTU Warden's Forum as a housing unit representative of Unit B. (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.3.) Upon consultation with fellow unit members, Plaintiff identified several problems on his unit including: dust and spider webs in cell intake and exhaust vents; cells needing painting; toilets too close to bunks; cell windows needing caulking; timers on cell toilets; usage of bleach; and outbreaks of scabies and spider bites. (Id.) By July of 2017, Plaintiff's “constituents” voiced a concern that no action had been taken. (Id.) During a July, 2017 meeting of unit representatives, at Plaintiff's urging, a quorum of representatives voted to put the issues Plaintiff had raised on the Warden's Agenda for the August forum meeting. (Id.)

         On July 20, 2017, MTU Residential Unit Manager (RUM) John Payne met with Plaintiff regarding the issues Plaintiff had placed on the agenda. (Id.) RUM Payne told Plaintiff he would call Defendant Daugherty to do a cell inspection to determine the issues that required attention. (Id.) About an hour later, Defendant Daugherty visited Plaintiff and chided him for being a tattletale. (Id., PageID.4.) Plaintiff does not indicate whether Defendant Daugherty ever conducted the inspection. Nonetheless, it appears Defendant Daugherty may have conducted the inspection because, Plaintiff alleges, Defendant Daugherty, at RUM Payne's direction, typed out approximately 30 Class III misconducts against members of Plaintiff's unit because their cells were not in compliance with housekeeping rules. (Id.; Prisoner Grievance Appeal Form, ECF No. 1-1, PageID.22.) The only details Plaintiff supplies with regard to the noncompliance is that it included “having items stored on unauthorized surfaces in their cells” and “each actual room violation was different in each prisoner cell.” (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.4.)

         The misconduct reports were prefaced with the following statement: “Due to the block rep meeting, it has been brought to my attention that unit/cell cleanliness is becoming an issue.” (Prisoner Grievance Form, ECF No. 1-1, PageID.12.) Plaintiff contends that Defendant Daugherty's words implied that Plaintiff had brought to the attention of Defendant Daugherty the specific conduct that formed the basis for the misconduct report. (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.4.) Plaintiff complains that he was labeled a “rat”, subjected to threats of physical altercations, and commanded to pay for commissary goods. (Id.) Ultimately, after Plaintiff complained, MTU Warden Dewayne Burton pulled all of the misconduct tickets. (Id., PageID.5; Second Step Grievance Response, ECF No. 1-1, PageID.19.) Nonetheless, Plaintiff was transferred to the Ionia Correctional Facility on August 9, 2017. (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.5.)

         Plaintiff claims Defendant Daugherty's inclusion of the statement regarding the block rep meeting in the Class III misconduct reports violated Plaintiff's constitutional rights. Plaintiff seeks $50, 000.00 in punitive damages.

         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 - 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)).

         To 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).

         Plaintiff complains that Defendant Daugherty's inclusion of the “Due to the block rep meeting . . . . ” sentence violated Plaintiff's First Amendment rights because it was in retaliation for Plaintiff's placing the cleanliness issue on the Warden's Forum Agenda. Plaintiff also contends that the inclusion of that language demonstrates that Defendant Daugherty was deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's safety.

         A. First ...

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