United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Northern Division
J. QUIST UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
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 against Defendants for failure to
state a claim.
is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of
Corrections (MDOC) at the Ojibway Correctional Facility (OCF)
in Marenisco, Gogebic County, Michigan. The events about
which he complains occurred at that facility. Plaintiff sues
MDOC Director Heidi E. Washington and the following OCF
officials: Warden Kathy Olsen; Deputy Warden Mike Yon;
Resident Unit Manager T. Perttu; and Accounting Technician M.
Meneguzzo. Plaintiff sues Defendant Washington in her
official capacity only. He sues the remaining Defendants in
both their official and personal capacities.
to the complaint, on September 12, 2017, Defendant Meneguzzo
wrote a Class-II misconduct charge against Plaintiff based on
Meneguzzo's monitoring of the JPay accounting system for
prisoner deposits. According to the misconduct report,
Plaintiff received a deposit of $250.00 from his mother,
Louise Meacham-Edwards, which was intended to benefit
Prisoner Meadows. The report indicated that messages showed
that Prisoner Meadows had communicated on the JPay system for
the deposit to Plaintiff's account, and the JPay
communications showed evidence of a money gram being sent
from Lawanda Lewis to Louise Meacham-Edwards. The messages
also indicated that the funds were a repayment for funds
previously sent to Plaintiff for the benefit of Prisoner
Meadows. Prisoners are not allowed to receive or possess
moneys sent on behalf of another prisoner. See MDOC
Policy Directive 04.02.105 ¶ O (eff. Jan. 1, 2010).
Money that a prisoner is not entitled to possess is
contraband and must be turned over to the Prisoner Benefit
Fund. MDOC Policy Directive 04.07.112 ¶ II (eff. Dec.
12, 2013); Mich. Admin. Code r. 791.5501(5).
September 19, 2017, Defendant Perttu conducted a misconduct
hearing, found Plaintiff guilty of the misconduct charge, and
ordered restitution in the amount of $250.00, to be placed in
the Prisoner Benefit Fund. Plaintiff complains that Defendant
Perttu's hearing and order of restitution suffered from a
variety of defects under MDOC policy. Specifically, Plaintiff
complains that the hearing officer did not allow him to
review the JPay messages, as should have been allowed under
Mich. Admin. Code r. 791.5501, so Plaintiff had no way to
contest the content or authenticity of those messages.
Plaintiff also contends that Defendant Perttu had no
authority to order the funds confiscated as, according to
Plaintiff, under MDOC Policy Directive 04.02.105 ¶¶
T-U; Mich. Admin. Code r. 791.6639, funds can only be taken
pursuant to an administrative hearing conducted by a hearings
officer, following issuance of a notice of intent to conduct
such a hearing.
appealed Defendant Perttu's misconduct decision, as
allowed under MDOC Policy Directive 03.03.105 ¶¶
UUU-XXX (eff. Apr. 9, 2012) and Mich. Admin. Code r.
791.5501. On September 28, 2017, Defendant Yon upheld the
misconduct determination. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants
Washington and Olsen are liable for failing to supervise
their subordinates and perform their legal duties.
seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, together with
compensatory and punitive damages.
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).
majority of Plaintiff's allegations involve a central
concern about how Defendants misapplied various provisions of
MDOC policy and administrative rules. Specifically, Plaintiff
contends that his property only could be taken under MDOC
Policy Directive 04.02.105 ¶¶ T (requiring a
factfinding hearing under Mich. Admin. R. 791.3310, which
itself requires several elements: a notice of intent to
conduct a hearing; a hearing conducted before a hearing
officer as defined by Mich. Comp. Laws § 791.251; the
right to be present and to speak in his own behalf and see
relevant documents, unless the documents present a threat to
security or safety; and a summary report of the hearing and
decision). Plaintiff contends that Defendants improperly
confiscated the monies through the use of procedures
established for Class-II misconduct charges for possession of
contraband. See MDOC Policy Directive 03.03.105
¶¶ KK-XX (requiring notice of the misconduct
charge; an initial review with the prisoner by a supervisory
staff member; an informal hearing before a resident unit
manager; captain, and/or lieutenant with no involvement in
the issue; reasonable investigation; and a written
determination listing the reasons for the decision); see
also Mich. Admin. Code r. 791.5501 (governing misconduct
hearings and confiscation of contraband). Plaintiff alleges a
variety of specific errors in the application of these
extent that Plaintiff complains that officials did not use
the correct policy or misapplied that policy, his claim is
not cognizable in an action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Claims under § 1983 can only be brought for
“deprivation of rights secured by the constitution and
laws of the United States.” Lugar v. Edmondson Oil
Co., 457 U.S. 922, 924 (1982). Section 1983 does not
provide redress for a violation of a state law. Pyles v.
Raisor, 60 F.3d 1211, 1215 (6th Cir. 1995); Sweeton
v. Brown, 27 F.3d 1162, 1166 (6th Cir. 1994). A 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 ...