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Ford v. Smith

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

July 16, 2018

GEORGE FORD, Plaintiff,
UNKNOWN SMITH et al., Defendants.


          Janet T. Neff United States District Judge

         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 against Defendants Woods, Isard, Travelbee, Russell, Bernhardt, Hubbard, and Batho. The Court will serve the complaint against Defendants Smith, Payment, Campbell, and Seames.


         I. Factual allegations

         Plaintiff is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Marquette Branch Prison (MBP) in Marquette, Marquette County, Michigan. The events about which he complains, however, occurred at the Chippewa Correctional Facility (URF) in Kincheloe, Chippewa County, Michigan. Plaintiff sues Corrections Officer Unknown Smith, Warden Jeffrey Woods, Deputy Warden Unknown Isard, Emergency Management Section Unknown Travelbee, Hearing Administrator Richard Russell, Seargent Unknown Bernhardt, Inspector Unknown Hubbard, Officer Unknown Payment, Corrections Officer Unknown Campbell, Resident Unit Manager Unknown Batho, and Corrections Officer Unknown Seames.

         Plaintiff alleges that in 1999, while he was incarcerated at the Marquette Branch Prison, he received a notice of intent (NOI) classifying him to segregation. The NOI stated that Plaintiff was a high ranking official in the Melanic Islamic Palace of the Rising Sun (MIPRS). On January 18, 2000, Plaintiff was informed that the Melanics would no longer be recognized as a religion by the MDOC. On the same day, Security Threat Group (STG) Coordinator Todd Dunn suggested that Plaintiff sign a form renouncing MIPRS. Plaintiff agreed to sign a renunciation form, but Dunn did not accept it because Plaintiff was a spiritual leader in MIPRS, who could not dissociate himself from the group or from any violence perpetrated by the group. Plaintiff states that he was never involved with any violence perpetrated by members of MIPRS. On June 23, 2000, Plaintiff was transferred to the Baraga Maximum Correctional Facility.

         On April 6, 2006, the STG Coordinator asked Plaintiff if he was ready to renounce the “Nubian Islamic Nation.” Plaintiff explained that he knew nothing about the Nubian Islamic Nation and signed the form. Plaintiff was removed from STG status and began to participate in various programs without engaging in any disruptive behavior.

         On July 24, 2015, Plaintiff was transferred from Kinross Correctional Facility (KCF) to URF. Plaintiff's typewriter was checked and determined to be working when he left KCF. When Plaintiff arrived at URF, he observed that the seals on his property were broken and that his typewriter was unboxed and had been tampered with. Plaintiff questioned Officer Bauers about his property. Officer Bauers stated that Defendant Smith knew Plaintiff from the past and wanted to personally search his property. After Defendant Smith searched Plaintiff's property, he left the area and Officer Bauers returned Plaintiff's property. When Plaintiff checked his typewriter, he found that it was damaged and inoperable. Plaintiff also discovered that Defendant Smith had confiscated his Casio keyboard and a memo that Plaintiff had written to members of the MIPRS in 1998. Plaintiff never received a hearing on his confiscated property.

         On July 26, 2015, Plaintiff attempted to file a grievance on Defendant Smith regarding the damage to his typewriter “and retaliation for the 1999 riot at URF.” On July 29, 2015, Grievance Coordinator McLean rejected the grievance and instructed Plaintiff to send him a request for a DTMB-1104 Form in order to institute a claim against the State. McLean also told Plaintiff to re-submit a grievance regarding staff misconduct. Plaintiff complied with McLean's instructions. Plaintiff's grievance was rejected a second time. On August 11, 2015, Plaintiff sent a letter to Grievance Coordinator McLean seeking to have his grievance processed. Plaintiff did not receive a response. Plaintiff contends that the process for handling the DTMB-1104 Property Claim Complaint was totally ineffective and “reeked with prejudice.” Plaintiff sent a letter to Defendant Isard and enclosed the three rejected grievances. Defendant Isard did not respond.

         On August 27, 2015, Plaintiff was charged with a class II major misconduct for disobeying a direct order by using the bathroom. Plaintiff had a hearing on September 9, 2105, and was found guilty of being out of place, which was not a lesser included charge for disobeying a direct order. When Plaintiff complained, Defendant Batho replied that he could do whatever he wanted, asking Plaintiff “[D]o you think you can give orders to assault our Officer, write grievances, and you think you're going to be alright here?” Defendant Batho also stated that Plaintiff's grievances meant nothing and that he had no recourse. Plaintiff discovered that Defendant Smith provided copies of the 1998 memo written by Plaintiff to members of the MIPRS (Melanic Islamic Palace of the Rising Sun) and the 1999 Notice of Intent to staff at URF in order to encourage negative actions against Plaintiff for his role in the 1999 assault on URF staff.

         On September 15, 2015, Plaintiff submitted an appeal of the misconduct conviction to Defendant Batho. On September 16, 2015, Plaintiff wrote a memo to Defendant Isard, adding a retaliation claim to his appeal of the misconduct and seeking help regarding Defendant Batho's refusal to process his grievances. On October 1, 2015, Defendant Isard denied Plaintiff's misconduct appeal.

         On December 11, 2015, Plaintiff was transferred to Neebish unit within URF. On his first day in the new unit, Defendant Payment told Plaintiff that he would have to walk a tightrope for the 1999 assault on Neebish Unit Officers. Defendant Payment said, “We don't tolerate assaults and grievances against our Officers at URFucked.” On December 28, 2015, Defendant Payment called Plaintiff to the desk and told him that he was getting two minor misconduct tickets. When Plaintiff asked for details regarding the infractions, Defendant Payment said:

It doesn't matter you are guilty as charged whether you did it or not. I told you the first day you arrived that you had to walk a tight rope for 1999 and your grievance against Officer Smith. You know that 1999 happened in this unit, right? We don't tolerate assaults and grievances against our Officers at URFucked.

See ECF No. 1, PageID.12. Plaintiff balled up the misconduct report and placed it on the desk, telling Defendant Payment to do whatever he wanted. As Plaintiff was walking back to his cell, Defendant Payment said that he was sending Plaintiff to the hole. Defendant Payment then ordered Defendant Campbell to escort Plaintiff to segregation. On January 6, 2016, Plaintiff was found guilty of the two ...

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