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Dykes v. Unknown Benson

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

August 2, 2018

ROBERT L. DYKES, Plaintiff,
v.
UNKNOWN BENSON et al., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          Paul L. Maloney, United States District Judge.

         This is a civil rights action brought by a state prisoner under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. 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 Gainer, Austin, Iverson, Davis, Thompson, Miseta, Thomas, Smith, Shiebner, Goodspeed, and Burke, and dismiss Plaintiff's claims against them without prejudice.

         Discussion

         I. Factual Allegations

         Plaintiff is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Oaks Correctional Facility (ECF) in Manistee, Michigan. The events about which he complains occurred at that facility. Plaintiff sues ECF personnel including Corrections Officers Unknown, Benson, Unknown Gainer, Unknown Austin, Unknown Iverson, Unknown Davis, and Unknown Thompson; Classification Director Unknown Haske; Assistant Resident Unit Supervisor Unknown Miseta; Resident Unit Manager J. Thomas, Assistant Deputy Warden Unknown Smith; Deputy Warden Unknown Shiebner; Hearing Investigator Unknown Goodspeed; and Hearing Officer Unknown Burke.

         Plaintiff arrived at ECF during September of 2017. Plaintiff was initially classified to work as a porter. (Program Classification Report, ECF No. 1-1, PageID.78.) Plaintiff alleges that he had previously earned a custodial maintenance certificate. (Plaintiff's Declaration, ECF No. 4, PageID.202.) He contends that a porter holding such a certificate was entitled to earn, initially, $1.08 per day and after 30 days $1.31 per day. (Id.) MDOC Policy Directive 05.02.110 provides some support for Plaintiff's claim. The MDOC pays working prisoners according to a standard pay scale. Id. at ¶W. Where a prisoner is assigned to a semi-skilled or skilled position, he may be entitled to additional money. Id. at ¶X. The policy directive offers as an example of circumstances permitting additional payment the following: “prisoner is assigned as a porter and has completed a custodial maintenance technology program[.]” Id. Moreover, where a prisoner is required to work under unusually difficult conditions (the policy directive offers the example of “bloodborne pathogen cleanup”-a skill demonstrated by Plaintiff's certificate), he is entitled to one and one-half times the normal rate of pay.

         Plaintiff was working as a general porter on October 21, 2017, when he raised the issue of his pay with Defendant Benson. (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.16.) The role of general porter is apparently not a semi-skilled or skilled position that might warrant the additional pay. Plaintiff reports that Defendant Benson told Plaintiff he would never receive the additional pay, he would never receive a position higher than general porter, and that he may not even hold that position for long. (Id.) Benson told him that she would talk with Defendant Haske to “make sure.” (Id.) Plaintiff describes Benson's conduct as an egregious abuse of authority. He filed a grievance against her that day for harassment. (Grievance ECF 2017-10-3533-17A, ECF No. 1-1, PageID.35-44.)[1]

         The next day, Defendant Benson continued her harassment campaign. She asked Plaintiff's bunkmate whether he was getting along with Plaintiff. (Grievance ECF No. 2017-10-3546-27B, ECF No. 1-1, PageID.45-52.) Plaintiff's bunkmate indicated he would like to separate from Plaintiff. (Id.) Rather than moving Plaintiff's bunkmate, however, Defendant Benson moved Plaintiff. (Id.) Plaintiff describes this action as an abuse of governmental power. (Id.) He filed another grievance against Defendant Benson that day.

         A week later, Defendant Benson warned Plaintiff that he could not close the window flap on his cell door. (Grievance, ECF No. 2017-10-3635-27B, ECF No. 1-1, PageID.53-63.) Previously she had warned Plaintiff that he could not cover it with a piece of paper. (Id.) Plaintiff wanted to cover the flap so he could have privacy while urinating or while applying lotion after a shower. (Id.) Defendant Benson told Plaintiff to use his chair. (Id.) Plaintiff was worried he might get in trouble for using his chair for such a purpose, so he filed a grievance against Defendant Benson that day.

         Plaintiff makes no other allegations against Defendant Benson.[2] He no longer had much contact with her because he was assigned to a floor porter position in another unit during her shift. (Prisoner Kite, ECF No. 1-1, PageID.113.) Indeed, Plaintiff acknowledges that Defendant Benson “stopped her harassment, threats, and unprofessional conduct towards [Plaintiff].” (Request for Rehearing, ECF No. 1-1, PageID.122.)

         Although Plaintiff's problems with Defendant Benson ended, he was not able to resolve the pay rate issue with Defendant Haske. He contacted Defendant Haske on November 19, 2017, and November 28, 2017, at the suggestion of Corrections Officer Lee, in the hopes of securing the increased pay rate. When Plaintiff did not receive a response, he filed a grievance against Defendant Haske on November 28, 2017. (Grievance ECF-2017-12-3986-02C, ECF No. 1-1, PageID.68-71.)

         Plaintiff's grievance was resolved at the first step. His certificate was verified by Defendant Haske, he was given a floor porter position, and his pay was increased to $1.08 per day. (Id., PageID.71.) There were no floor porter positions in Plaintiff's housing unit, so he was put to work on the segregation floor. (Id.) Plaintiff did not want to work on the segregation floor because the conditions and cleaning requirements were unpleasant. He filed a grievance against Defendant Haske for giving him that assignment. (Grievance ECF-2017-12-4067-27Z, ECF No. 1-1, PageID.72-76.) The grievance was rejected.

         A few weeks later, Plaintiff was found guilty of a major misconduct. He was confined in segregation for nearly two months. As a result, he was unable to perform his assignment, he was ineligible for assignments, and he would have to be reclassified. (Assignment Waiver Form, ECF No. 1-1, PageID.90.) Plaintiff filed a grievance against Defendant Haske for signing the Assignment Waiver Form. (Grievance ECF-2018-02-0362-02Z, ECF No. 1-1, PageID.81-88.) Plaintiff contended Haske's actions were inconsistent with the relevant MDOC policy directive.

         Plaintiff's claims against the remaining Defendants relate to the major misconduct report (which Plaintiff claims was in retaliation for his filing of grievances against Defendant Benson), the determination of his guilt, and the horrific conditions the Defendants subjected him to in punitive segregation. Plaintiff claims against the second group of Defendants first arose on January 17, 2018. (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.9.) On that date, Defendant Gainer shook down Plaintiff's cell and warned Plaintiff, “this is what happens when you file grievances and threaten to file lawsuits.” (Id.) Plaintiff sought Gainer out for further explanation later that evening. Gainer told Plaintiff that Gainer, Defendant Austin and Defendant Iverson ...


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