United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
HONORABLE GORDON J. QUIST JUDGE
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
PHILLIP J. GREEN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
a civil rights action brought pro se by a state
prisoner pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff's
complaint arises out of conditions of his confinement at the
Michigan Reformatory. Plaintiff alleges that Deputy Warden
Gregory Skipper and Transfer Coordinator Meashell Lawson
retaliated against him in violation of his First Amendment
rights by transferring him to another prison. Plaintiff seeks
an award of damages against defendants in their individual
matter is before the Court on defendants' motion for
summary judgment. (ECF No. 49). Defendants argue that
plaintiff has not presented sufficient evidence to raise a
genuine issue of fact for trial and that they are entitled to
qualified immunity. Plaintiff opposes defendants'
motion. (ECF No. 52, 53). For the reasons set
forth herein, I recommend that the Court grant
defendants' motion for summary judgment and enter a
judgment in defendants' favor on all plaintiff's
judgment is appropriate when the record reveals that there
are no genuine issues as to any material fact in dispute and
the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); McKay v. Federspiel, 823 F.3d
862, 866 (6th Cir. 2016). The standard for determining
whether summary judgment is appropriate is “whether
‘the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to
require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided
that one party must prevail as a matter of law.' ”
Rocheleau v. Elder Living Const., LLC, 814 F.3d 398,
400 (6th Cir. 2016) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986)). The Court must
consider all pleadings, depositions, affidavits, and
admissions on file, and draw all justifiable inferences in
favor of the party opposing the motion. See Matsushita
Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574,
587 (1986); France v. Lucas, 836 F.3d 612, 624 (6th
the party without the burden of proof seeks summary judgment,
that party bears the initial burden of pointing out to the
district court an absence of evidence to support the
nonmoving party's case, but need not support its motion
with affidavits or other materials “negating” the
opponent's claim. See Morris v. Oldham Cty.
Fiscal Court, 201 F.3d 784, 787 (6th Cir. 2000); see
also Minadeo v. ICI Paints, 398 F.3d 751, 761 (6th Cir.
2005). Once the movant shows that “there is an absence
of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case,
” the nonmoving party has the burden of coming forward
with evidence raising a triable issue of fact. Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). To sustain
this burden, the nonmoving party may not rest on the mere
allegations of his pleadings. See Ellington v. City of E.
Cleveland, 689 F.3d 549, 552 (6th Cir. 2012). The motion
for summary judgment forces the nonmoving party to present
evidence sufficient to create a genuine issue of fact for
trial. Street v. J.C. Bradford & Co., 886 F.2d
1472, 1478 (6th Cir. 1990); see Newell Rubbermaid, Inc.
v. Raymond Corp., 676 F.3d 521, 533 (6th Cir. 2012).
“A mere scintilla of evidence is insufficient;
‘there must be evidence on which a jury could
reasonably find for the [non-movant].' ”
Dominguez v. Corr. Med. Servs., 555 F.3d 543, 549
(6th Cir. 2009) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252);
see Lossia v. Flagstar Bancorp, Inc., 895 F.3d 423,
428 (6th Cir. 2018).
also argue that they are entitled to summary judgment on the
basis of qualified immunity. “Once [an] official[ ]
raise[s] the qualified immunity defense, the plaintiff bears
the burden to ‘demonstrate that the official [is] not
entitled to qualified immunity.' ” LeFever v.
Ferguson, 645 F. App=x 438, 442 (6th Cir. 2016) (quoting
Silberstein v. City of Dayton, 440 F.3d 306, 311
(6th Cir. 2006)).
government official sued under section 1983 is entitled to
qualified immunity unless the official violated a statutory
or constitutional right that was clearly established at the
time of the challenged conduct.” Carroll v.
Carman, 135 S.Ct. 348, 350 (2014); see Taylor v.
Barkes, 135 S.Ct. 2042, 2044 (2015). The first prong of
qualified immunity analysis is whether the plaintiff has
alleged facts showing that defendant's conduct violated a
constitutional or statutory right. See Saucier v.
Katz, 533 U.S. 194, 201 (2001). The second prong is
whether the right was “clearly established” at
the time of the defendant's alleged misconduct.
Id. Trial courts are permitted to exercise their
sound discretion in deciding which of the two prongs of the
qualified immunity analysis should be addressed first.
See Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 236 (2009).
qualified immunity defense can be asserted at various stages
of the litigation, including the summary judgment stage.
See English v. Dyke, 23 F.3d 1086, 1089 (6th Cir.
1994). The qualified immunity inquiry at the summary judgment
stage is distinguished from the Rule 12(b)(6) stage in that
generalized notice pleading no longer suffices, and the
broader summary judgment record provides the framework within
which the actions of each individual defendant must be
evaluated. At the summary judgment stage, “the
plaintiff must, at a minimum, offer sufficient evidence to
create a ‘genuine issue of fact,' that is,
‘evidence on which a jury could reasonably find for the
plaintiff.' ” Thompson v. City of Lebanon,
Tenn., 831 F.3d 366, 370 (6th Cir. 2016).
Brosseau v. Haugen, the Supreme Court examined the
underlying purpose of the requirement that the law be clearly
Qualified immunity shields an officer from suit when she
makes a decision that, even if constitutionally deficient,
misapprehends the law governing the circumstances she
confronted. . . . Because the focus is on whether the officer
had fair notice that her conduct was unlawful, reasonableness
is judged against the backdrop of the law at the time of the
conduct. If the law at the time did not clearly establish
that the officer's conduct would ...