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Morgan v. Trierweiler

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

May 14, 2019

ASHETON S. MORGAN, Plaintiff,
v.
TONY TRIERWEILER et al., Defendants.

          OPINION

          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 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 Bauman, Naeyart, Immel, Rapelje, McGee, Washington, Curly, and Lindholm.

         Discussion

          I. Factual Allegations

         Plaintiff is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Carson City Correctional Facility (DRF) in Carson City, Montcalm County, Michigan. The events about which he complains, however, occurred at the Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility (IBC) in Ionia, Ionia County, Michigan, and the Alger Correctional Facility (LMF) in Munising, Alger County, Michigan.

         Plaintiff sues Defendants IBC Warden Tony Trierweiler, LMF Warden Catherine S. Bauman, IBC Deputy Warden John Davids, LMF Resident Unit Manager Joseph Naeyart, IBC Prison Counselor Jared Buchin, and LMF Deputy Warden Anthony Immel. Plaintiff also sues MDOC Assistant Deputy Director Lloyd Rapelje, MDOC Deputy Director Kenneth McGee, MDOC Director Heidi E. Washington, MDOC Assistant Deputy Director Michael Curly, and LMF Chaplain Unknown Lindholm.

         Plaintiff alleges that on September 13, 2016, he arrived at IBC, where he informed Defendants Davids, Buchin, and Trierweiler, as well as other prison officials, that because of the unavailability of an Islamic Halal diet at IBC, he was being forced to eat foods which violated his Islamic beliefs. Plaintiff was told that due to his classification to segregation, he would not be receiving a Halal meal. Plaintiff was also told that due to his behavior and classification, he would not be transferred to a facility which could accommodate his religious dietary needs. Plaintiff filed a grievance regarding his diet on September 18, 2016, which was denied at step I on September 30, 2016. In the step I grievance response, a prison official named Hull stated:

Chaplain Thompson was contacted regarding Mr. Morgan's grievance. Chaplain Thompson confirms that prisoner Morgan is approved for a religious diet. PD 05.03.150 states that all recognized religions enjoy equal status and protection but are subject to those limitations necessary to maintain the safety, good order and security of the facility, including the health and safety of prisoners and staff. After being interviewed on this grievance, prisoner Morgan was classified to Administrative Segregation as the result of participating in a disturbance at KCF. PD 04.05.120, V, #8 states a prisoner in segregation shall be provided with three meals per day served from the same menus available to general population prisoners. This includes, as required, meals from the therapeutic diet menu and, if available at that facility, meals from a menu developed to meet the necessary religious dietary restrictions of the prisoner. The religious diet menu is not available at IBC because the facility is not a designated location for the Vegan menu designed to meet the religious dietary needs of prisoners. In accordance with PD 04.05.120, prisoner Morgan will be served meals from the same menus available to general population prisoners while housed in Administrative Segregation at IBC. SCC [Security Classification Committee] will determine prisoner Morgan's release and/or appropriate transfer from IBC's Administrative Segregation Unit with consideration for safety and security concerns.

See ECF No. 1, PageID.23. Plaintiff states that Defendant Trierweiler affirmed this denial on October 25, 2016.

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Davids and Buchin told him that he was to be sent to Ionia Max. Plaintiff responded that he was afraid to be sent to Ionia Max because he had enemies there, but Defendants Davids and Buchin just laughed. Plaintiff was not sent to Ionia Max, but was actually transferred to Kincheloe, and then to LMF.

         Plaintiff states that between September 13, 2016, and November 20, 2016, Defendant Trierweiler approved transfers for religious diets, but purposely delayed Plaintiff's request out of a desire to retaliate against Plaintiff. During this time period, Plaintiff endured inhumane denials of a religious diet, due process, and legal material. Plaintiff alleges that he was only permitted to shower once between November 15, 2016, and November 23, 2016. Plaintiff was not given any food on November 21, 2016. On November 22, 2016, Plaintiff was forced to eat food that violated his beliefs because he was starving.

         Plaintiff claims that someone named Scott Sprader acknowledged his approval for a Halal diet on November 21, 2016. However, on November 29, 2016, Defendant Naeyart told Plaintiff that he was being starved until verification of his religious diet arrived. Plaintiff did not receive a Halal meal at any time between November 21, 2016, and October 5, 2017. Instead Plaintiff was forced to accept a diet advocated by another faith, such as Judaism or Buddhism. Plaintiff was also denied access to religious services.

         Plaintiff attaches a copy of a letter he wrote to Defendant Lindholm on May 11, 2017, asserting the denial of a Halal diet which complied with his religious beliefs. Plaintiff asserted that he was being forced to eat a diet which complied with Buddhist and Jewish religious tenets. See ECF No. 1, PageID.41. On May 12, 2017, Defendant Lindholm responded, indicating that Plaintiff had been approved for a religious diet on March 10, 2016, and that the “religious menu served at LMF (and throughout the MDOC) satisfies Kosher/Halal/Vegan requirements.” See ECF No. 1, PageID.42.

         Plaintiff alleges that on May 28, 2017, during the month of Ramadan, he informed LMF staff that food was being delivered too late to be accepted for the fast. Plaintiff explained that he was being forced to choose between sustaining himself or practicing his religious beliefs. Plaintiff received a misconduct ticket because of his complaint. Plaintiff attaches a copy of the misconduct hearing report, which shows that he stuck his arm out of the slot when it was opened by the officer. Plaintiff argued that he was never ordered to remove his arm, so he could not be guilty of disobeying a direct order. Plaintiff was found guilty of the misconduct. See ECF No. 1, PageID.39. On June 7, 2017, the shift commander told ...


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