United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ANTHONY A. MILLER, Plaintiff,
RICHARD BEHNKE et al., Defendants.
J. QUIST, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
a civil rights action brought by a county jail inmate 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.
is presently serving a sentence in the Cass County Jail.
Based on the records of the Cass County Circuit Court, it
appears he is jailed following his guilty plea to either a
methamphetamine-related offense or fleeing and eluding a
police officer. He sues Cass County Sheriff Richard Behnke,
Captain Kevin Garreitts, Sergeant Todd Johnson, and Cass
alleges that on January 25, 2019, Defendant Johnson put
Plaintiff on inmate worker status. He claims that, because of
that status, Defendant Johnson gave Plaintiff a 31-day
sentence reduction. On February 11, 2019, Defendant Johnson
removed Plaintiff from inmate worker status and took away the
31-day reduction of his sentence. Plaintiff contends that the
loss of his 31-day sentence reduction without a hearing
violated his constitutional rights. Plaintiff asks the Court
to order Defendants to restore Plaintiff's 31-day
sentence reduction. He also asks the Court to order
Defendants to provide a hearing when an inmate is removed
from inmate worker status or when Defendants take away the
31-day sentence reduction that is provided to inmate workers.
Finally, Plaintiff seeks $146, 500.00 in compensatory and
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).
Due Process Violation
claim that he was removed from inmate worker status and
caused to forfeit his 31-day sentence reduction without a
hearing is a claim that he was denied his due process rights
in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. “The
Fourteenth Amendment protects an individual from deprivation
of life, liberty or property, without due process of
law.” Bazetta v. McGinnis, 430 F.3d 795, 801
(6th Cir. 2005). To establish a Fourteenth Amendment
procedural due process violation, a plaintiff must show that
one of these interests is at stake. Wilkinson v.
Austin, 545 U.S. 209, 221 (2005). Analysis of a
procedural due process claim involves two steps: “[T]he
first asks whether there exists a liberty or property
interest which has been interfered with by the State; the
second examines whether the procedures attendant upon that
deprivation were constitutionally sufficient.” Ky.
Dep't of Corr. v. Thompson, 490 U.S. 454, 460
Sixth Circuit has consistently found that prisoners have no
constitutionally protected liberty or property interest in
prison employment under the Fourteenth Amendment. See,
e.g., Dellis v. Corr. Corp. of Am., 257 F.3d
508, 511 (6th Cir. 2001) (district court properly dismissed
as frivolous the plaintiff's claim that he was fired from
his prison job); Newsom v. Norris, 888 F.2d 371, 374
(6th Cir. 1989) (no constitutional right to prison
employment); Ivey v. Wilson, 832 F.2d 950, 955 (6th
Cir. 1987) (“[N]o prisoner has a constitutional right
to a particular job or to any job”); Carter v.
Tucker, 69 Fed.Appx. 678, 680 (6th Cir. 2003) (same).
Moreover, “as the Constitution and federal law do not
create a property right for inmates in a job, they likewise
do not create a property right to wages for work performed by
inmates.” Carter, 69 Fed.Appx. at 680 (citing
Williams v. Meese, 926 F.2d 994, 997 (10th Cir.
1991), and James v. Quinlan, 866 F.2d 627, 629-30
(3d Cir. 1989)). Under these authorities, Plaintiff fails to
state a due process claim arising from Defendant Smith's
termination of Plaintiff's inmate worker status.
inmate does not have a protected liberty interest in a
determination that the inmate should be removed from inmate
worker status and, thus, deprived of the corresponding
sentence reduction, unless the sanction “will
inevitably affect the duration of his sentence” or the
resulting restraint imposes an “atypical and
significant hardship on the inmate in relation to the
ordinary incidents of prison life.” See Sandin v.
Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 484, 487 (1995). Although
Plaintiff does not allege that Defendant Johnson's
determination imposed an atypical or significant hardship, he
does allege that the determination affected the duration of
his sentence, effectively extending his sentence by 31 days.
Thus, accepting Plaintiff's allegations as true, he has
identified a protected liberty interest. Moreover,
Plaintiff's allegations further indicate that he was not
afforded procedural protections before that liberty interest
Plaintiff has alleged the elements of a procedural due
process claim, that claim is still properly dismissed because
it can only be raised in a habeas corpus proceeding. Section
1983 provides a cause of action for “the deprivation of
any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the
Constitution and laws” by any person acting
“under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation,
custom, or usage, of any State or Territory.” 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. The Supreme Court, however, has limited the
availability of § 1983 actions for prisoners in a series
of cases, including Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S.
475 (1973), Heck v. ...