United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Northern Division
JARED J. CAMERON, Plaintiff,
UNKNOWN GURNOE et al., Defendants.
J. QUIST, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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 Gurnoe, Switzer, Olsen, Lombard, McLean,
and Rink. The Court will allow the action to proceed against
Jared J. Cameron is presently incarcerated with the Michigan
Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Chippewa Correctional
Facility (URF) in Kincheloe, Michigan. Plaintiff sues the
following MDOC employees at URF: Sergeant Unknown Gurnoe;
Correctional Officers Bruce Switzer, Sheri Newcomb, Unknown
Olsen, and Unknown Lombard; Chaplain Unknown Rink; and
Grievance Coordinator M. McLean.
alleges that in January 2016, when the URF warden was making
rounds in Plaintiff's unit, Plaintiff asked the warden
why officers were making “degrading” religious
comments about members of the Islamic faith. (Compl., ECF No.
1, PageID.2.) Warden Woods told Plaintiff to file a grievance
about the issue. Woods also stopped by the officers' desk
and spoke briefly with them.
days later, when Plaintiff was in the dining hall, Sergeant
Gurnoe told him to leave. Plaintiff explained that the
“chow lines” were still running and that his unit
had been called for “Unit Store and Chow.”
(Id.) However, Gurnoe told Plaintiff that he had
arrived too late to eat.
turned and left the dining hall. After walking out the door,
he came across Officer Switzer, who, along with Sergeant
Gurnoe, approached Plaintiff “with aggression.”
(Id.) Gurnoe asked, “Do you have something
smart you want to say to me? Or are you waiting for us to do
something [s]o you can report it to the Warden's
Office[?]” (Id.) Plaintiff did not respond.
Instead, he went back to his unit and wrote a grievance.
months later, on July 4, 2016, Plaintiff was working in the
kitchen serving “kool-aid” when Officer Newcomb
told him that he was being “laid in pending
termination, because [Plaintiff] refused to pass out
napkins.” (Id., PageID.3.) Newcomb also told
him, “Your Grievance that you wrote on C/O Switzer and
Sgt ‘G' was a mischar[ac]terization of the
facts.” (Id.) Plaintiff responded that the
incident involving Switzer was an “isolated” one
arising from the fact that Switzer was upset because
Plaintiff had complained about prison staff's
“religious comm[en]ts.” (Id.) Newcomb
stated, “We are a family, each one protects the next,
this is how it is do[n]e up North[.] Maybe next time you
think about that before you file any more grievances.”
(Id.) Newcomb told Plaintiff to return to his unit.
Plaintiff did so. He also wrote a grievance about
7, Plaintiff received a prisoner program and work assignment
evaluation signed by Newcomb and a Trinity Food Services
employee. The evaluation stated that Plaintiff refused to
follow a Trinity employee's order to pass out napkins.
Apparently, the evaluation did not describe any other
negative work performance, and Plaintiff was not given a
probationary period or issued a misconduct, so the
classification director returned him to work.
same day, Switzer issued Plaintiff a misconduct ticket for
disobeying a direct order. According to the misconduct
ticket, Plaintiff was washing his arms, face, hands, and feet
in front of the porter's sink to prepare for group prayer
in recognition of Eid al-Fitr, and Switzer told him to stop
three times. According to Plaintiff, this washing, known as
“WUDU, ” was a necessary part of his preparation
for the prayer time, according to his religious beliefs.
(Id., PageID.3-4.) Plaintiff told Switzer that once
he starts WUDU, he should finish it. Switzer responded,
“My commands supersede those of your God, I'm in
charge of Safety, Good Order, and Security for this
Institution!” (Id., PageID.4.)
contends that the misconduct ticket was dismissed because the
misconduct could not have occurred on the date alleged; Eid
al-Fitr “was performed on a different date.”
apparently informed his family of Switzer's actions, and
they filed a “Civil Services Complaint” against
August 16, 2016, Officer Switzer saw Plaintiff and asked him
to provide his prisoner identification card. Switzer then
accused Plaintiff of writing grievances on Switzer that
called Switzer a liar, and noted that Plaintiff's family
had filed a complaint about Switzer. Switzer declared,
“You think that it will keep my from doing my job
you['re] wrong. . . . [W]hy don't you go and cry that
to your family, and if you don't stop, you will not be
happy with the results.” (Id.) Plaintiff filed
a grievance against Switzer regarding this incident.
that day, Officer Olsen told Plaintiff, “Leave the cube
area this won't take long, I've only got to search
one area[.]” (Id.) Plaintiff believes that
Switzer sent Olsen to the cube area to harass Plaintiff.
Plaintiff was transferred to the other side of URF and then
to another prison. On October 25, 2018, Plaintiff transferred
back to URF. On November 13, 2018, Plaintiff wrote a
grievance against Officer Lombard for making “religious
comm[ents] against this Prisoner.” (Id.,
PageID.5.) Apparently, Lombard told Plaintiff that he agrees
with Switzer that Plaintiff is a “radical.”
complained to his supervisor in food services about the
comments by Lombard. Sometime after doing so, Lombard accused
Plaintiff of “double dipping, ” which means
eating twice during one meal, and he had Plaintiff
“laid in” pending termination. (Id.)
After an investigation, Plaintiff was cleared of the
allegations and he returned to work. He also received back
pay for the days that he missed.
attempted to file a grievance against Lombard for this
accusation, but Grievance Coordinator McLean allegedly
refused to process the grievance. Plaintiff contends that
McLean conspired with Newcomb and Lombard to prevent
Plaintiff from exhausting the grievance procedure. Plaintiff
subsequently filed a grievance against McLean, but that
grievance was not processed either.
December 22, 2018, another Muslim prisoner was “laid
in” for praying at work, and Plaintiff was asked to
replace that prisoner as the lead cook. (Id.) When
Plaintiff showed up for work, Newcomb allegedly stated,
“You better not get caught praying over here
anymore.” (Id.) Plaintiff told Newcomb that
his religion requires him to pray five times per day. Newcomb
I think C/O Switzer and C/O Lombard were right. You're a
radical. . . . Nothing you can do or nobody will ever change
my rules . . . . No. grievance no complaint no lawsuit . . .
I'm right you're wrong and that's that. . . .
There's nowhere in America you're allowed to pray at
work mister, and that's probably only allowed secretly in
heavily Arab populated areas like downstate, but not in the
‘U.P.' If you want to pray at work you should move
to another country.
(Id., PageID.6.) Later, Newcomb gave Plaintiff a
post-it note with “information alleging to be [a]
Policy Directive provided by Chaplain
alleges that he has been assigned to work in the kitchen
since July 2018, and he is not allowed to leave work to
return to his unit to offer prayer. Consequently, he has
missed prayer times that are mandatory for his faith.
claims that Defendants Gurnoe, Switzer, Olsen, and Newcomb
retaliated against him for verbally complaining and filing
grievances. Plaintiff also claims that Defendant McLean
conspired with Defendants Newcomb and Lombard to retaliate
against Plaintiff by preventing Plaintiff from using the
grievance process. In addition, Plaintiff claims that
Defendants Rink, Newcomb, and Switzer prevented Plaintiff
from exercising his religion by verbally harassing him and by
using prison policy to force him to choose between a work
assignment and prayer.
relief, Plaintiff seeks a total of $100, 000 in compensatory