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Johnson v. Ricardi

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

June 7, 2019

UNKNOWN RICARDI et al., Defendants.



         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 against Defendants Ricardi and Russell for failure to state a claim.


         I. Factual allegations

         Plaintiff is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Lakeland Correctional Facility (LCF) in Coldwater, Michigan. The events about which he complains, however, occurred at the Oaks Correctional Facility (ECF) in Manistee, Michigan. Plaintiff sues ECF Quartermaster Unknown Ricardi and ECF Nurse Practitioner Unknown Russell.

         Plaintiff is serving a life sentence with the MDOC. The MDOC has housed him since 1994. Plaintiff has asthma, eczema, and a host of allergies. Plaintiff had several allergic reactions. Around 1997, the reactions were attributed to the state issued blankets. Those blankets are made of wool. MDOC medical staff issued Plaintiff a special accommodations detail allowing Plaintiff to use cotton blankets. Even 20 years later, in 2016, while Plaintiff was housed at the Chippewa Correctional Facility (URF), the medical staff informed Plaintiff that his special accommodations detail remained valid. Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff was transferred to ECF.

         When Plaintiff arrived at ECF, the intake nurse informed him that his special accommodations detail was still valid. On February 23, 2016, Plaintiff informed Defendant Ricardi of the special accommodation and requested cotton blankets. Ricardi told Plaintiff he would check with healthcare. Two weeks passed with no cotton blankets. Plaintiff took matters into his own hands and contacted healthcare. Plaintiff received a copy of the special accommodations detail on March 3, 2016, and sent it on to Defendant Ricardi.

         On March 7, 2016, Ricardi provided Plaintiff one cotton blanket. Plaintiff asked for another one because “everyone gets two blankets.” (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.3.) Ricardi said at ECF, Plaintiff would only get one cotton blanket and that he should raise the issue with healthcare. The next day, Plaintiff wrote a grievance against Ricardi for treating Plaintiff differently than other prisoners.

         On March 18, 2016, Defendant Russell called Plaintiff to healthcare. She did not examine Plaintiff at all. She simply informed Plaintiff that she had been told to cancel the special accommodations detail. Russell also told Plaintiff that the decision was not up to her and that it was the product of a new policy that requires an allergic reaction to continue the detail. When Plaintiff explained that he had suffered such reactions years before, Defendant Russell told him that it had to happen again. Plaintiff's cotton blanket was confiscated.

         Plaintiff abandoned his initial grievance against Ricardi for only providing one blanket. In its place, Plaintiff filed a grievance against Ricardi and Russell for retaliation.

         On December 19, 2016, Plaintiff was transferred to LCF. LCF did not issue a cotton blanket detail. Instead, the healthcare staff there gave Plaintiff a detail for two extra cotton sheets.

         Plaintiff contends that Ricardi and Russell conspired to violate Plaintiff's First Amendment rights by cancelling his special accommodations detail in retaliation for Plaintiff filing the grievance against Ricardi. Plaintiff also argues that the cancellation of the detail demonstrates deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Finally, Plaintiff claims that Defendants denied him equal protection of the laws in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.

         Plaintiff seeks a judgment declaring that Defendants violated his rights, injunctive relief reinstating the special accommodation detail, and compensatory and punitive damages in the amount of $350, 000.00.

         II. Failure ...

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