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Kinard v. Valone

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

June 10, 2019

ANTHONY L. KINARD, #157033, Plaintiff,
v.
A. VALONE, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          BERNARD A. FRIEDMAN, JUDGE

         This matter is presently before the Court on defendant's motion for summary judgment [docket entry 43]. Plaintiff has filed a response in opposition. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth A. Stafford has issued a Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) in which she recommends that the Court deny defendant's motion. Neither party has objected to the R&R and the time for them to do so has expired. Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3), for the following reasons the Court shall reject the magistrate judge's recommendation and grant defendant's motion.

         This is a prisoner civil rights case. The Court previously summarized plaintiff's allegations as follows:

When he filed his complaint, plaintiff was incarcerated at the Thumb Correctional Facility in Lapeer, Michigan where defendant A. Valone (“defendant”) is or was the librarian.
The complaint alleges that, on April 27, 2016, plaintiff was on his way to the prison law library to do legal research when a prisoner named Joey Allen asked plaintiff to hand a photocopy disbursement form to the library clerk. Allen wrote something on the form and handed it to plaintiff, who apparently submitted the form to defendant. Defendant subsequently filed two misconduct reports, which charged plaintiff with possession of a forged document. Defendant also discontinued plaintiff's library privileges for approximately two and a half weeks pending a hearing on the misconduct reports.
One of the misconduct reports was withdrawn because it was a duplicate, and on May 9, 2016, a correctional official held a hearing on the remaining report. The hearing officer compared the writing on the photocopy disbursement form to Allen's handwriting and determined that Allen, not plaintiff, filled out the form. Accordingly, the hearing officer found plaintiff not guilty of the charge. Plaintiff had filed a grievance against defendant, claiming that defendant violated his constitutional rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. Plaintiff also asserted that defendant was corrupt and that his conduct was unbecoming of a correctional employee. Because plaintiff was found not guilty, the grievances were deemed resolved and his library privileges restored.

         Order of Dismissal at 1-2. In Count One, plaintiff claimed defendant violated his “First Amendment Right to Access The Courts and not to be removed from the law library in retaliation for exercising my constitutional rights to use of the law library.” Compl. ¶ 40.

         In Counts Two through Five plaintiff asserted claims under the Fourteenth Amendment and the Michigan Constitution for due process violations and unequal treatment.

         The Court dismissed all of plaintiff's claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A(b)(1), and plaintiff appealed. The Sixth Circuit affirmed except as to plaintiff's retaliation claim, and it remanded for further proceedings as to that claim. See Kinard v. Valone, No. 17-1224 (6th Cir. Apr. 12, 2018).

         Defendant now seeks summary judgment on the grounds that plaintiff failed to exhaust his remedies under the prison grievance system. Defendant correctly notes that the exhaustion of such remedies is a prerequisite to filing suit. As this Court recently stated,

[t]he Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”) requires that a prisoner must exhaust all administrative remedies before filing a Section 1983 action. 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). Proper exhaustion requires a prison to “compl[y] with an agency's deadlines and other critical procedural rules.” Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 90 (2006). The MDOC has established a three-step process to review and resolve prisoner grievances. “Under the [Michigan] Department of Corrections' procedural rules, inmates must include the ‘[d]ates, times, places and names of all those involved in the issue being grieved' in their initial grievance.” Reed-Bey v. Pramstaller, 603 F.3d 322, 324 (6th Cir. 2010).

Bennett v. Winn, No. 17-12249, 2018 WL 3853601, at *3 (E.D. Mich. Aug. 14, 2018). As noted by the Court in Woodford, one of the purposes of requiring proper exhaustion is to “provide[] prisons with a fair opportunity to correct their own errors.” Woodford, 548 U.S. at 94. To be sufficient, a grievance need not “allege a specific legal theory or facts that correspond to all the required elements of a particular legal theory.” Burton v. Jones, 321 F.3d 569, 575 (6th Cir. 2003). Nonetheless, the grievance must give “fair notice of the alleged mistreatment or misconduct that forms the basis of the constitutional or statutory claim made against a defendant in a prisoner's complaint.” Id.

         Plaintiff was required to comply with MDOC Policy Directive 03.02.130 (“Prisoner/Parolee Grievances”), a copy of which is attached to defendant's motion as Exhibit A. Under the procedures outlined therein, an aggrieved inmate must “attempt to resolve the issue with the staff member involved within two business days after becoming aware of a grievable issue.” Id. ¶ P. If the issue is not resolved, the inmate may file a Step I grievance “[w]ithin five business days after attempting to resolve a grievable issue with staff.” Id. ¶ V. In a Step I grievance, “[t]he issues should be stated briefly but concisely. Information provided is to be limited to the facts involving the issue being grieved (i.e., who, what, when, where, why, how). Dates, times, places, and names of all those involved in the issue being grieved are to be included.” Id. ¶ R (emphasis in original). If the inmate is dissatisfied with the response at Step I, he may file a Step II grievance “within ten business days after receiving the Step I response.” Id. ¶ BB. If the inmate is dissatisfied with the response at Step II, he may file a Step III grievance “within ten business days after receiving the Step II response or . . . within ten business days after the date the response was due.” Id. ¶ FF.

         Plaintiff filed two grievances regarding his difficulties with access to the law library. The first, whose identification number ...


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