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Shisler v. Golladay

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

June 25, 2019

CORTEZ D. SHISLER, Plaintiff,
v.
UNKNOWN GOLLADAY et al., Defendants.

          OPINION

          GORDON J. QUIST 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 Golladay, Stenback, Jones, and Rink. The Court will also dismiss, for failure to state a claim, Plaintiff's claims against Defendant Burke, with the exception of Plaintiff's claim against Defendant Burke for violating Plaintiff's free exercise rights when Burke removed Plaintiff from the Ramadan list.

         Discussion

         I. Factual Allegations

         Plaintiff is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Chippewa Correctional Facility (URF) in Kincheloe, Michigan. The events about which he complains occurred at that facility. Plaintiff sues URF Correctional Officers Unknown Golladay and Unknown Stenback, URF Sergeant M. Jones, URF Captain Unknown Burke, and URF Chaplain David Rink.

         Plaintiff alleges that he is a Muslim and that, in observance of his Islamic faith, he participated in a fast during the Holy Month of Ramadan.[1] On June 7, 2018, Plaintiff was preparing food to break his fast. Defendant Golladay reported that Plaintiff was preparing noodles in a microwave using a popcorn bag and no water. Defendant Golladay claimed the noodles were burning and the smoke set off the smoke detector. Plaintiff claims that steam activated the smoke detector and that his food was not burnt. Nonetheless, Golladay directed Plaintiff to dump the food. Plaintiff refused. Golladay dumped the food outside and then wrote a Class II Misconduct report against Plaintiff for misusing property: “The act of burning noodles in an old pop corn bag with out water is clearly misuse of property.” (Misconduct Report, ECF No. 1-1, PageID.11.)

         Shortly after the incident, Plaintiff saw the deputy warden and the residential unit manager (RUM). Plaintiff complained about Golladay's disposal of Plaintiff's food. The deputy warden and RUM indicated they would speak with staff about the issue.

         Later that day, Plaintiff encountered Golladay in the yard. Golladay stated: “All this over some burnt food? The ticket will be the le[a]st of your worries.” (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.3.) Plaintiff felt threatened and intimidated.

         The next day, Defendant Stenback issued a notice of intent to conduct an administrative hearing. (Notice, ECF No. 1-1, PageID.12.) Stenback proposed removing Plaintiff from the authorized Ramadan participant list because of the noodle incident. (Id.) Stenback reported that Plaintiff did not have authorization to prepare food while he was observing Ramadan. (Id.)

         Defendant Jones reviewed the notice with Plaintiff. Jones offered Plaintiff the opportunity to sign off on the notice or to have a hearing. Jones indicated that if Plaintiff opted for the hearing, he would have his “cell tossed.” (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.4.) Plaintiff demanded a hearing, but Jones never “tossed” Plaintiff's cell.

         Defendant Burke conducted the hearing. Plaintiff argued that food preparation did not violate the fast. Burke removed Plaintiff from the Ramadan list despite Plaintiff's argument. He instructed Plaintiff to go to regular meal lines thereafter.

         On June 10, two days after the hearing, Plaintiff filed a grievance against Golladay, Stenback, Jones and Burke. (Grievance, ECF No. 1-1, PageID.14-17.) RUM LaCrosse responded to the grievance at the first step and deputy warden Batho reviewed the response. The grievance response indicates that after Plaintiff was removed from the Ramadan list, Defendant Rink contacted Central Facilities Administration for clarification regarding the Ramadan “rules.” Rink learned that preparing food does not violate the Ramadan fast. Absent a violation, there was no reason to remove Plaintiff from the Ramadan list. LaCrosse and Batho ordered Plaintiff's return to the Ramadan list.

         By the time Plaintiff was returned to the Ramadan list, Ramadan had been over for two weeks. Plaintiff indicates that he went without “provided meals from the State for 9 days[.]” (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.5.) He does not allege that he went without food. Nonetheless, Plaintiff claims he experienced weight loss, skin discoloration, body aches, lack of strength, hair loss, hunger pains, shutting down of internal organs, and an inability to defecate. Plaintiff seeks $100, 000.00 in compensatory and punitive damages.

         II. Failure ...


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