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Cavin v. Bryant

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

June 26, 2019

Mario Cavin #326204, Plaintiff,
Leslie Bryant, et al., Defendants.

          Hon. Paul L. Maloney


          PHILLIP J. GREEN United States Magistrate Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 14). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), the undersigned recommends that Defendants' motion be granted.


         The following allegations are contained in Plaintiffs complaint. (ECF No. 1). On February 4, 2018, Plaintiff and a group of fellow prisoners were returning to their housing unit when they observed Corrections Officer Tyler Moreno removing items from a prison mailbox. Moreno “tossed certain documents back into the mailbox and other documents on the officer's podium.” In response, on February 6, 2018, Plaintiff “drafted a complaint on behalf of all prisoners in the housing unit.” Plaintiff provided this complaint to his “Unit Rep with the understanding and agreement that it would be given to [Assistant Resident Unit Supervisor (ARUS) Leslie Bryant] to investigate.” Later that same day, Moreno ordered Plaintiff to return to his housing unit. Upon returning to the unit, Plaintiff was confronted by Moreno, who had in his possession Plaintiff's television. Moreno told Plaintiff that his television was being confiscated because of the complaint Plaintiff authored regarding Moreno reading prisoner mail two days previous. Moreno then asked Plaintiff, “So you're writing grievances on me now?” Immediately thereafter Moreno stated, “you know what happens to people who file grievances on me? I fuck their lives up.” Moreno later charged Plaintiff with a misconduct violation for possession of a television.

         On February 9, 2018, Moreno accused Plaintiff of possessing two winter hats. Plaintiff denied this accusation, but Moreno nonetheless confiscated Plaintiff's only winter hat and charged him with a misconduct violation for possessing two hats. Moreno then stated to Plaintiff, “let's see what kinda grievance you file on this one.” On February 12, 2018, Bryant found Plaintiff guilty of this charge, despite the lack of evidence supporting such, and sentenced Plaintiff to five days toplock and ten days of loss of privileges. Approximately two weeks later, Plaintiff encountered Moreno, who asked Plaintiff, “Are we good now? Is this shit over?” Plaintiff responded, “you provoked everything. I never had a problem with you.” Moreno then stated to Plaintiff, “as long as you know how this goes. You fuck with me, I fuck with you.”

         On June 13, 2018, Plaintiff requested to speak with an ARUS. Moreno told Plaintiff that he could leave his cell if his cell door opened. Plaintiff's cell door was subsequently opened three times, but each time Plaintiff exited his cell, Moreno “ordered him to lockdown.” Plaintiff responded by filing a grievance against Moreno. On June 29, 2018, Moreno entered Plaintiffs cell and told Plaintiff and his cellmate that, if they did not give him a “bag of chips, ” he would “destroy their cell.” Plaintiff reported this conduct to an ARUS after which Moreno “annihilated” Plaintiffs cell. In response, Plaintiff filed three grievances against Moreno.

         Plaintiff initiated this action against Moreno and Bryant alleging retaliation and conspiracy to retaliate. Plaintiff requests declaratory and monetary relief. Defendants move for partial summary judgment on the ground that Plaintiff has not properly exhausted all his claims. Specifically, Defendants argue that, while Plaintiff has exhausted his retaliation claims against Defendant Moreno, he has failed to properly exhaust his conspiracy claims or his retaliation claim against Defendant Bryant.


         Summary judgment "shall" be granted "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A party moving for summary judgment can satisfy its burden by demonstrating "that the respondent, having had sufficient opportunity for discovery, has no evidence to support an essential element of his or her case." Minadeo v. ICI Paints, 398 F.3d 751, 761 (6th Cir. 2005). Once the moving party demonstrates that "there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case," the non-moving party "must identify specific facts that can be established by admissible evidence, which demonstrate a genuine issue for trial." Amini v. Oberlin College, 440 F.3d 350, 357 (6th Cir. 2006).

         While the Court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, the party opposing the summary judgment motion "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Amini, 440 F.3d at 357. The existence of a mere "scintilla of evidence" in support of the non-moving party's position is insufficient. Daniels v. Woodside, 396 F.3d 730, 734-35 (6th Cir. 2005). The non-moving party "may not rest upon [his] mere allegations," but must instead present "significant probative evidence" establishing that "there is a genuine issue for trial." Pack v. Damon Corp., 434 F.3d 810, 813-14 (6th Cir. 2006).

         Moreover, the non-moving party cannot defeat a properly supported motion for summary judgment by "simply arguing that it relies solely or in part upon credibility determinations." Fogerty v. MGM Group Holdings Corp., Inc., 379 F.3d 348, 353 (6th Cir. 2004). Rather, the non-moving party "must be able to point to some facts which may or will entitle him to judgment, or refute the proof of the moving party in some material portion, and. . .may not merely recite the incantation, 'Credibility,' and have a trial on the hope that a jury may disbelieve factually uncontested proof." Id. at 353-54. In sum, summary judgment is appropriate "against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Daniels, 396 F.3d at 735.

         While a moving party without the burden of proof need only show that the opponent cannot sustain his burden at trial, a moving party with the burden of proof faces a "substantially higher hurdle." Arnett v. Myers,281 F.3d 552, 561 (6th Cir. 2002). Where the moving party has the burden, "his showing must be sufficient for the court to hold that no reasonable trier of fact could find other than for the moving party." Calderone v. United States,799 F.2d 254, 259 (6th Cir. 1986). The Sixth Circuit has emphasized that the party with the burden of proof "must show the record contains evidence satisfying the burden of persuasion and that the evidence is so powerful that no reasonable jury would be free to disbelieve it." Arnett, 281 F.3d at 561. Accordingly, summary judgment in favor of the party with the burden of ...

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