United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
L. Maloney United States District Judge
a civil rights action brought by a state prisoner under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 and the Michigan constitution. 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 federal
claims for failure to state a claim. The Court will dismiss
his supplemental state-law claim without prejudice.
is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of
Corrections (MDOC) at the Lakeland Correctional Facility
(LCF) in Coldwater, Branch County, Michigan. The events about
which he complains occurred at that facility.
sues the MDOC, MDOC Director Heidi Washington, MDOC Grievance
Manager Richard D. Russell, and the following LCF officials:
Warden Noah Nagy; Deputy Warden Bryan Morrison; and Assistant
Deputy Warden Robert Ault.
of background, Plaintiff was first incarcerated with the MDOC
in 1986, on a conviction for larceny over $100, Mich. Comp.
Laws § 750.356, for which he was sentenced to a prison
term of 2 to 5 years. In 1992, Plaintiff pleaded guilty to
two counts of armed robbery, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.52,
and he was sentenced to two prison terms of 8 to 20 years. In
1998, while in prison on the armed-robbery convictions,
Plaintiff was convicted of being a prisoner in possession of
a weapon, Mich. Comp. Laws § 800.283(4), and he was
sentenced to a prison term of 4 to 10 years. Plaintiff
apparently was released on parole from the armed-robbery and
prisoner-in-possession sentences when he committed another
armed robbery in 2009. He was sentenced on February 11, 2010,
to a prison term of 15 to 40 years. Because he was on parole
when he committed the 2009 offense, Plaintiff resumed serving
the remainder of his 1992 and 1998 sentences, and he
continues to serve time on those offenses, as well as on the
amended complaint (ECF No. 8), Plaintiff alleges that, in
February 2019, he was assigned a full-time prison job as a
porter at LCF. When he received his first pay, he realized
that he was not being paid an enhanced rate based on his
vocational education and certification in custodial
maintenance, to which he believed he was entitled under MDOC
Policy Directive (PD) 05.02.110(CC):
A prisoner paid in accordance with the standard pay scale and
assigned to a semiskilled or skilled position shall be paid
an additional 15% beginning the first day of the assignment
if s/he is assigned to a position for which s/he has
completed a related career and technical education program
(e.g., prisoner is assigned as a porter and has completed a
custodial maintenance technology program). Prisoners assigned
to a semi-skilled or skilled position on or after August 1,
2018 shall only be eligible to receive the addition 15% pay
if they completed the career and technical education program
on their current prefix.
Id. (eff. Oct. 1, 2018).
complained to Resident Unit Manager Houz about the allegedly
improper pay. Houz instructed Plaintiff to file a grievance.
Plaintiff filed a grievance on March 11, 2019, in which he
argued that the “prefix” limitation in PD
05.02.110(CC), which was first adopted in the version of the
policy that immediately preceded the current version, did not
apply to him. See PD 05.02.110 ¶ BB (eff. Aug.
1, 2018) (superseding PD 05.02.110 (eff. Feb. 25, 2008)).
While Plaintiff admitted in his grievance that he currently
is serving a period of incarceration on a “C”
prefix, Plaintiff argued in his grievance that he also
continued to be incarcerated on his “B” prefix
offense, the prefix he had when he earned his certification
in 1993. (Step-I Grievance, ECF No. 8-1, PageID.67.)
Plaintiff argued that the policy should not have been applied
to him and that, because he was in the pool of prisoners from
which porters were drawn before the effective date of the
policy, he should be paid the 15% extra.
Ault responded to the Step-I grievance, which was reviewed by
Defendant Morrison. The response stated:
to the Classification Manual[, ] “If a prisoner, paid
in accordance with the standard pay scale, is assigned to a
semi-skilled or skilled position, the s/he shall be paid an
additional 15% beginning the first day of the assignment in
the following circumstances only:
A. The prisoner is assigned to a position for which s/he had
completed a related CTE [Career and Technical Education]
[P]rogram (e.g., prisoner is assigned as a porter and has
completed a Custodial Maintenance Technology Program) on
his/her current prefix. CTE program completions must be
verified by available documentation found in the
prisoner's unit, Record Office, or School Files. Short
seminars or trainings cannot be substituted for this
(Step-I Grievance Response, ECF No. 8-1, PageID.65.) The
response went on to find that, because Petitioner did not
receive his CMT certification while he was incarcerated on
his current prefix, the certification could not be used to
calculate his pay rate. In addition, the response found,
Petitioner still needed to complete his CTE ...