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Gordon v. Harry

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

July 24, 2019

UNKNOWN HARRY 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 for failure to state a claim against Defendants Harry, Page, and Unknown Party #1 through Unknown Party # 5. The Court also denies Plaintiff's motion to appoint counsel (ECF No. 4).


         I. Factual Allegations

         Plaintiff is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Macomb Correctional Facility (MRF) in New Haven, Macomb County, Michigan. The events about which he complains, however, occurred at the Earnest C. Brooks Correctional Facility (LRF) in Muskegon Heights, Muskegon County, Michigan. Plaintiff sues the following LRF officials: Warden (unknown) Harry; Correctional Officer (unknown) Dorch; Mental Health Case Manager (unknown) Duiker; Prison Counselor (unknown) Ross; Inspectors (unknown) Page and Unknown Party #4; Sergeant Bridgette (last name unknown) (Unknown Party #1); unknown lieutenant (Unknown Party #2); unknown shift commander (Unknown Party #3); and unknown prisoner counselor (Unknown Party #5).

         According to the complaint, on July 8, 2017, Plaintiff's cellmate, Randy Deshawn Clay, stabbed Plaintiff with a broken ink pen just above Plaintiff's left eye. Plaintiff began to yell to the third-shift officer, who responded. When the officer opened the door, Plaintiff exited, and the officer saw that Plaintiff was covered with blood. The officer ordered prisoner Clay to go to the officer's station. As Clay walked down the hall, the officer at the station noticed that Clay had thrown an object into the garbage container. Following a search of the container, the officer found the broken pen, which was covered in blood.

         Plaintiff was ordered by the sergeant and the lieutenant (Unknown Party # 1 and #2) to sit in the TV room, where he was interviewed. Prisoner Clay was placed in the card room. After his interview, Plaintiff was taken to the hospital, where he received six sutures in his eyebrow. When he returned to the prison, he was placed in segregation. Plaintiff was released from segregation the following day, without having been issued a misconduct charge.

         Three weeks before the assault, Plaintiff complained to Defendant Dorch that prisoner Clay had made threats to kill him, and he told Dorch that he was afraid to stay in the same cell as Clay. Defendant Dorch told Plaintiff to leave the officer's station and to write a grievance.

         Sometime prior to the attack, Plaintiff also complained to Defendant Ross that Clay had threatened to stab Plaintiff, and Plaintiff asked to be moved from the cell. Plaintiff explained to Ross that Clay was bragging about how he had tried to severely harm his last cellmate, and the assault was one of the reasons Clay's security level had been increased from Level I to Level II. Ross told Plaintiff that he would talk with Clay, but he never did.

         The same week he spoke to Ross, Plaintiff spoke to his mental health case manager, Defendant Duiker. Plaintiff told Duiker that inmate Clay had made threats against Plaintiff and had threatened to kill him. Duiker asked Plaintiff to be more specific about the nature of the threats, but Plaintiff told Duiker that she should have access to his file and that the file would speak for itself. Defendant Duiker told Plaintiff that, if he could not be more specific, he should return to his cell.

         Following the assault by Clay, Plaintiff filed grievances against Defendants Dorch, Ross, and Duiker, claiming that all three had violated his rights, because, despite knowing about Defendant Clay's assaultive risk and his increased security level, they took no action to protect Plaintiff.

         Plaintiff further alleges that during time he was incarcerated at LRF, he witnessed a substantial number of inmate assaults, which should have put Defendants on increased notice of a risk to Plaintiff. Plaintiff specifically references threats between two unknown cellmates in 2013 or 2014 that went unresolved, resulting in the death of one inmate. He also claims that, one month before the assault at issue here, an inmate housed at LRF in Level IV complained that he and his cellmate were at the point of seriously hurting one another. When officials failed to take sufficient action, one prisoner was suffocated by the other. In addition, Plaintiff alleges that a female correctional officer was attacked by a prisoner after officials had been warned by numerous prisoners that she was at risk. Plaintiff contends that LRF officials made efforts to cover up the incidents. Further, because Plaintiff's assault was not life-threatening, officials advised Plaintiff that they would not be contacting the Michigan State Police.

         Plaintiff contends that one day after he submitted his § 1983 claim, he was placed on emergency transfer status. As the result of his transfer, Plaintiff lost his prison job as a lead baker at LRF, which he alleges is his only source of income. He also alleges that his placement in Level-II housing at the Michigan Reformatory is significantly more restrictive than Plaintiff's prior Level-II housing at LRF. Plaintiff alleges that his protected First Amendment activity was the motivating force behind his transfer, though he acknowledges that about two dozen other inmates from his unit were transferred. Plaintiff asserts that the loss of his income and the ...

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