United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
Honorable Gordon J. Quist Judge.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
PHILLIP J. GREEN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
a civil rights action brought pro se by a state
prisoner under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Plaintiffs complaint arises out of conditions of his
confinement from July 13 through October 1, 2016, at the Oaks
Correctional Facility. The defendants are Corrections
Officers Mitchell Gainer, Arnold Mattis, and Patrick Roy.
• On July 13, 2016, Officer Gainer violated his Eighth
and First Amendment rights when he operated electronic
controls that caused plaintiff to suffer injuries when his
left leg and foot became caught in a closing cell door.
• On October 1, 2016, Officer Roy violated his Eighth
and First Amendment rights by operating the electronic
controls that caused a cell door to hit plaintiffs elbow.
• On July 23, 2016, Officers Mattis and Gainer violated
his First Amendment rights by conducting a retaliatory search
of plaintiffs cell and Officer Gainer violated his First
Amendment right of access to courts by destroying legal
• On July 23, 2016, Officer Mattis wrote a false
misconduct charge against plaintiff for destruction of state
property in violation of his First Amendment rights.
• On October 1, 2016, Officer Roy wrote a false
misconduct charge against plaintiff for insolence in
violation of his First Amendment rights.
seeks an award of damages against defendants in their
matter is before the Court on defendants' motion for
summary judgment. (ECF No. 84). Plaintiff opposes
defendants' motion. (ECF No. 87). For the reasons set
forth herein, I recommend that the Court grant
defendants' motion for summary judgment in part and deny
it in part. The Court should grant defendants' motion for
summary judgment on plaintiffs First Amendment access to
courts claim against Officer Gainer and on plaintiffs First
and Eighth Amendment claims against Officer Roy based on his
closing of the cell door on October 1, 2016. Defendants'
motion should be denied on all other claims.
judgment is appropriate when the record reveals that there
are no genuine issues as to any material fact in dispute and
the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); McKay v. Federspiel, 823 F.3d
862, 866 (6th Cir. 2016). The standard for determining
whether summary judgment is appropriate is “whether
‘the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to
require (ECF No. 67). submission to a jury or whether it is
so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of
law.' ” Rocheleau v. Elder Living Const.,
LLC, 814 F.3d 398, 400 (6th Cir. 2016) (quoting
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242,
251-52 (1986)). The Court must consider all pleadings,
depositions, affidavits, and admissions on file, and draw all
justifiable inferences in favor of the party opposing the
motion. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986); France v.
Lucas, 836 F.3d 612, 624 (6th Cir. 2016).
the party without the burden of proof seeks summary judgment,
that party bears the initial burden of pointing out to the
district court an absence of evidence to support the
nonmoving party's case, but need not support its motion
with affidavits or other materials “negating” the
opponent's claim. See Morris v. Oldham Cty. Fiscal
Court, 201 F.3d 784, 787 (6th Cir. 2000); see also
Minadeo v. ICI Paints, 398 F.3d 751, 761 (6th Cir.
2005). Once the movant shows that “there is an absence
of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case,
” the nonmoving party has the burden of coming forward
with evidence raising a triable issue of fact. Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). To sustain
this burden, the nonmoving party may not rest on the mere
allegations of his pleadings. See Huff v. TeleCheck
Servs., Inc., 923 F.3d 458, 462 (6th Cir. 2019). The
motion for summary judgment forces the nonmoving party to
present evidence sufficient to create a genuine issue of fact
for trial. Street v. J.C. Bradford & Co., 886
F.2d 1472, 1478 (6th Cir. 1990); see AES-Apex Employer
Servs., Inc. v. Rotondo, 924 F.3d 857, 866 (6th Cir.
2019) (“[C]asting only [a] ‘metaphysical
doubt' is insufficient to survive summary
judgment.”) (quoting Matsushita, 475 U.S. at
586). “A mere scintilla of evidence is insufficient;
‘there must be evidence on which a jury could
reasonably find for the [non-movant].' ”
Dominguez v. Correctional Med. Servs., 555
F.3d 543, 549 (6th Cir. 2009) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at
252)); see Lossia v. Flagstar Bancorp, Inc., 895
F.3d 423, 428 (6th Cir. 2018).
also argue that they are entitled to summary judgment on the
basis of qualified immunity. “Once [an] official[ ]
raise[s] the qualified immunity defense, the plaintiff bears
the burden to ‘demonstrate that the official [is] not
entitled to qualified immunity.' ” LeFever v.
Ferguson, 645 Fed.Appx. 438, 442 (6th Cir. 2016)
(quoting Silberstein v. City of Dayton, 440
F.3d 306, 311 (6th Cir. 2006)).
government official sued under section 1983 is entitled to
qualified immunity unless the official violated a statutory
or constitutional right that was clearly established at the
time of the challenged conduct.” Carroll v.
Carman, 135 S.Ct. 348, 350 (2014); see Taylor v.
Barkes, 135 S.Ct. 2042, 2044 (2015). The first prong of
qualified immunity analysis is whether the plaintiff has
alleged facts showing that defendant's conduct violated a
constitutional or statutory right. See Saucier v.
Katz, 533 U.S. 194, 201 (2001). The second prong is
whether the right was “clearly established” at
the time of the defendant's alleged misconduct.
Id. Trial courts are permitted to exercise their
sound discretion in deciding which of the two prongs of the
qualified immunity analysis should be addressed first.
See Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 236 (2009).
qualified immunity defense can be asserted at various stages
of the litigation, including the summary judgment stage.
See English v. Dyke, 23 F.3d 1086, 1089 (6th Cir.
1994). The qualified immunity inquiry at the summary judgment
stage is distinguished from the Rule 12(b)(6) stage in that
generalized notice pleading no longer suffices, and the
broader summary judgment record provides the framework within
which the actions of each individual defendant must be
evaluated. At the summary judgment stage, “the
plaintiff must, at a minimum, offer sufficient evidence to
create a ‘genuine issue of fact,' that is,
‘evidence on which a jury could reasonably find for the
plaintiff.' ” Thompson v. City of Lebanon,
Tenn., 831 F.3d 366, 370 (6th Cir. 2016).
Brosseau v. Haugen, the Supreme Court examined the
underlying purpose of the requirement that the law be clearly
Qualified immunity shields an officer from suit when he
makes a decision that, even if constitutionally deficient,
misapprehends the law governing the circumstances she
confronted. . . . Because the focus is on whether the officer
had fair notice that her conduct was unlawful, reasonableness
is judged against the backdrop of the law at the time of the
conduct. If the law at the time did not clearly establish
that the officer's conduct would violate the
Constitution, the officer should not be subject to liability
or, indeed, even the burdens of litigation.
543 U.S. 194, 198 (2004); see also Mullenix v. Luna,
136 S.Ct. 305, 308 (2015) (“The dispositive question is
whether the violative nature of the particular conduct is
clearly established.”) (citation and quotation
omitted); City & County of San Francisco, Calif v.
Sheehan, 135 S.Ct. 1765, 1774 (2015) (“An officer
cannot be said to have violated a clearly established right
unless the right's contours were sufficiently definite
that any reasonable official in his shoes would have
understood that he was violating it, meaning that existing
precedent placed the statutory or constitutional question
beyond debate.”) (citations and quotations omitted).
“This demanding standard protects all but the plainly
incompetent or those who knowingly violate the law.”
District of Columbia v. Wesby, 138 S.Ct. 577, 589
(2018) (citation and quotation omitted). Qualified immunity
is an immunity from suit rather than a mere defense to
liability. Plumhoff v. Rickard, 134 S.Ct. 2012, 2019
Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the second prong of
the qualified immunity analysis “ ‘must be
undertaken in light of the specific context of the case, not
as a broad general proposition.' ”
Brosseau, 543 U.S. at 198 (quoting Saucier v.
Katz, 533 U.S. at 201); see City of Escondido,
Calif. v. Emmons,139 S.Ct. 500, 502-03 (2019).
“The burden of convincing a court that the law was
clearly established ‘rests squarely with the
plaintiff.' ” Key v. Grayson, 179 F.3d
996, 1000 (6th Cir. 1999) (quoting Cope v. Heltsley,
128 F.3d 452, 459 (6th Cir. 1997)); see Stevens-Rucker v.
City of Columbus, Ohio, 739 Fed.Appx. 834, 839 (6th Cir.