Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Longmire v. Michigan Department of Corrections

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

August 14, 2019

TRAVIS SANTELL LONGMIRE, Plaintiff,
v.
MICHIGAN DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS et al., Defendants.

          OPINION

          PAUL L. MALONEY 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.

         Discussion

         I. Factual allegations

         Plaintiff is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Alger Correctional Facility (LMF) in Munising, Alger County, Michigan. The events about which he complains, however, occurred at the Chippewa Correctional Facility (URF) in Kincheloe, Chippewa County, Michigan. Plaintiff sues the Michigan Department of Corrections, Corrections Officers Brandon Going, Dennis Bergeron, Mitch MacDonald, and Eric Gurnoe, Grievance Coordinator Michael McLean, Assistant Deputy Warden James Corrigan, and Resident Unit Manager Michael LaCrosse.

         Plaintiff alleges that on November 2, 2018, Defendant Going wrote a misconduct on him for altering a magazine and folder. On November 5, 2018, Defendant Bergeron found Plaintiff guilty of altering a magazine by removing the cover. Plaintiff states that MDOC Policy Directive 04.07.112 ¶ DD states that an authorized publication is not considered altered solely because pages have been removed. The cover of the magazine consisted of the first and last page of the magazine. Defendant Corrigan denied Plaintiff's appeal, finding that there had been no due process violation.

         On November 24, 2018, Defendant MacDonald wrote a ticket on Plaintiff for being out of place when the lobby was closed, despite the fact that no announcement had been made indicating that the lobby was being closed. Plaintiff states that the misconduct was based on the fact that he walked into the lobby when the lights were turned off, which was meant to signify that the lobby was closed. Plaintiff was not aware of the fact that the lobby had been closed and he had no way of knowing that he was violating a rule. Defendant Gurnoe found Plaintiff guilty of the misconduct on November 26, 2018, and Defendant Corrigan denied Plaintiff's appeal. Plaintiff filed a grievance asserting that he was being improperly punished for violating an unwritten rule. Plaintiff's grievance was rejected by Defendant McLean.

         Defendant Bergeron wrote misconduct tickets on Plaintiff on January 12, 2019, and January 22, 2019, for being out of place because he had spent an excessive amount of time in the restroom. Plaintiff states that he was not aware of a time limit for being in the restroom and had no way of knowing that he was violating any rule. Defendant MacDonald found Plaintiff guilty on each of the misconduct tickets, stating that an excessive amount of time was whatever officers said it was, and that it did not have to be written down anywhere. A rehearing was ordered by the Assistant Deputy Warden and took place on February 19, 2019. During the rehearing, Defendant LaCrosse stated that it was up to the individual officers to decide what constituted an excessive amount of time.

         Plaintiff claims that Defendants violated his Fourteenth Amendment due process rights. Plaintiff seeks damages and equitable relief.

         II. Failure to state a claim

         A complaint may be dismissed for failure to state a claim if it fails “‘to give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). While a complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's allegations must include more than labels and conclusions. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (“Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.”). The court must determine whether the complaint contains “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. Although the plausibility standard is not equivalent to a “‘probability requirement,' . . . it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it has not ‘show[n]'-that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)); see also Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010) (holding that the Twombly/Iqbal plausibility standard applies to dismissals of prisoner cases on initial review under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A(b)(1) and 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)).

         To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the violation of a right secured by the federal Constitution or laws and must show that the deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Street v. Corr. Corp. of Am., 102 F.3d 810, 814 (6th Cir. 1996). Because § 1983 is a method for vindicating federal rights, not a source of substantive rights itself, the first step in an action under § 1983 is to identify the specific constitutional right allegedly infringed. Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994).

         Plaintiff may not maintain a § 1983 action against the Michigan Department of Corrections. Regardless of the form of relief requested, the states and their departments are immune under the Eleventh Amendment from suit in the federal courts, unless the state has waived immunity or Congress has expressly abrogated Eleventh Amendment immunity by statute. See Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 98-101 (1984); Alabama v. Pugh, 438 U.S. 781, 782 (1978); O'Hara v. Wigginton, 24 F.3d 823, 826 (6th Cir. 1993). Congress has not expressly abrogated Eleventh Amendment immunity by statute, Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332, 341 (1979), and the State of Michigan has not consented to civil rights suits in federal court. Abick v. Michigan, 803 F.2d 874, 877 (6th Cir. 1986). In numerous opinions, the Sixth Circuit has specifically held that the MDOC is absolutely immune from suit under the Eleventh Amendment. See, e.g., Harrison v. Michigan, 722 F.3d 768, 771 (6th Cir. 2013); Diaz v. Mich. Dep't of Corr., 703 F.3d 956, 962 (6th Cir. 2013); McCoy v. Michigan, 369 Fed.Appx. 646, 653-54 (6th Cir. 2010). In addition, the State of Michigan (acting through the Michigan Department of Corrections) is not a “person” who may be sued under §1983 for money damages. See Lapides v. Bd. of Regents, 535 U.S. 613, 617 (2002) (citing Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 66 (1989)); Harrison, 722 F.3d at 771. Therefore, the Court dismisses the Michigan Department of Corrections.

         Plaintiff claims that he was convicted of four misconduct tickets after he engaged in conduct which he could not have known was a violation of any rule. All of the misconducts were Class III misconducts. (See ECF Nos. 1-2, 1-6, 1-8, and 1-9.) Plaintiff alleges that his misconduct convictions violated his right to the procedural protections of the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause. A prisoner's ability to challenge a prison misconduct conviction depends on whether the convictions implicated any liberty interest. A prisoner does not have a protected liberty interest in prison disciplinary proceedings unless the sanction “will inevitably affect the duration of his sentence” or the resulting restraint imposes an “atypical and significant hardship on the inmate in relation to the ordinary incidents of prison life.” See Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 484, 487 (1995). Under Michigan Department of Corrections Policy Directive 03.03.105, ¶ B, a Class I misconduct is a “major” misconduct and Class II and III misconducts are “minor” misconducts. The policy further provides that prisoners are deprived of good time or disciplinary credits only when they are found guilty of a Class I misconduct. (See Policy Directive 03.03.105, ¶ AAAA). The Sixth Circuit routinely has held that misconduct convictions that do not result in the loss of good time are not atypical and significant deprivations and therefore do not implicate due process. See ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.