United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Northern Division
L. MALONEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
claims that Defendants violated his Fourteenth Amendment due
process rights. Plaintiff seeks damages and equitable relief.
Failure to state a claim
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)).
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).
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
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 ...