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Peterson v. Clouse

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

August 16, 2019

TORAN V. PETERSON, Plaintiff,
v.
UNKNOWN CLOUSE 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, 1985, and 1986. 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 conspiracy claims under § 1983 and 1985 and his claims under § 1986. Plaintiff's retaliation claims against Defendants Clouse, Bassett, Johnson, Annis, McGlone, and Vogue remain in the case.

         Discussion

         I. Factual Allegations

         Plaintiff is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Oaks Correctional Facility (ECF) in Manistee, Manistee County, Michigan. The events about which he complains occurred at that facility. Plaintiff sues the following ECF officials: Assistant Deputy Warden (ADW) Clouse; Grievance Coordinator T. Bassett; Prison Counselor K. Johnson; and Correctional Officers (unknown) Annis, (unknown) McGlone, and (unknown) Vogue.

         Plaintiff alleges that, on June 5, 2019, he sent a kite to Defendant Clouse, complaining that the unit rules were not posted and asking for a copy of the rules. He also indicated that, if he did not hear from Defendant Clouse within two business days, he would file a grievance, in order to comply with the time for filing grievances.

         When Plaintiff did not receive a response, he filed a grievance on June 10, 2019. Defendant Bassett and ADW Spencly (not a Defendant) rejected the grievance on June 11 and returned it to Plaintiff on June 12, 2019. Defendant Bassett also sent a message, indicating that, if Plaintiff continued on his current path, “they would have something in store for [him].” (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.2.) Plaintiff alleges that he had already requested a Step-II grievance appeal form before he read the communication. Had he read Bassett's message first, Plaintiff would not have requested the Step-II grievance.

         On June 13, 2019, Plaintiff overheard Defendant Johnson tell Defendant Vogue that she had received a phone call from Defendant Clouse about Plaintiff's grievances and “that he knew what to do.” (Id., PageID.3.) Within two minutes, Plaintiff heard Defendant Vogue call Defendants Annis and McGlone to the bubble. Five minutes later, Defendants Annis and McGlone searched Plaintiff's cell for 30 minutes. Before entering Plaintiff's cell, Defendants closed the window on the cell across from Plaintiff, so that the neighboring prisoner could not observe them. Plaintiff left the electronic law library, but he was made to wait for the cell search to be completed. The search was undertaken at an unusual time of the day.

         When he was allowed to return to his cell, Plaintiff found that his papers were strewn across the floor, with a new bottle of barbeque sauce poured over them. Defendants had also opened two new boxes of snack crackers, two honey buns, twelve noodle packs, one cheese, one peanut butter, and one pickle. They had also poured the pickle juice over Plaintiff's sheets and shirts, and they took the kite that Bassett had sent the night before. Plaintiff was forced to throw out his food.

         On June 14, Plaintiff asked Defendant McGlone why they had ruined his property. McGlone responded that it was not personal, but they had to send Plaintiff a message about all of his grievance activities. McGlone advised Plaintiff that all he had to do was stop what he was doing. That same day, Plaintiff also asked Defendant Annis why he did what he did. Annis responded, “I was just going off of what Vogue told me.” (Id.)

         Plaintiff also spoke with Defendant Johnson on June 14. Plaintiff told Johnson that he planned to sue her for having the officers retaliate against Plaintiff. Defendant Johnson stated that the search had nothing to do with her. She stated that Defendant Clouse had told her the prior afternoon that Defendant Bassett had phoned Clouse about Plaintiff's Step-II grievances against Bassett and Spencly. She said, “That has nothing to do with me.[] If you continue you're going across the bridge or somewhere you don't want to go (the hole) instead of Macomb (corr. fac.).” (Id.)

         Plaintiff alleges that he had been on loss-of-privileges sanctions, which were waived on May 31, 2016, for a 30-day period. On June 16, 2019, an officer advised Plaintiff that his sanctions-waiver had been terminated. Plaintiff asked Johnson why his waiver was terminated. She responded that Defendant Clouse had terminated the waiver and that Plaintiff knew why.

         Plaintiff contends that Defendants Clouse, Bassett, Johnson, Vogue, Annis, and McGlone conspired to retaliate and retaliated against Plaintiff for filing a grievance against Defendant Clouse and for attempting to appeal that grievance to Step-II, in violation of the First Amendment under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985. Plaintiff also alleges that Defendants Johnson, Vogue, Annis, and McGlone neglected or refused to prevent the retaliatory actions of the other Defendants, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1986. Further, Plaintiff contends that Defendants' conduct constituted the following Michigan torts: gross negligence, Mich. Comp. Laws § 691.1407(2); intentional infliction of emotional distress, Mich. Comp. Laws § 418.131(1); willful and ...


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