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Quigley v. Trewiler

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

August 22, 2019

SEAN W. QUIGLEY, Plaintiff,
TONY TREWILER et al., Defendants.


          Janet T. Neff 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.


         I. Factual allegations

         Plaintiff Sean W. Quigley is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the St. Louis Correctional Facility (SLF) in St. Louis, Michigan. The events about which he complains, however, occurred at the Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility (IBC) in Ionia, Michigan. Plaintiff sues the following MDOC employees at IBC: former Warden Tony Trewiler[1], Assistant Warden J. Davids, Resident Unit Manager (RUM) R. Mote, and Prisoner Counselor (PC) J. Buchin.

         Plaintiff alleges that he was confined in administrative segregation from November 3 to December 9, 2015, when Defendants Davids, Mote, and Buchin were members of the Security Classification Committee (SCC). During that time, the SCC interviewed him only once, on November 17, 2015. But according to MDOC Policy Directive 04.05.120 ¶ BBB, the SCC should have interviewed him every seven days for the first 60 days of his confinement in segregation. After Plaintiff filed a grievance about the issue, he allegedly received three “falsified” SCC review forms claiming that he had been interviewed by the SCC on November 10, November 24, and December 9, 2015. (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID. 3.) Defendant Trewiler signed all of these reviews.

         Plaintiff complained about the lack of reviews and the falsified documents to the Office of Legislative Corrections Ombudsman. Plaintiff asserts that the Ombudsman's office informed him that the IBC wardens “admitted guilt.” (Id.) According to a March 2017 letter to Plaintiff from the Ombudsman's office, Plaintiff was confined in segregation from October 29, 2015, to January 20, 2016, and “it appears [he was] not seen at intervals of no more than 7 calendar days twice during [his] first 2 months in segregation[.]” (Letter, ECF No. 1-1, PageID.10.) In other words, during the first 60 days of Plaintiff's confinement in segregation, the SCC did not abide by its seven-day review policy; on two occasions, more than seven days passed between its reviews of Plaintiff's confinement. As to Plaintiff's claim that the signatures on the SCC's reviews were forged, the Ombudsman's office did not find sufficient evidence to substantiate this claim. (Id.)

         In short, Plaintiff claims that Defendants are liable because they did not follow prison policy. He also claims that they falsified documents, which is a felony. Plaintiff also alleges that, due to the “treatment” he received from the SCC, he committed “self harm” in January 2016. (Id.)

         As relief, Plaintiff seeks an injunction requiring the SCC to abide by prison policy, as well as damages.

         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).

         A. Prison Policy

         Defendants' alleged failure to comply with prison policy does not itself rise to the level of a constitutional violation. Laney v. Farley, 501 F.3d 577, 581 n.2 (6th Cir. 2007); Brody v. City of Mason, 250 F.3d 432, 437 (6th Cir. 2001); Smith v. Freland, 954 F.2d 343, 347-48 (6th Cir. 1992); Barber v. City of Salem, 953 F.2d 232, 240 (6th Cir. 1992); McVeigh v. Bartlett, No. 94-23347, 1995 WL 236687, at *1 (6th Cir. Apr. 21, 1995) (failure to follow policy directive does not rise to the level of a constitutional violation because policy directive does not create a protectible liberty interest). ...

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