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Berryman v. Washington

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

August 28, 2019

PHILIP WAYNE BERRYMAN et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
HEIDI WASHINGTON et al., Defendants.

          OPINION

          GORDON J. QUIST UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This is a civil rights action brought by state prisoners 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 Plaintiffs' pro se complaint indulgently, see Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), and accept Plaintiffs' 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 Plaintiffs' complaint for failure to state a claim.

         Discussion

         I. Factual Allegations

         Plaintiffs are currently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Macomb Correctional Facility (MRF) in New Haven, Macomb County, Michigan and the Muskegon Correctional Facility (MCF) in Muskegon, Muskegon County, Michigan. The events about which Plaintiffs complain, however, occurred at the Earnest C. Brooks Correctional Facility (LRF) in Muskegon Heights, Muskegon County, Michigan. Plaintiffs sue MDOC Director Heidi Washington, Deputy Director Kenneth McKee, Acting Deputy Warden Unknown Davis, Resident Unit Manager Unknown Lang, Prison Counselor C. Patricio, and Warden Unknown Jackson.

         Plaintiffs in this action are six prisoners: Philip Wayne Berryman #107202, Steven Carver #107513, Walter Cummings #417330, Larry Crowe #120734, Donald Hayden #285134, and Gordon Stockenauer #116242. Each Plaintiff claims that he is wheelchair bound and requires a single person room because of his disability and has been provided single person rooms in other facilities. Plaintiffs allege that when they were transferred to LRF, the named Defendants denied them single person rooms in violation of their Eighth Amendment rights.

         The Court has dismissed Plaintiffs Hayden and Stockenauer without prejudice for failure to pay the filing fee in compliance with the Court's orders (ECF Nos. 28 and 31). Plaintiff Berryman alleges that he was transferred to LRF on September 27, 2018. On September 30, 2018, all of the Plaintiffs sent letters to Defendants Washington and McKee seeking help in making LRF staff comply with the MDOC's single person cell policy. As of the filing of the complaint, Plaintiffs have not received a response.

         Defendant Davis called Plaintiff Berryman into his office and asked him why he believed he was entitled to a single person room. Plaintiff Berryman showed him the Medical Service Advisory Committee Policy 0003 for Single Person Room, which states that patients who are wheelchair-bound will be automatically placed in a barrier-free wheelchair accessible cell. Plaintiff Berryman also showed Defendant Davis a copy of two special accommodation orders stating “Housing: Barrier free/wheelchair accessible and Medical equipment/Supplies:

         Wheelchair-permanent” from LRF and JCF. Plaintiff Berryman also showed Defendant Davis copies of his medical records, which included a signed note by Peter Scuccimarri, M.D., stating, “With respect to your request for a single person cell detail, the guidelines at this time specify that the detail for a wheel chair and a wheel chair accessible cell will replace the need to order a single person cell. The wheel-chair accessible cell is a current special accommodation.” Defendant Davis improperly stated that Plaintiff Berryman had not had a single person cell while at St. Louis, but Plaintiff Berryman corrected him. Plaintiff Berryman also explained that he was required to self-evacuate his own feces several times a day, so that no one would want to be in a cell with him. Defendant Davis stated that Plaintiff Berryman's protests were unimportant and that Plaintiff Berryman would not be given a single person cell while at LRF. Plaintiff Berryman told Defendant Davis that he planned on filing a federal lawsuit.

         Plaintiff Berryman filed several kites regarding the matter. At one point, Defendant Jackson sent Plaintiff Berryman a message instructing him to stop kiting because he would not be getting a single person cell at LRF. Defendant Lang took Plaintiff Berryman's documents regarding his medical condition and needs and told Plaintiff Berryman that he would return them and that he would see that Plaintiff Berryman got a single person cell. Some hours later, Defendant Lang returned Plaintiff Berryman's papers, stating that Plaintiff Berryman would have to “start some shit” and sue someone in order to get a single person cell.

         Plaintiff Berryman then asked Defendant Patricio if he could be placed in a single person cell. Defendant Patricio told Plaintiff Berryman that he would look into it later. Plaintiff Berryman became upset, stating that his cell mate had already said he was not going to put up with Plaintiff Berryman self-evacuating his feces several times a day. Defendant Patricio then told Plaintiff Berryman that he needed to talk to medical.

         Plaintiff Cummings is a seventy-four-year-old prisoner confined to a wheelchair who was transferred to LRF in April of 2018. Plaintiff Cummings wrote to Defendants Washington and McKee on September 30, 2018, seeking assistance with placement in a single person cell, to no avail. Plaintiff Cummings then spoke to Defendant Lang, who stated that he and Plaintiff Berryman needed to stop trying to get placed in single person cells. Plaintiff Cummings spoke to Defendant Lang again on the following day, explaining that placement in a shared cell put him in danger, but Defendant Lang again refused to help him. Plaintiff Cummings also spoke to Defendant Patricio, who said that there was nothing he could do to help Plaintiff Cummings.

         Plaintiff Caver states that he is a prisoner confined to a wheelchair who was transferred to LRF in November of 2017. On September 30, 2018, Plaintiff Caver and the other Plaintiffs in this case sent letters to Defendants Washington and McKee, to no avail. Defendant Jackson refused to respond to Plaintiff Caver's kites. Defendant Davis repeatedly told Plaintiff Caver that prisoners who are wheelchair bound would be automatically placed in a barrier-free wheelchair accessible cell. Defendant Davis further stated that this special accommodation meant that health care no longer needed to order single person cells. Defendants Lang and Patricio each refused to help Plaintiff, despite the fact that he personally explained his situation to each of them.

         Plaintiff Crowe alleges that he is a sixty-seven-year-old prisoner confined to a wheelchair who was housed in a single person cell prior to being transferred to LRF in 2018. Plaintiff Crowe wrote to Defendants Washington and McKee on September 30, 2018, seeking to be placed in a single person cell, to no avail. Plaintiff Crowe spoke to Defendant Davis in the housing unit, and Defendant Davis stated that prisoners who are wheelchair bound would be automatically placed in a barrier-free wheelchair accessible cell, and that health care would no longer be ordering single person cells. Defendant Davis refused to consider Plaintiff Crowe's medical condition. Plaintiff Crowe stated that Defendant Jackson refused to respond to any kites. Defendants Lang and Patricio each ...


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