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Miles v. Rink

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

September 26, 2019

KUSHAWN S. MILES, Plaintiff,
v.
DAVID RINK 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 against Defendant James Corrigan. The Court will also dismiss for failure to state a claim Plaintiff’s claims under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA).

         Discussion

         I. Factual Allegations

         Plaintiff is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Chippewa Correctional Facility (URF) in Kincheloe, Michigan. The events about which he complains occurred at that facility. Plaintiff sues URF Chaplain David Rink and URF Assistant Deputy Warden James Corrigan, in their respective personal capacities.

         Plaintiff alleges that he is a Moorish-American Muslim and that his sincerely held religious beliefs require that he adhere to Muslim dietary rules. Accordingly, on August 18, 2018, and August 25, 2018, Plaintiff sent kites to Defendant Rink requesting approval for Plaintiff’s participation in the religious meal program at URF. On September 2, 2018, Plaintiff, having not received any response, filed a grievance against Defendant Rink.

         Defendant Rink responded to the grievance at the first step. Plaintiff objected to Rink’s role as respondent to a grievance about himself because it was a violation of MDOC policy. Rink informed Plaintiff that Defendant Corrigan had approved the arrangement.

         As part of the response to the grievance, Rink had Plaintiff fill out an application for religious meal accommodation. The chaplain told Plaintiff that he would process the application and submit it to the Correctional Facilities Administration (CFA) Special Activities Coordinator-the only person who could approve the application.

         Then, Rink asked Plaintiff to sign off on the grievance. Plaintiff refused. Defendant Rink then told Plaintiff “good luck with trying to get on a religious diet” and left. Defendant Rink, and then Defendant Corrigan, signed off on the grievance response.

         Plaintiff never received approval for the religious diet. In connection with similar litigation against other MDOC personnel, Miles v. Mich. Dep’t of Corr. et al., No. 1:18-cv-352 (W.D. Mich.), Plaintiff obtained an affidavit from the CFA Special Activities Coordinator indicating that he had never received an application from URF. Plaintiff contends that Defendants purposely impeded Plaintiff’s application in retaliation for Plaintiff’s refusal to sign off on the grievance, in violation of Plaintiff’s First Amendment rights. Moreover, Plaintiff claims Defendants actions interfered with Plaintiff’s exercise of his religion in violation of the First Amendment Free Exercise Clause and RLUIPA. In addition, Plaintiff claims Defendants discriminated against him for exercising his First Amendment rights in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment Free Exercise Clause. Finally, Plaintiff contends that Defendants’ actions violated Plaintiff’s rights under state law.

         Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages and declaratory 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 ยง 1983 is a method for vindicating federal rights, not a source of substantive rights itself, the first step in an action ...


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