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Richardson v. Thomas

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

October 10, 2019

MATTHEW RICHARDSON, Plaintiff,
v.
J. THOMAS, Defendant.

          OPINION

          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.

         Discussion

         I. Factual allegations

         Plaintiff is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Michigan Reformatory (RMI) in Ionia, Michigan, where he is serving two life sentences for two convictions of first-degree murder. Plaintiff sues J. Thomas, a Resident Unit Manager (RUM) at RMI.

         Plaintiff alleges that he was housed at the Kinross Correctional Facility (KCF) when a “major disturbance” among prisoners took place in the KCF prison yard on September 10, 2016. (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.2.) He transferred to RMI three days later and received a class I misconduct ticket for rioting or striking, based on his alleged involvement in the disturbance. Prison officials placed him in temporary segregation until his misconduct hearing.

         Officer Marutiak held a hearing on the misconduct ticket on September 14 and found Plaintiff not guilty because there was no credible evidence to support the assertion that Plaintiff participated in the disturbance at KCF. However, Marutiak charged Plaintiff with a class II misconduct for being out of place. Plaintiff contends that he did not receive adequate notice of this charge prior to the hearing.

         Plaintiff transferred to the Oaks Correctional Facility (ECF) on October 5, 2016, where he was again placed in segregation. On October 11, Plaintiff received a notice of intent to conduct an administrative hearing (NOI), [1] written by Defendant Thomas. Plaintiff contends that Thomas deliberately misrepresented facts in the NOI.

         On October 13, Hearing Officer Burke allegedly dismissed the NOI because the evidence did not support it. That same day, Defendant Thomas allegedly prepared a second NOI falsely claiming that Plaintiff was involved in the disturbance at KCF because he was not on his bunk at the time. Plaintiff contends that he was deprived of due process because the NOI was not reviewed within 24 hours, in accordance with the prison policy. In any event, Hearing Officer Burke found Plaintiff guilty of the charge in the second NOI.

         Plaintiff successfully appealed the guilty finding. On January 25, 2017, a Hearings Administrator allegedly dismissed the second NOI because it was false.

         Plaintiff claims that Defendant Thomas intentionally falsified the NOIs to retaliate against Plaintiff and to have him placed in segregation because Thomas believed that Plaintiff was involved in the disturbance at KCF. Plaintiff argues that Thomas' actions violated Plaintiff's rights under the First, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments.

         As relief, Plaintiff seeks an injunction and 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 ...


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