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Mims v. Huss

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

October 24, 2019

DOYLE MIMS, Plaintiff,
v.
ERICA HUSS et al., Defendants.

          OPINION

          GORDON J. QUIST, 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 claims against Defendants Huss, Cody, and Thorrington, as well as Plaintiff's Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment claims against the remaining Defendants, for failure to state a claim.

         Discussion

         I. Factual Allegations

         Plaintiff is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Marquette Branch Prison (MBP) in Marquette, Marquette County, Michigan. The events about which he complains occurred at that facility. Plaintiff sues Warden Erica Huss, Counselor Unknown Johnson, Chaplain Tom Prisk, Classification Director Luke Cody, Prison Counselor J. Thorrington, and Corrections Officer Unknown Haralson.

         In Plaintiff's amended complaint and memorandum in support (ECF No. 6), he alleges that on March 17, 2019, Defendant Prisk passed out signup sheets for Ramadan meals. Plaintiff filled out the signup sheet and turned it in on the same day. The deadline to sign up was April 5, 2019. On March 20, 2019, Plaintiff received a memo from Defendant Prisk stating that his request to participate in Ramadan was being denied because he was not listed as “Muslim” on the “OMNI” religious section, but was listed as “unknown.” Plaintiff asserts that prior to this, he had engaged in arguments with Defendant Prisk regarding disrespect toward Muslims. Thereafter, Plaintiff filed kites directed at Defendant Cody, who was in charge of “OMNI, ” seeking to clarify his religious preference. Plaintiff did not receive a reply.

         Plaintiff filed a grievance on March 27, 2019, but did not receive a response. On April 3, 2019, Plaintiff was transferred to the Ionia Correctional Facility on a temporary basis. Plaintiff was transferred back to MBP on April 18, 2019. On April 23, 2019, Plaintiff spoke to Defendant Thorrington about his desire to be placed on the Ramadan meal list and the issue of his religious preference on OMNI. Defendant Thorrington had Plaintiff sign a declaration of religious faith and sent an email to Defendant Prisk about Plaintiff's situation.

         On April 29, 2019, Plaintiff sent a kite to Defendant Prisk regarding his continued desire to participate in Ramadan. On May 3, 2019, Plaintiff received a response stating that Plaintiff had missed the deadline for requesting Ramadan meals, which was April 5, 2019. On May 5, 2019, the first day of Ramadan, Plaintiff did not receive a Ramadan bag. However, Corrections Officer O'Neal said that he remembered Plaintiff participating in Ramadan the previous year and stated that he would send an email to the chaplain and the kitchen on Plaintiff's behalf. Defendant Haralson told Plaintiff that if he saved his trays in an effort to participate in the Ramadan fast, he would receive a ticket for contraband. Plaintiff wrote a kite to the warden and filed a grievance.

         On May 13, 2019, Defendant Johnson reviewed Plaintiff's grievance with him. Plaintiff told Defendant Johnson that he had been listed on the OMNI system as Muslim for the past four years, and had been Muslim since he was fourteen years old. Plaintiff stated that he suspected that his religious preference had been changed on OMNI because of his past disagreement with Defendant Prisk. Later that day, Defendant Johnson returned and told Plaintiff that he thought he was correct, and that something seemed “fishy.” Plaintiff showed Defendant Johnson the memorandum showing that Plaintiff had signed up for Ramadan in a timely manner, as well as the letter from Defendant Prisk stating that Plaintiff had missed the deadline. Defendant Johnson told Plaintiff that Defendant Prisk was denying him Ramadan meals in order to be malicious and assured Plaintiff that he would begin receiving Ramadan bags that evening. When Defendant Johnson asked if Plaintiff wanted to sign off on the grievance, he said “no” because it was an ongoing issue and he had already missed the first day of the Ramadan fast. Defendant Johnson again assured Plaintiff that he would begin receiving Ramadan bags that evening and left the unit. However, Plaintiff did not receive a Ramadan meal bag that night.

         On May 13, 2019, Defendant Haralson told Plaintiff that he was a fake Muslim. Defendant Haralson said that he had written a threatening behavior misconduct on Plaintiff's neighbor, Inmate Green #754619, for helping Plaintiff with legal work. Defendant Haralson stated that Inmate Green deserved it because he was a fake Buddhist and that if Plaintiff kept complaining, he would also write a misconduct on Plaintiff.

         On May 14, 2019, Plaintiff asked Defendant Johnson why he had not gotten his Ramadan meal bag. Defendant Johnson told Plaintiff that he did not like Muslims and that Plaintiff was a pest. Defendant Johnson also stated that the corrections officers believed that Plaintiff was a fake Muslim. Plaintiff continued to write letters to each Defendant regarding the denial of Ramadan meals, but Plaintiff never received any replies.

         On May 15, 2019, Defendant Johnson told Plaintiff that he was correct, but Defendant Johnson was unable to admit it in writing. Defendant Johnson asked for documents proving that Plaintiff was listed as a Muslim in OMNI, despite the fact that Plaintiff had already shown them to him. Plaintiff asked Defendant Johnson if he would tell the truth about the documents if they were confiscated or lost, and Defendant Johnson said “no.” Therefore, Plaintiff refused to let Defendant Johnson take the documents. Defendant Johnson told Plaintiff that he had to do what was best for his boss, Defendant Huss, so he was not going to be able to help Plaintiff resolve the issue.

         Plaintiff continued to be denied Ramadan meals. In addition, Defendant Haralson and other corrections officials told Plaintiff that he had “better sign off” on the grievance or he would lose his shower privileges. Plaintiff claims that Defendants' conduct violated his rights under the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments. Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages, as well as declaratory and injunctive relief.

         II. Failure ...


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