United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
Honorable Janet T. Neff Judge
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 for injunctive relief.
is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of
Corrections (MDOC) at the Earnest C. Brooks Correctional
Facility, (LRF) in Muskegon Heights, Muskegon County,
Michigan. The events about which he complains, however,
occurred at the Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility (IBC) in
Ionia, Ionia County, Michigan. Plaintiff sues Resident Unit
Manager B. Haddon and Prison Counselor C. Ritter.
asserts that he is being retaliated against for filing a
previous lawsuit, which is currently pending in this court:
Taylor v. Haddon et al., No. 1:19-cv-754. Plaintiff
alleges that on August 21, 2019, he submitted an affidavit to
Defendant Ritter during legal mail rounds. Defendant Ritter
returned ten minutes later and informed Plaintiff that
Defendant Haddon told him not to notarize the affidavit after
he saw Plaintiff's name on the envelope. Plaintiff filed
a grievance regarding the denial. On August 23, 2019,
Defendant Haddon reviewed the grievance with Plaintiff and
subsequently told Defendant Ritter to notarize the affidavit.
August 29 and 30 of 2019, Defendant Ritter failed to process
Plaintiff's legal mail, stating that since Plaintiff
wanted to file grievances and get Defendant Haddon in
trouble, he would have to find some other way to send his out
his mail. On September 4 and 10 of 2019, Defendant Ritter
again failed to process Plaintiff's legal mail and, on
September 10, 2019, he refused to notarize a document for
Plaintiff, stating that he was not going to get involved.
Plaintiff filed a grievance on September 11, 2019, and
Defendant Haddon reviewed the grievance with Plaintiff on
September 13, 2019. On September 17, 2019, Plaintiff
submitted an authorized disbursement to Defendant Ritter for
three envelopes for legal mail. However, on September 19,
2019, Defendant Ritter told Plaintiff that he did not have
anything coming. On September 20, 2019, Defendant Haddon
refused to take Plaintiff's legal photocopy form.
Plaintiff filed grievances on both Defendants.
September 24, 2019, Defendant Ritter entered Plaintiff's
cell while he was being treated in health care. Defendant
Ritter tossed two § 1983 complaint forms in the toilet.
Plaintiff filed a grievance. Plaintiff states Defendants have
continued to interfere with his ability to send out legal
mail. As a result, Plaintiff has had to give his food trays
to other prisoners in exchange for postage to send out his
claims that Defendants violated his First Amendment right to
be free from retaliation. Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief
and damages in the amount of $1, 500.
Failure to State a Claim
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)).
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).
claims that Defendants Haddon and Ritter retaliated against
him for filing a prior lawsuit on Defendant Haddon by
interfering with his ability to get his affidavits notarized,
obtain photocopies, and send out legal mail. Retaliation
based upon a prisoner's exercise of his or her
constitutional rights violates the Constitution. See
Thaddeus-X v. Blatter, 175 F.3d 378, 394 (6th Cir. 1999)
(en banc). In order to set forth a First Amendment
retaliation claim, a plaintiff must establish that: (1) he
was engaged in protected conduct; (2) an adverse action was
taken against him that would deter a person of ordinary
firmness from engaging in that conduct; and (3) the adverse
action was motivated, at least in part, by the protected
conduct. Id. Moreover, a plaintiff must be able to
prove that the exercise of the protected right was a
substantial or motivating factor in the defendant's
alleged retaliatory conduct. See Smith v. Campbell,