United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER SUMMARILY DISMISSING
M. LAWSON United States District Judge
Dwayne Anthony Johnson, a Michigan prisoner, has filed a
complaint on his own behalf under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
alleging that certain personnel violated his civil rights
when they denied him a job in the prison law library. The
Court has screened the complaint under 28 U.S.C. §
1915A, which requires the Court to review every “civil
action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental
entity or officer or employee of a governmental
entity.” Id. § 1915A(a). Because
Johnson's complaint fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted, the Court will dismiss it summarily.
presently is confined at the G. Robert Cotton Correctional
Facility (“JCF”) in Jackson, Michigan. The
defendants are employed by the Michigan Department of
Corrections at JCF. Stephanie Purdy is the classification
director, B. Johnson is the deputy warden of programs, and
Kevin Lindsey is the warden.
alleges that, despite being convicted of criminal sexual
conduct, he was a law library aide in four different state
prisons where he received excellent work-performance
evaluations. Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.7-8, ¶2. On March
22, 2018, however, Johnson was transferred to JCF where he
asked defendant Purdy for a job working in the prison law
library because he had the most experience in that type of
job. Id., PageID.8, ¶¶ 3-4. The job
requires a special security clearance, id.,
PageID.7, ¶ 2, and on June 12, 2018 Purdy informed
Johnson that he was not eligible for a security clearance,
id., PageID.9, ¶ 11. As alleged in the
complaint, the reasons Purdy gave for Johnson's failure
to acquire a special security classification were “(1)
PREA score, (2) Sexual Assault ticket within the last two
years, (3) Theft or Class I ticket within 1 year, and (4)
CRIME!!!” Id., ¶13 and Ex. I, PageID.21.
Johnson told Purdy that he could not understand how he could
work as a law library aide at other facilities, but not at
JCF, Purdy responded that officials at JCF do not allow
prisoners convicted of sex offenses to work on any special
security job assignments. Id., PageID.10, ¶15.
In addition, according to Johnson, defendants B. Johnson and
Kevin Lindsey neglected to correct the alleged constitutional
violation, and Lindsey created the criteria for special
security job assignments, which treated Johnson differently
from other inmates. Id., PageID.12, ¶¶
contends that there is nothing in the prison's policy
directives to justify the defendants' decision to treat
him differently from other inmates and not to allow him to
work in the law library like other inmates. Id.,
PageID.11, ¶19. He also contends that denying him a job
assignment in the law library at JCF violates his right to
equal protection of the law under the Fourteenth Amendment to
the United States Constitution. Id., PageID.7,
¶1, PageID.11-12, ¶ 22.
Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996 requires federal
district courts to screen complaints filed by prisoners
against a government officer and to dismiss any complaints
that are “frivolous, malicious, or fail to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted or . . . seek
monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such
relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), (b); Flanory v.
Bonn, 604 F.3d 249, 252 (6th Cir. 2010) (citing 28
U.S.C. §§ 1915(e) and 1915A and 42 U.S.C. §
1997e); Smith v. Campbell, 250 F.3d 1032, 1036 (6th
Cir. 2001) (citing 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and
1915A). “District courts are required to screen
all civil cases brought by prisoners, regardless of
whether the inmate paid the full filing fee, is a pauper, is
pro se, or is represented by counsel, as the statute does not
differentiate between civil actions brought by
prisoners.” In re Prison Litigation Reform
Act, 105 F.3d 1131, 1134 (6th Cir. 1997) (emphasis
Johnson prepaid the filing fee for this action, the Court
will not screen the complaint under 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2), because that section applies only to complaints
filed in forma pauperis. Benson v.
O'Brian, 179 F.3d 1014, 1015-17 (6th Cir. 1999). But
screening still is required under section 1915A, and the
criteria are much the same as designated by section
1915(e)(2) (requiring dismissal of complaints that fail to
state a claim or sue defendants who are immune from suit).
In re Prison Litigation Reform Act, 105 F.3d at 1134
(noting that “[t]he requirements of § 1915(e)(2)
overlap the criteria of § 1915A”); Hyland v.
Clinton, 3 Fed.Appx. 478, 478-79 (6th Cir. 2001).
complaint is frivolous if it lacks an arguable basis in law
or fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325
(1989); see also Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25,
32 (1992). “A complaint lacks an arguable basis in law
or fact if it . . . is based on legal theories that are
indisputably meritless.” Brown v. Bargery, 207
F.3d 863, 866 (6th Cir. 2000) (citing Neitzke, 490
U.S. at 327-28). Dismissal on the Court's initiative is
appropriate if the complaint lacks an arguable basis when
filed. Goodell v. Anthony, 157 F.Supp.2d 796, 799
(E.D. Mich. 2001).
state a viable claim that warrants relief, a plaintiff's
“complaint must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 547 (2007)). A
“claim is facially plausible when a plaintiff
‘pleads factual content that allows the court to draw
the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.'” Matthew N. Fulton, DDS,
P.C. v. Enclarity, Inc., 907 F.3d 948, 951-52 (6th Cir.
2018) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678).
bases his complaint on the Equal Protection Clause of the
Fourteenth Amendment. Discrimination is prohibited by that
Clause, which “commands that no state shall deny to any
person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the
laws.” Club Italia Soccer & Sports Org., Inc.
v. Charter Twp., 470 F.3d 286, 298 (6th Cir. 2006)
(internal quotation marks omitted). “To establish a
claim for relief under the Equal Protection Clause, a
plaintiff must demonstrate that the government treated the
plaintiff disparately as compared to similarly situated
persons and that such disparate treatment either burdens a
fundamental right, targets a suspect class, or has no
rational basis.” Ibid.; see also Sullivan
v. Benningfield, 920 F.3d 401, 408 (6th Cir. 2019)
(citing Rondigo, L.L.C. v. Twp. of Richmond, 641
F.3d 673, 681-82 (6th Cir. 2011)).
has not asserted that he belongs to a suspect class, such as
one “defined by race, alienage, or national
origin.” Maye v. Klee, 915 F.3d 1076, 1086
(6th Cir. 2019). Instead, he must rely on a “class of
one theory” for relief. The Supreme Court “ha[s]
recognized successful equal protection claims brought by a
‘class of one,' where the plaintiff alleges that
[he] has been intentionally treated differently from others
similarly situated and that there is no rational basis for
the difference in ...