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Williams v. Loomis

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

December 20, 2019

DONNELL WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
R. LOOMIS 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.[1]

         Discussion

         I. Factual allegations

         Plaintiff presently is incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Carson City Correctional Facility (DRF) in Carson City, Montcalm County, Michigan. The events about which he complains occurred at that facility. Plaintiff sues three DRF librarians: Unknown Loomis, S. Ricks, and an unknown female librarian (Unknown Part(y)(ies)).

         Plaintiff alleges that, on July 11, 2019, Defendants Loomis and Unknown Part(y)(ies) and a non-Defendant library tech refused to put Plaintiff on library call-out so that he could see the legal writer. On July 16, 2019, Defendant Loomis and other non-Defendant library officials (J. Kissel and Acting Librarian Tech Helms) did not place Plaintiff on library call-out to see a legal writer about filing a writ of mandamus and a motion under Rule 60(b).

         Plaintiff apparently filed one or more grievances. On August 1, 2019, Defendants Unknown Part(y)(ies) and Ricks sought to have Plaintiff sign off on his grievance. When Plaintiff refused, Defendant Ricks told Plaintiff that he was taking Plaintiff off library call-out and that the legal writer would not be filing any of his motions at DRF. Grievance Coordinator Becher (not a Defendant) rejected Plaintiff's Step-I grievance and refused to provide Plaintiff with a Step-II grievance form. Plaintiff alleges that six of his grievances were not processed.

         Plaintiff contends that Defendants, by not providing Plaintiff library call-outs on two dates and threatening to take Plaintiff off library call-out to see the legal writer, engaged in harassing conduct. He alleges that Defendants' conduct violated prison rules concerning the humane treatment of prisoners and, arguably, the Eighth Amendment. Plaintiff also suggests that Defendants violated prison policy by preventing him from pursuing his grievances to all three steps of the grievance process. He also alleges that Defendant Ricks threatened to prevent him from meeting with the legal writer and preparing legal filings in retaliation for filing grievances. In addition, Plaintiff's allegations arguably demonstrate an intent to claim that he was denied his right of access to the courts.

         Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages, together with an injunction disciplining the offending employees.

         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 § 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).

         III. Violation of Prison Policy

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated MDOC Policy Directive (PD) 03.03.130 (Humane Treatment and Living Conditions for Prisoners) by denying him access to the library on two occasions and preventing him from exhausting his grievances. He argues that Defendants' actions amounted to “Harassment, Intimidation, and tormenting” Plaintiff. In addition, Plaintiff suggests that Defendant Ricks' handling of Plaintiff's prison grievance violated prison policy, presumably PD 03.02.130 (Prisoner/Parolee Grievances).

         Defendants' alleged failure to comply with an administrative rule or policy does not itself rise to the level of a constitutional violation. Laney v. Farley, 501 F.3d 577, 581 n.2 (6th Cir. 2007); Brody v. City of Mason, 250 F.3d 432, 437 (6th Cir. 2001); Smith v. Freland, 954 F.2d 343, 347-48 (6th Cir. 1992); Barber v. City of Salem, 953 F.2d 232, 240 (6th Cir. 1992); McVeigh v. Bartlett, No. 94-23347, 1995 WL 236687, at *1 (6th Cir. Apr. 21, 1995) (failure to follow policy directive does not rise to the level of a constitutional violation because policy directive does not create a protectible liberty interest). Section 1983 is addressed to remedying violations of federal law, not state law. Lugar v. Edmondson Oil ...


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