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Cunningham v. Holley

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

January 7, 2020

UNKNOWN HOLLEY et al., Defendants.


          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 against Defendants Hamel, Perttu, and Wilson. The Court will also dismiss, for failure to state a claim, the following claims against the remaining Defendants: Plaintiff's retaliation claims against Defendants Holley and Peterson, and his due process claim against Defendant Peterson.


         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, however, occurred at the Baraga Correctional Facility (AMF) in Baraga, Baraga County, Michigan. Plaintiff sues Corrections Officers Unknown Holley, Unknown Frantti, Unknown Meloszyk, and D. Loop, Grievance Coordinator T. Hamel, Assistant Deputy Warden Dennis Peterson, Segregation Resident Unit Manager T. Perttu, and Segregation Acting Prison Counselor T. Wilson.

         Plaintiff alleges that on March 23, 2019, Defendant Holley refused to give Plaintiff his lunch tray, stating that Plaintiff had “assaulted another officer the other day so [Plaintiff was] not eating lunch.” (ECF No. 10, PageID.288.) Plaintiff filed a grievance on Defendant Holley on March 27, 2019. (ECF No. 10, PageID.281; ECF No. 1-2, PageID.90.)

         On April 1, 2019, Defendant Frantti refused to give Plaintiff his breakfast tray. On April 2, 2019, Defendant Frantti denied Plaintiff's breakfast and lunch trays, calling Plaintiff a snitch. On the same day, Defendant Meloszyk denied Plaintiff's dinner tray and stated that Defendant Frantti had told him that Plaintiff was a problem. Defendant Frantti also denied Plaintiff his breakfast on April 3, 2019. At that point Plaintiff was suffering from a headache, stomach cramps, and weight loss. Plaintiff apparently received his lunch and dinner trays on April 3, 2019. Plaintiff filed a grievance on Defendant Frantti on April 3, 2019. (ECF No. 10, PageID.281; ECF No. 1-2, PageID.94.) Plaintiff also filed grievances on Defendants Frantti, Meloszyk, and Loop on April 5, 2019. (ECF No. 10, PageID.281-283; ECF No. 1-2, PageID.98-106.)

         On April 6, 2019, Defendant Frantti denied Plaintiff his breakfast and lunch trays and Defendant Loop denied Plaintiff his dinner tray. Defendant Loop told Plaintiff that “Sullivan said that you wrote a grievance on him so you are not eating today.” (ECF No. 10, PageID.302.) Plaintiff claims that Sullivan, who is not a party to this action, previously promised Plaintiff that he was going to have Defendant Loop take his tray. On both April 7 and 8, 2019, Defendant Frantti denied Plaintiff breakfast and lunch, and Defendant Loop denied him dinner. On April 8, 2019, Plaintiff filed a grievance on Defendants Frantti and Loop. (ECF No. 10, PageID.283; ECF No. 1-2, PageID.110.) On April 10, 2019, Plaintiff filed numerous grievances regarding the denial of his meal trays on April 6, 7, and 8, 2019. (ECF No. 10, PageID.284-286; ECF Nos. 1-2 and 1-3, PageID.114, 119, 132, 137, 143, 147, 151, 157.)

         On April 11, 2019, Plaintiff states that he filed two grievances regarding the denial of his trays on April 8, 2019. (ECF No. 10, PageID.286; ECF No. 1-2, PageID.128.) On April 10, 2019, Defendant Hamel sent Plaintiff five step I grievance receipts. On April 12, 2019, Defendant Hamel sent Plaintiff five rejected step I grievances. Later that day, Defendant Peterson had Plaintiff placed on modified access to the grievance procedure. On April 16, 2019, Plaintiff filed a grievance on Defendant Hamel. (ECF No. 10, PageID.287; ECF No. 1-3, PageID.161.)

         On May 21, 2019, Plaintiff told Defendant Perttu that Defendant Frantti was threatening to continue retaliating against him. Defendant Perttu replied that there was nothing he could do about Defendant Frantti. On May 22, 2019, Plaintiff attempted to tell Defendant Wilson about the threats by Defendant Frantti. However, Defendant Wilson failed to help Plaintiff. On May 29, 2019, Plaintiff filed a grievance, but does not attach it to his original or amended complaint. (ECF No. 10, PageID.287.)

         Plaintiff claims that Defendants' conduct violated his rights under the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments. Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief.

         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 ยง 1983 is a method for vindicating federal rights, not a source of substantive rights itself, the first step in an action ...

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