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Alger v. MaClaren

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

January 14, 2020

JOSHUA L. ALGER, SR., Plaintiff,
v.
DUNCAN MACLAREN, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER OF PARTIAL DISMISSAL

          HONORABLE NANCY G. EDMUNDS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. Introduction

         This is a pro se civil rights case filed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Joshua L. Alger, Sr., is a Michigan state prisoner currently incarcerated at the Ionia Correctional Facility in Ionia, Michigan. Alger, who is proceeding in forma pauperis, alleges violations of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, and 42 U.S.C. §§ 1985 & 1986.

         Alger names thirty-six employees of the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) as defendants: (1) Duncan MacLaren; (2) McDowell; (3) Blemke; (4) Jerry Harwood; (5) Patrick Harrington; (6) Vansloten; (7) Theut; (8) O'Brien; (9) Unknown Records Office Supervisor (Kinross Correctional Facility("Kinross")); (10) Unknown Warden (Chippewa Correctional Facility ("Chippewa")); (11) Unknown Captain (Chippewa); (12) Unknown Unit Chief (Chippewa); (13) Unknown Records Office Supervisor (Transfer Coordinator) (Chippewa); (14) Deputy Warden Floyd; (15) Unknown R.U.M (Cotton Correctional Facility ("Cotton")); (16) Chadwell; (17) Unknown Records Office Supervisor (Cotton); (18) Unknown Captain (Cotton); (19) Unknown Correction Officer (Cotton); (20) Unknown Medical Provider Doctor (Cotton); (21) M. Howard; (22) T. Mackie; (23) T. Ball; (24) Thomas; (25) Jason Erway; (26) Goodspeed (Hearing Investigator); (27) Peltier, Corrections Officer; (28) Jason Mucha; (29) Randall Haas (Deputy Warden); (30) G. Stephenson (Deputy Warden); (31) Stanley Kinner; (32) Walsh; (33) Bridges (Hearing Investigator); (34) Mona Golson; (35) Greason; (36) Unknown Records Officer Supervisor (Macomb Correctional Facility).

         He seeks monetary, declaratory, and injunctive relief. For the reasons discussed below, the Court dismisses Alger's claims filed under the Eighth Amendment, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1985 & 1986, the Religious Freedom Act, his claims against defendants in their official capacities, and defendants: (1) Duncan MacLaren; (6) Vansloten; (7) Theut; (8) O'Brien; (9) Unknown Records Office Supervisor (Kinross);(10) Unknown Warden; (11) Unknown Captain; (12) Unknown Unit Chief; (15) Unknown R.U.M. (Cotton); (16) Chadwell; (17) Unknown Records Office Supervisor (Cotton); (20) Unknown Medical Provider Doctor (Cotton); (21) M. Howard; (22) T. Mackie; (23) T. Ball; (26) Good speed; (29) Randall Haas (30) G. Stephenson; (31) Stanley Kinner; (32) Walsh; (33) Bridges; (34) Mona Golson; (35) Greason; and (36) Unknown Records Officer Supervisor.

         II. Factual Allegations

         According to the complaint, the occurrences giving rise to this lawsuit occurred at five different correctional facilities over a span of over three years, from June 2016 through today.[1] The events complained of appear to have been precipitated by a misconduct ticket issued in June 2016 by defendant McDowell, a corrections officer at the Kinross Correctional Facility. McDowell, Alger alleges, issued the ticket in retaliation for Alger's threat of litigation. Alger was found guilty of the misconduct by defendant hearings officer Theut. Theut sentenced Alger to 30 days top lock and 30 days loss of privileges.

         Alger alleges that, following the misconduct hearing, defendant corrections officer Mills falsified two misconduct tickets and planted contraband in Alger's cell to provide the basis for another misconduct ticket. Defendant corrections offer Blumke failed to provide him with proper notice of the new misconduct allegation, and, according to the complaint, defendant corrections officer Harwood and Harrington increased Alger's security level in retaliation for his threatening to take legal action against defendant McDowell. Defendant hearings officer O'Brien found Alger guilty of the three additional misconduct charges and imposed 20 days detention and 90 days loss of privileges.

         Alger was then transferred to the Chippewa Correctional Facility. He claims his transfer was part of a conspiracy by defendants Jerry Harwood and Patrick Harrington, among others, caused a security level increase, violated due process, and placed him in physical danger and mental distress. He alleges that staff at the Chippewa Correctional Facility conspired to deny him mental health treatment, access to the courts, charge him with false misconducts and transfer him in retaliation for filing grievances about the conditions of his confinement.

         At some point, Alger was transferred to the Cotton Correctional Facility.[2]He claims defendants Chadwell and an unknown records office supervisor conspired to initiate his transfer to a different facility and to improperly place him in segregation upon his transfer.

         Finally, Plaintiff challenges his transfers to Oaks Correctional Facility and Macomb Correctional Facility.

         III. Legal Standard

         Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996 ("PLRA"), the Court is required to sua sponte dismiss an in forma pauperis complaint before service if it determines the action is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). The Court is similarly required to dismiss a complaint seeking redress against government entities, officers, and employees that it finds to be frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. A complaint is frivolous if it lacks an arguable basis in law or in fact. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992); Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989).

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) requires that a complaint set forth "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief," as well as "a demand for the relief sought." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), (3). The purpose of this rule is to "give the defendant fair notice of what the ... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). While such notice pleading does not require detailed factual allegations, it does require more than the bare assertion of legal conclusions. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Rule 8 "demands more than an unadorned, the defendant-unlawfully-harmed me accusation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

         IV. Discussion

         A. Official Capacity Claims

         Plaintiff sues all the defendants in their official capacities for monetary damages. The Eleventh Amendment, however, bars civil rights actions against a state and its agencies and departments unless the state has waived its immunity and consented to suit or Congress has abrogated that immunity. Will v. Michigan Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 66 (1989). "The state of Michigan ... has not consented to being sued in civil rights actions in the federal courts," Johnson v. Unknown Dellatifa,357 F.3d 539, 545 (6th Cir. 2004) (citing Abick v. Michigan,803 F.2d 874, 877 (6th Cir. 1986)), and Congress did not abrogate state sovereign immunity when it passed § 1983. Chaz Construction, LLC v. Codell,137 Fed.Appx. 735, 743 (6th Cir. 2005). Eleventh Amendment immunity "'bars all suits, whether for injunctive, declaratory or monetary relief against a state and its agencies.'" McCormick v. Miami University,693 F.3d 654, 661 (6th Cir. 2012) (quoting Thiokol Corp. v. Department of Treasury, 987 F.2d 376, 381 (6th Cir. 1993)). Additionally, Eleventh Amendment immunity applies to state employees who are sued in their official capacities. See Colvin v. Caruso, ...


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