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Mitchell v. Hadden

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

January 15, 2020

Delmarey Mitchell et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
Unknown Hadden et al., Defendants.

          OPINION

          Janet T. Neff, United States District Judge.

         This is a civil rights action brought by two state prisoners 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 Plaintiffs' pro se complaint indulgently, see Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), and accept Plaintiffs' 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 Plaintiffs' complaint for failure to state a claim.

         Discussion

         I. Factual allegations

         Plaintiffs are presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility (IBC) in Ionia, Ionia County, Michigan. The events Plaintiffs describe in their complaint took place at that correctional facility. Plaintiffs sue MDOC Director Heidi Washington, as well as IBC personnel including Warden Matt Macauley, Assistant Deputy Warden James McBride, RUM Unknown Hadden, and Prison Counselor Craig A. Ritter.

         Plaintiffs allege that, upon being charged with respective misconducts, they were each placed in punitive segregation for 10 days. After the 10 days in punitive segregation, each Plaintiff's misconduct was brought before the Security Classification Committee (SCC), comprised of Defendants Hadden, Ritter, and Macauley. The SCC required each Plaintiff serve additional time in administrative segregation as punishment for the same misconduct.

         Plaintiffs contend that these successive punishments were applied as part of an unconstitutional process. First, prisoners who commit a class I misconduct have a hearing held before an administrative law judge. Those found guilty are placed in punitive segregation. Following punitive segregation, prisoners then receive a hearing before the SCC. The SCC routinely places these prisoners in administrative segregation. Following release from administrative segregation, SCC applies a scoresheet to determine whether the prisoner should have his security management level raised. Plaintiffs allege that three of the criteria for raising a prisoner's score are redundant, presumably making it easier for authorities to justify raising a prisoner's security level. Plaintiffs further contend they were placed in a higher security level in violation of conditions articulated on CSJ-481 (Prisoner Security Classification Screen form).

         Plaintiffs seek compensatory and punitive damages.

         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).

         Plaintiffs allege that Defendants have violated their Fifth Amendment rights by subjecting each Plaintiff to successive punishments on a single offense, and their Eighth Amendment rights by punishing Plaintiffs cruelly and unusually.

         III. Fifth Amendment

         Plaintiffs allege that they have been subjected to punishment more than once for the same offense in violation of Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution when they were subjected to successive ...


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