Parker v. Donnellon et al
OPINION and ORDER SUMMARILY DISMISSING CASE,DENYING Plaintiff's motion to supplement complaint, Denying as moot Plaintiff's claims seeking release from administrative lockdown, Any Appeal would be frivolous. Signed by District Judge Patrick J. Duggan. (MOre)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
Case No. 11-12198
Honorable Patrick J. Duggan
SHERIFF TIM DONNELLON, UNDER
SHERIFF THOMAS BUCKLEY,
CAPTAIN BLISS, LIEUTENANT
BIONDO, SERGEANT SZELOG,
SERGEANT OLEJNHK SERGEANT
CZARNECKI, DEPUTY ROGER,
DEPUTY MCCAIN, DEPUTY WALKER,
DEPUTY RODRIGUEZ, DEPUTY
ORBINO, DEPUTY PORTER, DEPUTY
HIEDEN, DEPUTY BRYCE, DEPUTY
BOXSTANZ, DEPUTY BANOCH,
DEPUTY VANDENBOSCH, DEPUTY
BAYZO, DEPUTY ZUEHLKE, and
OPINION AND ORDER OF SUMMARY DISMISSAL
On May 20, 2011, Samuel Parker (“Plaintiff”), a state prisoner currently confined at
the St. Clair County Intervention Center in Port Huron, Michigan, filed this pro se civil
rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that his civil rights were violated when
Defendants put him on administrative lockdown, failed to follow proper procedure in
doing so, and rejected his grievances. He also claims that Defendants had a retaliatory
motive for keeping him in administrative lockdown. On June 20, 2011, while this case
was pending, Plaintiff filed a motion to amend or supplement his Complaint. In his
motion, Plaintiff states that on May 22, 2011, he was released back into the general
population. Plaintiff now claims that he has been wrongfully assaulted by another inmate
and again placed in detention without due process. He seeks to amend or supplement the
Complaint to add four new parties as well as additional claims.
The Court has granted Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis. The Court must
dismiss any action brought by a plaintiff proceeding in forma pauperis, or certain actions
filed by a prisoner, if the complaint is frivolous, malicious, or 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. The Court reads Plaintiff’s Complaint liberally,
see Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520, 92 S. Ct. 594, 595 (1972), and accepts his
allegations as true unless they are clearly irrational or wholly incredible. Denton v.
Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 33, 112 S. Ct. 1728, 1733 (1992).
For the reasons stated below, the Court denies Plaintiff’s motion to supplement his
original pleadings. The Court dismisses as moot Plaintiff’s claim concerning placement in
administrative lockdown and summarily dismisses Plaintiff’s remaining claims for failure
to state a claim.
I. Factual Background
In his original pleading, Plaintiff complains of events that allegedly occurred at the
St. Clair County Jail. He alleges that on May 2, 2011, Defendant Szelog came to him and
told him that he had two options - to either pack up his belongings and move, or to be put
on administrative lockdown for failure to move. Defendant Szelog told Plaintiff that he
was being moved because he was causing problems and because another inmate had
reported that he had a knife in his cell. Plaintiff denied the allegations and was moved to
administrative lockdown. In his Complaint, Plaintiff sought removal from lockdown and
placement back into the general prison population. He claims that Defendants failed to
follow proper procedure in moving him, that they rejected his grievances, and that they
had a retaliatory motive for keeping him in administrative segregation. The Court liberally
construes Plaintiff’s claims as implicating the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments.
In his motion to amend or supplement his pleadings, Plaintiff states that on May 22,
2011, he was removed from lockdown and released back to the general population. He
also claims that he was assaulted by another inmate, taken out of his unit, and placed in
detention without a hearing. Plaintiff claims that he has been in detention since June 4,
2011. He seeks monetary damages and other appropriate relief.
II. Plaintiff’s Motion to Amend or Supplement Pleadings
On June 20, 2011, Plaintiff moved to amend his Complaint to add new claims against
Defendants Czarnecki, Olejnhk, and Porter, and add as new Defendants Sergeant Stroh,
Sergeant Hill, Sergeant Lebeau, and Turnkey Beauer. The Court may “permit a party to
serve a supplemental pleading setting out any transaction, occurrence, or event that
happened after the date of the pleading to be supplemented.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(d). The
Rule allows a plaintiff to update his complaint with later-occurring events supporting his
original claims. Albrecht v. Long Island R.R., 134 F.R.D. 40, 41 (E.D.N.Y. 1991). “The
rule does not, however, allow a plaintiff to add new claims relating to new events 
involving not the original defendants but a whole new cast of characters. In such
circumstances, leave to supplement should be denied, because there is ‘no linkage’
between the new allegations and those set forth in the original complaint.” Cage v. Harry,
No. 09-cv-512, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 29146, at * 3 (W.D. Mich. Mar. 26, 2010) (quoting
Klos v. Haskell, 835 F. Supp. 710, 716 (W.D.N.Y. 1993)). Plaintiff’s new allegations
involve new Defendants and are not linked to the events that are the subject of his original
Complaint. In addition, because the claims sought to be added do not arise from the same
transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences, joinder of the new
Defendants would violate Rule 20(a)(2). The Court therefore denies Plaintiff’s motion to
supplement his pleadings.
III. Evaluation of Plaintiff’s Complaint
A. Governing Law
“To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must set forth facts that, when construed
favorably, establish: 1) the deprivation of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the
United States; 2) caused by a person acting under the color of state law.” Harris v.
Circleville, 583 F.3d 356, 364 (6th Cir. 2009) (citing Dominguez v. Corr. Med. Serv., 555
F.3d 543, 549 (6th Cir. 2009)). While a complaint need not contain “detailed factual
allegations, a plaintiff’s obligation to provide [grounds entitling him to relief] requires
more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action will not do.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S. Ct. 1955,
1964-65 (2007) (citations and internal quotations omitted). “Factual allegations must be
enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level on the assumption that all the
allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).” Id. at 555-56, 127 S. Ct. at
1965 (citations and footnote omitted).
Because Plaintiff was released from administrative lockdown on May 22, 2011, his
request to be released back to the general population is appropriately denied as moot. The
Court will address each of Plaintiff’s remaining claims in turn.
B. Plaintiff’s First Amendment Claim
To the extent that Plaintiff alleges a violation of his First Amendment right to file a
meaningful grievance for redress, claiming that Defendants failed to adequately respond to
his concerns, he fails to state a claim. The First Amendment guarantees “the right of the
people . . . to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” U.S. Const. amend. I.
While a prisoner has a First Amendment right to file grievances against prison officials,
Herron v. Harrison, 203 F.3d 410, 415 (6th Cir. 2000), the First Amendment does not
impose an affirmative obligation on the government to consider, respond to, or grant any
relief on a citizen’s petition for redress of grievances. Smith v. Ark. State Highway Emps.,
Local 1315, 441 U.S. 463, 464-65, 99 S. Ct. 1826, 1828 (1979); Apple v. Glenn, 183 F.3d
477, 479 (6th Cir. 1999). The prisoner’s right is protected only if the grievances are not
frivolous. Herron, 203 F.3d at 415. In addition, a prisoner does not have a
constitutionally-protected interest in an inmate grievance procedure or the right to an
effective procedure. Walker v. Mich. Dep’t of Corr., 128 F. App’x 441, 445 (6th Cir.
2005); Argue v. Hofmeyer, 80 F. App’x 427, 430 (6th Cir. 2003) (citing cases). Thus, to
the extent that Plaintiff is dissatisfied with Defendants’ responses to his complaints or
grievances, he has failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. See Carlton v.
Jondreau, 76 F. App’x 642, 644 (6th Cir. 2003) (prisoner failed to state a claim based
upon defendant’s failure to investigate grievance); Proctor v. Applegate, 661 F. Supp. 2d
743, 766-67 (E.D. Mich. 2009). It is clear that Plaintiff was able to use the grievance
process. He simply disagrees with Defendants’ reasons for rejecting his grievance, which
states no claim of constitutional dimension.
Plaintiff was not denied his right of access to the courts by Defendants’ refusal to
process his grievance, because a prisoner bringing a civil rights action in federal court is
required to exhaust only his available administrative remedies. See 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a).
Thus, Plaintiff has failed to state a First Amendment claim.
C. Plaintiff’s Eighth Amendment Claim
Plaintiff has also failed to state a claim for violation of the Eighth Amendment. The
Eighth Amendment imposes a constitutional limitation on the power of the states to punish
those convicted of crimes. Punishment may not be “barbarous,” nor may it contravene
society’s “evolving standards of decency.” Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 346, 101 S.
Ct. 2392, 2399 (1981). The Eighth Amendment prohibits conduct by prison officials that
involves the “unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain.” Ivey v. Wilson, 832 F.2d 950,
954 (6th Cir. 1987) (per curiam) (quoting Rhodes, 452 U.S. at 346, 101 S. Ct. at 2399).
The deprivation alleged must result in the denial of the “minimal civilized measure of
life’s necessities.” Rhodes, 452 U.S. at 347, 101 S. Ct. at 2399; see also Wilson v. Yaklich,
148 F.3d 596, 600-01 (6th Cir. 1998). The Eighth Amendment is only concerned with
“deprivations of essential food, medical care, or sanitation” or “other conditions
intolerable for prison confinement.” Rhodes, 452 U.S. at 348, 101 S. Ct. at 2400 (citation
omitted). “Not every unpleasant experience a prisoner might endure while incarcerated
constitutes cruel and unusual punishment within the meaning of the Eighth Amendment.”
Ivey, 832 F.2d at 954. Plaintiff asserts that he was placed in administrative lockdown, but
he has failed to plead the sort of conditions that give rise to a violation of the Eighth
D. Plaintiff’s Fourteenth Amendment Claim
For a prisoner to establish a due process violation concerning placement in
administrative segregation, he must show that he suffered restraint which imposed an
“atypical and significant hardship on [him] in relation to the ordinary incidents of prison
life.” Rimmer-Bey v. Brown, 62 F.3d 789, 790-91 (6th Cir. 1995) (quoting Sandin v.
Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 484, 115 S. Ct. 2293, 2300 (1995)). Plaintiff has not alleged that
he suffered any deprivation of liberty other than confinement in administrative lockdown.
Moreover, a plaintiff has no constitutional right to be returned to the general population at
the prison. See McGaughy v. Johnson, 63 F. App’x 177, 178 (6th Cir. 2003) (citations
omitted). Plaintiff’s allegations do not rise to the level of a constitutional violation, and
therefore fail to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Mullins v. Smith, 14 F. Supp.
2d 1009, 1012 (E.D. Mich. 1998).
E. Plaintiff’s Retaliation Claim
Plaintiff’s related retaliation claim must be dismissed because it is conclusory and
unsupported. “A retaliation claim essentially entails three elements: (1) the plaintiff
engaged in protected conduct; (2) an adverse action was taken against the plaintiff that
would deter a person of ordinary firmness from continuing to engage in that conduct; and
(3) there is a causal connection between elements one and two – that is, the adverse action
was motivated at least in part by the plaintiff’s protected conduct.” Thaddeus-X v. Blatter,
175 F.3d 378, 394 (6th Cir. 1999) (citations omitted). However, “conclusory allegations
of retaliatory motive ‘unsupported by material facts will not be sufficient to state . . . a
claim under § 1983.’” Harbin-Bey v. Rutter, 420 F.3d 571, 580 (6th Cir. 2005) (quoting
Gutierrez v. Lynch, 826 F.2d 1534, 1538-39 (6th Cir.1987)) (omission in original).
Here, Plaintiff does not allege facts sufficient to conclude that Defendants’ actions of
placing him in administrative lockdown were motivated by constitutionally-protected
conduct. Bare allegations of malice are insufficient to establish a constitutional claim.
Crawford-El v. Britton, 523 U.S. 574, 588, 118 S. Ct. 1584, 1592 (1998). Plaintiff alleges
that Defendants were motivated to retaliate against him, but such allegations are simply
too attenuated to support a retaliation claim. Because Plaintiff has failed to allege both a
set of facts that would support a claim of retaliation and a causal connection necessary to
satisfy the Sixth Circuit’s test for retaliation claims, his Complaint is subject to dismissal.
IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff’s motion to supplement his Complaint is DENIED;
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff’s claim seeking release from
administrative lockdown is DENIED AS MOOT;
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff’s Complaint is SUMMARILY
DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A(b). The Court concludes
that an appeal from this order would be frivolous and therefore cannot be taken in good
faith. See Coppedge v. United States, 369 U.S. 438, 445, 82 S. Ct. 917, 921 (1962);
McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 610-11 (6th Cir. 1997). Thus, Plaintiff may not
proceed without prepayment of the appellate fees and costs if he files an appeal. 28 U.S.C.
s/PATRICK J. DUGGAN
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated: July 27, 2011
St. Clair County Intervention Center
1170 Michigan Road
Port Huron, MI 48060
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