Bradshaw #280334 v. Sage et al
OPINION; signed by Judge Gordon J. Quist (Judge Gordon J. Quist, jmt)
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
LONNY DEAN BRADSHAW,
Case No. 1:16-cv-734
Honorable Gordon J. Quist
UNKNOWN SAGE et al.,
This is a civil rights action brought by a state prisoner pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983
and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12131. The Court has
granted Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, PUB.
L. NO. 104-134, 110 STAT. 1321 (1996), 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 claims under the Eighth
Amendment, the Equal Protection Clause and the Due Process Clause. The Court also will dismiss
Plaintiff’s damages claim under Title I of the ADA. In addition, the Court will dismiss Defendant
Unknown Party. The Court will serve the remainder of the amended complaint on Defendants
Sage, Gilkie and Braman.
Plaintiff Lonnie Dean Bradshaw presently is incarcerated with the Michigan
Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility (MTU). He
sues MTU Classifications Director (unknown) Sage, MTU C-Unit Assistant Resident Unit
Supervisor (unknown) Gilkie; MTU Deputy Warden (unknown) Braman; and an unknown doctor
who worked at the Duane Waters Hospital in March 1999 (Unknown Party).
Plaintiff alleges that, in 1992 and 1993, he had cancer of an unspecified nature, for
which he underwent surgery and radiation treatment. As a result of the surgery, he incurred
damages to two nerve centers, the inguinal and femoral nerves.
On March 2, 1999, Plaintiff entered MDOC quarantine in Jackson, Michigan. He
was seen at the Duane Waters Hospital by Defendant Unknown Party. Plaintiff alleges that
Defendant Unknown Party neglected his medical care, apparently by failing to provide nerve
medication and neglecting to place information in Plaintiff’s record about his need to be placed in
a bottom bunk. As a result, Plaintiff did not receive a bottom-bunk detail until 2016.
Between 1999 and 2015, Plaintiff was assigned a job on the yard crew, which
required him to pick up papers and occasionally mow the grass or shovel snow. Plaintiff alleges
that, by working this job, he gradually became able to walk much better and his limp was reduced.
On September 3, 2015, Plaintiff was transferred to MTU. On October 20, 2015, Plaintiff was
assigned a porter job. Plaintiff, however, could not perform the job duties of a porter, because the
job required him to work too long. On November 23, 2015, after Plaintiff quit his porter job,
Defendants Gilkie and Sage placed him on “double-O punishment,” causing him to be confined to
his cell from 1:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.1 (Am. Compl., ECF No. 8, PageID.32;
Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.6.)2 Plaintiff has remained on unemployable status since that time and
has not been assigned to a job that he can perform.
Plaintiff alleges that he tried to convince Gilkie, Sage and Braman that he should be
assigned a job in the yard, but they did not change his assignment. As the result of being required
to be in his cell for most of the day, unable to exercise or move freely, Plaintiff allegedly has been
unable to engage in the self-care of working. He alleges that the inactivity has caused an increase
in the symptoms arising from his nerve injuries:
increased pain, increased weakness, and
aggravation of his limp. In February 2016, Plaintiff went to health care about his increasing
symptoms. He was prescribed a bottom-bunk detail. Plaintiff claims that, despite the detail, he has
not been placed in a bottom bunk.
In Count I of his complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants have violated his rights
under Title I of the ADA, which prohibits discrimination in employment. In Count II, he contends
that Defendants’ actions have violated Title II of the ADA, by depriving him of the ability to
participate in programs on the basis of his disability. In Count III, Plaintiff claims that Defendants
have subjected him to cruel and unusual punishment by ignoring his reports that he was being
negatively affected by the inability to work. In Count IV, he asserts that Defendant Unknown Party
violated the Eighth Amendment by neglecting to indicate on Plaintiff’s medical record that he had
ongoing medical issues related to nerve damage caused during surgery. In Count V, Plaintiff claims
Plaintiff appears to refer to his placement on unemployable status. A prisoner may be reclassified as
unemployable for a variety of reasons, including when a “prisoner refused to accept, or fails to fully and actively
participate in, a work assignment . . . .” MICH. DEP’T OF CORR., Policy Directive 05.01.100 ¶ X. A prisoner who is
deemed unemployable “shall not be permitted to participate in any more leisure time activities than those who work full
time.” MICH. DEP’T OF CORR., Policy Directive 05.01.100 ¶ Z.
The Court has referenced the original complaint, to the extent that it clarifies some of the allegations in the
that Defendants have violated the Equal Protection Clause by “punishing” him for doing a job that
is ordinarily an “ask and get job.” (Id., PageID.35.) In Count VI, Plaintiff argues that he was put
on unemployable status and confined to his cell during work hours without due process, in violation
of the Fourteenth Amendment. Finally, in Count VII, Petitioner contends that Defendants
committed the tort of negligence by denying him an opportunity to work on the yard crew,
aggravating his medical problems.
Plaintiff seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, including a clearing of his work
record and a transfer to another prison, together with compensatory and punitive damages.
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)
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).
Statute of Limitations
State statutes of limitations and tolling principles apply to determine the timeliness
of claims asserted under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. 261, 268-69 (1985). For
civil rights suits filed in Michigan under § 1983, the statute of limitations is three years. See MICH.
COMP. LAWS § 600.5805(10); Carroll v. Wilkerson, 782 F.2d 44, 44 (6th Cir. 1986) (per curiam);
Stafford v. Vaughn, No. 97-2239, 1999 WL 96990, at *1 (6th Cir. Feb. 2, 1999). Accrual of the
claim for relief, however, is a question of federal law. Collyer v. Darling, 98 F.3d 211, 220 (6th Cir.
1996); Sevier v. Turner, 742 F.2d 262, 272 (6th Cir. 1984). The statute of limitations begins to run
when the aggrieved party knows or has reason to know of the injury that is the basis of his action.
Collyer, 98 F.3d at 220.3
28 U.S.C. § 1658 created a “catch-all” limitations period of four years for civil actions arising under federal
statutes enacted after December 1, 1990. The Supreme Court’s decision in Jones v. R.R. Donnelley & Sons Co., 541 U.S.
369 (2004), which applied this federal four-year limitations period to a suit alleging racial discrimination under § 1981
does not apply to prisoner claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1983 because, while § 1983 was amended in 1996, prisoner civil
rights actions under § 1983 were not “made possible” by the amended statute. Id. at 382.
Plaintiff’s complaint against Defendant Unknown Party is untimely. He alleges
conduct by Unknown Party that occurred in March 1999. Plaintiff had reason to know of the
“harms” done to him at the time they occurred. Hence, his claims against Defendant Unknown Party
accrued in March 1999 or shortly thereafter. However, he did not file his complaint until more than
18 years later – well past Michigan’s three-year limit. Moreover, Michigan law no longer tolls the
running of the statute of limitations when a plaintiff is incarcerated. See MICH. COMP. LAWS
§ 600.5851(9). Further, it is well established that ignorance of the law does not warrant equitable
tolling of a statute of limitations. See Rose v. Dole, 945 F.2d 1331, 1335 (6th Cir. 1991); Jones v.
Gen. Motors Corp., 939 F.2d 380, 385 (6th Cir. 1991); Mason v. Dep’t of Justice, No. 01-5701, 2002
WL 1334756, at *2 (6th Cir. June 17, 2002). As a consequence, Plaintiff’s claims against Defendant
Unknown Party are time-barred.
Plaintiff claims that Defendants denied him permission to work his usual prison job
without due process. He also claims that he was placed on unemployable status without due process
and in violation of state law, despite the fact that he never requested the job he was assigned.
To the extent that Plaintiff bases his due process claim on a violation of MDOC
policy, he fails to state claim. Claims under § 1983 may not be based upon alleged violations of
state law, nor may federal courts order state officials to comply with their own law. See Pennhurst
State Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 106 (1984); see also Barber v. City of Salem, 953
F.2d 232, 240 (6th Cir. 1992); McVeigh v. Bartlett, No. 94–2347, 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 protectable liberty interest). Because Plaintiff
does not enjoy any federally protected liberty or property interest in state procedure, he fails to state
a due process claim based on an alleged violation of prison policy.
Moreover, the Sixth Circuit has consistently found that prisoners have no
constitutionally protected liberty interest in prison employment under the Fourteenth Amendment.
See, e.g., Dellis v. Corr. Corp. of Am., 257 F.3d 508, 511 (6th Cir. 2001) (district court properly
dismissed as frivolous the plaintiff’s claim that he was fired from his prison job); Newsom v. Norris,
888 F.2d 371, 374 (6th Cir. 1989) (no constitutional right to prison employment); Ivey v. Wilson,
832 F.2d 950, 955 (6th Cir. 1987) (“[N]o prisoner has a constitutional right to a particular job or to
any job”); Carter v. Tucker, No. 03-5021, 2003 WL 21518730, at *2 (6th Cir. July 1, 2003) (same).
Morever, “as the Constitution and federal law do not create a property right for inmates in a job, they
likewise do not create a property right to wages for work performed by inmates.” Carter, 2003 WL
21518730 at *2 (citing Williams v. Meese, 926 F.2d 994, 997 (10th Cir. 1991), and James v.
Quinlan, 866 F.2d 627, 629-30 (3d Cir. 1989)). Under these authorities, Plaintiff fails to state a due
process claim arising from his classification to the porter job or his placement on unemployable
Plaintiff next argues that Defendants Sage, Gilkie and Braman violated his Eighth
Amendment rights by refusing to move him to yard duty, thereby causing his physical health to
deteriorate from lack of exercise. 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, 345-46 (1981). The Amendment, therefore, 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). The deprivation alleged must result in the denial
of the “minimal civilized measure of life’s necessities.” Rhodes, 452 U.S. at 347; 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 (citation omitted). Moreover, “[n]ot 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.
In order for a prisoner to prevail on an Eighth Amendment claim, he must show that
he faced a sufficiently serious risk to his health or safety and that the defendant official acted with
“‘deliberate indifference’ to [his] health or safety.” Mingus v. Butler, 591 F.3d 474, 479-80 (6th Cir.
2010) (citing Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994) (applying deliberate indifference
standard to medical claims); see also Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 35 (1993) (applying
deliberate indifference standard to conditions of confinement claims).
The Eighth Amendment affords prisoners a right to exercise sufficiently to maintain
reasonably good physical and mental health. See Walker v. Mintzes, 771 F.2d 920-927 (6th Cir.
1985). Nevertheless, the Sixth Circuit “has never set a minimum amount of time a prisoner must
have access to outdoor recreation.” Argue v. Hofmeyer, 80 F. App’x 427, 430 (6th Cir. 2003)
(holding that confinement to a cell 23 hours per day, Monday through Friday, does not state an
Eighth Amendment claim) (citing Rodgers v. Jabe, 43 F.3d 1082, 1086-87 (6th Cir.1995) (holding
that no minimum amount of outdoor exercise is required to avoid Eighth Amendment violation)).
In the instant case, Plaintiff is confined to his cell only during the eight-hour workday to which he
previously had been assigned. Plaintiff provides no reason why he could not both exercise in his
cell or use the time during which he was not confined to his cell to exercise. Absolutely no basis
exists to support a conclusion that his confinement to a cell for eight hours a day, Monday through
Friday, presented an objectively substantial or serious risk to his health or safety. He therefore fails
to state an Eighth Amendment claim against any Defendant.
Plaintiff’s allegations concerning his equal protection claim are extremely limited.
He argues that he was deprived of equal protection because he “found out later on that no one gets
punished for this particular job. It’s an ask and get job!” (Am Compl., ECF No. 8, PageID.35.)
The Equal Protection Clause commands that no state shall “deny to any person within
its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” U.S. CONST. amend. XIV, § 1. A state practice
generally will not require strict scrutiny unless it interferes with a fundamental right or discriminates
against a suspect class of individuals. Mass. Bd. of Ret. v. Murgia, 427 U.S. 307, 312 (1976).
“[P]risoners are not considered a suspect class for purposes of equal protection litigation.” Jackson
v. Jamrog, 411 F.3d 615, 619 (6th Cir. 2005); see also Wilson v. Yaklich, 148 F.3d 596, 604 (6th
Cir.1998). In addition, the Supreme Court squarely has held that disability is not a suspect or quasisuspect class under the Equal Protection Clause. See Bd. of Trustees of Univ. of Alabama v. Garrett,
531 U.S. 356, 367-68 (2001) (citing City of Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Ctr., 473 U.S. 432, 442-47
Because neither a fundamental right nor a suspect class is at issue, Plaintiff’s claim
is reviewed under the rational basis standard. Club Italia Soccer & Sports Org., Inc. v. Charter Twp.
of Shelby, 470 F.3d 286, 298 (6th Cir. 2006). “Under rational basis scrutiny, government action
amounts to a constitutional violation only if it ‘is so unrelated to the achievement of any
combination of legitimate purposes that the court can only conclude that the government’s actions
were irrational.’” Id. (quoting Warren v. City of Athens, 411 F.3d 697, 710 (6th Cir. 2005)). To
prove his equal protection claim, Plaintiff must demonstrate “intentional and arbitrary
discrimination” by the state; that is, he must demonstrate that he “has been intentionally treated
differently from others similarly situated and that there is no rational basis for the difference in
treatment.” Vill. of Willowbrook v. Olech, 528 U.S. 562, 564 (2000).
Plaintiff’s allegation of discriminatory treatment is wholly conclusory. Conclusory
allegations of unconstitutional conduct without specific factual allegations fail to state a claim under
§ 1983. See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Plaintiff fails to allege any fact in
support of his claim that any other similarly situated prisoner was intentionally treated differently.
He therefore fails to state an equal protection claim against any Defendant.
Plaintiff raises claims under both Title I and Title II of the ADA, alleging that
Defendants have not accommodated his need for a job he can do, given his disabilities. He also
alleges that his need for a bottom bunk has not been accommodated.
Title I of the ADA “prohibits certain employers, including the States, from
‘discriminat[ing] against a qualified individual with a disability because of the disability of such
individual in regard to job application procedures, the hiring, advancement, or discharge of
employees, employee compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of
employment.’” Garrett, 531 U.S. at 361 (citing §§ 12112(a), 12111(2), (5), (7)). Title II of the
ADA “provides that no qualified individual with a disability shall, because of that disability, ‘be
denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to
discrimination by any such entity.’” Mingus v. Butler, 591 F.3d 474, 481-82 (6th Cir. 2010) (citing
42 U.S.C. § 12132).
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Plaintiff has named three Defendants involved in his classification to unemployable
status, his ongoing denial of prison employment, and his lack of a bottom-bunk assignment:
Classifications Director Sage, ARUS Gilkie, and Deputy Warden Braman. Plaintiff does not specify
the capacity in which he sues Defendants Sage, Gilkie and Braman. However, Titles I and II of the
ADA do not provide for suit against a public official acting in his or her individual capacity.
Everson v. Leis, 556 F.3d 484, 501 n.7 (6th Cir. 2009); Carten v. Kent State Univ., 282 F.3d 391,
396–97 (6th Cir. 2002) (holding that the proper defendant under a Title II claim is the public entity
or an official acting in his official capacity); Sullivan v. River Valley Sch. Dist., 197 F.3d 804, 808
n.1 (noting, in a Title I case, that individuals who do not independently qualify under the statutory
definition of employers may not be held personally liable in ADA cases). As a consequence, the
Court will assume that Plaintiff intends to sue Defendants in their official capacities only.
Since adoption of the ADA, the Supreme Court has held that, by adopting Title I of
the ADA, Congress did not abrogate the states’ traditional Eleventh Amendment immunity from
individual suits for damages. Garrett, 531 U.S. at 374. Plaintiff, therefore, may not bring a
damages claim against the State or against Defendants in their official capacities. Accordingly, the
Court will dismiss Plaintiff’s damages claims under Title I of the ADA. Nevertheless, an officialcapacity action seeking prospective injunctive relief constitutes an exception to sovereign immunity.
See Ex Parte Young, 209 U.S. 123, 159-60 (1908) (Eleventh Amendment immunity does not bar
injunctive relief against a state official). Because Petitioner seeks prospective injunctive relief, that
portion of his action is not barred by Garrett.
The Supreme Court has held that Title II of the ADA applies to state prisons and
inmates. Penn. Dep’t of Corr. v. Yeskey, 524 U.S. 206, 210-12 (1998) (noting that the phrase
“services, programs, or activities” in § 12132 includes recreational, medical, educational, and
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vocational prison programs). In addition, the State of Michigan (acting through the MDOC and its
officials) is not necessarily immune from Plaintiff’s claims under Title II of the ADA. The ADA
“validly abrogates state sovereign immunity” for “conduct that actually violates the Fourteenth
Amendment[.]” United States v. Georgia, 546 U.S. 151, 159 (2006); see also Mingus, 591 F.3d at
482. If conduct violates the ADA but not the Fourteenth Amendment, then the Court must
determine whether the ADA validly abrogates state sovereign immunity. Id. At this stage of the
proceedings, the Court will presume that the ADA validly abrogates state sovereign immunity for
Plaintiff’s ADA claims. Upon review, therefore, the Court concludes that Plaintiff’s allegations are
sufficient to warrant service of Plaintiff’s official-capacity ADA claims on Defendants Sage, Gilkie
Having conducted the review required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act, the Court
determines that Defendant Unknown Party will be dismissed for failure to state a claim pursuant to
28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(b), and 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c). In addition, the Court will
dismiss Plaintiff’s claims under the Eighth Amendment and the Equal Protection and Due Process
Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. Further, the Court will dismiss Plaintiff’s damages claim
under Title I of the ADA. The Court will serve the remainder of the complaint on Defendants Sage,
Gilkie and Braman.
An Order consistent with this Opinion will be entered.
Dated: October 7, 2016
/s/ Gordon J. Quist
GORDON J. QUIST
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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