Cates #235805 v. DeShambo et al

Filing 3

OPINION; signed by Chief Judge Robert Holmes Bell (Chief Judge Robert Holmes Bell, ymc)

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Cates #235805 v. DeShambo et al Doc. 3 Case 2:06-cv-00110-RHB-TPG Document 3 Filed 05/04/2006 Page 1 of 6 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN NORTHERN DIVISION JERRY CATES #235805, ) ) Plaintiff, ) ) v. ) ) WAYNE DESHAMBO, et al., ) ) Defendants. ) ____________________________________) Case No. 2:06-cv-110 HON . ROBERT HOLMES BELL OPINION This is a civil rights action brought by a state prisoner pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983. The court has granted Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis, and Plaintiff has paid the initial partial filing fee. 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. 42 U.S.C. 1997e(c); 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2), 1915A. The court must read Plaintiff's pro se complaint indulgently, see Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520, 92 S. Ct. 594, 595 (1972), and accept Plaintiff's 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). Applying these standards, the court will dismiss Plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a claim. Case 2:06-cv-00110-RHB-TPG Document 3 Filed 05/04/2006 Page 2 of 6 Discussion I. Factual Allegations Plaintiff Jerry Cates, an inmate at the Alger Maximum Correctional Facility (LMF), filed this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983 against Defendants Food Service Director Wayne DeShambo and Assistant Food Service Director Gary Anderson. Plaintiff alleges in his complaint that segregation prisoners are not given the same desserts as the general population prisoners and that Plaintiff is never given the additional toast or bread that is offered on the menu. Plaintiff states that he complained to Defendants, who have refused to correct the situation. Plaintiff seeks a warrant for the arrest of Defendants. II. Lack of exhaustion of available administrative remedies Plaintiff has failed to sufficiently allege and show exhaustion of available administrative remedies. Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1997e(a), a prisoner bringing an action with respect to prison conditions under 42 U.S.C. 1983 must exhaust available administrative remedies. See Porter v. Nussle, 122 S. Ct. 983 (2002); Booth v. Churner, 532 U.S. 731, 121 S. Ct. 1819 (2001). The exhaustion requirement is mandatory and applies to all suits regarding prison conditions, regardless of the nature of the wrong or the type of relief sought. Porter, 122 S. Ct. at 984; Booth, 532 U.S. at 741,121 S. Ct. at 1824. A district court must enforce the exhaustion requirement sua sponte. Brown v. Toombs, 139 F.3d 1102, 1104 (6th Cir.), cert. denied, 525 U.S. 833, 119 S. Ct. 88 (1998); accord Wyatt v. Leonard, 193 F.3d 876, 879 (6th Cir. 1999). A prisoner must allege and show that he has exhausted all available administrative remedies and should attach to his 1983 complaint the administrative decision disposing of his complaint, if the decision is available. Brown, 139 F.3d at 1104. In the absence of written -2- Case 2:06-cv-00110-RHB-TPG Document 3 Filed 05/04/2006 Page 3 of 6 documentation, the prisoner must describe with specificity the administrative proceeding and its outcome so that the court may determine what claims, if any, have been exhausted. Knuckles El v. Toombs, 215 F.3d 640, 642 (6th Cir.), cert. denied, 531 U.S. 1040, 121 S. Ct. 634 (2000). A prisoner must specifically mention the involved parties in the grievance to make prison officials aware of the problems so that the prison has a chance to address the claims before they reach federal court. Curry v. Scott, 249 F.3d 493, 505 (6th Cir. 2001). Plaintiff's claims are the type of claims that may be grieved. See MICH. DEP'T OF CORR ., Policy Directive 03.02.130, E (may grieve "alleged violations of policy and procedure or unsatisfactory conditions of confinement") (effective Nov. 1, 2000). The burden to allege and show exhaustion belongs to Plaintiff. See 42 U.S.C. 1997e(a); Knuckles El, 215 F.3d at 642; Brown, 139 F.3d at 1104. This requirement is "so that the district court may intelligently decide if the issues raised can be decided on the merits." Knuckles El, 215 F.3d at 642. Plaintiff fails to show that he ever filed any grievances against the named Defendants regarding his complaint. An allegation that remedies have been exhausted is not enough, as a plaintiff must provide the decisions reflecting the administrative disposition of his claims or other evidence showing that he has exhausted his remedies. Williams v. McGinnis, No. 98-1042, 1999 WL 183345, at *1 (6th Cir. March 16, 1999). The Sixth Circuit has found that the district court is not required to hold evidentiary hearings on the issue of exhaustion or "spend a lot of time with each case just trying to find out whether it has jurisdiction to reach the merits." See Knuckles El, 215 F.3d at 642. It is not clear whether Plaintiff may still grieve his claims. Under the policy of the prison, complaints must be resolved expeditiously, and complaints may be rejected as untimely. See Policy Directive 03.02.130, G-3, T, V. The Sixth Circuit held that an inmate cannot claim that -3- Case 2:06-cv-00110-RHB-TPG Document 3 Filed 05/04/2006 Page 4 of 6 "he has exhausted his remedies or that it is futile for him to do so because his grievance is now time-barred under the regulations." Hartsfield v. Vidor, 199 F.3d 305, 309 (6th Cir. 1999) (citing Wright v. Morris, 111 F.3d 414, 417 n.3 (6th Cir.), cert. denied, 522 U.S. 906 (1997). Because the exhaustion requirement is no longer discretionary, but is mandatory, the Court does not have the discretion to provide a continuance in the absence of exhaustion. See Wright, 111 F.3d at 417. Rather, dismissal of this action without prejudice is appropriate when a prisoner has failed to show that he exhausted available administrative remedies. See Freeman, 196 F.3d at 645; Brown, 139 F.3d at 1104; White v. McGinnis, 131 F.3d 593, 595 (6th Cir. 1997); Bradford v. Moore, No. 97-1909, 1998 WL 476206, at *1 (6th Cir. Aug. 3, 1998). Dismissal for failing to exhaust available administrative remedies does not relieve a plaintiff from payment of the civil action filing fee. Omar v. Lesza, No. 97 C 5817, 1997 WL 534361, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 26, 1997). Accordingly, the Court may dismiss his action without prejudice. However, the Court need not first require exhaustion of available administrative remedies when the complaint may be dismissed because it is, "on its face, frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief." 42 U.S.C. 1997e(c)(2); Brown v. Toombs, 139 F.3d 1102, 1103 (6th Cir.), cert. denied, 525 U.S. 833 (1998). Because Plaintiff's complaint fails to state a claim, the court will dismiss the complaint with prejudice without first requiring Plaintiff to exhaust any available administrative remedies. III. Failure to state a claim A complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted when it is clear that no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proved consistent with the -4- Case 2:06-cv-00110-RHB-TPG Document 3 Filed 05/04/2006 Page 5 of 6 allegations of the complaint. Jones v. City of Carlisle, 3 F.3d 945, 947 (6th Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 1177, 114 S. Ct. 1218 (1994). 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, 108 S. Ct. 2250, 2255 (1988); Street v. Corrections Corp. of America, 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, 114 S. Ct. 807, 811 (1994). Plaintiff's claim regarding his meals is completely lacking in merit. With regard to food, prisoners must receive adequate nutrition to maintain normal health; the food need not be tasty or aesthetically pleasing. See Cunningham v. Jones, 567 F.2d 653, 659-60 (6th Cir. 1977). Plaintiff enjo ys no constitutional or state-created right to receive specified menu items. The Supreme Court has held that state created liberty interests "will generally be limited to freedom from restraint which . . . imposes atypical and significant hardship on the inmate in relation to the ordinary incidents of prison life." Sandin v. Connor, 515 U.S. 472, 483 (1995); see also Rimmer-Bey v. Brown, 62 F.3d 789-790-91 (6th Cir. 1995). The court concludes that Plaintiff's claims do not rise to the level of a constitutional violation. Furthermore, Plaintiff's request for the "the issuance of a "warrant" for the arrest of the named Defendants" lacks merit. A civil rights action is not a proper vehicle for attempting to bring criminal charges. See Linda R. S. v. Richard D., 410 U.S. 614, 619 (1973) (private citizen lacks standing to initiate criminal proceedings); see also Associated Builders & Contractors v. Perry, -5- Case 2:06-cv-00110-RHB-TPG Document 3 Filed 05/04/2006 Page 6 of 6 16 F.3d 688, 692-93 (6th Cir. 1994) (private party lacks standing to compel the state to pursue criminal or civil actions). Conclusion Having conducted the review now required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act, the court determines that Plaintiff's action fails to state a claim and will therefore be dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2), 1915A(b); 42 U.S.C. 1997e(c). The court must next decide whether an appeal of this action would be in good faith within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. 1915(a)(3). See McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 611 (6th Cir. 1997). For the same reasons that the court dismisses the action, the court discerns no good-faith basis for an appeal. Should Plaintiff appeal this decision, the court will assess the appellate filing fee pursuant to 1915(b)(1), see McGore, 114 F.3d at 610-11, unless Plaintiff is barred from proceeding in forma pauperis, e.g., by the "three-strikes" rule of 1915(g). If he is barred, he will be required to pay the appellate filing fee in one lump sum. This dismissal counts as a strike for purposes of 28 U.S.C. 1915(g). A judgment consistent with this opinion will be entered. Date: May 4, 2006 /s/ Robert Holmes Bell ROBERT HOLMES BELL CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE -6-

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