Miles #211035 v. Nadeau et al

Filing 4

OPINION ; signed by Judge R. Allan Edgar (EDTN Judge R. Allan Edgar, cam)

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Miles #211035 v. Nadeau et al Doc. 4 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN NORTHERN DIVISION RODNEY MILES #211035, Plaintiff, v. UNKNOWN NADEAU, et al., Defendants. ____________________________________/ 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), 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, Plaintiff's action will be dismissed for failure to state a claim. Case No. 2:10-cv-125 Honorable R. Allan Edgar Dockets.Justia.com Discussion I. Factual allegations Plaintiff Rodney Miles #211035, an inmate at the Chippewa Correctional Facility (URF), filed this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983 against Defendants Assistant Deputy Warden Unknown Nadeau, Resident Unit Manager Unknown Swift, Officer Unknown Osbourn, Officer Unknown Hall, Officer Unknown O'Brien, Officer Unknown Sheppard, Officer Unknown Moore, Officer Unknown Anderson, and Officer Unknown Smith. Plaintiff alleges in his complaint that he received a total of 12 misconduct tickets for being out of place over a period of 64 days. Plaintiff claims that these tickets were written by Defendants Anderson, Winnicki, Sheppard, Moore, Osbourn, Smith, and Butler solely because he his black and is wheelchair bound. Plaintiff states that the tickets were motivated by a desire to have him moved to another unit so that Defendants would not have to deal with him. Plaintiff claims that Defendants violated his rights under the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments, as well as under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, 42 U.S.C. 12101. Plaintiff seeks compensatory, punitive and nominal damages, as well as declaratory and injunctive relief. 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 Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (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, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) ("Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory -2- 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." Ashcroft, 129 S. Ct. at 1949. 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." Ashcroft, 129 S. Ct. at 1949 (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." Ashcroft, 129 S. Ct. at 1950 (quoting FED. R. CIV . P. 8(a)(2)). 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); Dominguez v. Corr. Med. Servs., 555 F.3d 543, 549 (6th Cir. 2009). 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). Initially, Plaintiff claims that the misconduct tickets were written in retaliation for his use of the grievance system. Retaliation based upon a prisoner's exercise of his or her constitutional rights violates the Constitution. See Thaddeus-X v. Blatter, 175 F.3d 378, 394 (6th Cir.1999) (en banc). In order to set forth a First Amendment retaliation claim, a plaintiff must establish that: (1) he was engaged in protected conduct; (2) an adverse action was taken against him that would deter a person of ordinary firmness from engaging in that conduct; and (3) the adverse action was -3- motivated, at least in part, by the protected conduct. Thaddeus-X, 175 F.3d at 394. Moreover, a plaintiff must be able to prove that the exercise of the protected right was a substantial or motivating factor in the defendant's alleged retaliatory conduct. See Smith v. Campbell, 250 F.3d 1032, 1037 (6th Cir. 2001) (citing Mount Healthy City Sch. Dist. Bd. of Educ. v. Doyle, 429 U.S. 274, 287 (1977)). The filing of a prison grievance is constitutionally protected conduct for which a prisoner cannot be retaliated against. See Smith v. Campbell, 250 F.3d 1032, 1037 (6th Cir. 2001). Temporal proximity may be "`significant enough to constitute indirect evidence of a causal connection so as to create an inference of retaliatory motive.'" Muhammad v. Close, 379 F.3d 413, 417-18 (6th Cir. 2004) (quoting DiCarlo v. Potter, 358 F.3d 408, 422 (6th Cir. 2004)). However, "[c]onclusory allegations of temporal proximity are not sufficient to show a retaliatory motive." Skinner v. Bolden, 89 F. App'x 579, 580 (6th Cir. 2004). Moreover, Muhammad does not stand for the proposition that temporal proximity alone is sufficient to create an issue of fact as to retaliatory motive. In Muhammad the Sixth Circuit did not resolve the issue, but merely observed that "temporal proximity alone may be `significant enough to constitute indirect evidence of a causal connection so as to create an inference of retaliatory motive.' " Id. at 418 (quoting DiCarlo v. Potter, 358 F.3d 408, 422 (6th Cir.2004) (emphasis added). Even if temporal proximity may in some cases create an issue of fact as to retaliatory motive, it would only be sufficient if the evidence was "significant enough." Plaintiff's conclusory and ambiguous evidence is not "significant enough" to create an issue of fact as to retaliatory motive. Brandon v. Bergh, 2010 WL 188731, slip op. at 1 (W.D. Mich., Jan. 16, 2010). -4- In this case, Plaintiff's assertions that Defendants were retaliating against him when they wrote the misconduct tickets are entirely conclusory. Therefore, Plaintiff's retaliation claims are properly dismissed. Plaintiff also claims that Defendants' conduct violated his rights under 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, 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 inmate 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)). Plaintiff has not alleged any conduct which rises to the level of an Eighth Amendment violation. -5- Plaintiff claims that he was deprived of a fair hearing on his misconduct tickets in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. However, Plaintiff's complaint, as well as the attached documents, establish that if Plaintiff had a right implicating the due process protections of the Constitution, Plaintiff received due process of law. In all cases where a person stands to be deprived of his life, liberty or property, he is entitled to due process of law. This due process of law gives the person the opportunity to convince an unbiased decision maker that, for example, he has been wrongly or falsely accused or that the evidence against him is false. Zinermon v. Burch, 494 U.S. 113, 127-28, 110 S. Ct. 975, 984 (1990). The Due Process Clause does not guarantee that the procedure will produce a correct decision. "It must be remembered that even if a state decision does deprive an individual of life, [liberty], or property, and even if that decision is erroneous, it does not necessarily follow that the decision violated that individual's right to due process." Martinez v. California, 444 U.S. 277, 284, n.9, 100 S. Ct. 553, 558, n. 9 (1980). "[T]he deprivation by state action of a constitutionally protected interest in `life, liberty or property' is not in itself unconstitutional; what is unconstitutional is the deprivation of such an interest without due process of law." Zinermon, 494 U.S. at 125, 110 S. Ct. at 983 (1990) (emphasis in original). Further, an inmate has no right to counsel in disciplinary proceedings. Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 56970, 94 S. Ct. 2963, 2981 (1974); Franklin v. Aycock, 795 F.2d 1253, 1263 (6th Cir. 1986). Plaintiff attaches copies of his hearing record on the misconduct convictions to his complaint. A review of these exhibits reveals that Plaintiff received hearings on each of the misconduct tickets, and that he had the opportunity to present a defense to the misconducts. Therefore, Plaintiff's due process claims lack merit. -6- Plaintiff also claims that Defendants' conduct violated his rights under the ADA. Title II of the ADA provides: "Subject to the provisions of this subchapter, no qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by any such entity." 42 U.S.C. 12132. To make out a prima facie case under Title II of the ADA, a plaintiff must establish that (1) he has a disability; (2) he is otherwise qualified; and (3) he is being excluded from participation in, being denied the benefits of, or being subjected to discrimination under the program solely because of his disability. Dillery v. City of Sandusky, 398 F.3d 562, 567 (6th Cir. 2005) (citing Jones v. City of Monroe, 341 F.3d 474, 477 (6th Cir.2003). Therefore, in the instant case, in order to state a claim under the ADA, Plaintiff must show that he received the misconduct tickets solely on the basis of his disability. A review of the misconduct hearing reports, which Plaintiff attaches to his complaint, indicate that Plaintiff was found to be out of place while on top-lock in violation of facility rules on numerous occasions. There is no indication that Plaintiff received the misconduct tickets because of being in a wheelchair. Rather, Plaintiff was found to be out of his cell without authorization. Therefore, Plaintiff's ADA claims are properly dismissed. Conclusion Having conducted the review now required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act, the Court determines that Plaintiff's action 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). 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 -7- (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 $455.00 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 $455.00 appellate filing fee in one lump sum. This is a dismissal as described by 28 U.S.C. 1915(g). A Judgment consistent with this Opinion will be entered. Dated: 9/7/2010 /s/ R. Allan Edgar R. Allan Edgar United States District Judge

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