Thomas #156603 v. Swift et al

Filing 4

OPINION ; signed by Judge Robert Holmes Bell (Judge Robert Holmes Bell, kcb)

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-TPG Thomas #156603 v. Swift et al Doc. 4 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN NORTHERN DIVISION RAY THOMAS #156603, Plaintiff, v. T. SWIFT, 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-152 Honorable Robert Holmes Bell Dockets.Justia.com Discussion I. Factual allegations Plaintiff Ray Thomas #156603, an inmate at the Chippewa Correctional Facility, filed this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983 against Defendants Resident Unit Manager T. Swift, Assistant Resident Unit Supervisor Unknown Batho, Assistant Resident Unit Supervisor Unknown Derry, T. Corey-Spiker. In his complaint, Plaintiff alleges that he was removed from the general population on January 6, 2010, pursuant to a false sexual predator designation. Plaintiff states that pursuant to MDOC policy, he should have received a hearing by January 13, 2010, but that he did not receive a hearing until January 21, 2010. The Notice of Intent was not upheld, and Plaintiff was released to the general population. Plaintiff claims that he is entitled to compensation for the time spent in segregation from January 14, 2010, until January 20, 2010. Plaintiff seeks 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 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 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 -2- 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). With regard to Plaintiff's claim that he was falsely accused of being a sexual predator, Plaintiff's complaint, as well as the attached documents, establish that 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 -3- 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, 569-70, 94 S. Ct. 2963, 2981 (1974); Franklin v. Aycock, 795 F.2d 1253, 1263 (6th Cir. 1986). As stated by Plaintiff, he received a hearing on the charge and was successful in his defense. Plaintiff was subsequently released back into the general population. Plaintiff also claims that he is entitled to damages for the time spent in segregation from January 14, 2010, until January 20, 2010. To determine whether segregation of an inmate from the general prison population involves the deprivation of a liberty interest protected by the due process clause, the Court must determine if the segregation imposes an "atypical and significant" hardship on the inmate "in relation to the ordinary incidents of prison life." Jones v. Baker, 155 F.3d 910, 811 (6th Cir. 1998) (quoting Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 483 (1995)). Under various circumstances, the Sixth Circuit has repeatedly found that confinement to administrative segregation does not present an "atypical and significant" hardship implicating a protected liberty interest. See Jones, 155 F.3d at 812-23 (two years of segregation while inmate was investigated for murder of prison guard in riot); Rimmer-Bey v. Brown, 62 F.3d 789, 790-91 (6th Cir. 1995) (inmate serving life sentence was placed in segregation after serving thirty days of detention for misconduct conviction of conspiracy to commit assault and battery); Mackey v. Dyke, 111 F.3d 460 (6th Cir.1997) (one year of segregation after inmate was found guilty of possession of illegal contraband and assault and where reclassification was delayed due to prison crowding). Although plaintiff states that his -4- duration in segregation violated MDOC policy, he presents no factual allegations to show that the confinement was atypical and significant. 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 School & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 106 (1984). Plaintiff does not enjoy any federally protected liberty or property interest in state procedure. See Olim v. Wakinekona, 461 U.S. 238, 250 (1983); Sweeton v. Brown, 27 F.3d 1162, 1164 (6th Cir. 1994). Plaintiff has failed to make any allegations which that his segregation is "atypical and significant." Consequently, the court concludes that no liberty interest is implicated by his placement. Moreover, Plaintiff appears to be claiming that the delay in his hearing was the result of negligence on the part of Defendants. Mere ordinary negligence is not enough to state a claim under the procedural element of the due process clause. Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327, 330-31 (1986). Accordingly, Plaintiff has not stated a viable procedural due process claim. To the extent Plaintiff attempts to bring a claim under the Eighth Amendment, his claim fails. The mere fact that Plaintiff was placed in detention, with nothing more, is insufficient to state an Eighth Amendment claim. See Lacey v. Michigan Dep't of Corr., No. 95-1097, 1995 WL 564301 (6th Cir. Sept. 21, 1995) (placement in detention did not violate Eighth Amendment); Eaddy v. Foltz, No. 85-1419, 1985 WL 14065 (6th Cir. Dec. 18, 1985) (whether an Eighth Amendment claim is stated for placement in segregation depends upon severity or pervasiveness of conditions). The Eighth Amendment prohibits any punishment which violates the civilized standards of humanity and decency, or involves the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain. See Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 102-03 (1976). To prove an Eighth Amendment violation, an inmate must show that he has been deprived of the minimum civilized measures of life's necessities. See Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 -5- U.S. 337, 347 (1981). Because placement in segregation is a routine discomfort that is a part of the penalty that criminal offenders pay for their offenses against society, it is insufficient to support an Eighth Amendment claim. See Hudson v.. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 9 (1992). 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 (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: November 3, 2010 /s/ Robert Holmes Bell ROBERT HOLMES BELL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

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