Alexander #731077 v. Ortiz et al
ORDER APPROVING AND ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION 56 ; Defendant's objection to the Report and Recommendation 57 is overruled; Defendant's motion for partial summary judgment 39 is denied; signed by Chief Judge Robert J. Jonker (Chief Judge Robert J. Jonker, ymc)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
File No: 2:16-cv-67
HON. ROBERT J. JONKER
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER APPROVING
AND ADOPTING THE REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
This is a prisoner civil rights action alleging a First Amendment retaliation claim. On
April 27, 2017, United States Magistrate Judge Timothy P. Greeley issued a Report &
Recommendation (“R&R”) recommending that the Court deny Defendant’s motion for partial
summary judgment barring recovery of compensatory damages (ECF No. 39). (R&R, ECF No. 56.)
The matter is before the Court on Defendant’s objection to the R&R. (ECF No. 57.) This Court is
required to make a de novo determination of those portions of the R&R to which specific objection
has been made, and may accept, reject, or modify any or all of the Magistrate Judge’s findings or
recommendations. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b). After conducting the de novo
review, the Court is satisfied that the Magistrate Judge’s recommendation is legally sound, and so
the objection is overruled.
Defendant argues that the Magistrate Judge’s conclusion that Plaintiff may pursue damages
for mental or emotional injuries is contrary to the plain language of the Prison Litigation Reform Act
(“PLRA”) and King v. Zamiara, 788 F.3d 207 (6th Cir. 2015). The PLRA provides:
No federal civil action may be brought by a prisoner confined in a jail, prison, or
other correctional facility, for mental or emotional injury suffered while in custody
without a showing of physical injury.
42 U.S.C. § 1997e(e). This does not mean, however, that prisoners can never recover for intangible
damages in a First Amendment retaliation case. “‘It would be a serious mistake to interpret section
1997e(e) to require a showing of physical injury in all prisoner civil rights suits. The domain of the
statute is limited to suits in which mental or emotional injury is claimed.’” King, 788 F.3d at 213
(quoting Robinson v. Page, 170 F.3d 747, 748 (7th Cir. 1999)). Indeed, the Sixth Circuit opined that
“deprivations of First Amendment rights are themselves injuries, apart from any mental, emotional,
or physical injury that might also arise from the deprivation, and that § 1997e(e) does not bar all
relief for injuries to First Amendment rights.” Id. at 212. Thus, a prisoner’s allegation that he
suffered a First Amendment injury as a consequence of a prison official’s action is cognizable under
the PLRA, even absent allegations of physical injury. Id. at 213.
The Court agrees with and adopts the Magistrate Judge’s analysis. Accordingly,
IT IS ORDERED that the April 27, 2017 R&R (ECF No. 56) is APPROVED and
ADOPTED as the opinion of the Court.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Defendant’s objection to the R&R (ECF No. 57) is
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Defendant’s motion for partial summary judgment (ECF
No. 39) is DENIED.
June 8, 2017
/s/ Robert J. Jonker
ROBERT J. JONKER
CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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