Ellington #191157 v. Karkkila et al
OPINION ; signed by Chief Judge Robert J. Jonker (Chief Judge Robert J. Jonker, ymc)
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
ERIK ANTHONY ELLINGTON,
Case No. 2:16-cv-230
Honorable Robert J. Jonker
GARY KARKKILA, et al.,
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. 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 complaint for failure
to state a claim against Defendants Masters, Schram, Brinkman, Kienitz, Bonevelle, Denman,
Blough, Froberg, Immel, Bauman, Cromell, and Sprader. The Court will serve the complaint against
Defendant Karkkila a/k/a Parkkila.
Plaintiff Erik Anthony Ellington, a state prisoner currently confined at the Chippewa
Correctional Facility (URF), filed this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against
Defendants Corrections Officer Gary Karkkila1, Assistant Resident Unit Supervisor R. Masters,
Resident Unit Manager G. Schram, Sergeant Unknown Brinkman, Lieutenant Unknown Kienitz,
Grievance Coordinator Mary Bonevelle, Sergeant J. T. Denman, Corrections Officer Unknown
Blough, Corrections Officer Unknown Froberg, Assistant Deputy Warden Anthony Immel, Warden
Catherine S. Bauman, Corrections Officer Unknown Cromell, and Assistant Deputy Warden Scott
Sprader, all of whom were employed at the Alger Correctional Facility (LMF) during the pertinent
In his complaint (ECF No. 1), as well as in his supporting affidavit (ECF No. 9),
Plaintiff alleges that he arrived at LMF on August 20, 2015. Plaintiff claims that Defendant Parkkila
verbally harassed him between February 3, 2016, and February 21, 2016. On March 20, 2016,
Defendant Parkkila discovered that Plaintiff had complained about him to Defendant Masters.
Defendant Parkkila then wrote a major misconduct ticket on Plaintiff for having a cup of bleach in
his cell. As a result of the misconduct, Plaintiff was confined to segregation. Plaintiff was released
from segregation on April 16, 2016, whereupon Defendant Parkkila began harassing him again.
Plaintiff complained to Defendant Masters. On April 22, 2016, Defendant Parkkila observed
Plaintiff returning from his Al-Islam religious call-out with his Kufi cap on his head. Defendant
Also referred to as Gary Parkkila in the body of Plaintiff’s complaint. Because Plaintiff only refers to Gary
Parkkila in the body of his complaint, it appears that the usage of Karkkila in the heading was an error. Therefore, the
Court will use “Parkkila” in the body of this opinion.
Parkkila yelled at Plaintiff to remove his cap. Plaintiff explained that prison policy allowed him to
wear his Kufi cap to and from religious services. Defendant Parkkila became irate and stated, “I
don’t give a shit about your religio[n] or what policy says, I told you to remove it.” Plaintiff told
Defendant Parkkila that he was going to file a grievance and Defendant Parkkila responded, “oh
yeah, well you obviously need your room shaken down for contraband.” Plaintiff filed a grievance.
On May 2, 2016, Defendant Parkkila wrote a class II misconduct ticket on Plaintiff
for having a makeshift shelf rigged up in his cell using string tied between the wall locker and the
bottom bunk. Plaintiff complained to Defendants Park and Denman, asserting that he believed the
misconduct was discriminatory and retaliatory. Defendants Park and Denman merely told Plaintiff
to take the misconduct and the 5 days loss of privileges, and to stop writing grievances or go to
segregation. On May 6, 2016, Defendants Brinkman and Schram denied Plaintiff’s step II grievance
appeal regarding Defendant Parkkila’s refusal to allow Plaintiff to wear a Kufi cap. On May 13,
2016, Defendant Parkkila threatened to kill Plaintiff and/or to plant a knife in Plaintiff’s cell.
Defendant Parkkila told Plaintiff he could write all the grievances he wanted, but told him that if he
wanted to play that game, Defendant Parkkila would win. Id. Plaintiff filed a grievance regarding
this conduct, as well as complained about it to Defendants Brinkman, Masters, and Blough.
On May 20, 2016, Plaintiff returned from his work assignment and found that
someone had poured baby powder and water all over his legal and personal property. Plaintiff states
that Defendant Parkkila was the only person who had access to his cell. On May 21, 2016,
Defendant Brinkman reviewed Plaintiff’s grievance regarding Defendant Parkkila. In addition,
Defendant Kienitz told Plaintiff not to have his family members calling the state police to complain
about prison staff. Defendant Kienitz also told Plaintiff that if he stopped writing grievances, the
retaliatory harassment would stop. On May 22, 2016, Defendant Parkkila refused to let Plaintiff go
to the recreation room to call his family and attorney. Plaintiff sent letters to Defendants Bauman
and Immel to complain about Defendant Parkkila, but never received a response.
Plaintiff claims that between May 12, 2016, and May 23, 2016, Defendant Bonevelle
refused to give Plaintiff a step II appeal form, but finally sent Plaintiff a step II form on June 1, 2016.
Plaintiff claims that Defendants Brinkman, Schram, Bauman, and Denman all denied his grievances
and grievance appeals. On May 22, 2016, Defendant Blough told Defendant Schram to have
Plaintiff moved to another housing unit. On May 23, 2016, Defendant Schram told Plaintiff that he
was being moved to Maple Unit. Upon Plaintiff’s arrival on Maple unit, officers asked Plaintiff
about problems between him and Defendant Parkkila. Plaintiff believes that Defendant Parkkila
made it known to Maple unit officers that Plaintiff was a target of his.
Plaintiff claims that Defendants violated his rights under the First, Fifth, and
Fourteenth Amendments, as well as his state law rights. Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive
damages, as well as injunctive and equitable relief.
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).
Plaintiff claims that Defendant Bonevelle interfered in his ability to exhaust his
administrative remedies by refusing to give him step II appeal forms in a timely manner. Plaintiff
has no due process right to file a prison grievance. The courts repeatedly have held that there exists
no constitutionally protected due process right to an effective prison grievance procedure. See
Hewitt v. Helms, 459 U.S. 460, 467 (1983); Walker v. Mich. Dep’t of Corr., 128 F. App’x 441, 445
(6th Cir. 2005); Argue v. Hofmeyer, 80 F. App’x 427, 430 (6th Cir. 2003); Young v. Gundy, 30 F.
App’x 568, 569-70 (6th Cir. 2002); Carpenter v. Wilkinson, No. 99-3562, 2000 WL 190054, at *2
(6th Cir. Feb. 7, 2000); see also Antonelli v. Sheahan, 81 F.3d 1422, 1430 (7th Cir. 1996); Adams
v. Rice, 40 F.3d 72, 75 (4th Cir. 1994) (collecting cases). Michigan law does not create a liberty
interest in the grievance procedure. See Olim v. Wakinekona, 461 U.S. 238, 249 (1983); Keenan v.
Marker, 23 F. App’x 405, 407 (6th Cir. 2001); Wynn v. Wolf, No. 93-2411, 1994 WL 105907, at *1
(6th Cir. Mar. 28, 1994). Because Plaintiff has no liberty interest in the grievance process,
Defendant Bonevelle’s conduct did not deprive him of due process.
Moreover, Defendant Bonevelle’s actions have not barred Plaintiff from seeking a
remedy for his grievances. See Cruz v. Beto, 405 U.S. 319, 321 (1972). “A prisoner’s constitutional
right to assert grievances typically is not violated when prison officials prohibit only ‘one of several
ways in which inmates may voice their complaints to, and seek relief, from prison officials’ while
leaving a formal grievance procedure intact.” Griffin v. Berghuis, 563 Fed. App’x 411, 415-416 (6th
Cir. 2014) (citing North Carolina Prisoners’ Labor Union, Inc., 433 U.S. 119, 130 n. 6 (1977)).
Indeed, Plaintiff’s ability to seek redress is underscored by his pro se invocation of the judicial
process. See Azeez v. DeRobertis, 568 F. Supp. 8, 10 (N.D. Ill. 1982). Even if Plaintiff had been
improperly prevented from filing a grievance, his right of access to the courts to petition for redress
of his grievances (i.e., by filing a lawsuit) cannot be compromised by his inability to file institutional
grievances, and he therefore cannot demonstrate the actual injury required for an access-to-the-courts
claim. See, e.g., Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 355 (1996) (requiring actual injury); Bounds v. Smith,
430 U.S. 817, 821-24 (1977). The exhaustion requirement only mandates exhaustion of available
administrative remedies. See 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). If Plaintiff were improperly denied access to
the grievance process, the process would be rendered unavailable, and exhaustion would not be a
prerequisite for initiation of a civil rights action. See Ross v. Blake, 136 S. Ct. 1850, 1858-59 (2016)
(reiterating that, if the prisoner is barred from pursuing a remedy by policy or by the interference of
officials, the grievance process is not available, and exhaustion is not required); Kennedy v. Tallio,
20 F. App’x 469, 470 (6th Cir. 2001). In light of the foregoing, the Court finds that Plaintiff fails
to state a cognizable claim against Defendant Bonevelle.
Plaintiff claims that Defendant Parkkila discriminated against him because he is
African American and because he is a Muslim. The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment provides that a state may not “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal
protection of the laws,” which is essentially a direction that all persons similarly situated should be
treated alike. U.S. CONST., amend. XIV; City of Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Ctr., Inc., 473 U.S.
432, 439 (1985). When a law adversely impacts a “suspect class” such as one defined by race,
alienage, or national origin, or invades a “fundamental right” such as speech or religious freedom,
the rigorous “strict scrutiny” standard ordinarily governs, whereby such laws “will be sustained only
if they are suitably tailored to serve a compelling state interest.” City of Cleburne, 473 U.S. at 440.
However, while a convicted prisoner does not forfeit all constitutional protections by virtue of his
confinement, “lawful incarceration brings about the necessary withdrawal or limitation of many
privileges and rights . . . .” Price v. Johnston, 334 U.S. 266, 285 (1948). “The limitations on the
exercise of constitutional rights arise both from the fact of incarceration and from valid penological
objectives – including deterrence of crime, rehabilitation of prisoners, and institutional security.”
O’Lone v. Estate of Shabazz, 482 U.S. 342, 348 (1987) (citing, inter alia, Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S.
78, 84 (1987)).
To establish a violation of the Equal Protection Clause, an inmate must show that the
defendants purposefully discriminated against him. Vill. of Arlington Heights v. Metro. Hous. Dev.
Corp., 429 U.S. 252, 265 (1977). Such discriminatory purpose must be a motivating factor in the
actions of the defendants. Id. at 265-66. “A plaintiff presenting a race-based equal protection claim
can either present direct evidence of discrimination, or can establish a prima facie case of
discrimination under the burden-shifting scheme set forth in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green,
411 U.S. 792 (1973).” Umani v. Mich. Dep’t of Corr., 432 F. App’x 453, 458 (6th Cir. 2011).
Plaintiff’s allegation of discriminatory treatment by Defendant Parkkila is 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. In this case, Plaintiff
alleges that Defendant Parkkila became angry when he saw Plaintiff wearing his Kufi cap and
ordered Plaintiff to remove the cap. Plaintiff asserts that it is a well known fact that Defendant
Parkkila disliked Muslims, but fails to allege any facts supporting this assertion. In addition,
Plaintiff fails to allege any facts showing that Defendant Parkkila’s conduct was motivated by a
desire to discriminate against him on the basis of his race. Based on the allegations in Plaintiff’s
complaint, it is unclear whether Defendant Parkkila’s order to remove his cap was motivated by a
desire to discriminate against Plaintiff because of his Islamic religious affiliation, or whether he
would have ordered Plaintiff to remove the cap even if he was Jewish or had some other religious
Plaintiff fails to allege sufficient facts to support a claim of intentional race
discrimination by either direct or indirect evidence. See Davis v. Prison Health Servs., 679 F.3d
433, 440 (6th Cir. 2012) (discussing the distinction between direct and indirect methods of proving
As noted above, Plaintiff alleges no facts constituting direct evidence of
discriminatory motive or purpose. See Umani v. Mich. Dep’t of Corr., 432 F. App’x 453, 458 (6th
Cir. 2011) (citing Johnson v. Kroger Co., 319 F.3d 858, 865 (6th Cir. 2003)); see also Davis, 679
F.3d at 440. Second, Plaintiff fails to allege a prima facie claim under the indirect, burden-shifting
framework of McDonnell Douglas v. Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973), because he fails to allege that he
was treated differently from a member of a different religion or race who was similarly situated in
all relevant respects. See Umani, 432 F. App’x at 458. Because Plaintiff has failed to allege facts
which demonstrate a discriminatory intent, his equal protection claim against Defendant Parkkila is
It is unclear whether Plaintiff is asserting that Defendant Parkkila’s conduct violated
his First Amendment right to freely practice his religion. However, even if Plaintiff is asserting such
a claim, it would be dismissed for lack of merit. While “lawful incarceration brings about the
necessary withdrawal or limitation of many privileges and rights,” inmates clearly retain the First
Amendment protection to freely exercise their religion. See O’Lone v. Shabazz, 482 U.S. 342, 348
(1987) (citations omitted). To establish that this right has been violated, Plaintiff must establish that:
(1) the belief or practice he seeks to protect is religious within his own “scheme of things,” (2) that
his belief is sincerely held, and (3) Defendant’s behavior infringes upon this practice or belief. Kent
v. Johnson, 821 F.2d 1220, 1224-25 (6th Cir. 1987); see also, Flagner v. Wilkinson, 241 F.3d 475,
481 (6th Cir. 2001) (same); Bakr v. Johnson, No. 95-2348,1997 WL 428903, at *2 (6th Cir. July 30,
1997) (noting that “sincerely held religious beliefs require accommodation by prison officials”).
Plaintiff’s allegations fail to demonstrate that Defendant Parkkila’s order to remove
his Kufi cap were sufficient to infringe upon Plaintiff’s religious rights.
Courts routinely have rejected claims of constitutional violations
based solely on verbal harassment. See, e.g., Shuaib v. Siddum, No.
88–86126, 1988 WL 86126, at *1 (6th Cir. 1988) (holding that prison
officials’ refusal to address prisoners by their newly adopted legal
names does not violated the religion clauses of the First Amendment)
(citing Ivey v. Wilson, 832 F.2d 950, 954–55 (6th Cir. 1987) (holding
that verbal harassment is insufficient to support an Eighth
Amendment claim)); Hailes v. Collier, No. 2:12–cv–687, 2014 WL
2515581, at *5 (S.D. Ohio June 3, 2014) (holding that verbal
harassment is insufficient to state a claim under § 1983 for violation
of any constitutional amendment, including the First Amendment
religion clauses) (citing Siggers v. Renner, 37 F. App’x 138, 141 (6th
Cir.2002), and Wingo v. Tenn. Dep’t of Corr., 499 F. App’x 453, 455
(6th Cir. 2012)); Mizori v. Miller, No. 5:09–cv–10824, 2009 WL
777640, at *2 (E.D. Mich. Mar. 20, 2009) (holding that verbal
harassment was insufficient to support a claim of religious
discrimination under the First Amendment).
Annabel v. Mich. Dep’t of Corr., No. 1:14-cv-756, 2014 WL 4187675, at *15 (W.D. Mich. Aug. 21,
2014). In light of the minimal nature of the order to remove his Kufi cap, Plaintiff fails to state a
claim for violation of his religious rights under the First Amendment.
Plaintiff claims that Defendant Parkkila violated his due process rights when he wrote
misconduct tickets on him. As noted above, Defendant Parkkila wrote a major misconduct on
Plaintiff on March 20, 2016, and a class II minor misconduct ticket on Plaintiff on May 2, 2016. A
prisoner does not have a protected liberty interest in prison disciplinary proceedings unless the
sanction “will inevitably affect the duration of his sentence” or the resulting restraint imposes an
“atypical and significant hardship on the inmate in relation to the ordinary incidents of prison life.”
See Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 486-87 (1995). The Sixth Circuit routinely has held that
misconduct convictions that do not result in the loss of good time are not atypical and significant
deprivations and therefore do not implicate due process. See, e.g., Ingram v. Jewell, 94 F. App’x
271, 273 (6th Cir. 2004); Carter v. Tucker, 69 F. App’x 678, 680 (6th Cir. 2003); Green v. Waldren,
No. 99-1561, 2000 WL 876765, at *2 (6th Cir. June 23, 2000); Staffney v. Allen, No. 98-1880, 1999
WL 617967, at *2 (6th Cir. Aug. 12, 1999).
The Sixth Circuit has examined Michigan statutory law, as it relates to the creation
and forfeiture of disciplinary credits2 for prisoners convicted of crimes occurring after April 1, 1987.
In Thomas v. Eby, 481 F.3d 434 (6th Cir. 2007), the court determined that loss of disciplinary credits
does not necessarily affect the duration of a prisoner’s sentence. Rather, it merely affects parole
eligibility, which remains discretionary with the parole board. Id. at 440. Building on this ruling,
in Nali v. Ekman, 355 F. App’x 909 (6th Cir. 2009), the court held that a misconduct citation in the
Michigan prison system does not affect a prisoner’s constitutionally protected liberty interests,
because it does not necessarily affect the length of confinement. 355 F. App’x at 912; accord,
Taylor v. Lantagne, 418 F. App’x 408, 412 (6th Cir. 2011); Wilson v. Rapelje, No. 09-13030, 2010
WL 5491196, at * 4 (E.D. Mich. Nov. 24, 2010) (Report & Recommendation) (holding that
“plaintiff’s disciplinary hearing and major misconduct sanction does not implicate the Fourteenth
Amendment Due Process Clause”), adopted as judgment of court, 2011 WL 5491196 (Jan. 4, 2011).
Even in the absence of a protectible liberty interest in disciplinary credits, a prisoner may be able to
raise a due-process challenge to prison misconduct convictions that result in a significant, atypical
deprivation. See Sandin v. Connor, 515 U.S. 472 (1995). Plaintiff has not identified any significant
deprivation arising from his convictions. Unless a prison misconduct conviction results in an
extension of the duration of a prisoner’s sentence or some other atypical hardship, a due-process
For crimes committed after April 1, 1987, Michigan prisoners earn “disciplinary credits” under a statute that abolished
the former good-time system. MICH. COMP. LAWS § 800.33(5).
claim fails. Ingram v. Jewell, 94 F. App’x 271, 273 (6th Cir. 2004). Therefore, Plaintiff’s claim that
the misconduct tickets written by Defendant Parkkila violate due process are properly dismissed.
Plaintiff also claims that Defendant Parkkila violated his due process rights when he
destroyed Plaintiff’s legal and personal property by pouring water and baby powder on it. Plaintiff’s
due process claim is barred by the doctrine of Parratt v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527 (1981), overruled in
part by Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327 (1986). Under Parratt, a person deprived of property by
a “random and unauthorized act” of a state employee has no federal due process claim unless the
state fails to afford an adequate post-deprivation remedy. If an adequate post-deprivation remedy
exists, the deprivation, although real, is not “without due process of law.” Parratt, 451 U.S. at 537.
This rule applies to both negligent and intentional deprivation of property, as long as the deprivation
was not done pursuant to an established state procedure. See Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 53036 (1984). Because Plaintiff’s claim is premised upon allegedly unauthorized acts of a state official,
he must plead and prove the inadequacy of state post-deprivation remedies. See Copeland v.
Machulis, 57 F.3d 476, 479-80 (6th Cir. 1995); Gibbs v. Hopkins, 10 F.3d 373, 378 (6th Cir. 1993).
Under settled Sixth Circuit authority, a prisoner’s failure to sustain this burden requires dismissal
of his § 1983 due-process action. See Brooks v. Dutton, 751 F.2d 197 (6th Cir. 1985).
Plaintiff has not sustained his burden in this case. Plaintiff has not alleged that state
post-deprivation remedies are inadequate. Moreover, numerous state post-deprivation remedies are
available to him. First, a prisoner who incurs a loss through no fault of his own may petition the
institution’s Prisoner Benefit Fund for compensation. MICH. DEP’T OF CORR., Policy Directive
04.07.112, ¶ B (effective Dec. 12, 2013). Aggrieved prisoners may also submit claims for property
loss of less than $1,000 to the State Administrative Board. MICH. COMP. LAWS § 600.6419; MDOC
Policy Directive 03.02.131 (effective Oct. 21, 2013). Alternatively, Michigan law authorizes actions
in the Court of Claims asserting tort or contract claims “against the state and any of its departments,
commissions, boards, institutions, arms, or agencies.” MICH. COMP. LAWS § 600.6419(1)(a). The
Sixth Circuit specifically has held that Michigan provides adequate post-deprivation remedies for
deprivation of property. See Copeland, 57 F.3d at 480. Plaintiff does not allege any reason why a
state-court action would not afford him complete relief for the deprivation, either negligent or
intentional, of his personal property. Accordingly, this claim will be dismissed.
Plaintiff claims that Defendant Parkkila retaliated against him for his use of the
grievance system by writing a class I and class II misconduct ticket on him and by destroying his
legal and personal property. The Court concludes that Plaintiff’s retaliation claim against Defendant
Parkkila is not clearly frivolous and may not be dismissed on initial review.
Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Masters, Schram, Brinkman, Kienitz, Bonevelle,
Denman, Blough, Froberg, Immel, Bauman, Cromell, and Sprader all conspired with Defendant
Parkkila to violate Plaintiff’s rights. A civil conspiracy under § 1983 is “an agreement between two
or more persons to injure another by unlawful action.” See Hensley v. Gassman, 693 F.3d 681, 695
(6th Cir. 2012) (quoting Hooks v. Hooks, 771 F.2d 935, 943-44 (6th Cir. 1985)). The plaintiff must
show the existence of a single plan, that the alleged coconspirator shared in the general conspiratorial
objective to deprive the plaintiff of a federal right, and that an overt action committed in furtherance
of the conspiracy caused an injury to the plaintiff. Hensley, 693 F.3d at 695; Bazzi v. City of
Dearborn, 658 F.3d 598, 602 (6th Cir. 2011). Moreover, a plaintiff must plead a conspiracy with
particularity, as vague and conclusory allegations unsupported by material facts are insufficient.
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 565 (recognizing that allegations of conspiracy must be supported by
allegations of fact that support a “plausible suggestion of conspiracy,” not merely a “possible” one);
Fieger v. Cox, 524 F.3d 770, 776 (6th Cir. 2008); Spadafore v. Gardner, 330 F.3d 849, 854 (6th Cir.
2003); Gutierrez v. Lynch, 826 F.2d 1534, 1538 (6th Cir. 1987).
Plaintiff’s allegations of conspiracy are conclusory and speculative. Plaintiff merely
asserts that these Defendants failed to take any corrective action against Defendant Parkkila after
they observed Defendant Parkkila’s conduct or reviewed Plaintiff’s grievances and complaints.
Plaintiff has provided no allegations establishing an agreement between Defendant Parkkila and the
other named Defendants. Allegations which do not contain facts showing the existence of any
agreement fails to state a plausible claim of conspiracy.
Moreover, government officials may not be held liable for the unconstitutional
conduct of their subordinates under a theory of respondeat superior or vicarious liability. Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 676; Monell v. New York City Dep’t of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 691(1978); Everson v. Leis,
556 F.3d 484, 495 (6th Cir. 2009). A claimed constitutional violation must be based upon active
unconstitutional behavior. Grinter v. Knight, 532 F.3d 567, 575-76 (6th Cir. 2008); Greene v.
Barber, 310 F.3d 889, 899 (6th Cir. 2002). The acts of one’s subordinates are not enough, nor can
supervisory liability be based upon the mere failure to act. Grinter, 532 F.3d at 576; Greene, 310
F.3d at 899; Summers v. Leis, 368 F.3d 881, 888 (6th Cir. 2004). Moreover, § 1983 liability may
not be imposed simply because a supervisor denied an administrative grievance or failed to act based
upon information contained in a grievance. See Shehee v. Luttrell, 199 F.3d 295, 300 (6th Cir.
1999). “[A] plaintiff must plead that each Government-official defendant, through the official’s own
individual actions, has violated the Constitution.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676. Plaintiff has failed to
allege that Defendants Masters, Schram, Brinkman, Kienitz, Bonevelle, Denman, Blough, Froberg,
Immel, Bauman, Cromell, and Sprader engaged in any active unconstitutional behavior.
Accordingly, he fails to state a claim against them.
Finally, the Court notes that claims under§ 1983 can only be brought for “deprivation
of rights secured by the constitution and laws of the United States.” Lugar v. Edmondson Oil Co.,
457 U.S. 922, 924 (1982). Section 1983 does not provide redress for a violation of a state law.
Pyles v. Raisor, 60 F.3d 1211, 1215 (6th Cir. 1995); Sweeton v. Brown, 27 F.3d 1162, 1166 (6th Cir.
1994). Plaintiff’s assertion that Defendants violated state law therefore fails to state a claim under
§ 1983. Moreover, to the extent that Plaintiff seeks to invoke this Court’s supplemental jurisdiction
over a state-law claim, the Court declines to exercise jurisdiction. In determining whether to retain
supplemental jurisdiction, “[a] district court should consider the interests of judicial economy and
the avoidance of multiplicity of litigation and balance those interests against needlessly deciding
state law issues.” Landefeld v. Marion Gen. Hosp., Inc., 994 F.2d 1178, 1182 (6th Cir. 1993).
Ordinarily, where a district court has exercised jurisdiction over a state-law claim solely by virtue
of supplemental jurisdiction and the federal claims are dismissed prior to trial, the court will dismiss
the remaining state-law claims. Id. Dismissal, however, remains “purely discretionary.” Carlsbad
Tech., Inc. v. HIF Bio, Inc., 556 U.S. 635, 639 (2009) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)); Orton v.
Johnny’s Lunch Franchise, LLC, 668 F.3d 843, 850 (6th Cir. 2012). Here, the balance of the
relevant considerations weighs against the continued exercise of supplemental jurisdiction.
Accordingly, Plaintiff’s state-law claim will be dismissed without prejudice to his ability to bring
those claims in state court.
Having conducted the review required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act, the Court
determines that Defendants Masters, Schram, Brinkman, Kienitz, Bonevelle, Denman, Blough,
Froberg, Immel, Bauman, Cromell, and Sprader 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 will serve
the complaint against Defendant Karkkila a/k/a Parkkila.
An Order consistent with this Opinion will be entered.
April 28, 2017
/s/ Robert J. Jonker
ROBERT J. JONKER
CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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