Velthuysen #195606 v. Henderson et al
OPINION; signed by District Judge Paul L. Maloney (Judge Paul L. Maloney, cmc)
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
CHRISTOPHER J. VELTHUYSEN,
Case No. 2:17-cv-71
Honorable Paul L. Maloney
W. HENDERSON 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, Plaintiff’s action will be dismissed for failure to state
Plaintiff Christopher J. Velthuysen presently is incarcerated with the Michigan
Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Baraga Correctional Facility, though the actions about
which he complains occurred at the Chippewa Correctional Facility (URF). He sues URF reviewing
officer W. Henderson and URF Lieutenant J. Burke.
Plaintiff alleges that, on March 31, 2016, at 12:22 p.m., he was issued a misconduct
ticket for being out of place, a Class II misconduct. See MICH. DEP’T OF CORR., Policy Directive
03.03.105, Attach. B. Plaintiff complains that Defendant Henderson did not review him on the
misconduct until 48 hours later, well beyond the 24-hour time-frame set forth in MDOC policy and
the facility’s handbook. Plaintiff complained to Henderson that the delay in review rendered the
ticket null and void, but Henderson ignored Plaintiff.
On April 8, 2016, Defendant Burke held a hearing on the misconduct charge. Burke
found Plaintiff guilty of the misconduct charge, even though the initial review was not timely. As
a result of the misconduct finding, Plaintiff received 30 days’ loss of privileges, and his security
classification was increased by one point.
Plaintiff contends that Defendants’ actions violated Plaintiff’s right to due process.
He seeks compensatory and punitive damages.
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); 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).
To the extent that Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated prison policy, he fails to
state an actionable federal claim. 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 or policy.
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
Moreover, to the extent that Plaintiff contends that he was deprived of his right to
procedural due process, he again fails to state a claim. Class II and Class III misconducts are minor
misconducts. MICH. DEP’T OF CORR., Policy Directive 03.03.105 ¶ B. A minor misconduct
conviction does not implicate the due process clause. 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).
Because Plaintiff was charged and found guilty of only a Class-II (minor) misconduct, he fails to
demonstrate a procedural due process claim.
Having conducted the review 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
$505.00 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 $505.00 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.
April 28, 2017
/s/ Paul L. Maloney
Paul L. Maloney
United States District Judge
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