Bailey #194330 v. Skytta et al
OPINION; signed by District Judge Paul L. Maloney (Judge Paul L. Maloney, cmc)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
JERRY DOWELL BAILEY,
Case No. 2:17-cv-187
Honorable Paul L. Maloney
UNKNOWN SKYTTA et al.,
This is a civil rights action brought by a state prisoner under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, Pub. L. No. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321 (1996) (PLRA), 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 Defendant
Washington. The Court will serve the complaint against Defendants Skytta, Lesatz, Marshall, and
Plaintiff is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections
(MDOC) at the Baraga Correctional Facility (AMF) in Baraga, Michigan. The events about which
he complains occurred at that facility. Plaintiff sues Corrections Officer Unknown Skytta, Warden
Unknown Lesatz, Deputy Warden Unknown Marshall, Inspector Unknown Petaja, and MDOC
Director Heidi Washington.
Plaintiff alleges that he requested removal from the voluntary segregation incentive
program on July 19, 2017, because it violates his rights. Prison Counselor Deforge refused to grant
Plaintiff’s request. On July 21, 2017, Defendant Skytta removed Plaintiff’s television from his
cell while he was in the yard. Plaintiff was given a contraband removal slip stating that he could
not possess the television because he was not on step 4 of the incentive program. Plaintiff states
that all segregation prisoners are required to volunteer for the incentive program in order to
maintain possession of their personal property or be released from segregation. Plaintiff asserts
that he had not had a misconduct since April 18, 2017, and that the reason he was dropped from
stage 4 to stage 2 of the program was because he had been talking on third shift. Plaintiff states
that he never received any warning or reprimand, but was just informed that he was no longer on
step 4 of the incentive program.
Plaintiff alleges that later in the day on July 21, 2017, another inmate flooded the
hallway with toilet water, feces, and urine. Defendant Skytta came to clean the floor while Plaintiff
was conversing with another prisoner. Defendant Skytta told Plaintiff to “shut the f**k up” and
called Plaintiff a child molester, stating that he was going to get Plaintiff’s file and read it “on the
rock.” Defendant Skytta then took the squeegee that he had been using to clean the floor and used
it to splash contaminated water onto Plaintiff’s leg. Defendant Skytta then turned the water off in
Plaintiff’s cell and stated that Plaintiff “didn’t have nothing coming in the block he’s in.”
Defendant Skytta worked a double shift and deprived Plaintiff of both his breakfast and lunch.
Defendant Skytta also told all the other officers not to turn Plaintiff’s water back on and stated that
he was going to kill Plaintiff.
Plaintiff asked several staff members for food and water, but they simply told
Plaintiff to talk to Defendant Skytta. On August 24, 2017, at approximately 3:15 pm, Plaintiff
begged Defendant Petaja to turn his water back on, to no avail. At approximately 3:30 pm, Plaintiff
explained his situation to Defendant Marshall and begged him to turn his water back on. Defendant
Marshall told Plaintiff to try his water, so Plaintiff attempted to turn his water on. When nothing
happened, Defendant Marshall told Plaintiff to talk to Defendant Skytta. When Defendant Lesatz
made rounds later that day, Plaintiff asked him to turn the water on in his cell. Defendant Lesatz
told Plaintiff to try his water, so Plaintiff attempted to turn his water on. When nothing happened,
Defendant Lesatz told Plaintiff to talk to his “rock” officer. Finally, Defendant Skytta came to
Plaintiff’s cell and stated that Plaintiff was a rat, which was not going to help him.
Plaintiff began to suffer from severe dehydration, diarrhea and kidney pain, so he
submitted a medical kite. On July 25, 2017, Nurse Sundberg asked custody staff to turn Plaintiff’s
water on. However, even after the water was turned on, it did not function in Plaintiff’s cell
because Defendant Skytta had stripped the nozzle that controlled the flow of water into Plaintiff’s
cell. Therefore, maintenance had to be called in to fix the problem. Plaintiff filed another kite on
July 26, 2017, and was seen by Nurse Corigan, who took a urine sample and referred Plaintiff to
the general practitioner. Plaintiff was seen by the general practitioner on July 28, 2017, who
confirmed that Plaintiff was dehydrated, but stated that the kidney pain was properly muscular.
Plaintiff continues to have pain in his kidney area. Plaintiff claims that he suffered without water
and with very little food from July 21, 2017, until July 25, 2017. Plaintiff requested an HIV and
Hepatitis test as a result of being exposed to feces and urine by Defendant Skytta.
Plaintiff claims that Defendants violated his rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth
Amendments. Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages, as well as declaratory and
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) and 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)).
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
Plaintiff claims that his due process rights were violated by his forced participation
in the Incentives in Segregation Program. “The Fourteenth Amendment protects an individual
from deprivation of life, liberty or property, without due process of law.” Bazetta v. McGinnis,
430 F.3d 795, 801 (6th Cir. 2005). To establish a Fourteenth Amendment procedural due process
violation, a plaintiff must show that one of these interests is at stake. Wilkinson v. Austin, 545 U.S.
209, 221 (2005). Analysis of a procedural due process claim involves two steps: “[T]he first asks
whether there exists a liberty or property interest which has been interfered with by the State; the
second examines whether the procedures attendant upon that deprivation were constitutionally
sufficient.” Ky. Dep’t of Corr. v. Thompson, 490 U.S. 454, 460 (1989). The Supreme Court long
has held that the Due Process Clause does not protect every change in the conditions of
confinement having an impact on a prisoner. See Meachum v. Fano, 427 U.S. 215, 225 (1976).
In Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 484 (1995), the Court set forth the standard for determining
when a state-created right creates a federally cognizable liberty interest protected by the Due
Process Clause. According to the Sandin Court, a prisoner is entitled to the protections of due
process only when the sanction “will inevitably affect the duration of his sentence” or when a
deprivation imposes an “atypical and significant hardship on the inmate in relation to the ordinary
incidents of prison life.” Sandin, 515 U.S. at 486-87; see also Jones v. Baker, 155 F.3d 810, 812
(6th Cir. 1998); Rimmer-Bey v. Brown, 62 F.3d 789, 790-91 (6th Cir. 1995).
Plaintiff states that Defendants Washington and Lesatz are in charge of the
program, which has no specific guidelines or rules. Plaintiff alleges that his television was taken
by Defendant Skytta without any due process after Plaintiff requested to be removed from the
program. The Incentives in Segregation Program (IISP) at AMF was previously addressed by this
Court in Patterson v. Heyns, 2014 WL 5392057 (W.D. Mich. Oct. 23, 2014). In Patterson, the
Court cited the IISP Program Manual:
The goal of the Incentives in Segregation Program (IISP) is to
motivate prisoners to demonstrate appropriate behavior by offering
incentives that encourage positive adjustment. The IISP uses a six
(6) stage progression of expectations and incentives to encourage
appropriate behavior. Successful progression through the six stages
will assist staff in recommending prisoners for release [from
segregation] while maintaining a safe and secure environment. The
Security Classification Committee and the Administration retain full
responsibility and discretion for approving Segregation releases.
Prisoners classified to Administrative Segregation will be afforded
the opportunity to progress through the six stages of the program.
Prisoners will be required to adhere to the requirements of each stage
and may be provided with the incentives detailed in this Program
Manual. All prisoners, unless determined differently by the Housing
Unit Team and/or the Security Classification Committee, will start
the program at Stage 2 and with positive behavior will advance
through the stages to Stage 6.
Prisoner’s positive and negative behavior will be evaluated by each
shift on a daily basis and recorded on the Record of Segregation
Incentive Program Form. Documentation of negative behavior does
not need to be in the form of a Major Misconduct. The Housing Unit
Team will review these Records on a weekly basis. Prisoners who
do not complete all requirements or abuse the incentives provided at
each stage will be evaluated and may be placed at a lower stage
based on the Housing Unit Team’s recommendation. Prisoners who
are considered to be high risk segregation placement may progress
to Stage 6, but will not be considered for General Population unless
approved by the Warden or higher authority where applicable.
Prisoners will be required to complete Essays at Stages 2 through 6
and a Journaling Program at Stages 5 and 6. The Essays are
important to the IISP and prisoners may be required to re-write their
Essays if not appropriate.
Patterson, 2104 WL 5392057 at **1-2.
Like the Plaintiff in the instant case, the plaintiff in Patterson claimed that his
television had been confiscated and not returned even though he was not under any sanctions, and
that he should not be required to participate in the IISP or to comply with IISP standards in order
to have his television. Id. at *2. However, the Court dismissed plaintiff Patterson’s due process
claim, concluding that the IISP requirements for segregation prisoners do not rise to the level of
an atypical and significant hardship. Id. at *4. For the reasons stated by the Court in Patterson,
this Court will dismiss Plaintiff’s due process claims against Defendants Washington and Lesatz.
Plaintiff claims that Defendant Skytta deprived him of food and water in violation
of the Eighth Amendment, and that Defendants Lesatz, Marshall, and Petaja furthered this
deprivation by refusing to help Plaintiff when he begged them to turn his water back on. 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). The Court concludes that Plaintiff’s
Eighth Amendment claims against Defendants Skytta, Lesatz, Marshall, and Petaja are not clearly
frivolous and may not be dismissed on initial review.
Having conducted the review required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act, the
Court determines that Defendants Washington will be dismissed for failure to state a claim, under
28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(b), and 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c). The Court will serve the
complaint against Skytta, Lesatz, Marshall, and Petaja.
An Order consistent with this Opinion will be entered.
April 13, 2018
/s/Paul L. Maloney
Paul L. Maloney
United States District Judge
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