Milligan v. Archuleta, No. 11-1218 (10th Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
State prisoner Plaintiff Michael Milligan appealed a district court's sua sponte dismissal of his Section 1983 complaint against various Colorado prison officials who were allegedly involved in decisions affecting Plaintiff's prison employment. Plaintiff alleged he worked for the prison's maintenance department plumbing crew for months without incident. In the fall of 2010 however, Plaintiff's "gate pass" was pulled, preventing him from accessing areas in which the maintenance department was located. Plaintiff was allegedly told that inmates assigned to work in these areas were reevaluated for their potential escape risk following the escape of another inmate. After he filed a grievance regarding his designation as a potential escape risk, the facility job board allegedly took his job away and placed him in vocational janitorial school. In his complaint, Plaintiff raised an equal protection claim based on the pulling of his gate pass as well as a retaliation claim based on the loss of his job in the maintenance department. The district court found that Plaintiff could not state an arguable claim that his civil rights were violated. Upon review, the Tenth Circuit held that the district court erred in dismissing Plaintiff's complaint: "We are not persuaded, however, that amendment would necessarily be futile or that this claim was based on an indisputably meritless legal theory." The Court reversed the district court's order of dismissal and remanded the case for further proceedings.