Reed #271594 v. Napel, et al, No. 2:2011cv00056 - Document 12 (W.D. Mich. 2011)

Court Description: OPINION ; signed by Judge R. Allan Edgar (Judge R. Allan Edgar, cam)
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UNITED STATES OF AMERICA UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN NORTHERN DIVISION EDDIE REED, Plaintiff, Case No. 2:11-cv-56 v. Honorable R. Allan Edgar ROBERT NAPEL et al., Defendants. ____________________________________/ OPINION 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 a claim. Factual Allegations Plaintiff Eddie J. Reed presently is incarcerated at the Baraga Maximum Correctional Facility (AMF). He sues AMF Warden Robert Napel and AMF Assistant Resident Unit Supervisor Brandon Sweeney. According to the allegations of the amended complaint, a female corrections officer issued Plaintiff a major misconduct ticket on August 3, 2010, for intentionally exposing himself and stroking his penis in front of his cell window. Plaintiff admitted the conduct, but he claimed that he did not realize that he would be seen from the outside. On August 5, 2010, Plaintiff was found guilty and sanctioned with ten days loss of privileges. On August 9, 2010, the security classification review committee reclassified Petitioner to administrative segregation because his sexual misconduct conviction demonstrate[d] inability to be managed with group privileges. (Br. in Supp. of Compl., Ex. B, docket #2-3, Page ID#17.) Petitioner has been held in administrative segregation for more than six months. Petitioner attaches to his brief copies of segregation behavior reviews held on August 17, 24, 31, September 7, 14, 21, 28, October 14, November 10, and December 9, 2010. (Br. in Supp. of Compl., Ex. C-L, docket #2-4, Page ID##18-27.) At each review, Plaintiff was interviewed. On each occasion, the reviewing officers concluded that, because of the nature of his misconduct conviction, segregation should be continued. Plaintiff alleges that he was reclassified to segregation in violation of his right to due process, because the hearing officer did not order placement in segregation as a sanction for his conduct and no other hearing was held. He also alleges that the reclassification violated prison policy, in which he asserts a liberty interest. For relief, Plaintiff seeks $50,000.00 in punitive damages. -2- Discussion I. 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, 45-46 (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, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (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, 129 S. Ct. at 1949. 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, 129 S. Ct. at 1949 (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, 129 S. Ct. at 1950 (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 -3- 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). Plaintiff contends that he has been placed in administrative segregation for more than six months in violation of his right to procedural due process. 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 claims 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). Without a protected liberty interest, plaintiff cannot successfully claim that his due process rights were violated because, [p]rocess is not an end in itself. Olim v. Wakinekona, 461 U.S. 238, 250 (1983). 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 -4- 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). The Sandin Court concluded that mere placement in administrative segregation for one month did not implicate a liberty interest because the segregation at issue in that case did not impose an atypical and significant hardship. Sandin, 515 U.S. at 484; Wilkinson v. Austin, 545 U.S. 209, 222-23 (2005). In RimmerBey, 62 F.3d at 790-91, the Sixth Circuit applied the Sandin test to the claim of a Michigan inmate that the mandatory language of the MDOC s regulations created a liberty interest that he receive notice and hearing before being placed in administrative segregation. The court held that regardless of the mandatory language of the prison regulations, the inmate did not have a liberty interest because his placement in administrative segregation did not constitute an atypical and significant hardship within the context of his prison life. Id; see also Mackey v. Dyke, 111 F.3d 460, 463 (6th Cir. 1997). Further, under various circumstances, the Sixth Circuit has repeatedly found that confinement to administrative segregation does not present an atypical and significant hardship implicating a protected liberty interest. See Jones, 155 F.3d at 812-23 (involving two years of segregation while inmate was investigated for murder of prison guard in riot); Mackey v. Dyke, 111 F.3d 460 (6th Cir.1997) (finding no atypical or significant hardship in inmate s placement in segregation for one year after inmate was found guilty of possession of illegal contraband and assault and where reclassification was delayed due to prison crowding); Rimmer-Bey, 62 F.3d at 790-91 (inmate serving life sentence was placed in segregation after serving thirty days of detention for misconduct conviction of conspiracy to commit assault and battery). Here, Plaintiff makes no -5- allegation that his segregation was either atypical or significant. The only allegation he presents regarding his segregation is that its duration has been for more than six months. The length of the placement is not determinative. See Jones, 155 F.3d at 812. Plaintiff has failed to make any allegations that suggest that his segregation is atypical and significant. Consequently, the court concludes that no liberty interest is implicated by his placement.1 In addition, Defendants alleged failure to comply with an administrative rule or policy does not itself rise to the level of a constitutional violation. Laney v. Farley, 501 F.3d 577, 581 n.2 (6th Cir. 2007); Smith v. Freland, 954 F.2d 343, 347-48 (6th Cir. 1992); Barber v. City of Salem, 953 F.2d 232, 240 (6th Cir. 1992); McVeigh v. Bartlett, No. 94-23347, 1995 WL 236687, at *1 (6th Cir. Apr. 21, 1995) (failure to follow policy directive does not rise to the level of a constitutional violation because policy directive does not create a protectable liberty interest). Section 1983 is addressed to remedying violations of federal law, not state law. Lugar v. Edmondson Oil Co., 457 U.S. 922, 924 (1982); Laney, 501 F.3d at 580-81. Moreover, to the extent that Plaintiff s complaint presents claims under state law, this Court declines to exercise jurisdiction. 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 state law claims should be dismissed without reaching their merits. Coleman v. Huff, No. 1 The Court notes that, even if Plaintiff had a liberty interest in his segregation, it appears that he has received all the process to which he was entitled. He was reclassified to administrative segregation only after he admitted the conduct and was found guilty of a major misconduct by an independent hearing officer. Thereafter, according to the records attached to the complaint, Plaintiff received regular reviews of his continued segregation on a weekly and then monthly basis. Plaintiff had an opportunity to be heard at each of these reviews. Procedural due process gives the person the opportunity to convince an unbiased decision maker that, for example, he has been wrongly or falsely accused or that the evidence against him is false. The Due Process Clause does not guarantee that the procedure will produce a correct decision. It must be remembered that even if a state decision does deprive an individual of life, [liberty], or property, and even if that decision is erroneous, it does not necessarily follow that the decision violated that individual s right to due process. Martinez v. California, 444 U.S. 277, 284, n.9 (1980). -6- 97-1916, 1998 WL 476226, at *1 (6th Cir. Aug. 3, 1998) (citing Faughender v. City of N. Olmsted, Ohio, 927 F.2d 909, 917 (6th Cir. 1991)); see also Landefeld v. Marion Gen. Hosp., Inc., 994 F.2d 1178, 1182 (6th Cir. 1993). Conclusion Having conducted the review now 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 $455.00 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 $455.00 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. Dated: 6/21/2011 /s/ R. Allan Edgar R. Allan Edgar United States District Judge -7-