Richards v. Snyder, Case No. 1:14-cv-84

Decision Date12 June 2015
Docket NumberCase No. 1:14-cv-84
CourtU.S. District Court — Western District of Michigan
PartiesKYLE B. RICHARDS et al., Plaintiffs, v. RICK SNYDER et al., Defendants.

Honorable Janet T. Neff


This is a civil rights action brought by two state prisoners pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff Lutz has been dismissed for lack of prosecution. The Court has granted Plaintiff Richards 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 amended 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 Kyle B. Richards presently is incarcerated at the St. Louis Correctional Facility but complains of events that occurred at the Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility (IBC). In his pro se amended complaint, Plaintiff sues Governor Richard Snyder, Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley, Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) Director Daniel Heyns,1 MDOC Deputy Director Unknown Sherry, MDOC Chief Deputy Director Unknown Sinclair, MDOC Assistant Deputy Director Unknown Finco, IBC Warden Ken McKee, IBC Residential Unit Manager Robert Mote, IBC Deputy Warden Mike Macaulley, IBC Assistant Deputy Warden Unknown Triewieller, IBC Assistant Resident Unit Supervisor Brian Hadden, Attorneys Richard McLellan and James White, MDOC Regional Program Administrator Unknown Kurtis, State Prison Policy Administrator Justin Amash and IBC Grievance Program Specialist Daphne Johnson.

Plaintiff lists the allegations in his complaint by claim. In "Claim 1," Plaintiff alleges that Defendants have created prison conditions that result in an extreme lack of medical care. Plaintiff states that he suffers from seizures, vomiting, internal bleeding, weight loss, fatigue, lethargy, fainting and coughing up blood. He complains that IBC lacks proper medical equipment, such as "EKG, M.R.I., X-Ray or Catscan machines," to diagnose and treat prisoners. (Compl., docket #35, Page ID#158.) Plaintiff states that he has not received treatment because there is only one doctor for over two thousand prisoners. Plaintiff contends that Defendants' conduct violated his rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, and the Michigan constitution.

In "Claim 2," Plaintiff complains that there has been overcrowding in the prison in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Because of the overcrowding, Plaintiff alleges that there is increasedviolence. Plaintiff states that he purposely acts out and incurs misconducts so he can stay in segregation. Since IBC places two people in a cell, Plaintiff alleges that harmful bacteria from the secretion of feces and urine contaminate the air and causes nausea and vomiting. Moreover, Plaintiff claims that those who use the toilets in the cells are exposing themselves to other inmates, and, thus, may become sexual assault victims. Plaintiff claims that these conditions violate his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, and the Michigan constitution.

In "Claim 3," Plaintiff alleges that Defendants unconstitutionally banned "pornographic publications, enforc[ed] excess [censorship]," and "depriv[ed] Plaintiff of 'sexually stimulating materials.'" (Compl., docket #35, Page ID#164.) Plaintiff claims that without his pornographic material, he has gone through withdrawal and experienced high levels of stress. Plaintiff claims that these conditions violate his First and Eighth Amendments rights and constitute torture in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2340.

In "Claim 4," Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Snyder, Calley, McLellan, Heyns, Finco, McKee and Macaulley engaged in unconstitutional gender-based segregation in the Michigan prison system.2 Plaintiff complains that those prison officials have violated Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights by exposing Plaintiff to the risk of rape, sexual assault, homosexuality and violence because of the gender-based segregation. Plaintiff also argues that the lack of social interaction with females has caused psychological damage to him and created sexually frustrated prisoners who are forced to rape each other or staff. Further, Plaintiff alleges that he has a liberty interest in accessing the same facilities as females under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. Inaddition, Plaintiff alleges violations of the Michigan constitution, 18 U.S.C. § 2340, his First Amendment right to association and the Ninth Amendment.

In "Claim 5," Plaintiff argues that Defendants Snyder, Calley, McLellan and Heyns have violated his Eighth Amendment rights by denying him "recreational appliances" so that he suffers from sensory deprivation and mental torture. (Compl., docket #35, Page ID#170.) Plaintiff also alleges that Defendants have violated federal statutes on torture and terrorism, 18 U.S.C. § 2340 and 18 U.S.C. § 2333, respectively, and the Michigan constitution by torturing prisoners with sensory deprivation. Plaintiff complains that prisoners spend eighteen hours or more in a cell without any stimulating activity. While Plaintiff could read a book, he alleges that the amount of concentration required to read a book could trigger seizures in Plaintiff.

In "Claim 6," Plaintiff claims that Defendants Snyder, Sherry, Finco, McKee, McLellan, White and Amash violated his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights by "refus[ing] to file, lodge, or otherwise register [Plaintiff's] petitions for 'legislative' consideration, and otherwise obstructed Plaintiff from being able to petition 'legislative boards' and agencies by mismanaging [Plaintiff's] petitions." (Compl., docket #35, Page ID#173.)

In "Claim 7," Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated his Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997 et seq., and the Michigan constitution by enforcing MDOC Policy Directive 04.07.112, "Prisoner Personal Property," (effective Dec. 12, 2013). Plaintiff complains that the regulations on property and appliances are unfair and discriminatory and violate Plaintiff's equal protection rights. Plaintiff states that the MDOC regulations target poor people because they cannot afford MP3 players,televisions and electronic appliances. Plaintiff also complains that MDOC Policy Directive 04.07.112 unlawfully bans electronic games, tablets and computers.

For relief, Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages and declaratory relief.


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, 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 plausibilitystandard 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); 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).

A. Claim 1

Plaintiff alleges that Defendants have created prison conditions that result in an extreme lack of medical care so that he suffers from seizures, vomiting, internal bleeding, weight loss, fatigue, lethargy, fainting and coughing up blood on a weekly basis. He complains that IBC lacks proper medical equipment to diagnose and determine the cause of Plaintiff's ailments. Plaintiff states that he has not received treatment because there is only one doctor for over two thousand prisoners. Plaintiff contends that Defendants violated his rights under the Eighth Amendment, Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Michigan constitution.


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