Richards v. Washington, Case No. 2:20-cv-194

CourtUnited States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court (Western District Michigan)
Writing for the CourtHonorable Paul L. Maloney
PartiesKYLE B. RICHARDS et al., Plaintiffs, v. HEIDI WASHINGTON et al., Defendants.
Docket NumberCase No. 2:20-cv-194
Decision Date06 May 2021

KYLE B. RICHARDS et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
HEIDI WASHINGTON et al., Defendants.

Case No. 2:20-cv-194

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT WESTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN NORTHERN DIVISION

May 6, 2021


Honorable Paul L. Maloney

OPINION

This is a civil rights action brought by three state prisoners 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 deny class certification and will dismiss, for failure to state a claim, Defendants Washington, Gasper, and Rajala, under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(b), and 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c). The Court also will dismiss, for failure to state a claim, the following claims against the remaining Defendants: Plaintiffs' PREA and international law claims; their First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment claims related to the prohibition on hard-core pornography and other explicit content; their due process claims; and the claim alleging religious discrimination

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and denial of equal protection based on the banning of Dungeons and Dragons. In addition, the Court will dismiss, for failure to state a claim, Plaintiffs' retaliation claim against Defendant Perttu. Further, the Court will deny Plaintiff Richards' pending motions (ECF Nos. 5, 15-19). Plaintiffs' Eighth Amendment claims against Defendant Perttu for excessive force and sexual assault and their Eighth Amendment claims against Defendants Neimi and Taskila for denial of medical care remain in the case.

Discussion

I. Factual Allegations

Plaintiffs Kyle B. Richards, Robert Kissee, and Kenneth Damon Pruitt presently are incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Baraga Correctional Facility (AMF) in Baraga, Baraga County, Michigan. The events about which they complain occurred at that facility. Plaintiffs sue MDOC Director Heidi Washington and the following AMF officials: Warden Kristopher Taskila; and Residential Unit Managers Unknown Perttu and Unknown Neimi. Plaintiffs also sue Michigan State Police (MSP) Director Joseph M. Gasper and Sergeant Thomas Rajala.

Plaintiffs seek to pursue a class action. In the first count of their complaint, they allege that, on April 16, 2020, Defendant Perttu approached Plaintiff Richards' door and informed him that he would be calling him out to talk, because Plaintiff needed to do what he was told. An hour later, Plaintiffs Richards and Pruitt were escorted to the 3-Unit phone room, where Defendant Perttu punched and beat them and then demanded oral sex. Defendant Perttu shoved his penis into Plaintiff Richards' mouth and engaged in penetration for 30 minutes. Perttu then punched Plaintiff Pruitt and orally raped him. Plaintiffs were handcuffed throughout.

On April 24, 2020, all three Plaintiffs were called down to the Unit-3 conference room and locked into the phone room with Defendant Perttu. They were again in handcuffs. Perrtu

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attacked Plaintiff Richards, tearing off his clothing. Perttu then fondled Richards' genitals, complaining that Richards was not erect. Plaintiff Richards told Perttu that he was afraid and wanted to stop. Defendant Perttu persisted and, after some time, punched Richards, and then began fondling Plaintiff Pruitt. Pruitt resisted, prompting Perttu to punch him multiple times. Defendant Perttu then attacked Plaintiff Kissee, threatening to kill him.

On May 20, 2020, the three Plaintiffs were called out a third time. Defendant Perttu forcefully pushed Plaintiff Richards' head into Perttu's genital area. Plaintiff Richards bit Perttu's penis. At that point, Defendant Perttu punched Plaintiff Richards until he passed out.

Plaintiffs were once again called on June 1, 2020. On that occasion, Plaintiffs were stripped naked and beaten bloody.

Defendant Perttu approached Plaintiffs' door on June 29, 2020, threatening to call Plaintiffs out again very soon and warning them to be ready. Plaintiffs fear future assaults.

Plaintiffs allege Defendant Perttu's conduct violated the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), 34 U.S.C. § 30301, the Eighth Amendment, and the Fourteenth Amendment, as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Convention against Inhumane Treatment and Torture.

In Count 2 of their complaint, Plaintiffs allege that they sent multiple kites about the incidents to Defendants Washington, Taskila, Rajala, and Gasper, but those Defendants took no action. During rounds on April 23, 2020, between the date of the first and second incidents with Perttu, Plaintiffs spoke to Defendant Taskila, asking what was going to be done. Taskila responded, "Nothing." (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.6.) Before walking off, Defendant Taskila stated, "Well you guys have been down long enough to know how we do things around here. Generally we protect our own." (Id.)

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On May 15, 2020, between the second and third incidents, Plaintiffs allegedly spoke to Defendant Washington, informing her about the ongoing incidents of sexual abuse. Washington allegedly stated, "We[']re aware of what's going on there. I'm not going to let this damage the reputation of my facility." (Id.)

Plaintiff Richards also allegedly met with Defendant MSP Sergeant Rajala on May 4, 2020, when Rajala came to interview Plaintiff over an unrelated matter concerning a terror threat against the courts. Plaintiff Richards explained what was going on, and Defendant Rajala acknowledged receiving Plaintiff's letters and indicated that a copy had been forwarded to Defendant Gasper and another copy to MDOC internal affairs. Rajala indicated that the MSP did not get involved unless the MDOC requested assistance. Plaintiffs contend that Defendant Rajala's response indicated that the MSP has a "hands off" policy that violates the PREA, the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Convention against Inhumane Treatment and Torture.

In Count 3 of the complaint, Plaintiffs allege that, on April 16, 2020, and May 20, 2020, Defendants Neimi and Taskila ignored requests from Plaintiffs Richards, Pruitt, and Kissee for medical attention. On April 16, Defendant Neimi instructed medical staff not to provide medical assistance. During rounds, Defendant Taskila told all three Plaintiffs that they should drop the issue and that no medical services would be allowed, despite the fact that two Plaintiffs had apparent and significant injuries: Plaintiff Richards suffered a battered face, broken nose, and sprained arm; and Plaintiff Pruitt incurred a sprained wrist, sprained neck, bruising to his ribs and face, and internal bleeding. On May 20, Plaintiffs Pruitt and Kissee again stopped Defendant Taskila during rounds, requesting emergency medical treatment. Again, Taskila told Plaintiffs to drop the issue and ignored the request for medical care. Plaintiff Pruitt had internal bleeding,

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severe lacerations to his face and chest, and bruising across his body. Plaintiff Kissee was coughing up blood. Plaintiffs allege that they filed multiple health care requests but received no treatment. Plaintiffs contend that Defendants Neimi and Taskila denied them necessary medical care, in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments and unspecified international treaties, presumably the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Convention against Inhumane Treatment and Torture. They allege that unnamed medical personnel also denied them medical attention.

In Count 4 of the complaint, Plaintiffs allege that Defendant Perttu retaliated against them for filing grievances and interfered with their grievances, ostensibly in violation of the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments and international law. Plaintiff Richards allegedly submitted three grievances against Defendant Perttu on May 4, 2020, but Defendant Perttu subsequently came to Plaintiff's door and tore up all three grievances. Plaintiff Richards submitted two additional grievances against Defendant Perttu directly to Defendant Neimi on May 6, but the grievance coordinator reported on May 13 that he had never received grievances from Plaintiff. On May 20, Defendant Perttu came to Plaintiff Richards' door and threatened to kill Plaintiff if he filed more grievances. Plaintiff, however, continued to file grievances. On May 25, Defendant Perttu called Plaintiff to the phone room, where he punched Plaintiff in the face and ripped up his grievances.

Plaintiff Pruitt submitted four grievances on May 4, 2020, but Defendant Perttu came to his door on May 5 and tore them up. On May 6, Pruitt allegedly submitted more than a dozen grievances directly to the Assistant Resident Unit Supervisor. A few days later, however, Pruitt received a memo from the grievance coordinator, indicating that he had received no grievances from Pruitt. On May 20, Defendant Perrtu picked up several grievances from Pruitt on

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morning rounds. Perttu then crumbled them up and threw them in the trash. On May 25, Defendant Perrtu warned Plaintiff Pruitt that, if he kept it up, something might happen to him.

Plaintiff Kissee had a similar experience. On May 4, 2020, Plaintiff Kissee placed several grievances in his door for submission, but Defendant Perttu took them from the door and tore them up. Plaintiff Kissee placed five additional grievances in a manila envelope and submitted them to the ARUS for transmission to the grievance coordinator....

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