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Green v. Stogner

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Paducah

October 11, 2018

MARCUS P. GREEN PLAINTIFF
v.
SGT. JAMES STOGNER III et al. DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Thomas B. Russell, Senior Judge.

         This is a pro se civil rights action brought by a convicted prisoner pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court has granted Plaintiff Marcus P. Green leave to proceed in forma pauperis. This matter is before the Court for screening of Plaintiff's complaint (DN 1) and amended complaint (DN 16) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. For the reasons set forth below, this action will be dismissed.

         I. SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT AND AMENDED COMPLAINT

         Plaintiff was formerly incarcerated at Green River Correctional Complex (GRCC). He brings this action against four GRCC officials in their official and individual capacities -Sergeant James Stogner III, Lieutenant Donald Young, Lieutenant Charles Basting, and Warden DeEdra Hart.[1]

         Plaintiff claims that Defendants violated his constitutional rights in regard to two misconduct charges and convictions. Plaintiff first alleges that on December 21, 2017, Defendant Stogner filed a “fabricated” disciplinary report against him charging him with “gang activity.” Plaintiff states that the “physical evidence (camera footage)” reviewed by Defendant Stogner does not show that Plaintiff was present during the physical altercation between inmates that formed the basis of the charge against him. Plaintiff claims that this action violated his Fourteenth Amendment rights to “due process and equal protection.” Plaintiff contends that Defendant Stogner further violated his rights on the same date by charging him with “inciting a riot or rioting.” Plaintiff claims that this charge stems from an incident which occurred approximately 10 minutes after the first altercation when Plaintiff and his cellmate were attacked by the same individuals who were involved in the first altercation. Plaintiff writes that during this altercation his cellmate was stabbed with a knife and he was struck in the face. Plaintiff claims that Defendant Stogner violated his Fourteenth Amendment “due process” rights when he gave “false and misleading evidence/statements . . . saying that [Plaintiff] organized a riot on himself, and on his cell mate . . . But in truth [Plaintiff] was a unwilling participant in a disturbance that left his face bruised and [his] cellmate . . . hospitalized.”

         Plaintiff claims that Defendant Young violated Plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment “right to due process” when he failed to investigate the claim that Plaintiff was involved in gang activity. Plaintiff alleges that if Defendant Young had conducted a proper investigation and had not been biased against him, he would have learned that Plaintiff was first working in the kitchen and then on the phone during the altercation that led to Plaintiff being charged with “gang activity.” Plaintiff attaches phone records and a monthly pay report to the complaint which Plaintiff contends support his account of his whereabouts during the first altercation. In his amended complaint, Plaintiff further alleges that Defendant Young “added his signature to the investigation fraudulently making it look as if his investigation was complete before the ruling made at the Adjustment Committ[ee]” and “misused his access to Kentucky KOM's to alter the entire disciplinary report.”

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Basting conducted the Adjustment Committee Hearing on January 9, 2018, wherein Plaintiff was ultimately convicted of the two charges against him. Plaintiff claims that Defendant Basting violated his rights by “refus[ing] to let [Plaintiff] present his defense by talking over [Plaintiff].” Plaintiff also contends that Defendant Basting admitted the “gang activity” charge against him was a “stacked write up” but that he had to do his job and give Plaintiff the same punishment as the 11 other inmates involved. Plaintiff also alleges that during his hearing on the “rioting” charge, Defendant Basting refused to consider any of Plaintiff's evidence or “to even review the footage.” Plaintiff also states that when he attempted to obtain the tape of the hearings on the two charges, he was notified that Defendant Basting had “destroyed the recordings.” Plaintiff suggests that Defendant Basting destroyed the records “to cover up [his] misconduct of not allowing [Plaintiff] to defend himself.” Plaintiff also contends that Defendant Basting violated his due process rights “by taking him to court call (adjustment hearing) without the investigator's signature” on the investigative report.

         Finally, Plaintiff claims that Defendant Hart violated his “Fourteenth Amendment Rights” by “failing to investigate any of the truthful claims that were presented to her . . . [and by stating] that Plaintiff was involved when clearly he wasn't . . . and that there was/were no due process violations, rubber stamping all of the failure to investigate, the false accusations . . .” Plaintiff also claims that Defendant Hart's conduct caused “[Plaintiff] to endure cruel and unusual punishment for something he did not do in form of segregation, that violated his Eighth Amendment.” Plaintiff also claims that Defendant Hart violated “his right to equal protection under the law . . . in order to cover up the failure in security that led to Plaintiff and [his cellmate] being assaulted.” Plaintiff contends that he, his cellmate, and the victim of the first attack were all assaulted by the “same people” and that “if security was upholding their duties, those same people that was involved [in the first assault] never would have been able to continue assaulting other individuals.”

         Plaintiff concludes his complaint as follows:

All four [Defendants] acted in this manner to conceal their fault. Allowing the people that assaulted [the victim of the first altercation] to assault 2 more people. Which [Plaintiff's cellmate] was stabbed and [Plaintiff] was nearly knocked unconscious. If they acted and apprehended the individuals from [the first altercation]; [Plaintiff] would not have been assaulted. Instead they wrote [Plaintiff] up as being involved in gang activity and organizing an assault on himself to not be liable for their action, under the vail that there was a riot at GRCC. This violated [Plaintiff]'s 14th Amendment and 8th Amendment to equal protection under the law, and also cruel and unusual punishment.

         The disciplinary reports submitted by Plaintiff show that he received 30 days in disciplinary segregation for the “gang activity” conviction and 30 days in disciplinary segregation and 180 days of “Non-Restorable [Good-Time] Days Lost” for the “inciting to riot or rioting” conviction. Plaintiff, however, seems to indicate that he is still in segregation. For example, he writes that one of his injuries is “disciplinary segregation unit/special management unit where they are still forced to abide by all the rules of disciplinary seg. for 90 day cycles.” And, in addition to compensatory and punitive damages, in the relief section of his complaint, he requests “release from administrative control status and segregation in special management unit.” He also seeks the removal of Defendants from their positions and “release everyone involved and expunge there records of rioting d/ reports.”

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         When a prisoner initiates a civil action seeking redress from a governmental entity, officer, or employee, the trial court must review the complaint and dismiss the complaint, or any portion of it, if the court determines that the complaint is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See § 1915A(b)(1), (2); McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 604 (6th Cir. 1997), overruled on other grounds by Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199 (2007).

         In order to survive dismissal for failure to state a claim, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “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.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “[A] district court must (1) view the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and (2) take all well-pleaded factual allegations as true.” Tackett v. M & G Polymers, USA, LLC, 561 F.3d 478, 488 (6th Cir. 2009) (citing Gunasekera v. Irwin, 551 F.3d 461, 466 (6th Cir. 2009) (citations omitted)). “But the district court need not accept a ‘bare assertion of legal conclusions.'” Tackett, 561 F.3d at 488 (quoting Columbia Natural Res., Inc. v. Tatum, 58 F.3d 1101, 1109 (6th Cir. 1995)). “A pleading that offers ‘labels and ...


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