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Arnold v. Bowen

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

June 18, 2019

RALPH ARNOLD, Plaintiff,
RICHARD BOWEN, et al., Defendants.



          Benita Y. Pearson, United States District Judge.

         This is a pro se action filed by Plaintiff Ralph Arnold, an inmate at the Ohio State Penitentiary (“OSP”), concerning his disciplinary confinement at OSP.[1]

         Plaintiff initiated this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action on February 11, 2019. On March 22, 2019, he filed a Motion to File an Amended Complaint “to correct deficiencies” in his original pleading. ECF No. 3. The Amended Complaint names OSP Warden Richard Bowen, Deputy Warden Davis, Rules Infraction Board (“RIB”) Chairperson Condie Bright, and Assistant Warden Thomas Horton as Defendants. Plaintiff's Motion to File the Amended Complaint (ECF No. 3) is granted, and for the reasons stated below, his action is dismissed.

         I. Background

         The following background is derived from the Plaintiff's original Complaint (ECF No. 1) and Amended Complaint (ECF No. 3-1). Plaintiff is a Level E inmate, OSP's most restrictive security classification reserved for inmates who constitute the greatest threat to the safety and security of the community. ECF No. 3-1 at PageID#: 31-32, 38. He has been placed in “T.P.U., ” or “the hole, ” on multiple occasions in connection with encounters he has had with Corrections Officers during his confinement at OSP. ECF. No. 1 at PageID#: 3-4.

         In this case, Plaintiff alleges that on December 23, 2018, after being “let out of the ‘hole' for the final time, ” he “devised a plan to act as if [he] would stab said COs, ” contending he “knew this was the only way to get out of the block with the COs.” Id. at PageID#: 4. As a result of this conduct, Plaintiff was not transferred but disciplined. He was placed in “RND in the basement of the prison, ” and “per Deputy Warden Davis's orders, ” placed in a cell where the lights stayed on all day, and he was not allowed shoes, hygiene products, access to mail, kites, or other privileges. Id. Several days later, on December 26, 2018, Warden Bowen personally served Plaintiff with “Conditions of Confinement” paperwork under Policy 55-SPC-02, setting forth Restrictive Housing conditions to which he was subjected, subject to monthly review. Id. at PageID#: 4-5; ECF No. 3-1 at PageID#: 32, 36. And on December 31, 2018, after a hearing, the RIB found him guilty of multiple Rule violations in connection with his conduct and imposed discipline. Id. at PageID#: 48. The Disposition of the RIB, signed by RIB Chair Bright, states that the Plaintiff refused to be seen at the RIB hearing concerning the charges against him, and that video evidence clearly showed that he attempted to stab two officers with a weapon, refused to drop the weapon when commanded to do so, and issued threats to the staff. For this conduct, the RIB sanctioned Plaintiff with “28 days T.P.U.” with credit for time served and 30 and 90 days of other privilege restrictions. Id. Defendant Horton affirmed the RIB's decision on appeal. Id. at PageID#: 53.

         Seeking compensation and to be transferred to another prison, Plaintiff purports to allege violations of his rights under the Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments, as well as retaliation in violation of the First Amendment. He contends the discipline imposed on him by the RIB and the conditions of confinement ordered by Warden Bowen contradict prison policies and subject him to cruel and unusual punishment and “double jeopardy.” Id. at PageID#: 33. Plaintiff also protests that Davis ordered security measures against him that “defy logic.” Id. He complains that, from December 23, 2018, to February 1, 2019, Davis ordered that Plaintiff's cell be searched four days a week, and that, beginning on February 1, 2019, Davis ordered that he be subjected to four-days-a-week strip searches. Plaintiff contends Davis ordered the strip searches in retaliation for this lawsuit. Id.

         II. Standard of Review

         Although pro se pleadings are liberally construed, Williams v. Curtin, 631 F.3d 380, 383 (6th Cir. 2011), the “lenient treatment generally accorded to pro se litigants has limits.” Pilgrim v. Littlefield, 92 F.3d 413, 416 (6th Cir. 1996). Federal district courts are expressly required, under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A, to screen and dismiss before service any in forma pauperis civil action, and any complaint in which a prisoner seeks redress from governmental officers and employees, that the court determines is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. To survive a dismissal for failure to state a claim, a pro se “‘complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010) (holding that the dismissal standard articulated in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009) and Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007) governs dismissals under §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A). “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 678.

         III. Discussion

         On review, the Court concludes that this action must be dismissed because Plaintiff's allegations are insufficient to demonstrate any plausible constitutional claim.

         A. Fourteenth Amendment Claim

         Plaintiff has alleged no plausible due process claim under the Fourteenth Amendment. “Prisoners have narrower liberty interests than other citizens as lawful incarceration brings about the necessary withdrawal or limitation of many privileges and rights.” Grinter v. Knight, 532 F.3d 567, 573 (6th Cir. 2008) (quoting Sandin v. Conner,515 U.S. 472, 485 (1995) (internal quotation marks omitted)). And “the Constitution itself does not give rise to a liberty interest in avoiding transfer to more adverse conditions of confinement.” Wilkinson v. Austin,545 U.S. 209, 221 (2005); see also Sandin, 515 U.S. ...

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