United States Sixth Circuit

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Hill v. Lappin, 09-5575

In an inmate's pro se civil rights action against the director of the Bureau of Prisons and four prison staff members, seeking damages, a temporary restraining order, and a preliminary injunction to prevent his transfer to a lock-down unit to another prison facility, district court's dismissal of the suit as frivolous is reversed, vacated and remanded where: 1) plaintiff's complaint established the protected-conduct element when scrutinized under the failure-to-state-a-claim standard, and because his allegations that the staff were being abusive is at least plausible, his complaint should not be dismissed as frivolous; 2) because plaintiff's allegation that he was placed in segregated housing is at least plausible, and because being threatened with a transfer to a more restrictive living environment with fewer privileges would deter a person of ordinary firmness from exercising the constitutional right to file grievances, plaintiff's complaint therefore established the adverse-action element of a First Amendment retaliation claim when scrutinized under the failure-to-state-a-claim standard; and 3) the evidentiary facts are sufficient at this stage of the proceedings to satisfy the retaliatory-motive element of plaintiff's First Amendment retaliation claim.

Appellate Information

  • Decided 12/28/2010
  • Published 12/28/2010



  • United States Sixth Circuit