Judges Allow Prisoner To Sue Corrections Officer Who Swore At Him

A three-judge panel ruled that a Michigan prisoner can sue a corrections officer for punishing him for a complaint.

Lansing, MI - A three-judge panel ruled that a prisoner can proceed with his lawsuit against the state after he got shorted on beans for lunch, and a corrections officer used profanity when he complained about it.

The panel said James Maben, who was serving a six year sentence for assault, can sue a state corrections officer for $260,000.

Maben, 51, was incarcerated at the Central Michigan Correctional Facility in St. Louis when he alleged Corrections Officer Troy Thelen violated his constitutional rights on Oct. 19, 2015, the Detroit Free Press reported.

In his lawsuit, the prisoner said he was trying to complain that he hadn’t been given the appropriate amount of food.

Maben claimed the officer yelled and swore at him and gave him a misconduct ticket because he complained that a food server short-changed him on a serving of beans, the lawsuit said.

The prisoner said that Officer Thelen told him, “If you’re going to complain, then you’re going to get a misconduct for it.”

The Detroit Free Press reported that Maben’s version of events was supported by affidavits sworn by other prisoners.

Maben said that the prison food server admitted he made a mistake.

The lawsuit claimed that Maben was left, “embarrassed, demeaned and humiliated,” by Officer Thelen’s treatment of him. He also lost phone call privileges and other privileges for a week as a result of the ticket.

Initially, U.S. District Judge Stephen Murphy III threw out Maben’s lawsuit.

Murphy said that Maben had no legitimate First Amendment complaint because the situation was already resolved by the Correction Department when it had a hearing about the misconduct ticket.

However, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed with Murphy’s ruling.

"Maben was complaining about the adequacy of his food, and we refuse to say that a complaint about one of the major requirements of life is a frivolous ... grievance," the three judges - Gilbert Merritt, Eric Clay, and Jeffrey Sutton - said in a published opinion, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The court said that Maben hadn’t been given an adequate opportunity to present his case at the prison hearing, and that the hearing officer had refused to watch a video of the incident.

Ken Morgan
Ken Morgan

hopefully some dirtbag will shoot all of the judges, and help end this farce thats been going on for too long.


A lot of CO do not deserve that job and I have seen them in action and ,I think they need more professional training , the system is broken , I think prisoners have rights too sorry folks but it's true , and people who hold high positions should act like there the professional


Those judges just opened the biggest can of worms! Now all convicts (in MI) are going to try this same crab. And they wonder why they have such a hard time finding people that want to be corrections officers. I was a corrections officer for 27 years, and all those years were full of convicts with foul mouths and their foul language. Put the judges in a uniform for a couple days and see how they feel then.

Walt 324
Walt 324

They seem to have missed the word alleged “state as a fact without proof” which means this is bullshit.