Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Jones v. Carberry

March 24, 2010

JAMES ROSCOE JONES, PLAINTIFF,
v.
PEGGY ANN CARBERRY, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Robert Holmes Bell

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER ADOPTING IN PART AND REJECTING IN PART MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

This matter is before the Court on an action brought by Plaintiff James Roscoe Jones pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against numerous prison employees, Defendants Carberry, Bone, Aikens, Armstrong, Sego, Hursh, Rapelje, Prunick, Bergh, McBurney, Lutaz, Fielding, Salo, Gerth, and Andrews. Defendants filed a joint motion to dismiss, motion for summary judgment, and motion for qualified immunity on June 15, 2009 ("joint motion"). (Dkt. No. 27.) On February 10, 2010, the Magistrate Judge filed a report and recommendation (R&R) recommending that Defendants' joint motion be granted in part and denied in part. Specifically, the R&R recommends that Plaintiff's claims against Defendants Armstrong and Lesatz, Eighth Amendment claim for harassing and unprofessional language, and Ninth Amendment claim be dismissed. The R&R recommends that Plaintiff's First Amendment claims, remaining Eighth Amendment claims, and Fourteenth Amendment claims be permitted to proceed. Defendants filed objections to the R&R on February 24, 2010. (Dkt. No. 37.) After the Court granted Plaintiff an extension of time to respond, Plaintiff filed objections to the R&R on March 15, 2010. (Dkt. No. 45.)

This Court must review de novo those portions of the R&R to which specific objection has been made, and may accept, reject, or modify any or all of the Magistrate Judge's findings or recommendations. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b). However, only those objections that are specific are entitled to de novo review. Mira v. Marshall, 806 F.2d 636, 637 (6th Cir. 1986) (per curiam) (holding that the district court need not provide de novo review where the objections are frivolous, conclusive, or too general because the burden is on the parties to "pinpoint those portions of the Magistrate's report that the district court must specifically consider").

The objections offered by the parties require the Court to conduct a de novo review of the arguments advanced in Defendants' joint motion, some of which seek dismissal of claims under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for failure to state a claim, some of which seek dismissal of claims under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for an absence of a genuine issue of material fact, and some of which seek dismissal of claims under the doctrine of qualified immunity. Thus, when appropriate the Court must apply any or all of the Rule 12(b)(6), Rule 56, and qualified immunity legal standards.

Under Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if no set of facts alleged in the complaint, if proven, would entitle the plaintiff to relief. Jones v. City of Carlisle, 3 F.3d 945, 947 (6th Cir. 1993). Unlike a motion brought under Rule 12(b)(6), in considering a motion brought under Rule 56 the court should look beyond the face of the complaint to the evidence presented.*fn1 A party is entitled to summary judgment if, in light of the evidence presented, "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact," and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). Finally, in a § 1983 action, a defendant is entitled to qualified immunity if either the facts that Plaintiff has alleged in his complaint fail to make out a violation of a constitutional right, or they do make out a violation of a constitutional right but that right has not been "clearly established" at the time of the defendants' alleged misconduct. Pearson v. Callahan, 129 S.Ct. 808, 815-16 (2009).

I. Plaintiff's Objections

Plaintiff first objects to the Magistrate Judge's determination that the claims against Defendants Armstrong and Lesatz should be dismissed. Plaintiff does not mention Defendants Armstrong and Lesatz in his complaint, but in his objections Plaintiff asserts that Defendants Armstong and Lesatz "were properly made aware of the various violations and could have acted to correct the state of affairs, but did nothing towards rectifying the situation." (Dkt. No. 45, at 2.) Plaintiff is essentially attempting to raise a new claim against Defendants Armstrong and Lesatz in his objections that was not included in his complaint, and this is not the proper manner in which to present his claim to the Court. Robinson v. Wade, 686 F.2d 298, 304 (5th Cir. 1982). Even if the Court were to consider Plaintiff's allegations against Defendants Armstrong and Lesatz, Plaintiff's conclusory statement that Defendants Armstong and Lesatz knew of constitutional violations being perpetrated against Plaintiff and did nothing to stop them, in the absence of specific details to support this statement, is not sufficient to state a claim on which relief can be granted. See Mayer v. Mylod, 988 F.2d 635, 638 (6th Cir. 1993) ("The fundamental purpose of pleadings under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is to give adequate notice to the parties of each side's claims...."); see also Combs v. Wilkinson, 315 F.3d 548, 558 (6th Cir. 2002) ("Supervisory liability under § 1983 cannot be based on a mere failure to act but must be based upon active unconstitutional behavior.").

Plaintiff next objects to the Magistrate Judge's determination that Plaintiff's claims that Defendants exhibited harassing, unprofessional, and rude behavior toward him do not rise to the level of Eighth Amendment violations. The Court agrees with the Magistrate Judge. Although Plaintiff's allegations concerning the unprofessional and rude behavior of the guards may relate to claims cognizable in a § 1983 proceeding, they themselves are insufficient to warrant relief under § 1983. See Ivey v. Wilson, 832 F.2d 950, 955 (6th Cir. 1987) (holding that "verbal abuse" and "harassment" are not sufficient to support an Eighth Amendment claim).

Plaintiff does not object to the Magistrate Judge's determinations that Defendants are entitled to dismissal of Plaintiff's Ninth Amendment claims and of Plaintiff's claims that Defendants violated his constitutional rights in the manner they handled his grievances, and the Court does not believe that these determinations are erroneous. Thus, the Court agrees with the Magistrate Judge that (1) Defendants Armstong and Lesatz are entitled to dismissal of all of Plaintiff's claims against them; (2) all Defendants are entitled to dismissal of Plaintiff's claims that Defendants exhibited harassing, unprofessional, and rude behavior toward him; (3) all Defendants are entitled to dismissal of Plaintiff's Ninth Amendment claims; and (4) all Defendants are entitled to dismissal of Plaintiff's claims that Defendants violated his constitutional rights in the manner they handled his grievances.

II. Defendants' Objections

Defendants first object to the Magistrate Judge's determination that they are not entitled to qualified immunity on the four types of claims identified above for which dismissal is appropriate. Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity if either the facts that Plaintiff has alleged in his complaint fail to make out a violation of a constitutional right, or they do make out a violation of a constitutional right but that right has not been "clearly established" at the time of Defendants' alleged misconduct. Pearson v. Callahan, 129 S.Ct. 808, 815-16 (2009). As Defendants correctly point out, with respect to the four types of claims identified above for which dismissal is appropriate, Plaintiff has failed to allege facts that make out a violation of a constitutional right. Thus, (1) Defendants Armstrong and Lesatz are entitled to qualified immunity on all of Plaintiff's claims against them; (2) all Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity on Plaintiff's claims that Defendants exhibited harassing, unprofessional, and rude behavior toward him; (3) all Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity on Plaintiff's Ninth Amendment claims; and (4) all Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity on Plaintiff's claims that Defendants violated his constitutional rights in the manner they handled his grievances.

Defendants next object to the Magistrate's determinations that Plaintiff has pleaded sufficient facts relating to various Eighth Amendment claims to withstand Defendants' Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, and that Plaintiff has introduced sufficient evidence of these claims to withstand Defendants' Rule 56 motion for summary judgment.

A. Mattress Restriction

Plaintiff argues that Defendants violated his Eighth Amendment rights by removing his mattress from his cell and by refusing to provide him with an extra blanket to keep warm. Plaintiff's complaint states a claim for violation of his Eighth Amendment rights only if it alleges facts that, if true, constitute an "unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain." Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 102-03 (1976). Though Plaintiff disputes the charges contained in the misconduct ticket,*fn2 Plaintiff concedes that the mattress restriction was imposed because Plaintiff received a major misconduct ticket for destroying his mattress. Because the mattress restriction came as a result of a major misconduct ticket, the Court cannot conclude that it constitutes an "unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain." In Grissom v. Davis, 55 F. App'x 756 (6th Cir. 2003) (unpublished), which involved a very similar factual situation, the Sixth Circuit determined without a hearing that the mattress restriction neither "deprived [the prisoner] of basic human needs or caused her to suffer serious harm." Id. at 757-58. The only meaningful difference between the facts in Grissom and the facts at hand is that the mattress restriction in Grissom lasted seven days while Plaintiff was placed on mattress restriction for ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.