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Jamison v. Holly

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

January 13, 2015

ROBERT JAMISON, #526783, Plaintiff,
v.
JOANNE E. HOLLY, et al., Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER OF SUMMARY DISMISSAL

GERALD E. ROSEN, Chief District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Michigan prisoner Robert Jamison ("Plaintiff") has filed a pro se civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 asserting that the defendants violated his rights under federal and state by denying/saying they would deny him medical care during a pre-sentence interview, including polygraph results in the pre-sentence report without his consent, and filing a false arrest warrant. He asserts violations of the Eighth Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment, and various provisions of Michigan law, including the Polygraph Protection Act of 1981. He names the Lenawee County Probation Department, probations officers Joanne E. Holly and Darlene Riggs, and probation supervisor Larry D. Patton as the defendants in this action. He sues the defendants in their personal and official capacities and seeks monetary damages. Plaintiff has been granted leave to proceed without prepayment of the fees and costs for this action. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1).

II. DISCUSSION

Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996 ("PLRA"), the Court is required to sua sponte dismiss an in forma pauperis complaint before service on a defendant if it determines that the action is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). The Court is similarly required to dismiss a complaint seeking redress against government entities, officers, and employees which it finds to be 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 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. A complaint is frivolous if it lacks an arguable basis in law or in fact. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992); Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989).

A pro se civil rights complaint is to be construed liberally. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972). Nonetheless, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) requires that a complaint set forth "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, " as well as "a demand for the relief sought." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), (3). The purpose of this rule is to "give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citation omitted). While this notice pleading standard does not require "detailed" factual allegations, it does require more than the bare assertion of legal principles or conclusions. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Rule 8 "demands more than an unadorned, the defendant-unlawfully-harmed me accusation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). "A pleading that offers labels and conclusions' or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). "Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders naked assertion[s]' devoid of further factual enhancement.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).

To state a civil rights claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege that: (1) he was deprived of a right, privilege, or immunity secured by the federal Constitution or laws of the United States; and (2) the deprivation was caused by a person acting under color of state law. Flagg Bros. v. Brooks, 436 U.S. 149, 155-57 (1978); Harris v. Circleville, 583 F.3d 356, 364 (6th Cir. 2009).

A. Claims Against the Lenawee County Probation Department

As an initial matter, the Court finds that Plaintiff's claims against the Lenawee County Probation Department are subject to dismissal because it is not a legal entity subject to suit. Section 1983 imposes liability on any "person" who violates an individual's federal constitutional or statutory rights. It is well-established that county agencies, departments, and jails are not legal entities amenable to suit under § 1983. See Watson v. Gill, 40 F.Appx. 88, 89 (6th Cir. 2002); Coopshaw v. Lenawee Co. Sheriff's Office of Lenawee Co., No. 05-CV-72569, 2006 WL 3298898, *6-7 (E.D. Mich. Nov. 14, 2006) (citing cases); see also Petty v. County of Franklin, Ohio, et al., 478 F.3d 341, 347 (6th Cir. 2007); Johnson v. Harris, No. 1:08cv36, 2009 WL 277992, *10 (E.D. Tenn. Feb. 5, 2009) (county probation department was not an entity subject to suit). Plaintiff's claims against the Lenawee County Probation Department must therefore be dismissed.[1]

B. Claims Against Defendant Riggs

Plaintiff names probation officer Darlene Riggs as a defendant in this action. Plaintiff, however, does not allege any facts demonstrating her personal involvement in the events giving rise to this action. It is well-settled that a plaintiff must allege the personal involvement of a defendant to state a civil rights claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Monell v. Department of Social Svs., 436 U.S. 658, 691-92 (1978) (Section 1983 liability cannot be based upon a theory of respondeat superior or vicarious liability); Everson v. Leis, 556 F.3d 484, 495 (6th Cir. 2009) (same); see also Taylor v. Michigan Dep't of Corrections, 69 F.3d 716, 727-28 (6th Cir. 1995) (plaintiff must allege facts showing that the defendant participated, condoned, encouraged, or knowingly acquiesced in alleged misconduct to establish liability). Plaintiff does not allege any facts to show that defendant Riggs engaged in unconstitutional conduct. Plaintiff thus fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted as to defendant Riggs.

C. Medical Care Claim

Plaintiff alleges that one of the probation officers, presumably Joanne Holly, the investigating agent, denied him proper medical care during a pre-sentence interview by saying that he was being punished and was not deserving of medical treatment. The United States Supreme Court has held that "deliberate indifference to serious medical needs of prisoners constitutes the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain proscribed by the Eighth Amendment." Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976). The deliberate indifference standard requires an inmate plaintiff to show that prison official defendants acted with a reckless disregard of a known risk of serious harm to the prisoner. See Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 836 (1994). A plaintiff may establish deliberate indifference by a showing of grossly inadequate medical care. Terrance v. Northville Regional Psychiatric Hosp., 286 F.3d 834, 843 (6th Cir. 2002).

Plaintiff makes no such showing. First, he alleges no facts to show that defendant Holly (or any of the defendants) were, or are, responsible for his medical care. Second, he alleges no facts to show that he was actually denied needed medical care by the defendants or that he suffered any resulting injury while in custody. Conclusory allegations are insufficient to state a civil rights claim. See, e.g., Lanier v. Bryant, 332 F.3d 999, 1007 (6th Cir. 2003); see also Crawford-El v. Britton, 523 U.S. 574, 588 (1998). Third, any allegations of verbal harassment or threats are insufficient to state a civil rights claim under § 1983. Ivey v. Wilson, 832 F.2d 950, 954-55 (6th Cir. 1987); Davis v. Michigan Dept. of Corrections, 746 F.Supp. 662, 667 ...


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