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Jennings v. Crompton

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

November 18, 2016

MARK COLIN JENNINGS, II, Plaintiff,
v.
ROBERT CROMPTON et al., Defendants.

          OPINION

          ROBERT J. JONKER CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This is a civil rights action brought by a state prisoner pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court has granted Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, Pub. L. No. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321 (1996), the Court is required to dismiss any prisoner action brought under federal law if the complaint is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A; 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c). The Court must read Plaintiff's pro se complaint indulgently, see Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), and accept Plaintiff's allegations as true, unless they are clearly irrational or wholly incredible. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 33 (1992). Applying these standards, the Court will dismiss Plaintiff's complaint against Defendants Murphy and Unknown Part(y)(ies) ##1-4. The Court also will dismiss Plaintiff's Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment claims arising from his placement in administrative segregation. The Court will serve Plaintiff's remaining Eighth Amendment and retaliation claims against Defendants Crompton, Hall and Stone.

         Factual Allegations

         Plaintiff is incarcerated in the Oaks Correctional Facility (ECF). In his pro se complaint, Plaintiff sues the following ECF employees: Doctor Robert Crompton; Law Librarian (unknown) Murphy; Corrections Officers (unknown) Stone and (unknown) Hall; and Unknown Part(y)(ies) #1, named as “John/Jane” at the Oaks Correctional Facility. Plaintiff also sues Unknown Part(y)(ies) #2, named as “any and all MDOC state and affiliates, ” Unknown Part(y)(ies) #3, named as “any and all Michigan prisoners and affiliates” and Unknown Part(y)(ies) #4, named as “All MDOC state and affiliates.” (Compl., ECF No. 1, Page ID#8.)

         Plaintiff was transferred to ECF on February 24, 2016. He alleges that on March 18 and April 7, 2016, Defendant Dr. Crompton denied him treatment for pain in his “cervical, thorasic, lumbar spine, right hip and right shoulder from ongoing injuries.” (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.9.) He further claims that Dr. Crompton refused to treat the pain from his cervical fusion on July 8, 9 and 11, 2016.

         Plaintiff, who was sexually assaulted at another prison before his transfer to ECF, claims that he requested the Rape Elimination Act national standards from Defendant Murphy. Murphy, however, only provided him with five pages every three days at “1/2 font size, ” (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.9), despite the fact that Plaintiff is partially blind and has depth perception issues. Plaintiff filed three civil rights actions in this Court in April and May of 2016 and has other legal actions pending in the state courts. Plaintiff alleges that on May 11, 2016, Defendant Murphy denied him supplies necessary to litigate his pending legal actions. On June 6, 2016, Plaintiff asked Defendant Murphy for paper, photocopies, envelopes and use of a typewriter to be paid for by the Prisoner Benefit Fund. Murphy refused and advised Plaintiff to write everything by hand on scrap paper. Murphy also refused Plaintiff's request for copies of summons and complaints and envelopes to serve two of his lawsuits.

         Plaintiff claims that on June 29, 2016, he complained to Defendant Hall that Murphy was denying his right of access to the courts. In response, Hall allegedly threatened to write a false misconduct ticket against Plaintiff and “to throw [him] in the hole (segregation) so [he] can't use the law library.” (Id.) The same day, Plaintiff “wrote a grievance about CO Hall's threats and asked for assistance from John/Jane Doe, Oaks Correctional Facility Staff. No one provided any assistance.” (Id.)

         On July 8, 2016, Defendants Hall and Stone walked over to the table where Plaintiff was eating and told him to leave. Plaintiff asked for a couple more seconds to finish his food. Defendants Hall and Stone allegedly slammed Plaintiff to the table and put handcuffs on him. Plaintiff contends that they pulled his arms up so hard that they tore the acromioclavicular joint in his right arm, causing pain and disfigurement. Defendants Hall and Stone wrote a false misconduct ticket against Plaintiff for assault and battery and disobeying a direct order, which resulted in Plaintiff's placement in administrative segregation.

         Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief and monetary damages.

         Discussion

         A complaint may be dismissed for failure to state a claim if it fails “‘to give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). While a complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's allegations must include more than labels and conclusions. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (“Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.”). The court must determine whether the complaint contains “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. “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 679. Although the plausibility standard is not equivalent to a “‘probability requirement, ' . . . it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged - but it has not ‘show[n]' - that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)); see also Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010) (holding that the Twombly/Iqbal plausibility standard applies to dismissals of prisoner cases on initial review under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A(b)(1) and 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)).

         I. Unknown Part(y)(ies) ##2-4

         Plaintiff sues Unknown Part(y)(ies) #2, named as “any and all MDOC state and affiliates, ” Unknown Part(y)(ies) #3, named as “any and all Michigan prisoners and affiliates” and Unknown Part(y)(ies) #4, named as “All MDOC state and affiliates.” To the extent Plaintiff sues the State of Michigan or the MDOC, they are entitled to sovereign immunity. Regardless of the form of relief requested, the states and their departments are immune under the Eleventh Amendment from suit in the federal courts, unless the state has waived immunity or Congress has expressly abrogated Eleventh Amendment immunity by statute. See Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 98-101 (1984); Alabama v. Pugh, 438 U.S. 781, 782 (1978); O'Hara v. Wigginton, 24 F.3d 823, 826 (6th Cir. 1993). Congress has not expressly abrogated Eleventh Amendment immunity by statute, Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332, 341 (1979), and the State of Michigan has not consented to civil rights suits in federal court. Abick v. Michigan, 803 F.2d 874, 877 (6th Cir. 1986). In numerous unpublished opinions, the Sixth Circuit has specifically held that the MDOC is absolutely immune from suit under the Eleventh Amendment. See, e.g., McCoy v. Michigan, 369 F. App'x 646, 653-54 (6th Cir. 2010); Turnboe v. Stegall, No. 00-1182, 2000 WL1679478, at *2 (6th Cir. Nov. 1, 2000). In addition, the State of Michigan (acting through the Michigan Department of Corrections) is not a “person” who may be sued under § 1983 for money damages. See Lapides v. Bd. of Regents, 535 U.S. 613 (2002) (citing Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58 (1989)). Therefore, the Court will dismiss Unknown Part(y)(ies) ##2 and 4.

         To the extent Plaintiff sues “any and all Michigan prisoners and affiliates, ” he fails to state claims. To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the violation of a right secured by the federal Constitution or laws and must show that the deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Dominguez v. Corr. Med. Servs., 555 F.3d 543, 549 (6th Cir. 2009); Street v. Corr. Corp. of Am., 102 F.3d 810, 814 (6th Cir. 1996). In order for a private party's conduct to be under color of state law, it must be “fairly attributable to the State.” Lugar v. Edmondson Oil Co., 457 U.S. 922, 937 (1982); Street, 102 F.3d at 814. There must be “a sufficiently close nexus between the State and the challenged action of [the defendant] so that the action of the latter may be fairly treated as that of the State itself.” Skelton v. Pri-Cor, Inc., 963 F.2d 100, 102 (6th Cir. 1991) (citing ...


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