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Mann v. Campbell

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

November 18, 2016




         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, Plaintiff's action will be dismissed on grounds of immunity and for failure to state a claim.

         Factual Allegations

         Plaintiff is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility in Ionia, Michigan. The incidents described in his complaint, however, occurred while he was incarcerated at the Carson City Correctional Facility in Carson City, Michigan. Plaintiff is suing only one Defendant: Warden Sherman Campbell. Plaintiff is suing Defendant Campbell in his official capacity.

         Plaintiff alleges that as he entered his unit at the Carson City Correctional Facility on December 9, 2015, he was forcibly “bumped” by Corrections Officer Mirales. Less than an hour later, Corrections Officer Mirales informed Plaintiff that Plaintiff was “going to have a rough time.” (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.3.) Plaintiff proceeded to the Control Center to report the incident. Plaintiff informed the sergeant on duty that Plaintiff could not return to the unit.

         The sergeant told Plaintiff to write a statement. Plaintiff's statement was reviewed by Captain Kapustka. Captain Kapustka read the statement and, at Plaintiff's urging, attempted to review video of the incident. Captain Kapustka told Plaintiff he could not find the incident and ordered Plaintiff back to the unit. Plaintiff refused. He was sent to segregation.

         The hearing officer found Mirales credible and Plaintiff guilty. Plaintiff was, therefore, relieved of his prison job and barred from ordering “indigent” for twelve months. (Id.)

         Plaintiff wrote a grievance regarding the hearing officer's failure to investigate. A few days later he was returned to the general population. The next day, Plaintiff's cell was “shook down.” (Id.) After the shake-down, his copy of the grievance and a witness statement were missing. Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff was transferred from the Carson City Correctional Facility.

         Defendant Campbell became involved after the incidents occurred and Plaintiff wrote to Defendant Campbell about the incidents. Plaintiff sues Defendant Campbell because Defendant Campbell failed to enforce a policy directive that a critical incident report be generated after an assault is reported and failing to ensure compliance with the requirement that video is to be saved for three years. According to Plaintiff, Defendant Campbell oversees enforcement of policy and has allowed his facility to be grossly negligent such that Plaintiff was assaulted and then punished for it. Plaintiff claims that his Eighth Amendment rights were violated and, as a result, he lost his job and his right to order items as an indigent. Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages in the amount of $100, 000.00, and punitive damages in the amount of $10, 000.00.


         I. Absolute immunity

         Plaintiff sues Defendant Campbell in his official capacity. A suit against an individual in his official capacity is equivalent to a suit brought against the governmental entity: in this case, the Michigan Department of Corrections. See Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989); Matthews v. Jones, 35 F.3d 1046, 1049 (6th Cir. 1994). 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, neither the State of Michigan (acting through the Michigan Department of Corrections) nor Warden Campbell acting in his official capacity is a “person” who may be sued under § 1983 for money damages. See Will, 491 U.S. at 71. An official-capacity defendant is absolutely immune from monetary damages. Id.; Turker v. Ohio Dep't of Rehab. & Corr., 157 F.3d 453, 456 (6th Cir. 1998); Wells v. Brown, 891 F.2d 591, 592-93 (6th Cir. 1989).

         An official-capacity action seeking prospective injunctive relief constitutes an exception to sovereign immunity. See Ex Parte Young, 209 U.S. 123, 159-60 (1908) (Eleventh Amendment immunity does not bar injunctive relief against a state official). Plaintiff does not seek such relief. Moreover, because Plaintiff is no longer in Defendant Campbell's facility, prospective injunctive relief would be inappropriate.

         II. Failure ...

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