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Spurlock v. Fuller

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

December 13, 2016

CLARENCE EDWARD SPURLOCK, Plaintiff,
v.
RICHARD FULLER et al., Defendants.

          OPINION

          Paul L. Maloney 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 Unknown Part(y)(ies), Unknown Party #1, and Unknown Party #2, because the claims against them were improperly joined. The Court will serve the complaint against Defendants Fuller, Copeland and Hunt.

         Factual Allegations

         Plaintiff Clarence Edward Spurlock presently is a convicted prisoner held in the Kalamazoo County Jail (KCJ). He sues the following KCJ officials: Sheriff Richard Fuller; Accountant (unknown) Copeland; Doctor Jack Hunt; the unknown head classification staff and committee members (Unknown Part(y)(ies)); the unknown head Chaplain (Unknown Party #1); and the unknown head supervisory staff Sergeant (Unknown Party #2).

         Plaintiff's complaint appears to comprise all of his objections to his incarceration between September 30, 2015 and October 29, 2016. His first set of allegations concern the alleged concerted actions taken by Defendants Fuller, Copeland and Hunt to deprive him of his commissary funds to pay for prescription drugs. Plaintiff contends that Defendant Hunt has prescribed medications for Plaintiff and ordered their delivery through KCJ's Gull Road Pharmacy and that Defendants Fuller and Copeland have, as a matter of policy, automatically taken payments from Plaintiff's commissary fund and/or created institutional debt, despite the fact that Plaintiff has been declared a severely indigent person. Because he has not authorized the debt or received due process prior to the deprivations, Plaintiff claims that the actions have deprived him of his property without due process of law. Plaintiff also complains that Defendants' actions in forcing him to use a particular pharmacy amount to mail fraud and monopolistic behavior.

         In his next set of allegations, Plaintiff alleges that, despite his repeated requests for special handling the unknown supervisory staff sergeant (Unknown Party #2) and his employees have repeatedly opened his legal mail outside of his presence. He also contends that numerous pages of legal mail from the courts were not delivered to him.

         Plaintiff next alleges that the head classification staff and committee members (Unknown Part(y)(ies) have kept him in the same restricted cell without permitting him to improve his security level. He asserts that Defendant Unknown Part(y)(ies) based their decision to continue him in the same restrictive cell because of disability discrimination, and he alleges that was not provided out-of-cell activities or accommodations as a disabled person for the entire year of his incarceration.

         Finally, Plaintiff contends that, during his incarceration at KCF, he was subjected to discrimination on the basis of his Moorish American Moslem religion. He contends that he repeatedly wrote to the Head Chaplain (Unknown Party #2), requesting that literature and religious services be provided to him and to other Moorish American prisoners. Plaintiff alleges that Unknown Party #2 violated his rights under the First Amendment and, arguably, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1(a).

         Discussion

         I. Failure to state a claim

         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)).

         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). Because § 1983 is a method for vindicating federal rights, not a source of substantive rights itself, the first step in an action under § 1983 is to identify the specific constitutional right allegedly infringed. Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994).

         A. Defendants Fuller, Copeland & Hunt

         Upon initial review, the Court concludes that Plaintiff's allegations against Defendants Fuller, Copeland and Hunt are sufficient to state at least one claim. The Court therefore will order ...


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