Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

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.

Sanford v. Mullins

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

January 10, 2017

UNKNOWN MULLINS et al., Defendants.


          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 for failure to state a claim against Defendants Desrochers, Cassel, Thurlsby, Miniard, Zwiker, Lewis, and Lebarre. The Court will serve the complaint against Defendants Mullins, Bunting, Doolittle, and Cafiero.


         I. Factual allegations

         Plaintiff Dominic Sanford is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Ionia Correctional Facility (ICF) in Ionia, Michigan. Plaintiff sues a number of MDOC employees at ICF: Assistant Resident Unit Supervisor Lloyd Thurlsby, Inspector Unknown Miniard, Grievance Coordinator C. Lewis, Captain Unknown Cassel, Lieutenant Unknown Zwiker, Sergeant Unknown Desrochers, Correctional Officer Unknown Mullins, Medical Manager Jody Lebarre, Medical Supervisor Joanne Bunting, [1] and Nurses Nicole Doolittle and Unknown Cafiero.

         Plaintiff's claims arise out of an incident at ICF on April 3, 2016. On that date, Defendants Mullins and Desrochers took Plaintiff to segregation for exhibiting threatening behavior. On the way, Defendants Mullins and Desrochers took Plaintiff to the shower area and ordered him to strip for purposes of a search. Plaintiff handed his clothing to Defendant Mullins. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Mullins, unbeknownst to Plaintiff, stepped to the side and sprayed pepper spray on Plaintiff's undershorts. When Plaintiff put on his clothing he suffered a severe burning sensation on his genitals, scrotum, and anus. Plaintiff was handcuffed and taken to his segregation cell. He was not supplied with soap and towels to permit him to wash off the spray. The spray continued to chafe and burn.

         Plaintiff requested medical care for the burns. Plaintiff claims that Defendants Bunting and Cafiero would not provide treatment for nearly a week. By that time, the burn had subsided. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Doolittle also refused to provide care because Plaintiff complained that the officers had assaulted him.

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Desrochers, Cassell, Thurlsby, Miniard, Zwiker, and Lewis are responsible for Defendant Mullins' actions because they failed to supervise him or intervene, rectify, or investigate the incident. (Complaint, ECF No. 1, PageID.5.) Similarly, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Lebarre failed to provide corrective supervision for the health care provider defendants. (Id., PageID.4-5.)

         II. 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); Street v. Corr. Corp. of Am., 102 F.3d 810, 814 (6th Cir. 1996). 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).

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Mullins (and those defendants who failed to properly supervise Defendant Mullins) violated the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment when he intentionally and sadistically caused Plaintiff pain by spraying pepper spray on Plaintiff's clothing. Plaintiff claims further that Defendant Mullins took these actions to intimidate Plaintiff because of his race in violation of the First Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment, and Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.147b. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Doolittle, Bunting, and Cafiero (and Defendant Lebarre who failed to adequately supervise them) violated the Eighth Amendment by their deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's serious medical needs. Moreover, Plaintiff contends that Defendants denied him necessary medical treatment in retaliation for his complaints against the officer who assaulted him. Finally, Plaintiff claims that these Defendants violated the Michigan Health Code, Mich. Comp. Laws § 333.16221.

         A. Supervisory liability

         Government officials may not be held liable for the unconstitutional conduct of their subordinates under a theory of respondeat superior or vicarious liability. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676; Monell v. New York City Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 691(1978); Everson v. Leis, 556 F.3d 484, 495 (6th Cir. 2009). A claimed constitutional violation must be based upon active unconstitutional behavior. Grinter v. Knight, 532 F.3d 567, 575-76 (6th Cir. 2008); Greene v. Barber, 310 F.3d 889, 899 (6th Cir. 2002). The acts of one's subordinates are not enough, nor can supervisory liability be based upon the mere failure to act. Grinter, 532 F.3d at 576; Greene, 310 F.3d at 899; Summers v. Leis, 368 F.3d 881, 888 (6th Cir. 2004). Moreover, § 1983 liability may not be imposed simply because a supervisor denied an administrative grievance or failed to act based upon information contained in a grievance. See Shehee v. Luttrell, 199 F.3d 295, 300 (6th Cir. 1999). “[A] plaintiff must plead that each Government-official defendant, through the official's own individual actions, has violated the Constitution.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676. With respect to Defendants Desrochers, Cassel, Thurlsby, Miniard, Zwiker, Lewis, and Lebarre, Plaintiff alleges that the Defendants have failed to properly ...

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.