United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
L. Maloney, United States District Judge
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.
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,  and Nurses Nicole Doolittle
and Unknown Cafiero.
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.
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.
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.,
Failure to state a claim
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)).
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).
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.
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 ...