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Watters v. Beebe

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

January 10, 2017

ROGER ALLEN WATTERS, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
UNKNOWN BEEBE, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION

          Janet T. Neff, 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, Plaintiff's action will be dismissed for failure to state a claim.

         Factual Allegations

         Plaintiff Roger Allen Watters Jr. is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Muskegon Correctional Facility (MCF) in Muskegon Heights, Michigan. The events of which he complains, however, occurred while he was incarcerated at the Richard Handlon Correctional Facility (MTU) in Ionia, Michigan. He sues four Defendants: MTU Correctional Officers Unknown Beebe, Unknown Mathis, and Unknown King; and MTU Grievance Coordinator C. Heffelbower.

         Plaintiff alleges that on July 29, 2016, Defendant Beebe called him to the officers' desk. Defendant Beebe had Plaintiff's picture pulled up on the computer screen. Defendant Beebe asked Plaintiff about the crime he had committed. When Plaintiff told Defendant Beebe Plaintiff's crime, Defendant Beebe became upset and informed Plaintiff that the remainder of his days at MTU would be very rough. Plaintiff claims he learned from another prisoner that Defendant Beebe was upset because the victim of Plaintiff's crime was a relative of Defendant Beebe.

         On August 1, 2016, Plaintiff was taken to segregation. Later that day, Defendant Mathis brought over Plaintiff's personal property. When Plaintiff noted items were missing, Defendant Mathis informed Plaintiff that he was lucky that he was only missing some property and that Plaintiff had messed with the wrong person, presumably Defendant Beebe.

         Plaintiff states that while he was in segregation from August 1 through August 8, 2016, temperatures were in the high 90's. Plaintiff had a hard time breathing, his chest hurt, he broke out in hives, and he was itching. Plaintiff asked Defendant King if Plaintiff could see a nurse. Defendant King refused initially and again later, even after Plaintiff informed Defendant King that Plaintiff had a medical detail for being at risk of heat-related illness. Plaintiff does not allege that he suffered any consequence from the failure to immediately treat his condition.

         Plaintiff wrote several grievances with regard to the loss of his property and the retaliatory conduct of Defendants Beebe, Mathis, and King. When he did not receive satisfactory responses, he also grieved Defendant Heffelbower. Plaintiff asks the Court to award: compensatory and punitive damages of $350, 000 against Defendant Beebe for the mental and emotional suffering Plaintiff endured as a result of Defendant Beebe's threats and actions; compensatory and punitive damages of $350, 000 against Defendant Mathis for failing to safeguard Plaintiff's property and for the mental and emotional duress that followed from Defendant Mathis's suggestion that Plaintiff was lucky he only lost some property; compensatory and punitive damages of $500, 000 against Defendant King for the skin irritation and hard time breathing that Plaintiff suffered during hot days in segregation and for the mental and emotional duress Plaintiff suffered from Defendant King's denial of medical treatment; and compensatory and punitive damages of $350, 000 against Defendant Heffelbower for mental and emotional duress caused by Defendant Heffelbower's failure to answer Plaintiff's grievances and for making Plaintiff feel she was covering for the other Defendants.

         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).

         II. Defendant Beebe

         Plaintiff does not identify the specific constitutional rights he alleges that Defendant Beebe violated. Construed liberally, however, Plaintiff's complaint can be construed as attempting to state claims against Defendant Beebe for violation of Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment right to be free of cruel and unusual punishment, Fourteenth Amendment right to not be deprived of liberty without due process of law, and First Amendment right to ...


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