United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Northern Division
HONORABLE GORDON J. QUIST 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 Issard and
remaining Defendants are all Unknown Parties and cannot be
served by the Court. Accordingly, Plaintiff will be permitted
to amend his complaint within twenty-eight days to provide
the name of at least one of the remaining Defendants, or he
will face dismissal of this action without prejudice. See
Valentin v. Dinkins, 121 F.3d 72, 75-76 (2d Cir. 1997)
(remanding to allow the plaintiff an opportunity to identify
name of an officer from the named defendant but noting that a
dismissal was not precluded if the information was
insufficient to allow for service of process on the
Keyon Jaque Brown, a state prisoner currently confined at the
Marquette Branch Prison (MBP), filed this pro se
civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against
Defendants Deputy Warden Unknown Issard, Social Worker M.
Chapin, and Unknown Parties, which are listed in
Plaintiff's complaint as John Doe #1, John Doe #2, John
Doe #3, John Doe #4, John Doe #6, John Doe #7, John Doe #8,
John Doe #9, and John Doe #10. Plaintiff alleges that on March
22, 2016, while he was confined at the Chippewa Correctional
Facility (URF), Plaintiff began hearing voices. Plaintiff
asked the officer to call Defendant M. Chapin. Defendant
Chapin came to Plaintiff's cell, and Plaintiff explained
his symptoms, requested medication, and clarified that he was
not suicidal. Subsequently, the Sergeant came to
Plaintiff's cell and asked for Plaintiff's property.
Plaintiff refused. The Sergeant then called Defendant Issard,
who gave the order to use a chemical agent on Plaintiff. The
Sergeant summoned the extraction team. Once the extraction
team arrived, the Sergeant opened the slot and sprayed the
chemical agent into the cell. Plaintiff was removed from the
cell and thrown to the ground. Plaintiff was handcuffed, his
legs were held, and a shield was placed over Plaintiff's
head with enough force that Plaintiff was unable to breathe.
Officers then took all of Plaintiff's property and placed
him back in the same cell, which had no ventilation system.
Plaintiff asked if he could shower, but the Sergeant said
was still hearing voices on March 23, 2016. Defendant Chapin
returned to Plaintiff's cell and discontinued the suicide
watch. Plaintiff asked for health care because he was having
difficulty breathing. On March 29, 2016, Plaintiff was
interviewed by another Sergeant. On March 30, 2016, Plaintiff
was sent to the Marquette Branch Prison. Plaintiff claims
that he was left in his uncleaned cell and was exposed to the
chemical agent for a period of nine days prior to his
transfer. Plaintiff states that he was subsequently diagnosed
as having asthma and was prescribed an inhaler. Plaintiff
seeks damages and equitable relief.
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).
asserts that Defendants violated his rights under the Eighth
Amendment. The Eighth Amendment embodies a constitutional
limitation on the power of the states to punish those
convicted of a crime. Punishment may not be
“barbarous” nor may it contravene society's
“evolving standards of decency.” See Rhodes
v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 345-46 (1981); Trop v.
Dulles, 356 U.S. 86, 101 (1958). The Eighth Amendment
also prohibits conditions of confinement which, although not
physically barbarous, “involve the unnecessary and
wanton infliction of pain.” Rhodes, 452 U.S.
at 346. Among unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain are
those that are “totally without penological
Eighth Amendment claim comprises objective and subjective
components: (1) a sufficiently grave deprivation and (2) a
sufficiently culpable state of mind. Farmer v.
Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 8341977 (1994); Woods v.
LeCureux, 110 F.3d 1215, 1222 (6th Cir. 1997). A prison
official cannot be found liable unless the official has acted
with deliberate indifference; that is, the official must know
of and disregard an excessive risk to inmate health or
safety. Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837; see also Wilson
v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 302-03 (1991) (deliberate
indifference standard applies to all claims challenging
conditions of confinement to determine whether defendants
acted wantonly). The official must both be aware of facts
from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial
risk of serious harm exists and he must also draw the
inference. Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837. Thus, the mental
state required for an Eighth Amendment claim is not actual
intent, but something close to common-law recklessness.
Hubbert v. Brown, Nos. 95-1983, 95-1988, 96-1078,
1997 WL 242084, at *5 (6th Cir. May 18, 1997) (relying on
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 836 n.4.)
reason for focusing on a defendant's mental attitude is
to isolate those defendants who inflict punishment.
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 839. The deliberate indifference
standard “describes a state of mind more blameworthy
than negligence.” Id. at 835; see also
Whitley v. Albers, 475 U.S. 312, 319 (1986)
(“conduct that does not purport to be punishment at all
must involve more than the ordinary lack of due care for the
prisoner's interests or safety”). As the Supreme
The Eighth Amendment does not outlaw cruel and unusual
“conditions”; it outlaws cruel and unusual
“punishments.” An act or omission unaccompanied
by knowledge of a significant risk of harm might well be
something society wishes to discourage, and if harm does
result society might well wish to assure compensation. The
common law reflects such concerns when it imposes tort
liability on a purely objective basis. But an official's
failure to alleviate a significant risk that he should have