United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Northern Division
J. JONKER, CHIEF 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, and Plaintiff will pay
the initial partial filing fee when funds are available.
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 on
immunity grounds and for failure to state a claim.
presently is incarcerated at the Baraga Maximum Correctional
Facility (AMF). In his pro se complaint, Plaintiff
sues the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC); Director
Heidi Washington; Blue Cross Blue Shield; Corizon Health
Services; the MDOC Hearings Division; Hearing Officers Thomas
O. Mohrman and Unknown O'Brien; and unknown
complaint concerns the restitution that he was ordered to pay
as a sanction for two separate Class I misconduct findings of
guilt. The first incident occurred on November 2, 2013, while
Plaintiff was incarcerated at the Carson City Correctional
Facility in Carson City, Michigan. Plaintiff was involved in
a fight involving at least two other inmates. He received
“several lumps around his facial area.” (Compl.,
ECF No. 1, PageID.4.) The health services nurse thought
Plaintiff's jaw was broken. Despite Plaintiff's
assurance that he was fine and against Plaintiff's
wishes, he was taken to Carson City Hospital and given an
examination, IV drugs, and multiple CT scans. (Id.;
hospital bill, ECF No. 1-1, PageID.26.) The scan confirmed
Plaintiff's jaw was not broken and he was sent back to
was charged with a Class I misconduct violation for fighting.
Plaintiff was provided notice that there would be a hearing
on the misconduct report. Defendant Hearing Officer Thomas O.
Mohrman conducted the hearing on November 7, 2013. The
misconduct report was read to Plaintiff. He pleaded not
guilty. The other two prisoners pleaded guilty. Defendant
Mohrman heard testimony from Plaintiff and MDOC personnel.
Defendant Mohrman reviewed videos of the incident. Defendant
Mohrman found Plaintiff guilty and imposed the following
sanctions: 14 days of detention, 21 days loss of privileges,
and restitution in the amount of $1, 778.53, one-third of
Plaintiff's medical expenses. (Class I Misconduct
Hr'g Report, ECF No. 1-1, PageID.28.)
second incident occurred on September 11, 2016, while
Plaintiff was incarcerated at the St. Louis Correctional
Facility in St. Louis, Michigan. Plaintiff hit another
prisoner in the face with a broken broom handle. Defendant
Hearing Officer Unknown O'Brien conducted a hearing on
September 19, 2016. Plaintiff pleaded not guilty. Defendant
O'Brien's report indicates that the misconduct report
and the investigation report were read to Plaintiff.
Defendant O'Brien watched the video and listened to
Plaintiff's side of the story, but found Plaintiff guilty
on both charges. Defendant O'Brien imposed sanctions of
20 days detention, 30 days loss of privileges, and $2, 399.00
in restitution for the hospital charges incurred in treating
the other prisoner. (Class I Misconduct Hr'g Report, ECF
No. 1-1, PageID.29-30.)
alleges that the two restitution orders are recorded as a
debt on his trust account. He is never permitted to
accumulate more than $11.00 in his account. Any excess is
taken from him in payment of his restitution debt. As a
result he is denied the ability to enjoy the fruits of his
prison labor by purchasing items to improve the quality of
Plaintiff acknowledges he was provided notice of the
misconduct hearings, he contends that he was never provided
notice that the MDOC would seek restitution from him.
Moreover, Plaintiff argues that the MDOC is not actually out
any money because the expenses of care are covered by Blue
Cross Blue Shield or Corizon Health Services. Plaintiff's
central contention, however, is that he has been deprived of
his property without due process of law in violation of the
Fourteenth Amendment. He purports to bring these claims on
his behalf and on behalf of the class of prisoners who are
similarly situated. He seeks monetary damages as well as
declaratory and injunctive relief.
has entitled his complaint as a class action, which the Court
construes as a request for class certification. For a case to
proceed as a class action, the court must be satisfied on a
number of grounds, including the adequacy of class
representation. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a)(4). It is
well established that pro se litigants are
inappropriate representatives of the interests of others.
See Garrison v. Mich. Dep't of Corr., 333 F.
App'x 914, 919 (6th Cir. 2009) (citing Oxendine v.
Williams, 509 F.2d 1405, 1407 (4th Cir. 1975)); see
also Dodson v. Wilkinson, 304 F. App'x 434, 438 (6th
Cir. 2008); Ziegler v. Michigan, 59 F. App'x
622, 624 (6th Cir. 2003); Palasty v. Hawk, 15 F.
App'x 197, 200 (6th Cir. 2001); Howard v.
Dougan, No. 99-2232, 2000 WL 876770, at *1 (6th Cir.
June 23, 2000). Because Plaintiff is an incarcerated pro
se litigant, the Court finds that he is not an
appropriate representative of a class. Therefore, the Court
will deny Plaintiff's request for class certification.
sues Hearing Officers Mohrman and O'Brien for ordering him
to pay restitution. Defendants are hearing officers whose
duties are set forth at Mich. Comp. Laws § 791.251
through § 791.255. Hearing officers are required to be
attorneys and are under the direction and supervision of a
special hearing division in the Michigan Department of
Corrections. See Mich. Comp. Laws §
791.251(e)(6). Their adjudicatory functions are set out in
the statute, and their decisions must be in writing and must
include findings of facts and, where appropriate, the
sanction imposed. See Mich. Comp. Laws §
791.252(k). There are provisions for rehearings, see
Mich. Comp. Laws § 791.254, as well as for judicial
review in the Michigan courts, see Mich. Comp. Laws
§ 791.255(2). Accordingly, the Sixth Circuit has held
that Michigan hearing officers are professionals in the
nature of administrative law judges. See Shelly v.
Johnson, 849 F.2d 228, 230 (6th Cir. 1988). As such,
they are entitled to absolute judicial immunity from
inmates' § 1983 suits for actions taken in their
capacities as hearing officers. Id.; see also
Barber v. Overton, 496 F.3d 449, 452 (6th Cir. 2007);
Dixon v. Clem, 492 F.3d 665, 674 (6th Cir. 2007);
cf. Pierson v. Ray, 386 U.S. 547, 554-55 (1967)
(judicial immunity applies to actions under § 1983 to
recover for alleged deprivation of civil rights). Because
Defendant Mohrman and O'Brien are entitled to immunity,
Plaintiff may not maintain an action against them for
may not maintain a § 1983 action against the Michigan
Department of Corrections or its Hearings Division.
Regardless of the form of relief requested, the states and
their departments are immune under the Eleventh Amendment
from suit in the federal courts, unless the state has waived
immunity or Congress has expressly abrogated Eleventh
Amendment immunity by statute. See Pennhurst State Sch.
& Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 98-101 (1984);
Alabama v. Pugh, 438 U.S. 781, 782 (1978);
O'Hara v. Wigginton, 24 F.3d 823, 826 (6th Cir.
1993). Congress has not expressly abrogated Eleventh
Amendment immunity by statute, Quern v. Jordan, 440
U.S. 332, 341 (1979), and the State of Michigan has not
consented to civil rights suits in federal court. Abick
v. Michigan, 803 F.2d 874, 877 (6th Cir. 1986). In
numerous unpublished opinions, the Sixth Circuit has
specifically held that the MDOC is absolutely immune from
suit under the Eleventh Amendment. See,
e.g., McCoy v. Michigan, 369 F. App'x
646, 653-54 (6th Cir. 2010); Turnboe v. Stegall, No.
00-1182, 2000 WL1679478, at *2 (6th Cir. Nov. 1, 2000). In
addition, the State of Michigan (acting through the Michigan
Department of Corrections and its ...