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Pitts v. Barrett

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

March 8, 2017

JOSEPH BARRETT, et al., Defendants.


          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, the Court will dismiss Plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a claim against Defendant Yon. The Court will serve the complaint against Defendants Buda, Lehto, Stachowicz, Matter, and Stafford.


         I. Factual allegations

         Plaintiff Raymond Delano Pitts, a state prisoner currently incarcerated at the Cooper Street Correctional Facility, filed this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants Joseph Barrett, Steven Buda, Steven Lehto, Jeffrey Stachowicz, Ronald Stafford, Andrew Matter, and Michael Yon. Plaintiff originally filed this case in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. On January 18, 2017, the Eastern District dismissed Plaintiff's claims against Defendant Barrett and transferred the remainder of Plaintiff's claims to this Court. All of the remaining Defendants were employed at the Ojibway Correctional Facility (OCF) during the pertinent time period.

         In Plaintiff's complaint, he alleges that on March 12, 2015, while he was incarcerated at OCF, he became involved in a fight with another prisoner. Upon the arrival of Defendants Buda, Stachowicz, Matter, and Lehto, Plaintiff stopped fighting and put his hands in the air to show his surrender. Plaintiff was ordered to lie on the ground and Defendant Buda placed his knee in the center of Plaintiff's back. Plaintiff offered his left arm to be cuffed while telling Defendant Buda that he had a plate in his wrist from a previous injury and his left arm did not bend. While cuffing Plaintiff, Defendant Buda squeezed and twisted Plaintiff's wrist and forearm and struck the back of Plaintiff's wrist, breaking Plaintiff forearm. Defendant Buda then exclaimed that Plaintiff's arm bent now. Plaintiff told Defendant Buda that he thought his arm was broken. Defendant Buda responded that maybe Plaintiff would think about that before deciding to fight again.

         Defendants Lehto, Stachowicz, Stafford, and Matter were members of the yard crew and it was their duty to provide security in the yard. Defendant Matter did not intervene to prevent Plaintiff from being harmed by Defendant Buda. After the incident, Defendant Matter and another officer took Plaintiff to health care, where Plaintiff was seen by RN Jean Riverside, who determined that Plaintiff's left wrist was broken. Before Plaintiff was placed in a transport van, Defendant Yon told Plaintiff:

I had to leave my Bar-B-Que because of this shit. You better be glad that it wasn't one of my officers that got hurt. If that was the case they'd be taking the “long” way to the hospital and you might not have made it back! Be careful what you say to the state police, remember you have to live here and we can make it real hard on you, real hard. Tell them what you want to, but remember, this is the U.P. and we run this shit up here.

See ECF No. 1, PageID.8.

         Plaintiff was taken to the hospital by Defendants Stafford and Stachowicz. After Plaintiff was treated, he was returned to OCF, and was then sent to level five security at the Baraga Correctional Facility. Plaintiff was served with disciplinary charges on March 13, 2015, and Plaintiff was found guilty on March 24, 2015. Plaintiff was sentenced to ten days of detention and thirty days loss of privileges, in addition to $304.43. Plaintiff filed a grievance regarding his misconduct conviction, which was denied at every level. Plaintiff's three subsequent grievances were all rejected as duplicative by Defendant Yon.

         Plaintiff was transferred to the St. Louis Correctional Facility (SRF) and on March 25, 2015, Plaintiff submitted a health care request complaining of extreme pain in his broken left wrist and forearm. Plaintiff received a response stating that Motrin had been prescribed and that Plaintiff would be called out. On March 30, 2015, Plaintiff was issued a splint for his wrist, along with two ace wraps. On June 14, 2015, Plaintiff requested pain medication and was told to watch for a callout. Plaintiff again requested pain medication on June 25, 2015, and also in July and August of 2015. However, health services continued to prescribe Plaintiff inadequate medication. Plaintiff claims that he needs surgery and physical therapy to avoid a permanent disability.

         Plaintiff claims that Defendants violated his rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages. Plaintiff also seeks declaratory relief.

         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 - ...

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