United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
JUNIOR A. PORTER, Plaintiff,
WEXFORD COUNTY JAIL, et al. Defendants.
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. 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 as
frivolous and for failure to state a claim.
Junior A. Porter is presently incarcerated with the Michigan
Department of Corrections at the G. Robert Cotton
Correctional Facility in Jackson, Michigan. He is serving a
sentence of 6 to 20 years for delivery or manufacture of
methamphetamine. Plaintiff was convicted in Wexford County,
Michigan. Plaintiff's complaints of unconstitutional
treatment stem not from his incarceration in a state
correctional facility, but from his stay as a pretrial
detainee in the Wexford County Jail from April 19, 2013 to
December 9, 2013.
alleges that during his stay in the jail he was denied
appropriate medical treatment, subjected to inadequate
conditions of confinement in light of his medical condition,
and denied access to legal research facilities. Plaintiff
sues the Wexford County Jail and Jail Administrator Greg
Webster. Plaintiff notes that the jail has no grievance
asks that Wexford County pay his medical bills and housing
fees, create a law library for county jail inmates, and pay
damages to Plaintiff in the amount of $5, 000, 000.
Plaintiff's claims are untimely
statutes of limitations and tolling principles apply to
determine the timeliness of claims asserted under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. 261, 268-69
(1985). For civil rights suits filed in Michigan under §
1983, the statute of limitations is three years. See
Mich. Comp. Laws § 600.5805(10); Carroll v.
Wilkerson, 782 F.2d 44, 44 (6th Cir. 1986) (per curiam);
Stafford v. Vaughn, No. 97-2239, 1999 WL 96990, at
*1 (6th Cir. Feb. 2, 1999). Accrual of the claim for relief,
however, is a question of federal law. Collyer v.
Darling, 98 F.3d 211, 220 (6th Cir. 1996); Sevier v.
Turner, 742 F.2d 262, 272 (6th Cir. 1984). The statute
of limitations begins to run when the aggrieved party knows
or has reason to know of the injury that is the basis of his
action. Collyer, 98 F.3d at 220.
complaint is untimely. He asserts claims arising between
April 19 and December 9 of 2013. Plaintiff had reason to know
of the “harms” done to him at the time they
occurred. Hence, his claims accrued, at the latest, by
December 9, 2013. However, he did not file his complaint
until January, 2017, past Michigan's three-year limit.
Moreover, Michigan law no longer tolls the running of the
statute of limitations when a plaintiff is incarcerated.
See Mich. Comp. Laws § 600.5851(9). Further, it
is well established that ignorance of the law does not
warrant equitable tolling of a statute of limitations.
See Rose v. Dole, 945 F.2d 1331, 1335 (6th Cir.
1991); Jones v. Gen. Motors Corp., 939 F.2d 380, 385
(6th Cir. 1991); Mason v. Dep't of Justice, No.
01-5701, 2002 WL 1334756, at *2 (6th Cir. June 17, 2002).
complaint “is frivolous where it lacks an arguable
basis either in law or in fact.” Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). A complaint may be
dismissed as frivolous if it is time-barred by the
appropriate statute of limitations. See Dellis v. Corr.
Corp. of Am., 257 F.3d 508, 511 (6th Cir. 2001). The
Sixth Circuit has repeatedly held that when a meritorious
affirmative defense based upon the applicable statute of
limitations is obvious from the face of the complaint,
sua sponte dismissal of the complaint is
appropriate. See Dellis, 257 F.3d at 511; Beach
v. Ohio, No. 03-3187, 2003 WL 22416912, at *1 (6th Cir.
Oct. 21, 2003); Castillo v. Grogan, No. 02-5294,
2002 WL 31780936, at *1 (6th Cir. Dec. 11, 2002); Duff v.
Yount, No. 02-5250, 2002 WL 31388756, at *1-2 (6th Cir.
Oct. 22, 2002); Paige v. Pandya, No. 00-1325, 2000
WL 1828653 (6th Cir. Dec. 5, 2000). Accordingly,
Plaintiff's action must be dismissed as frivolous.
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);
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). Construed liberally, Plaintiff attempts to raise
claims for violation of his Fourteenth Amendment rights as a
pretrial detainee and his First Amendment right of access to
Wexford County Jail as a defendant
sues the Wexford County Jail. The jail is a building, not an
entity capable of being sued in its own right. However,
construing Plaintiff's pro se complaint with all
required liberality, Haines, 404 U.S. at 520, the
Court assumes that Plaintiff intended to sue Wexford County.
Wexford County may not be held vicariously liable for the
actions of its employees under § 1983. See Connick
v. Thompson, 131 S.Ct. 1350, 1359 (2011); City of
Canton v. Harris, 489 U.S. 378, 392 (1989); Monell
v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978).
Instead, a county is liable only when its official policy or
custom causes the injury. Id.