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Williams v. Schuette

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

March 22, 2017

DONNELL DEFRANCE WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
BILL SCHUETTE, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER OF PARTIAL DISMISSAL AND DIRECTING PLAINTIFF TO FURNISH COPIES OF COMPLAINT

          ROBERT H. CLELAND UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGEq

         I. BACKGROUND

         This is a pro se prisoner civil rights case. Michigan state prisoner Donnell DeFrance Williams is a state prisoner incarcerated at the Muskegon Correctional Facility in Muskegon, Michigan. He asserts claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff names forty-seven Defendants. He alleges that the Defendants have retaliated against him for filing grievances by denying him access to legal documents, destroying legal documents, denying him a previously assigned prison job, denying him due process for his grievances, filing false misconduct charges, placing him in segregation, and threatening him with physical harm. He seeks monetary relief. The court will dismiss Defendants Scheutte, Heyns, Washington, Palette, Paterson, Van Hoek, Berghuis, Rodrick, Flynn, Dobe, and Burt, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), because Plaintiff fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted against them.

         II. STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) requires that a complaint set forth “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ” as well as “a demand for the relief sought.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), (3). The purpose of this rule is 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) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). While this notice pleading standard does not require “detailed” factual allegations, Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, it does require more than the bare assertion of legal conclusions or “an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). “A pleading that offers ‘labels and conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). “Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders ‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.'” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).

         Plaintiff has been granted leave to proceed without prepayment of the filing fee for this action. Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), the court is required to sua sponte dismiss an in forma pauperis complaint before service on a defendant if it determines that the action is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). Similarly, the court is required to dismiss a complaint seeking redress against government entities, officers, and employees that it finds to be frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

         To state a federal civil rights claim, a plaintiff must allege that: (1) she was deprived of a right, privilege, or immunity secured by the federal Constitution or laws of the United States; and (2) the deprivation was caused by a person acting under color of state law. Flagg Bros. v. Brooks, 436 U.S. 149, 155-57 (1978). A pro se civil rights complaint is to be construed liberally. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972).

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Defendants Scheutte, Heyns, Washington, Berghuis, and Burt

         Plaintiff's allegations against Defendants Scheutte, Heyns, Washington, Berghuis, and Burt are based upon their supervisory authority. The doctrine of respondeat superior does not apply in § 1983 lawsuits to impute liability onto supervisory personnel, see Monell v. Department of Social Services of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 691-95, 98 S.Ct. 2018 (1978), unless it is shown “that the supervisor encouraged the specific incident of misconduct or in some other way directly participated in it.” Bellamy v. Bradley, 729 F.2d 416, 421 (6th Cir. 1984). A supervisor's failure to supervise, train or control an employee is not actionable under § 1983, unless the plaintiff shows “the official at least implicitly authorized, approved, or knowingly acquiesced in the unconstitutional conduct . . .” Hays v. Jefferson County, Ky., 668 F.2d 869, 874 (6th Cir. 1982); see also Shehee v. Luttrell, 199 F.3d 295, 300 (6th Cir. 1999) (“[A] supervisory official's failure to supervise, control or train the offending individual is not actionable unless the supervisor either encouraged the specific incident of misconduct or in some other way directly participated in it.”) (internal quotation marks omitted). In this case, Plaintiff fails to allege any specific conduct by these Defendants that would support a finding that they directly participated in, encouraged, or implicitly authorized or approved the alleged unconstitutional conduct. They will be dismissed from this action.

         B. Defendants Palette, Paterson, and Van Hoek

         The nature of Plaintiff's claims against Defendants Palette, Paterson, and Van Hoek is difficult to discern. These Defendants are attorneys who apparently represented Petitioner in his state court criminal proceedings. Plaintiff seems to challenge the adequacy of their representation during the criminal proceedings.

         One of the essential elements of a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 is that the conduct complained of was committed by a person acting under color of state law. Parratt v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527, 535 (1981). To be a “state actor, ” a party's actions must be “‘fairly attributable to the state.'” Ellison v. Garbarino, 48 F.3d 192, 195 (6th Cir. 1995), quoting Lugar v. Edmundson Oil Co., 457 U.S. 922, 937 (1982). Attorneys representing clients in criminal actions do not act under color of law for § 1983 purposes, even where such attorneys are appointed by the government to represent the criminal defendant. Polk County v. Dodson, 454 U.S. 312 (1981). Thus, these Defendants were not acting under color of state law in representing Plaintiff in his criminal proceedings.

         C. Defendants Ingram, ...


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