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Sams v. Quinn

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

March 31, 2017

Cedrick Sams, #169006, Plaintiff,
v.
Unknown Quinn & Unknown Kludy, Defendants.

          ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION AND DENYING MOTION FOR LEAVE TO AMEND

          HONORABLE PAUL L. MALONEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         On August 12, 2016, Defendants Quinn and Kludy filed a motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 17 at PageID.78.)

         Plaintiff filed objections to the Report and Recommendation, and the Court will address each in turn on de novo review. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b).

         As an initial matter, though, the Court must observe that Plaintiff's objections-two of them in less than three pages-barely suffice to warrant review. See Mira v. Marshall, 806 F.2d 636, 637 (6th Cir. 1986) (“[T]he district court need not provide de novo review where the objections are ‘[f]rivolous, conclusive or general.'”).

         a. Plaintiff's First Objection

         Plaintiff first argues that the Magistrate Judge, rather than Defendants, raised the argument that “Plaintiff failed to show any personal involvement by Defendant Sgt. Kludy.” (ECF No. 29 at PageID.169.) Even if true, it matters not.

         The Magistrate's Report and Recommendation essentially relies on the fact that Plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. That argument is ordinarily properly raised under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) before an answer is filed, rather than a motion under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 like Defendants filed here. However, where matters outside the pleadings are considered and not excluded, the Court must construe the motion under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56, see Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(d)-and nothing in the Rules prevents the court from dismissing a complaint for failing to state a claim even if the underlying motion was brought under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56.[1] Either way, though, the Magistrate Judge rested his final recommendation on the insufficiency of the pleadings.

         The thrust of Plaintiff's argument-the Magistrate Judge himself errantly determined the complaint failed to state a claim against Sergeant Kludy-must be rejected.

         A court may, indeed must, sua sponte dismiss an action for failure to state a claim against any named defendants under the PLRA. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) (“Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that . . . the action or appeal . . . fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted.” (emphasis added)); see also In re Prison Litigation Reform Act, 105 F.3d 1131, 1134 (6th Cir. 1997) (“District courts are required to screen all civil cases brought by prisoners, regardless of whether the inmate paid the full filing fee, is a pauper, is pro se, or is represented by counsel, as the statute does not differentiate between civil actions brought by prisoners.”).

         In addition, to the extent this was properly a Rule 56 motion, a court may sua sponte grant a motion for summary judgment “on grounds not raised by a party, ” so long as the nonmoving party was given “notice and a reasonable time to respond.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(f). A report and recommendation clearly gives a party both notice and an opportunity to respond by filing an objection. See, e.g., Santiago v. Anderson, 496 F.App'x 630, 637 (7th Cir. 2012).

         Plaintiff cites no authority for the proposition that the Magistrate Judge cannot sua sponte raise Plaintiff's own failure to state a claim as to Sergeant Kludy. Indeed, Plaintiff admits that his own statement of facts “failed to allege[] any wrongdoing acts committed by Defendants Lt. Quinn or Sgt. Kludy that created a claim for constitutional violations . . . .” (ECF No. 29 at PageID.169.)

         Accordingly, Defendants' first objection is OVERRULED.

         b. Plaintiff's Second Objection

         Plaintiff next argues that the Magistrate Judge failed to consider several exhibits he submitted in a response to the motion. (ECF No. 29 at PageID.169-70.) But even if that's true-exhibits attached to a complaint or response do not save the complaint if the complaint itself does not contain sufficient information to put Defendants on notice of the claims. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (noting the pleading standard “demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation”). That is particularly true in the qualified immunity context: “It is axiomatic that the ...


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