United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Northern Division
J. QUIST 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, the Court will dismiss Plaintiff's complaint
for failure to state a claim against Defendants Michigan
Department of Corrections and Woods. The Court will serve the
complaint against Defendants Ernst, Martin, Derry, and
Wonacott with regard to Plaintiff's retaliation claims,
but will dismiss Plaintiff's due process and state law
Robert Tywan Washington, a state prisoner currently confined
at the Carson City Correctional Facility, filed this pro
se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983
against Defendants Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC),
Corrections Officer Unknown Ernst, Sergeant Unknown Martin,
Assistant Resident Unit Supervisor Art Derry, Corrections
Officer Unknown Wonacott, and Warden Jeffrey Woods.
alleges that on January 10, 2016, at approximately 12:30 am,
Defendant Ernst stopped at his cell and began kicking the
door. Plaintiff and Defendant Ernst had a verbal altercation,
and Defendant Ernst threatened to take Plaintiff's
television. Plaintiff responded by threatening to file a
grievance. Defendant Ernst left the area and, a few minutes
later, Plaintiff was called to the base area. Plaintiff was
met by seven corrections officers. Defendant Martin reviewed
Plaintiff on a misconduct ticket and told him that they were
taking his television. Plaintiff was then told to go into the
unit quiet room to wait. Plaintiff was locked into the room
and observed Defendant Ernst and another officer take the
television out of his cell and carry it to the Resident Unit
Manager's office. After the quiet room was unlocked,
Plaintiff asked Defendant Martin why they had taken his
television. Defendant Martin told Plaintiff that staff could
do whatever they wanted.
January 11, 2016, Defendant Derry wrote a class I misconduct
on Plaintiff for possession of contraband and told Plaintiff
that he was not getting the television back. The television
was given to Defendant Wonacott. Plaintiff filed grievances
and kites regarding the matter, making Defendant Woods aware
of the situation, but no corrective action was taken.
claims that Defendants' conduct violated his right to be
free from retaliation and his right to his property.
Plaintiff also claims that Defendants violated his rights
under state law. Plaintiff seeks damages, as well as
declaratory and injunctive relief.
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); Street
v. Corr. Corp. of Am., 102 F.3d 810, 814 (6th Cir.
1996). 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).
the Court notes that Plaintiff may not maintain a § 1983
action against the Michigan Department of Corrections.
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) is not a “person” who
may be sued under § 1983 for money damages. See
Lapides v. Bd. of Regents, 535 U.S. 613 (2002) (citing
Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58
(1989)). Therefore, the Court dismisses the Michigan
Department of Corrections.
addition, Plaintiff fails to make specific factual
allegations against Defendant Woods, other than his claim
that he failed to conduct an investigation or assist
Plaintiff with his the loss of his property in response to
his grievances. Government officials may not be held liable
for the unconstitutional conduct of their subordinates under
a theory of respondeat superior or vicarious liability.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676; Monell v. New York City
Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 691(1978);
Everson v. Leis, 556 F.3d 484, 495 (6th Cir. 2009).
A claimed constitutional violation must be based upon active
unconstitutional behavior. Grinter v. Knight, 532
F.3d 567, 575-76 (6th Cir. 2008); Greene v. Barber,
310 F.3d 889, 899 (6th Cir. 2002). The acts of one's
subordinates are not enough, nor can supervisory liability be
based upon the mere failure to act. Grinter, 532
F.3d at 576; Greene, 310 F.3d at 899; Summers v.
Leis, 368 F.3d 881, 888 (6th Cir. 2004). Moreover,
§ 1983 liability may not be imposed simply because a
supervisor denied an administrative grievance or failed to
act based upon information contained in a grievance. See
Shehee v. Luttrell, 199 F.3d 295, 300 (6th Cir. 1999).
“[A] plaintiff must plead that each Government-official
defendant, through the official's own individual actions,
has violated the Constitution.” Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 676. Plaintiff has failed to allege that Defendant
Woods engaged in any active unconstitutional behavior.
Accordingly, he fails to state a claim against Defendant
due process claim regarding the deprivation of his property
is barred by the doctrine of Parratt v. Taylor, 451
U.S. 527 (1981), overruled in part by Daniels v.
Williams, 474 U.S. 327 (1986). Under Parratt, a
person deprived of property by a “random and
unauthorized act” of a state employee has no federal
due process claim unless the state fails to afford an
adequate post-deprivation remedy. If an adequate
post-deprivation remedy exists, the deprivation, although
real, is not “without due process of law.”
Parratt, 451 U.S. at 537. This rule applies to both
negligent and intentional deprivation of property, as long as
the deprivation was not done pursuant to an established state
procedure. See Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517,
530-36 (1984). Because Plaintiff's claim is premised upon
allegedly unauthorized acts of a state official, he must
plead and prove the inadequacy of state post-deprivation
remedies. See Copeland v. Machulis, 57 F.3d 476,