United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
L. Maloney 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 Ferris State
University Department of Public Safety, Big Rapids Department
of Public Safety and Mecosta County Sheriff's Department.
The Court will serve the complaint against Defendants Helper,
Chamberlain, Hauger, Kuiawa, and Pippin.
Noah Syl Johnson was incarcerated at the Ingham County Jail
at the time the complaint was filed, but he has since been
released on probation. The actions about which he complains
occurred during the course of his arrest. He sues the Ferris
State University Department of Public Safety, the Big Rapids
Public Safety Department, and the Mecosta County
Sheriff's Department, together with the following
individual officers: FSU Department of Public Safety Officers
Diana Helper and Michael Chamberlain; Big Rapids Public
Safety Department Sergeant Jeff Hauger; Big Rapids Public
Safety Officer Jason Kuiawa; and Mecosta County Sheriff's
Department Deputy Sergeant Pippin.
to the complaint, on January 23, 2016, Plaintiff was
variously spending time in his dorm room (1103) watching
television with friends or talking to other individuals in
room 807. Plaintiff left to go to the store, but found he had
forgotten his wallet. He returned and was preparing to get on
the elevator, when the elevator door opened. Hall monitor
Sarah Cambell was in the elevator with Defendant Chamberlain.
Hall identified Plaintiff. Chamberlain asked for
Plaintiff's identification, which he provided. Defendant
Chamberlain asked to walk with Plaintiff toward his room and
then asked if he could come into the room. Plaintiff refused.
Chamberlain opened Plaintiff's door and sniffed and said,
“It smells like marijuana in here.” (Compl., ECF
No. 1, PageID.3.) Defendant Chamberlain then smelled
Plaintiff and told him he smelled like marijuana, too.
Plaintiff told Chamberlain that the smell was coming from the
study room, and Plaintiff opened the door of the study to
show Chamberlain. Plaintiff then stated, “It's also
coming from here, ” and he started to open the stairway
door, where students often smoked marijuana. (Id.)
Defendant Chamberlain then pushed Plaintiff through the door
and against the wall. Now accompanied by Defendant Helper,
Chamberlain told Plaintiff that he was not free to leave and
that he could “do this the easy way or the hard
way.” (Id.) Plaintiff asked what was the hard
way, and Defendant Helper told him that it was with handcuffs
on. Plaintiff then advised that he was calling his attorney.
At that point, he was rushed and tackled, leading to
Plaintiff and both Defendants tumbling down the stairs.
tumbling down the stairs, Plaintiff was no longer in the
officers' grasp. He jumped up and ran to the seventh
floor, as he believe he had done nothing wrong and was afraid
of being assaulted. On the seventh floor, he went to
Kristina's room to pick up his headphones and calm down.
When he calmed down, he walked back to talk to the officers.
As soon as he opened the door to the stair well, Defendant
Chamberlain was reaching for his gun. Plaintiff turned and
ran down the hallway, down some stairs and out the door. He
then laid on the ground and put his hands behind his back.
Plaintiff was afraid that he was going to be shot. Deputies
Tanner and Haynes (who are not Defendants) handcuffed
Plaintiff, stood him up, searched him, and put him into
Defendant Helper's car to be transported by Big Rapids
Public Safety Officer Kuiawa and Sgt. Hauger. Defendants
Kuiawa and Hauger began to handle Plaintiff roughly and
forcefully, throwing Plaintiff against their police cruiser.
Defendant Pippin kicked Plaintiff's right leg, causing
Plaintiff to buckle to his knees from pain. Defendant Kuiawa
changed Plaintiff's handcuffs and placed him in painful
wristlock holds, before putting him into the back seat of the
alleges that he was unlawfully arrested and that Defendants
used excessive force. He also alleges that he possibly was
subjected to racial discrimination because, although his
roommate admitted that the marijuana was his, he was not
subjected to the same treatment. Plaintiff claims that he was
not charged with a marijuana charge and his urine was
negative for marijuana. Plaintiff believes that something
relief, Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages.
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).
sues the Ferris State University Department of Public Safety
which is a part of Ferris State University. Ferris State
University is a division of the State of Michigan. 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). The Sixth Circuit long ago
recognized that Michigan state universities are immune from
suit. See, e.g., Estate of Ritter by Ritter v. Univ. of
Mich., 851 F.2d 846, 848-50 (6th Cir. 1988). In
addition, the State of Michigan (acting through the Ferris