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Artis v. Ingham County Jail

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

August 28, 2017

GEORDAN ARTIS, et al. Plaintiffs,
v.
INGHAM COUNTY JAIL et al., Defendants.

          OPINION

          Janet T. Neff, United States District Judge.

         This is a civil rights action, originally brought by eight Ingham County Jail inmates pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Since filing, the Court has denied Plaintiff Paul Jackson leave to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF Nos. 9-10), because he had previously filed at least three cases that were dismissed on the grounds that they were frivolous, malicious or failed to state a claim. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). Jackson has paid his $43.75 portion of the civil action filing fee. The Court has also granted the motions of James Dalton and Leonard Samuel Barlow to proceed in forma pauperis. The claims of the other five plaintiffs (Geordan Artis, Dymarion Jackson, Cornelius Smith, Willie Lewis, and John Glazier) have been dismissed for lack of prosecution.

         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 Plaintiffs' pro se complaint indulgently, see Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), and accept Plaintiffs' allegations as true, unless they are clearly irrational or wholly incredible. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 33 (1992). Applying these standards, Plaintiffs' action will be dismissed for failure to state a claim.

         Factual Allegations

         Plaintiffs Jackson, Dalton and Barlow are incarcerated at the Ingham County Jail (ICJ). They sue the ICJ; Ingham County Sheriff Scott Wriggelsworth; Ingham County Deputies Gaston, Johnson, Wallace, Perry, Bradley, and Davis (first names unknown); and Ingham County Sergeant Unknown Nye. Plaintiffs complain generally about the conditions of their confinement.

         Plaintiffs allege:

1. “[T]there is black mold everywhere” and that “numerous post/pods/floors have been closed because of it.” (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.5, ¶ 1.)
2. They are instructed “not to drink the water” without explanation. (Id., ¶ 2.)
3. Two persons are housed in cells intended for one person. (Id., ¶ 3.)
4. Inmates are locked in their cells for eighteen hours a day and are permitted out for only two 3-hour periods in a small television room. They are not permitted to go to the gym or outside for exercise. (Id., ¶ 4.)
5. The toilets are timed to flush twice an hour. After the two flushes, inmates are forced to defecate or urinate in a dirty toilet which is unsanitary and odorous. (Id., ¶ 5.)
6. The shower only stays on for three minutes (Id., ¶ 6.)
7. One Plaintiff[1] had his food thrown on the floor by deputies. (Id., ¶ 7.)
8. Plaintiffs have been denied law library privileges and, thus, access to the courts. (Id., ¶8.)

         Plaintiffs seek compensatory and punitive damages in the amount of $500, 000.00 each. In addition, the complaint purports to be filed as a class action for all similarly situated prisoners.[2]

         Discussion

         I. Class action

         Plaintiffs identify themselves as “Class Action Plaintiffs.” (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.3.) The Court construes this as a request for class certification. For a case to proceed as a class action, the court must be satisfied on a number of grounds, including the adequacy of class representation. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a)(4). It is well established that pro se litigants are inappropriate representatives of the interests of others. See Garrison v. Mich. Dep't of Corr., 333 F. App'x 914, 919 (6th Cir. 2009) (citing Oxendine v. Williams, 509 F.2d 1405, 1407 (4th Cir. 1975)); see also Dodson v. Wilkinson, 304 F. App'x 434, 438 (6th Cir. 2008); Ziegler v. Michigan, 59 F. App'x 622, 624 (6th Cir. 2003); Palasty v. Hawk, 15 F. App'x 197, 200 (6th Cir. 2001); Howard v. Dougan, No. 99-2232, 2000 WL 876770, at *1 (6th Cir. June 23, 2000). Because Plaintiffs are incarcerated pro se litigants, the Court finds that they are not appropriate representatives of a class. Therefore, the Court will deny Plaintiffs' request for class certification.

         II. Failure to state a claim

         A 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 - ...


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