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Klotz v. Ingham County Jail

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

September 21, 2017



          Paul L. Maloney United States District Judge

         This is a civil rights action initially brought by three state prisoners, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court has since dismissed Plaintiffs Moreno and Jackson from the action (ECF No. 10) for failure either to pay their $116.67 portions of the filing fee or to file the documents required to proceed in forma pauperis, as ordered by the Court. The Court has granted Plaintiff Klotz leave to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No. 9).

         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 claims concerning double-bunking, toilets, showers, and mold. The Court will serve Plaintiff's claims concerning out-of-cell exercise and drinking water.


         I. Factual allegations

         Plaintiff Terry Lin Klotz presently is incarcerated at the Ingham County Jail (ICJ). He sues the ICJ for alleged Eighth or Fourteenth Amendment violations.

         According to the complaint, Plaintiff is lodged in a cell originally designed for one person, which is presently occupied by two people. The cell is made of brick on all four sides, with a solid entrance door. Plaintiff is locked in his cell for 18 hours in every day, with two periods, 12:00 to 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 to 11:00 p.m., spent in a television room with 30 prisoners. He asserts that no running or other cardio-vascular exercise is permitted in the out-of-cell area. In addition, he asserts that he is not provided any gym time or other opportunity for cardiovascular exercise.

         Plaintiff also alleges that the toilet for his cell is digitally timed to flush only twice in every hour. He complains that, if both prisoners use the toilet once during the course of an hour, no flushes remain until the hour has passed. Plaintiff alleges that, when one of the prisoners needs to use the toilet a third time in the hour, his urine and feces must remain in the toilet until the timer is reset. He contends that, in such instances, he must smell the odors of the urine or feces until the toilet can be flushed again. Plaintiff also complains that, should he need to defecate during that period, he may experience unsanitary toilet-bowl splash. In addition, he contends, when the toilets flush, urine and feces from other cells sometimes come up in his cell's toilet. Further, when showers are taken, the water runs for only three minutes, which Plaintiff contends is too little to wash the offending germs from his body.

         In addition, Plaintiff claims that the prison has closed one “post” due to the presence of black mold. (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.8.) He also alleges that there are “signs everywhere saying that the water is unsafe. He alleges that, while jail employees drink bottled water or water from their own homes, prisoners are required to drink the tap water, despite the signs saying the water is unsafe.

         Plaintiff contends that the complained-of conditions amount to cruel and unusual punishment.

         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 - 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)).

         To 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 ยง 1983 is a method for vindicating federal rights, not a source of substantive rights itself, the first step in an action ...

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