United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
J. JONKER CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
a civil rights action brought pro se by a state
prisoner under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff is an inmate
at the Thumb Correctional Facility. (ECF No. 43). This
lawsuit arises out conditions of plaintiff's confinement
in September and October 2012, at the Michigan Reformatory,
and it stems from a dispute regarding a pair of orthopedic
shoes that plaintiff says were prescribed to him as a medical
accommodation. The defendants are Lieutenant Keara Muzzin,
Roger Martin, and Resident Unit Manager Kerry Gobert.
is asserting the following claims: (1) that Muzzin and Martin
violated his rights under the Eighth Amendment's Cruel
and Unusual Punishments Clause by temporarily depriving him
of the shoes; (2) that all defendants violated his rights
under the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause
because he did not receive a hearing on the removal of the
shoes as contraband within the time limits specified by a
Michigan Department of Corrections policy directive; (3) that
defendant Martin violated his First Amendment rights by
directing a corrections officer to issue a Class III
misconduct charge against plaintiff for possession of
contraband; and (4) that all defendants violated his rights
under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the
Rehabilitation Act (RA). Plaintiff sues defendants in their
individual and official capacities and seeks declaratory and
injunctive relief, as well as punitive and compensatory
matter is now before the Court on defendants' Rule
12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. Plaintiff has stated two claims
that survive Rule 12(b)(6): 1) official capacity claims for
compensatory damages under the ADA and RA; and 2) a personal
capacity claim against Muzzin and Martin for deprivation of a
medically prescribed pair of shoes. All other claims are
subject to dismissal.
12(b)(6) authorizes the dismissal of a complaint for
“failure to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Under Rule 8(a)(2) of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a complaint must
provide “‘a short and plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief' in
order to ‘give the defendant fair notice of what the .
. . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'”
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47
(1957), and Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). While this notice pleading
standard does not require detailed factual allegations, it
does require more than labels and the bare assertion of legal
conclusions. See Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
when considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court
must construe the complaint in the light most favorable to
plaintiff, accept the plaintiff's factual allegations as
true, and draw all reasonable factual inferences in
plaintiff's favor. See Total Benefits Planning
Agency, Inc. v. Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield, 552
F.3d 430, 434 (6th Cir. 2008). “[C]ourts ‘are not
bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a
factual allegation.'” Twombly, 550 U.S. at
555 (quoting Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286
(1986)). “To survive a motion to dismiss, [plaintiff]
must allege ‘enough facts to state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.'” Traverse Bay
Area Intermediate Sch. Dist. v. Michigan Dep't of
Educ., 615 F.3d 622, 627 (6th Cir. 2010) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). Pro se pleadings
are held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings
drafted by licensed attorneys. See Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972).
deciding motions to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court is
generally limited to examination of the complaint. The Court
may also take into account exhibits attached to the
complaint. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 10(c).
argue that they are entitled to dismissal of plaintiff's
claims against them on the basis of qualified immunity.
“Once [an] official[ ] raise[s] the qualified immunity
defense, the plaintiff bears the burden to ‘demonstrate
that the official [is] not entitled to qualified
immunity.'” LeFever v. Ferguson, 645
F.App'x 438, 442 (6th Cir. 2016) (quoting Silberstein
v. City of Dayton, 440 F.3d 306, 311 (6th Cir. 2006));
see Estate of Hill v. Miracle, 853 F.3d 306, 312
(6th Cir. 2017).
government official sued under section 1983 is entitled to
qualified immunity unless the official violated a statutory
or constitutional right that was clearly established at the
time of the challenged conduct.” Carroll v.
Carman, 135 S.Ct. 348, 350 (2014); see Taylor v.
Barkes, 135 S.Ct. 2042, 2044 (2015); Lane v.
Franks, 134 S.Ct. 2369, 2381 (2014). The first prong of
qualified immunity analysis is whether the plaintiff has
alleged facts showing that each defendant's conduct
violated a constitutional or statutory right. See Saucier
v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194, 201 (2001). The second prong is
whether the right was “clearly established” at
the time of the defendant's alleged misconduct.
Id. Trial courts are permitted to exercise their
sound discretion in deciding which of the two prongs of the
qualified immunity analysis should be addressed first.
See Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 236 (2009).
Brosseau v. Haugen, the Supreme Court examined the
underlying purpose of the requirement that the law be clearly
Qualified immunity shields an officer from suit when she
makes a decision that, even if constitutionally deficient,
misapprehends the law governing the circumstances she
confronted. . . . Because the focus is on whether the officer
had fair notice that her conduct was unlawful, reasonableness
is judged against the backdrop of the law at the time of the
conduct. If the law at the time did not clearly establish
that the officer's conduct would violate the
Constitution, the officer should not be subject to liability
or, indeed, even the burdens of litigation.
543 U.S. 194, 198 (2004); see also Ziglar v. Abbasi,
137 S.Ct. 1873, 1867 (2017) (“If a reasonable officer
might not have known for certain that the conduct was
unlawful - then the officer is immune from liability.”)
(quotation and citation omitted); Mullenix v. Luna,
136 S.Ct. 305, 308 (2015) (“The dispositive question is
whether the violative nature of the particular conduct is
clearly established.”) (citation and quotation
omitted); City & County of San Francisco, Calif. v.
Sheehan, 135 S.Ct. 1765, 1774 (2015) (“An officer
cannot be said to have violated a clearly established right
unless the right's contours were sufficiently definite
that any reasonable official in his shoes would have
understood that he was violating it, meaning that existing
precedent placed the statutory or constitutional question
beyond debate.”) (citations and quotations omitted).
Qualified immunity is an immunity from suit rather than a
mere defense to liability. Plumhoff v. Rickard, 134
S.Ct. 2012, 2019 (2014).
Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the second prong of
the qualified immunity analysis “‘must be
undertaken in light of the specific context of the case, not
as a broad general proposition.'” Brosseau v.
Haugen, 543 U.S. at 198 (quoting Saucier v.
Katz, 533 U.S. at 201); see White v.
Pauly, 137 S.Ct. 548, 552 (2017). Moreover, courts are
“not to define clearly established law at a high level
of generality, since doing so avoids the crucial question
whether the official acted reasonably in the particular
circumstances that he or she faced.” Plumhoff v.
Rickard, 134 S.Ct. at 2023 (citations and quotations
omitted); see White v. Pauly, 137 S.Ct. at 552. In
order to be clearly established, existing precedent must have
placed the unlawfulness of the official's conduct
“beyond debate.” Plumhoff, 134 S.Ct. at
burden of convincing a court that the law was clearly
established ‘rests squarely with the
plaintiff.'” Key v. Grayson, 179 F.3d 996,
1000 (6th Cir. 1999) (quoting Cope v. Heltsley, 128
F.3d 452, 459 (6th Cir. 1997)); see Estate of Hill v.
Miracle, 853 F.3d at 312 (“[T]he ultimate burden
of proof is on the plaintiff to show that the defendant is
not entitled to qualified immunity.”) (quotation and
citation omitted). The burden ...