United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER OF SUMMARY DISMISSAL
V. PARKER, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
a pro se civil rights case brought pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983. Federal prisoner Samuel Lawrence Wood
(“Plaintiff”), confined at the Manchester Federal
Correctional Institution in Manchester, Kentucky complains
that he is being denied proper medical care by federal prison
officials and seeks to obtain medical records from when he
was confined at the St. Clair County Jail in Port Huron,
Michigan. He names Tim Donnellon, the St. Clair County
Sheriff, as the defendant in this action. Plaintiff has been
granted leave to proceed without prepayment of the fees for
this action. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1).
the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996
(“PLRA”), the Court is required to sua
sponte dismiss an in forma pauperis complaint
before service if it determines that the action is frivolous
or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is
immune from such relief. See 42 U.S.C. §
1997e(c); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). The Court is
similarly required to dismiss a complaint seeking redress
against government entities, officers, and employees that it
finds to be frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief
from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See
28 U.S.C. § 1915A. A complaint is frivolous if it lacks
an arguable basis in law or in fact. Denton v.
Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992); Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989).
Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) requires that a complaint set
forth “a short and plain statement of the claim showing
that the pleader is entitled to relief, ” as well as
“a demand for the relief sought.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2), (3). The purpose of this rule is 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) and Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2)). While such notice pleading does not require
detailed factual allegations, it does require more than the
bare assertion of legal conclusions. Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555. Rule 8 “demands more than an unadorned,
the defendant-unlawfully-harmed me accusation.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
“A pleading that offers ‘labels and
conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action will not do.'”
Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
“Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders
‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further
factual enhancement.'” Id. (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).
state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must
allege that (1) he was deprived of a right, privilege, or
immunity secured by the Constitution or laws of the United
States; and (2) the deprivation was caused by a person acting
under color of state law. Flagg Bros. v. Brooks, 436
U.S. 149, 155-56 (1978); Moniz v. Cox, 512 F.
App'x 495, 497-98 (6th Cir. 2013). A plaintiff must also
allege that the deprivation of his rights was intentional,
not merely negligent. Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S.
327, 333 (1986); Davidson v. Cannon, 474 U.S. 344,
348 (1986). A pro se civil rights complaint is to be
construed liberally. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S.
519, 520-21 (1972). Despite this liberal pleading standard,
the Court finds that the civil rights complaint is subject to
Court notes that Plaintiff appears to be seeking medical
records from St. Clair County Jail, where he was confined
from 2007 until 2010. However, Plaintiff fails to identify a
particular legal basis or constitutional provision for
bringing this civil rights action against the named
defendant. As an initial matter, the Freedom of Information
Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552, (“FOIA”) applies only
to federal agencies and not state agencies, which would
include the St. Clair County Jail. See Rimmer v.
Holder, 700 F.3d 246, 258 (6th Cir. 2012) (“FOIA
is concerned only with shedding light on misconduct of the
federal government, not state
governments”). To the extent that Plaintiff may be
alleging a violation of the Michigan Freedom of Information
Act, or any other provision of state law, he fails to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted. It is well-settled
that such state law violations are not a proper basis for
relief under § 1983. Pyles v. Raisor, 60 F.3d
1211, 1215 (6th Cir. 1995). The “[m]ere violation of a
state statute does not infringe the federal
Constitution.” Embody v. Ward, 695 F.3d 577,
581 (6th Cir. 2012) (alteration in original) (citing
Snowden v. Hughes, 321 U.S. 1, 11 (1944)).
Plaintiff fails to show the personal involvement of the
defendant in the events giving rise to the complaint. It is
well-settled that a civil rights plaintiff must allege the
personal involvement of a defendant to state a claim under
§ 1983. See Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs.,
436 U.S. 658, 691-92 (1978) (Section 1983 liability cannot be
based solely upon a theory of respondeat superior or
vicarious liability); accord Everson v. Leis, 556
F.3d 484, 495 (6th Cir. 2009); Taylor v. Michigan
Dep't of Corr., 69 F.3d 76, 81 (6th Cir. 1995)
(plaintiff must allege facts showing that the defendant
participated, condoned, encouraged, or knowingly acquiesced
in alleged misconduct to establish liability). Plaintiff
alleges no facts showing that the defendant is or was,
directly or indirectly, involved in preparing, maintaining,
or controlling the distribution of his medical records at St.
Clair County Jail. For example, Plaintiff does not allege
that the defendant ordered officials at St. Clair County Jail
to withhold his medical records, or enacted a policy that
would prevent Plaintiff from receiving his medical records.
Plaintiff, thus, fails to state a claim against the named
liberally construing Plaintiff's claim concerning his
inability to obtain his medical records, it appears he may be
alleging a denial of access to the courts. Prisoners,
including indigent prisoners, have a constitutional right of
access to the courts, which the states have a duty to
protect. Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 821-25
(1977). A prisoner's right of access to the courts is
limited to direct criminal appeals, habeas corpus
applications, and civil rights claims challenging the
conditions of confinement. Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S.
343, 354 (1996); Thaddeus-X v. Blatter, 175 F.3d
378, 391 (6th Cir. 1999). To state a §1983 claim for the
denial of access to the courts, first, a plaintiff must make
some showing of prejudice or actual injury as a result of the
challenged conduct. Lewis, 518 U.S. at 351;
Harbin-Bey v. Rutter, 420 F.3d 571, 578 (6th Cir.
2005). “Examples of actual prejudice to pending or
contemplated litigation include having a case dismissed,
being unable to file a complaint, and missing a court-imposed
deadline.” Harbin-Bey, 420 F.3d at 578. Next,
a plaintiff must allege that the deprivation of his rights
was the result of intentional conduct to state such a claim.
Sims v. Landrum, 170 F. App'x 954, 956 (6th Cir.
2006); Wojnicz v. Davis, 80 F. App'x 382, 384
(6th Cir. 2003). An allegation of negligence is insufficient
to state a claim under § 1983. Daniels, 474
U.S. at 333; Davidson, 474 U.S. at 348.
case, Plaintiff fails to allege facts showing that the
defendant's alleged failure to provide medical records is
intentional in the constitutional sense. Additionally,
Plaintiff fails to allege facts to show that the
defendant's conduct has interfered with his ability to
seek review in state or federal court. No actual injury
occurs without a showing that a non-frivolous claim has been
lost or rejected, or the inmate is prevented from pursuing
such a claim. Lewis, 518 U.S. at 356; Pilgrim v.
Littlefield, 92 F.3d 413, 416 (6th Cir. 1996). Plaintiff
fails to allege or establish that a non-frivolous claim has
been lost or rejected, or that the presentation of such a
claim is being impeded. Although Plaintiff may believe that
the lack of past medical records is preventing him from
pursuing some type of court action, he fails to allege or
establish that he cannot file a civil rights complaint
regarding his medical care without the records and then,
perhaps, obtain the records as part of discovery in that
court action. Plaintiff fails to allege sufficient facts of
“actual injury” in support of his claims, and,
thus, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted
in his complaint.
this dismissal is with prejudice, Plaintiff is not prevented
from filing a civil rights complaint regarding his medical
care at his penal institution. He is only prevented from
filing a § 1983 complaint under FOIA or Michigan's
FOIA seeking to access his medical records that are in the
custody of the country jail because § 1983 does not
provide any basis for such a claim.
reasons stated, the Court concludes that Plaintiff fails to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted under 42
U.S.C. § 1983. Accordingly, the Court DISMISSES
WITH PREJUDICE the civil rights complaint. The Court
also concludes that an appeal from this order cannot be taken
in good ...