United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
J. Jonker Chief United States District Judge.
purports to be a civil rights action brought by a state
prisoner under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Under the Prison
Litigation Reform Act, Pub. L. No. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321
(1996) (PLRA), 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). 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 against Defendants Allan MacArthur
and the MacArthur Trust for failure to state a claim.
is presently incarcerated in the West Tennessee State Prison
in Henning, Tennessee. This action does not relate to his
incarceration there. Instead, it relates to a trust
established by his parents for the benefit of Plaintiff and
his brother Allan MacArthur. Plaintiff's father, Douglas
MacArthur of Lansing, Michigan, passed away on October 1,
2016. Plaintiff contends that since that time, his brother
has attempted to obtain for his own benefit assets that
belong to the trust and should be split between the two
brothers. Plaintiff's attempts to remedy the problems
have been hampered by his incarceration in Tennessee. Since
his incarceration on December 26, 2016, Defendant Allan
MacArthur has succeeded in removing Plaintiff as a trustee of
Defendant MacArthur Trust in the Ingham County Probate Court.
Allan has sold the family homestead and, according to
Plaintiff, has transferred trust assets or assets that should
be shared with Plaintiff into Allan's personal accounts.
Plaintiff fears Allan is attempting to cut him out of monies
and property that are rightfully Plaintiff's. Plaintiff
filed this action in the United States District Court for the
Western District of Tennessee to address his concerns. By
order entered November 15, 2017, that court transferred the
action here, where venue would be proper.
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). Here,
Plaintiff's claim fails at the most fundamental of
levels. He has not identified a specific constitutional right
allegedly infringed nor has he alleged that either Defendant
is a “state actor” under § 1983.
does not claim that his brother or the trust are anything
other than private parties. For a private party's conduct
to be under color of state law, it must be “fairly
attributable to the State.” Lugar v. Edmondson Oil
Co., 457 U.S. 922, 937 (1982); Street, 102 F.3d
at 814. There must be “a sufficiently close nexus
between the State and the challenged action of [the
defendant] so that the action of the latter may be fairly
treated as that of the State itself.” Skelton v.
Pri-Cor, Inc., 963 F.2d 100, 102 (6th Cir. 1991) (citing
Jackson v. Metro. Edison Co., 419 U.S. 345, 351
(1974)). Plaintiff has not presented any allegations by which
the Defendants' conduct could be fairly attributed to the
State. Accordingly, he fails to state a § 1983 claim
against either Defendant.
conducted the review required by the Prison Litigation Reform
Act, the Court determines that Defendants Allan MacArthur and
the MacArthur Trust will be dismissed for failure to state a
claim, under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Plaintiff's
pending motion for discovery (ECF No. 7), motion to freeze
bank accounts (ECF No. 8), motion for hearing to show cause
(ECF No. 12), and motion to compel discovery (ECF No. 15) are
denied as moot.
Court must next decide whether an appeal of this action would
be in good faith within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. §
1915(a)(3). See McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d
601, 611 (6th Cir. 1997). For the same reasons that the Court
dismisses the action, the Court discerns no good-faith basis
for an appeal. Should Plaintiff appeal this decision, the
Court will assess the $505.00 appellate filing fee pursuant
to § 1915(b)(1), see McGore, 114 F.3d at
610-11, unless Plaintiff is barred from proceeding in
forma pauperis, e.g., by the “three-strikes”
rule of § 1915(g). If he is barred, he will be required
to pay the $505.00 appellate filing fee in one lump sum.
a dismissal as described by 28 ...