United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
J. JONKER CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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), 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 complaint against Defendants Miller, Wallace,
and Russell for failure to state a claim.
is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of
Corrections (MDOC) at Earnest C. Brooks Correctional
Facility, (LRF) in Muskegon Heights, Muskegon County,
Michigan. Plaintiff sues LRF Librarian Rex Miller, MDOC
Litigation Coordinator Melody Wallace, and MDOC Manager of
the Grievance Section of the Office of Legal Affairs Richard
alleges that Defendant Wallace sent a directive to MDOC
librarians, instructing them to destroy all copies of state
habeas corpus form MC 203. Wallace further ordered that
copies not be made of the form, even for prisoners who had
sufficient funds in their accounts to pay for the copies.
Plaintiff contends that, in accordance with Wallace's
order, Defendant Miller refused to make copies of his state
habeas form, which he had completed on MC 203. Plaintiff
grieved the denial of photocopies by Defendant Russell.
According to Plaintiff, the three Defendants have hindered
his right of access to the courts.
seeks injunctive relief, together with compensatory and
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).
well established that prisoners have a constitutional right
of access to the courts. Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S.
817, 821 (1977). The principal issue in Bounds was
whether the states must protect the right of access to the
courts by providing law libraries or alternative sources of
legal information for prisoners. Id. at 817. The
Court noted that in addition to law libraries or alternative
sources of legal knowledge, the states must provide indigent
inmates with “paper and pen to draft legal documents,
notarial services to authenticate them, and with stamps to
mail them.” Id. at 824-25. The right of access
to the courts also prohibits prison officials from erecting
barriers that may impede the inmate's access to the
courts. See Knop v. Johnson, 977 F.2d 996, 1009 (6th
indigent prisoner's constitutional right to legal
resources and materials is not, however, without limit. In
order to state a viable claim for interference with his
access to the courts, a plaintiff must show “actual
injury.” Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 349
(1996); see also Talley-Bey v. Knebl, 168
F.3d 884, 886 (6th Cir. 1999); Knop, 977 F.2d at
1000. In other words, a plaintiff must plead and demonstrate
that the shortcomings in the prison legal assistance program
or lack of legal materials have hindered, or are presently
hindering, his efforts to pursue a nonfrivolous legal claim.
Lewis, 518 U.S. at 351-53; see also Pilgrim v.
Littlefield, 92 F.3d 413, 416 (6th Cir. 1996). The
Supreme Court has strictly limited the types of cases for
which there may be an actual injury:
Bounds does not guarantee inmates the wherewithal to
transform themselves into litigating engines capable of
filing everything from shareholder derivative actions to
slip-and-fall claims. The tools it requires to be provided
are those that the inmates need in order to attack their
sentences, directly or collaterally, and in order to
challenge the conditions of their confinement. Impairment of
any other litigating capacity is simply one of the incidental
(and perfectly constitutional) consequences of conviction and
Lewis, 518 U.S. at 355. “Thus, a
prisoner's right to access the courts extends to direct
appeals, habeas corpus applications, and civil rights claims
only.” Thaddeus-X v. Blatter, 175 F.3d 378,
391 (6th Cir. 1999) (en banc). Moreover, the underlying
action must have asserted a non-frivolous claim.
Lewis, 518 U.S. at 353; accord Hadix v.
Johnson, 182 F.3d 400, 405 (6th Cir. ...