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Rosario v. Health Care (MDOC)

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

December 20, 2017

RICARDO ROSARIO, Plaintiff,
v.
HEALTH CARE (MDOC) et al., Defendants.

          OPINION

          ROBERT J. JONKER CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This is 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 MDOC, MDOC Health Care, and the Kent County Jail on grounds of immunity or for failure to state a claim.

         Discussion

         I. Factual allegations

         Plaintiff is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Michigan Reformatory (RMI) in Ionia, Michigan. The circumstances that give rise to the complaint, however, began after his arrest on September 6, 2014, when he was detained in the Kent County Jail.

         Plaintiff alleges that immediately prior to his arrest he was assaulted. As he tried to defend himself, he injured his right shoulder and upper back and broke his right hand. (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.4.) Plaintiff states “the Kent County Jail never gave me any medical treatment for my injuries.” (Id.) Plaintiff claims that because of the lack of treatment his right hand did not heal correctly and his back and shoulder injuries are irreparable. (Id., PageID.4-5.)

         By December of 2014, following his guilty plea to a charge of assault with intent to commit murder, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.83, Petitioner was in the custody of the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC). Plaintiff alleges that doctors at the MDOC's Duane Waters Hospital in Jackson, Michigan, told him that the only way to fix his hand would be to re-break it. Plaintiff notes that he agreed to that treatment, but that it never healed back correctly. (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.5.) Plaintiff notes that he also received injections in his shoulder for pain. (Id.) Nonetheless, he states that his hand, shoulder, and back always hurt. Plaintiff contends that the MDOC will not give him adequate medical treatment, but he does not indicate in what way his treatment falls short. It appears that Plaintiff characterizes the treatment as inadequate simply because it has not been successful.

         Plaintiff states that the Kent County Jail and the MDOC were deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment. He identifies the Defendants as “Health Care (MDOC)”, (Id., PageID.1), the “Kent County Correctional Facility”, (Id., PageID.2), “Any/All Unnamed Defendants”, (Id.), and “Any/All Unknown Defendants”, (Id.). Plaintiff does not ascribe any action or misconduct to unnamed or unknown defendants in the body of his complaint.

         Plaintiff asks for an award of compensatory and punitive damages as well as an order compelling Defendants to provide him with adequate medical care.

         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 § 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).

         III. MDOC or Health Care (MDOC)

         Plaintiff may not maintain a § 1983 action against the Michigan Department of Corrections or one of its divisions. Regardless of the form of relief requested, the states and their departments are immune under the Eleventh Amendment from suit in the federal courts, unless the state has waived immunity or Congress has expressly abrogated Eleventh Amendment immunity by statute. See Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 98-101 (1984); Alabama v. Pugh, 438 U.S. 781, 782 (1978); O'Hara v. Wigginton, 24 F.3d 823, 826 (6th Cir. 1993). Congress has not expressly abrogated Eleventh Amendment immunity by statute, Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332, 341 (1979), and the State of Michigan has not consented to civil rights suits in federal court. Abick v. Michigan, 803 F.2d 874, 877 (6th Cir. 1986). In numerous unpublished opinions, the Sixth Circuit has specifically held that the MDOC is absolutely immune from suit under the Eleventh Amendment. See, e.g., McCoy v. Michigan, 369 F. App'x 646, 653-54 (6th Cir. 2010); Turnboe v. Stegall, No. 00-1182, 2000 WL1679478, at *2 (6th Cir. Nov. 1, 2000). In addition, the State of Michigan (acting through the Michigan Department of Corrections) is not a ...


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