United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Northern 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 for failure to state a claim.
is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of
Corrections (MDOC) at Newberry Correctional Facility (NCF) in
Newberry, Luce County, Michigan. The events about which he
complains, however, occurred at the Ojibway Correctional
Facility (OCF) in Marenisco, Gogebic County, Michigan.
Plaintiff sues Michelle Meneguzzo, Kristine Lacount, Mike S.
Yon, Kathy Olson, Richard Russell, and T. Hamel.
alleges that the named Defendants interfered with his ability
to pay the initial partial filing fee in No. 2:17-cv-10,
which had been filed in this Court. Plaintiff's failure
to pay the fee resulted in the dismissal of his case on March
20, 2017, without prejudice for want of prosecution.
Plaintiff appears to be claiming that this conduct violated
his First Amendment right of access to the courts. Plaintiff
seeks damages and equitable relief.
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).
claims that Defendants' intereference with his ability to
pay the filing fee violated his rights under the First
Amendment. In Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817 (1977),
the Supreme Court recognized a prisoner's fundamental
right of access to the courts. While the right of access to
the courts does not allow a State to prevent an inmate from
bringing a grievance to court, it also does not require the
State to enable a prisoner to discover grievances or litigate
effectively. Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343 (1996).
Thus, Bounds did not create an abstract,
freestanding right to a law library, litigation tools, or
legal assistance. Id. at 351 (1996). Further, the
right may be limited by legitimate penological goals, such as
maintaining security and preventing fire or sanitation
hazards. See Acord v. Brown, No. 91-1865, 1992 WL
58975 (6th Cir. March 26, 1992); Hadix v. Johnson,
No. 86-1701, 1988 WL 24204 (6th Cir. March 17, 1988);
Wagner v. Rees, No. 85-5637, 1985 WL 14025 (6th Cir.
Nov. 8, 1985).
state a claim, an inmate must show that any shortcomings in
the library, litigation tools, or legal assistance caused
actual injury in his pursuit of a legal claim.
Lewis, 518 U.S. at 351; Talley-Bey, 168
F.3d at 886; Kensu v. Haigh, 87 F.3d 172, 175 (6th
Cir. 1996); Pilgrim v. Littlefield, 92 F.3d 413, 416
(6th Cir. 1996); Walker v. Mintzes, 771 F.2d 920,
932 (6th Cir. 1985). An inmate must make a specific claim
that he was adversely affected or that the litigation was
prejudiced. Vandiver v. Niemi, No. 94-1642, 1994 WL
677685, at *1 (6th Cir. Dec. 2, 1994). Particularly, an
inmate cannot show injury when he still has access to his
legal materials by request, Kensu, 87 F.3d at 175,
when he fails to state how he is unable to replicate the
confiscated documents, Vandiver, 1994 WL 677685, at
*1, or when he could have received the material by complying
with the limits on property, e.g., where he had the
opportunity to select the items that he wanted to keep in his
cell, or when he had an opportunity to purchase a new
footlocker that could hold the property. Carlton v.
Fassbender, No. 93-1116, 1993 WL 241459, at *2 (6th Cir.
July 1, 1993).
case, Plaintiff claims that he suffered an actual injury
because his civil rights action was dismissed as a result of
Defendants' conduct. However, a review of the docket
sheet for No. 2:17-cv-10 shows that the case was reopened on
June 26, 2017, following Plaintiff's motion for
reconsideration. The Court subsequently reviewed the
substance of the allegations in Plaintiff's complaint and
determined that his claims lacked merit. Therefore,
Plaintiff's case was dismissed on September 14, 2017, for
failure to state a claim. See Karn v. Asche, et al.,
No. 2:17-cv-10, ECF Nos. 31 and 32, (Mich. W.D. 2017).
Because the cause for the ultimate dismissal of
Plaintiff's complaint was completely unrelated to
Defendants' conduct, Plaintiff's access to courts
claims are properly dismissed.
conducted the review required by the Prison Litigation Reform
Act, the Court determines that Plaintiff's complaint will
be dismissed for failure to state a claim, under 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(b), and 42 U.S.C. §