United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
Stephanie Dawkins Davis Mag. Judge.
OPINION AND ORDER DISMISSING PLAINTIFF'S
COMPLAINT IN PART AND DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO
APPOINT AN ATTORNEY
E. LEVY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
a pro se civil rights case brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. Michigan prisoner Jeannette Dominique Davis,
confined at the Huron Valley Women's Correctional
Facility in Ypsilanti, Michigan, alleges that she was
improperly sprayed with pepper spray following an altercation
with another inmate, that she was denied proper medical care
following the incident, that a corrections officer falsified
documents during the disciplinary process, that prison
officials failed to properly respond to her grievances, and
that she was placed in administrative segregation in
retaliation for filing a grievance. She names Corrections
Officer Renee Thomas, (former) Warden Millicent Warren,
Residential Unit Manager Alan Greason, Lieutenant V. Gauci,
Sergeant C. White, Nurse Hammon, (former) Michigan Department
of Corrections Director Daniel Heyns, and Grievance
Coordinators Bragg and Boa as the defendants in this action.
She sues defendants in their individual and official
capacities and seeks declaratory relief, monetary damages,
and any other appropriate relief. The Court has granted
plaintiff leave to proceed without prepayment of the fees and
costs for this action. (Dkt. 5).
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 Atlantic 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).
the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996
(“PLRA”), the Court is required to sua sponte
dismiss an in forma pauperis complaint before service on a
defendant 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); see also
28 U.S.C. § 1915A (applying this standard to government
entities, officers, and employees as defendants). A complaint
is frivolous “where it lacks an arguable basis either
in law or in fact.” Denton v. Hernandez, 504
U.S. 25, 31 (1992) (quoting Neitzke v. Williams, 490
U.S. 319, 325 (1989)).
state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must
allege that (1) she was deprived of a right, privilege, or
immunity secured by the federal 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, 155-57 (1978); Harris v.
Circleville, 583 F.3d 356, 364 (6th Cir. 2009). A pro se
civil rights complaint is to be construed liberally.
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972).
Despite this liberal pleading standard, the Court finds that
portions of plaintiff's complaint are subject to summary
claims against defendants Warren, Greason, Gauci, White,
Heyns, Bragg, and Boa must be dismissed. Plaintiff fails to
allege facts demonstrating the personal involvement of those
defendants in the claimed instances of unconstitutional
conduct 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 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
See Monell v. Department of Social Svs., 436 U.S.
658, 691-92 (1978) (Section 1983 liability cannot be based
upon a theory of respondeat superior or vicarious
liability); Everson v. Leis, 556 F.3d 484, 495 (6th
Cir. 2009) (same); see also Taylor v. Michigan Dep't
of Corrections, 69 F.3d 716, 727-28 (6th Cir.
1995) (plaintiff must allege facts showing that the defendant
participated, condoned, encouraged, or knowingly acquiesced
in alleged misconduct to establish liability). Plaintiff has
not done so with respect to defendants Warren, Greason,
Gauci, White, Heyns, Bragg, and Boa. Conclusory allegations
are insufficient to state a civil rights claim under §
1983. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (pleadings require
“more than a sheer possibility defendant has acted
addition, bare assertions that those defendants failed to
supervise an employee, should be vicariously liable for an
employee's conduct, erred in denying grievances or
complaints, and/or did not sufficiently respond to the
situation are insufficient to state a claim under §
1983. See, e.g., Shehee v. Luttrell, 199 F.3d 295,
300 (6th Cir. 1999) (noting “that § 1983 liability
must be based on more than respondeat superior, or the right
to control employees” and absolving prison officials of
liability where the plaintiff failed to show, beyond his
pleadings, that the defendant officials did more than
“the den[y] administrative grievances or  fail to
act”); Martin v. Harvey, 14 F. App'x 307,
309 (6th Cir. 2001) (dismissing a defendant because his
“only involvement was the denial of the appeal of the
grievance, ” and, “[t]o the extent that defendant
McGinnis is sued because of his past position of authority,
the doctrine of respondeat superior does not apply in §
1983 lawsuits to impute liability onto supervisory
personnel”). To state a claim for failure to supervise
under § 1983, plaintiff must allege that “(1) the
training or supervision was inadequate for the tasks
performed; (2) the inadequacy was the result of the
municipality's deliberate indifference; and (3) the
inadequacy was closely related to or actually caused the
injury.” Ellis ex rel. Pendergrass v. Cleveland
Mun. Sch. Dist., 455 F.3d 690, 700 (6th Cir. 2006).
Plaintiff makes no such allegation here.
to the extent plaintiff asserts that one or more of the
defendants violated her constitutional rights by denying her
grievances, she fails to state a claim for relief. The First
Amendment guarantees “the right of the people . . . to
petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
U.S. Const. amend. I. While a prisoner has a First Amendment
right to file grievances against prison officials, Herron
v. Harrison, 203 F.3d 410, 415 (6th Cir. 2000), the
First Amendment does not impose an affirmative obligation on
the government to consider, respond to, or grant any relief
on a petition for redress of grievances. Smith v.
Arkansas State Hwy. Employees, Local 1315, 441 U.S. 463,
465 (1979) (“[T]he First Amendment does not impose any
affirmative obligation on the government to listen [or] to
respond . . .”); Apple v. Glenn, 183 F.3d 477,
479 (6th Cir. 1999) (“A citizen's right to petition
the government does not guarantee a response to the petition
or the right to compel government officials to act on or
adopt a citizen's views.”). Moreover, an inmate
does not have a constitutionally protected interest in a jail
or prison grievance procedure or the right to an effective
procedure. Walker v. Michigan Dep't of
Corrections, 128 F. App'x 441, 445 (6th Cir. 2005).
To the extent that plaintiff is dissatisfied with the
investigation of her concerns and responses to her grievance,
she fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.
See Carlton v. Jondreau, 76 F. App'x 642, 644
(6th Cir. 2003) (“Although a prisoner has a First
Amendment right to file grievances against prison officials,
a state has no federal due process obligation to follow all
of its grievance procedures.”) (internal citations
plaintiff also fails to state a claim upon which relief may
be granted against defendant Thomas regarding the alleged
falsification of documents during the disciplinary process.
“False accusations of misconduct filed against an
inmate do not constitute a deprivation of constitutional
rights where the charges are subsequently adjudicated in a
fair hearing.” Cromer v. Dominguez, 103
Fed.Appx. 570, 573 (6th Cir. 2004) (citing Cale v.
Johnson, 861 F.2d 943, 953 (6th Cir. 1988) (Nelson, J.,
concurring)). Though plaintiff alleges that defendant Thomas
“falsified documents” during the “ticket
writing process, ” there is no indication any defendant
deprived her of due process in resolving the ticket. (Dkt. 1
at 7.) Instead, she was able to avail herself of the
prison's full grievance procedure, and does not point to
any facts demonstrating the grievance procedure was not a
“fair hearing.” See Cromer, 103 F.
App'x at 573. Accordingly, plaintiff fails to state a
claim as to this issue. See id.
plaintiff's claims for declaratory relief and monetary
damages against all defendants in their official capacities
are subject to dismissal on the basis of immunity. The
Eleventh Amendment bars civil rights actions against a state,
its agencies, and its departments unless the state has waived
its immunity or Congress has abrogated it. Will v.
Michigan Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 66
(1989). “The state of Michigan ... has not consented to
being sued in civil rights actions in the federal courts,
” Johnson v. Unknown Dellatifa, 357 F.3d 539,
545 (6th Cir. 2004) (citing Abick v. Michigan, 803
F.2d 874, 877 (6th Cir. 1986)), and Congress did not abrogate
state sovereign immunity when it passed § 1983. Chaz
Const., LLC v. Codell, 137 F. App'x 735, 743 (6th
Cir. 2005). Eleventh Amendment immunity “bars all
suits, whether for injunctive, declaratory, or monetary
relief against the state and its departments . . .”
McCormick v. Miami Univ., 693 F.3d 654, 661 (6th
Cir. 2012) (quoting Thiokol Corp. v. Dep't of
Treasury, 987 F.2d 376, 381 (6th Cir. 1993)). Eleventh
Amendment immunity also prevents plaintiff from recovering
money damages against prison officials sued in their official
capacities. Colvin v. Caruso, 605 F.3d 282, 289 (6th
Cir. 2010) (citing Cady v. Arenac Co., 574 F.3d 334,
344 (6th Cir. 2009)). Accordingly, defendants are entitled to
Eleventh Amendment immunity. See Johnson, 357 F.3d
at 545. Plaintiff's claims for declaratory relief and
monetary damages against defendants in their official
capacities must be dismissed.
reviewed the complaint and applied the liberal pleading
standard for pro se actions, the Court finds that the claims
against defendants Thomas, Hammon, and Gauzi in their
individual capacities concerning the alleged instances of
cruel and unusual punishment may proceed. See Farmer v.
Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 833-34 (1994) (the Eighth
Amendment protects prisoners from the use of excessive force
and unwarranted physical assaults by prison officials);
Whitley v. Albers, 475 U.S. 312, 319 (1986) (same);
see also Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 9-10
(1992). Plaintiff's claims against those defendants for
lack of medical care and retaliation also survive. See
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104-05 (1976) (ruling
that “deliberate indifference to serious medical needs
of prisoners constitutes the unnecessary and wanton
infliction of pain proscribed by the Eighth
Amendment”); Mt. Healthy City Sch. Dist. Bd. of
Educ. v. Doyle, 429 U.S. 274, 287 (1977) (establishing a
claim for retaliation where a state official takes action
improperly based on constitutionally protected conduct);
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