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Price v. Stephenson

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Northern Division

February 21, 2018

TYRONE PRICE, Plaintiff,
SCOTT STEPHENSON, et al., Defendants.

          Anthony P. Patti, Magistrate Judge


          THOMAS L. LUDINGTON, United States District Judge

         On September 21, 2016, Plaintiff filed a pro se complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that various officials and employees of the Midland County Jail violated his first amendment rights by opening his legal mail outside of his presence and withholding his outgoing legal mail. On January 3, 2017, pretrial matters were referred to Magistrate Judge Anthony Patti. Defendants moved to dismiss and, in the alternative, for summary judgment on March 6, 2017. Plaintiff moved for appointment of counsel on June 26, 2017, and the motion was denied. On November 6, 2017, Judge Patti issued a report recommending that Defendants' motion to dismiss be granted and that Plaintiff's complaint be dismissed. Plaintiff sought and received an extension of time to file objections to the report and recommendation, and filed his objections on November 27, 2017. On November 6, 2017, Plaintiff filed a “(Motion for a Supplement) A Preliminary Injunction For Relief From Deliberate Indifference.” ECF No. 31. The proposed supplemental pleading seeks monetary damages. ECF No. 31.


         Neither party objects to the factual and procedural summaries in Judge Patti's report, which are accordingly adopted in full. In his report, Judge Patti recommends granting the motion to dismiss. Judge Patti reasons that Plaintiff only asserts a claim for injunctive relief, which is moot because Plaintiff is no longer being held at the Midland County Jail. Rep & Rec. at 5 (ECF No. 30) (citing Parks v. Reans, 510 Fed.Appx. 414, 415 (6th Cir. 2013) (“A prisoner's request for injunctive and declaratory relief is moot upon his transfer to a different facility.”)). Judge Patti notes that Plaintiff's complaint is not particularly helpful in determining the relief sought. Under relief sought, the complaint states “sue and prosecute, my constitutional rights were violated.” Judge Patti notes that the Court has a responsibility to liberally construe pro se complaints. However, Judge Patti concluded that, even liberally construed, Plaintiff has not sought monetary damages, and that the Court “may not rewrite the complaint to include claims that were never presented.” Id. at 5-6 (citing Rogers v. Detroit Police Dept., 595 F.Supp.2d 757, 766 (E.D. Mich. 2009) (Ludington, J.)).

         As Judge Patti further noted, Plaintiff's response brief indicates: “Petitioner asserts his claim for Injunctive Relief is moot since he no longer is housed in Midland County Jail. However, Petitioner is still entitled relief since Respondent's by [their] own [admission], agreed they opened Petitioner's mail by accident.” Resp. at 6, ECF No. 26. Judge Patti notes that Plaintiff never contended he is seeking monetary damages.


         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72, a party may object to and seek review of a Magistrate Judge's report and recommendation. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2). Objections must be stated with specificity. Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 151 (1985) (citation omitted). If objections are made, “[t]he district judge must determine de novo any part of the magistrate judge's disposition that has been properly objected to.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3). De novo review requires at least a review of the evidence before the Magistrate Judge; the Court may not act solely on the basis of a Magistrate Judge's report and recommendation. See Hill v. Duriron Co., 656 F.2d 1208, 1215 (6th Cir. 1981). After reviewing the evidence, the Court is free to accept, reject, or modify the findings or recommendations of the Magistrate Judge. See Lardie v. Birkett, 221 F.Supp.2d 806, 807 (E.D. Mich. 2002).

         Only those objections that are specific are entitled to a de novo review under the statute. Mira v. Marshall, 806 F.2d 636, 637 (6th Cir. 1986). “The parties have the duty to pinpoint those portions of the magistrate's report that the district court must specially consider.” Id. (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). A general objection, or one that merely restates the arguments previously presented, does not sufficiently identify alleged errors on the part of the magistrate judge. See VanDiver v. Martin, 304 F.Supp.2d 934, 937 (E.D. Mich. 2004). An “objection” that does nothing more than disagree with a magistrate judge's determination, “without explaining the source of the error, ” is not considered a valid objection. Howard v. Sec'y of Health and Human Servs., 932 F.2d 505, 509 (6th Cir. 1991). Without specific objections, “[t]he functions of the district court are effectively duplicated as both the magistrate and the district court perform identical tasks. This duplication of time and effort wastes judicial resources rather than saving them, and runs contrary to the purposes of the Magistrate's Act.” Id.


         Plaintiff makes no objections to Judge Patti's conclusion that his claim for injunctive relief is moot as he is no longer being held in the Midland County Jail. Rather, Plaintiff notes that he filed a motion to supplement his complaint to state a claim for damages, which is not moot. Obj. at 1, ECF No. 34 (citing Boag v. MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364 (1982) (transfer of state prisoner to another facility did not moot his damages claim). Although Plaintiff's motion is specifically labelled “(motion for a supplement) A Preliminary Injunction For Relief From Deliberate Indifference, ” the motion clearly seeks monetary damages, including compensatory damages in an amount of “100.000.00” and punitive damages for deliberate indifference also in an amount of “100.000.00.” As this motion to supplement is the gravamen of Plaintiff's objections to the report and recommendation, it will be addressed first.


         Rule 15(d) provides that on motion a court may allow a party “to serve a supplemental pleading setting out any transaction, occurrence, or event that happened after the date of the pleading to be supplemented.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(d). Plaintiff does not set forth any event that occurred after he filed his complaint. Rather, he seeks an alternative form of relief. Thus, the motion is not a motion to supplement under rule 15(d). It is a motion to amend under rule 15(a)(2). Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2).

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(2) provides that a party may amend its pleading with the court's leave and that “the court should freely give leave when justice so requires.” Denial of a motion to amend is appropriate, however, “‘where there is ‘undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on the part of the movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing party by virtue of allowance of the amendment, futility of ...

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