Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Carpenter v. Ottawa County Jail

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

February 27, 2018

OTTAWA COUNTY JAIL et al., Defendants.



         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 all Defendants for failure to state a claim.


         I. Factual allegations

         Plaintiff is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Carson City Correctional Facility (DRF) in Carson City, Michigan. The events about which he complains, however, occurred at the Ottawa County Jail in West Olive, Michigan. During Plaintiff's stay at the jail, on August 13, 2016, he slipped in a puddle of water and fell. He alleges that the puddle was there because of a leak in the roof. Plaintiff injured his back in the fall and continues to suffer pain.

         Plaintiff sues the Ottawa County Jail, Ottawa County Sheriff's Deputy Glenn Barr, and Ottawa County Sergeant Deputy Jessica Bowyer. Plaintiff alleges that when Defendant Barr was told of the leak he stated “I'll put in a work order for it.” Plaintiff alleges that he brought the leak to Defendant Bowyer's attention and she stated: “I wouldn't doubt it.” Plaintiff describes the conduct of Defendants as neglectful and negligent. He claims there should have been a “wet floor” sign posted. He contends he was “housed in an unsafe living condition.” (Comp., ECF No. 1, PageID.3.) The county replaced the entire roof within three months of Plaintiff's accident. (Grievance Response, ECF No. 1-1, PageID.12.)

         Plaintiff seeks money damages for his injuries. (Id., PageID.4.)

         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). Plaintiff does not reference any particular constitutional right. Plaintiff's allegations that Defendants failed to provide a safe environment, however, implicates Plaintiff's rights under the Eighth (or perhaps Fourteenth) Amendment.

         Plaintiff does not explain the circumstances that prompted his detention at the Ottawa County Jail. The Eighth Amendment's protections apply specifically to post-conviction inmates. See Barber v. City of Salem, Ohio, 953 F.2d 232, 235 (6th Cir. 1992). The constitutional limits on the conditions of pretrial detention, however, are provided by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. As the Supreme Court explained in Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520 (1979):

In evaluating the constitutionality of conditions or restrictions of pretrial detention that implicate only the protection against deprivation of liberty without due process of law, we think that the proper inquiry is whether those conditions amount to punishment of the detainee. For under the Due Process Clause, a detainee may not be punished prior to an adjudication of guilt in accordance with due process of law. . . . Under such circumstances, the Government concededly may detain him to ensure his presence at trial and may subject him to the restrictions and conditions of the detention facility so long as those conditions and restrictions do not amount to punishment, or otherwise violate the Constitution.

Id. at 535-36 (footnotes and citations omitted). The Supreme Court noted that, at a minimum, under the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause, “pretrial detainees, who have not been convicted of any crimes, retain at least those constitutional rights that we have held are enjoyed by convicted prisoners.” Id. at 545. Thus, under the Fourteenth Amendment, pretrial detainees would be protected from the deliberate indifference to inmate health and safety that the Eighth Amendment prohibits. Roberts v. City of Troy, 773 F.2d 720, 723 (6th Cir. 1985); see alsoThompson v. County of Medina, Ohio, 29 F.3d 238, 242 (6th Cir. 1994) (“[Pretrial] detainees are thus entitled to the same Eighth Amendment rights as other inmates.”); Richko v. Wayne Cty., 819 F.3d 907, 915 (6th Cir. 2016) (“The [deliberate indifference] analysis set forth in Farmer [v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825 (1994)], although rooted in the Eighth Amendment, therefore applies with equal force to a pretrial detainee's Fourteenth ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.