United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ORDER OF SUMMARY DISMISSAL
VICTORIA A. ROBERTS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Eddie Owens, presently incarcerated at the Oakland County
Jail, filed a pro se complaint under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. He names three defendants: two Oakland County
Jail law librarians (defendants Pretznow and Larry); and a
Captain with the Oakland County Sheriff's Department
(defendant Childs). Plaintiff claims that defendants denied
him his right of access to the courts, retaliated against him
for exercising his First Amendment rights, engaged in a
conspiracy to retaliate against him, and caused him
emotional, physical and mental distress. Plaintiff seeks
injunctive, declaratory, and monetary relief. The complaint
will be dismissed under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) for
failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.
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 Atl. 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 this notice pleading standard does not
require “detailed” factual allegations,
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, it does require more than
the bare assertion of legal conclusions or “an
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).
was granted leave to proceed without prepayment of the filing
fee for this action. Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act
(“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).
Similarly, the Court is required to dismiss a complaint
seeking redress against government entities, officers, and
employees that it finds to be frivolous or malicious, fails
to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks
monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such
relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). A complaint is
frivolous if it lacks an arguable basis in law or in fact.
Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989).
state a federal civil rights claim, a plaintiff must allege
that: (1) he 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). A pro se civil rights
complaint is to be construed liberally. Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972).
Right of Access to the Courts Claim
Plaintiff argues he was denied access to the courts. He
claims defendants limited his access to the law library and
failed to provide him with requested legal materials,
hindering his ability to defend against the criminal charges
which landed him in jail.
have a constitutionally-protected right of access to the
courts under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Lewis
v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 354 (1996). There is no
generalized “right to litigate” which is
protected by the First Amendment, and “a prisoner's
right to access the courts extends to direct appeals, habeas
corpus applications, and civil rights claims only.”
Thaddeus-X v. Blatter, 175 F.3d 378, 391 (6th Cir.
1999). An access to the courts claim has “unique
pleading requirements: a plaintiff must plead a case within a
case, alleging the law and facts sufficient to establish both
the interference with his access to the courts, and the
non-frivolous nature of the claim that was lost.”
Brown v. Matauszak, 415 Fed. App'x 608, 612 (6th
Cir. 2011). A complaint is insufficient to meet this pleading
standard “if it tenders ‘naked assertions'
devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.'”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, quoting Twombly,
550 U.S. at 557. Moreover, “[i]n order to state a claim
for interference with access to the courts, ... a plaintiff
must show actual injury.” Harbin-Bey v.
Rutter, 420 F.3d 571, 578 (6th Cir. 2005), citing
Thaddeus-X, 175 F.3d at 394.
is represented by counsel in the state court criminal
proceeding. See Complaint at 3, ECF No. 1, Pg. ID 3.
A prisoner who is represented by counsel has no freestanding
right to access a jail law library. “[P]rison law
libraries and legal assistance programs are not ends in
themselves, but only the means for ensuring ‘a
reasonably adequate opportunity to present claimed violations
of fundamental constitutional rights to the
courts.'” Lewis, 518 U.S. at 351, quoting
Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 825 (1977). A
prisoner's right of access to the courts is fully
protected “when a state provides that prisoner with
either the legal tools necessary to defend himself, e.g., a
state-provided law library, or the assistance of
legally trained personnel.” Holt v. Pitts, 702
F.2d 639, 640 (6th Cir. 1983) (emphasis supplied), citing
Bounds, 430 U.S. 817; Avery v. Johnson, 393
U.S. 483 (1969). Plaintiff acknowledges he was represented by
counsel in his criminal case. His right of access to the
courts was adequately protected.
argues that defendants retaliated against him for
“assisting every inmate in cell block C-1-B with their