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Beasley v. Michigan Department of Corrections

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

April 11, 2018

RANDY BEASLEY, Plaintiff,
v.
MICHIGAN DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS et al., Defendants.

          OPINION

          ROBERT J. JONKER CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         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 for failure to state a claim.

         Discussion

         I. Factual allegations

         Plaintiff is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Baraga Correctional Facility (AMF) in Baraga, Michigan. The events about which he complains occurred at that facility. Plaintiff sues Michigan Department of Corrections, Guard K. Blau, Warden D. Lesatz, Inspector Unknown Petaja, Guard D. Snarsk, Deputy Warden L. Marshall, Captain W. Delene, Guard Noah Bessley, Guard Tim Maki, Resident Unit Manager S. Niemi, and Assistant Resident Unit Supervisor J. Bessner.

         Plaintiff's complaint consists of a series of conclusory assertions of wrongdoing on the part of Defendants. Plaintiff claims that they are his enemies and that they continue to threaten him, write false misconducts on him, and tamper with his food. Plaintiff further asserts:

They have stated that after they press charges on me on 11-14-14 that they will continue to harass and attempt to provoke me into a confrontation physically so I can be charged with another criminal case and have to serve a life sentence. I would like for the videotape on 11-17-14 of which they will continue to harm me and it's nothing I can do about it. These officers Noah Beesley, Tim Maki, K. Blau, D. Snarsk, Inspector Petaja, the Deputy Warden L. Marshall, [Resident Unit Manager] S. Niemi, [Captain] W. Delene, [Assistant Resident Unit Supervisor] J. Bessner, Warden D. Lesatz. I have been subjected to personal abuses and assaulted and then lied upon stating I caused the assault upon me. I live in fear of being harmed mentally and [psychologically] and subjected to more criminal charges if I am not transfer away from these officers. The Deputy Director Defendant(s) have been so informed he continue to claim that I am the problem. The Warden state it's nothing he can do and if I am harmed, file a grievance these Defendants are officials and required to protect me from intended physical and mental harm. My life liberty is in danger by these prison guards.

See ECF No. 1, PageID.7.

         Plaintiff claims Defendants have violated his constitutional rights. Plaintiff seeks damages and equitable relief.

         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).

         Initially, the Court notes that Plaintiff may not maintain a § 1983 action against the Michigan Department of Corrections. Regardless of the form of relief requested, the states and their departments are immune under the Eleventh Amendment from suit in the federal courts, unless the state has waived immunity or Congress has expressly abrogated Eleventh Amendment immunity by statute. See Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 98-101 (1984); Alabama v. Pugh, 438 U.S. 781, 782 (1978); O'Hara v. Wigginton, 24 F.3d 823, 826 (6th Cir. 1993). Congress has not expressly abrogated Eleventh Amendment immunity by statute, Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332, 341 (1979), and the State of Michigan has not consented to civil rights suits in federal court. Abick v. Michigan, 803 F.2d 874, 877 (6th Cir. 1986). In numerous unpublished opinions, the Sixth Circuit has specifically held that the MDOC is absolutely immune from suit under the Eleventh Amendment. See, e.g., McCoy v. Michigan, 369 Fed.Appx. 646, 653-54 (6th Cir. 2010); Turnboe v. Stegall, No. 00-1182, 2000 WL1679478, at *2 (6th Cir. Nov. 1, 2000). In addition, the State of Michigan (acting through the Michigan Department of Corrections) is not a “person” who may be sued under § 1983 for money damages. See Lapides v. Bd. of Regents, 535 U.S. 613 (2002) (citing Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58 (1989)). Therefore, the Court dismisses the Michigan Department of Corrections.

         Moreover, the Court notes that conclusory allegations of unconstitutional conduct without specific factual allegations fail to state a claim under § 1983. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-69 (2009); Bell, 550 U.S. at 555. While a complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's allegations must include more than labels and conclusions. Bell 550 U.S. at 555. 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. The court need not accept “threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements . . . .” Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at 678. “The plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability requirement, ' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. 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 B but it has not ‘show[n]' B that the ...


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