United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Northern Division
L. Maloney United States District Judge.
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
against Defendant Michigan Department of Corrections. The
Court will serve the complaint against Defendants Duncan
MacLaren, Chris Mortensen, and Unknown Mansfield.
is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of
Corrections (MDOC) at the Kinross Correctional Facility (KCF)
in Kincheloe, Chippewa County, Michigan. The events about
which he complains occurred at that facility. Plaintiff sues
the Michigan Department of Corrections, Warden Duncan
MacLaren, Prison Counselor Chris Mortensen, and Resident Unit
Manager Unknown Mansfield.
alleges that he is a Sunni Muslim and is required to perform
five daily Salats, or ritual prayers. During the Salats,
Plaintiff must face Makkah [Mecca] and variously stand, bow,
and prostrate himself while reciting certain prayers.
Plaintiff claims that he the space in the shared cells is
inadequate and that his cellmates are annoyed by the amount
of space Plaintiff requires to perform the Salats.
Consequently, Plaintiff has been repeatedly threatened,
abused, and physically assaulted by other prisoners while
trying to perform the Salats. Plaintiff states that he is
unable to ward off attacks or to defend himself because of
his deteriorating health.
August 15, 2017, Plaintiff spoke to Defendant MacLaren and
informed him of his inability to perform Salats in his
cubicle or in the housing unit. Plaintiff explained that even
when he was standing in front of his own bunk, performing the
Salat forced Plaintiff to infringe on his roommates'
space by blocking the bunks. Plaintiff further explained that
his roommates continually interrupted his Salats when they
bumped into Plaintiff, stepped over him, or forced him to
stop praying to move out of the way. Defendant MacLaren told
Plaintiff that he was not going to address his concerns
because they were religious in nature, and that religion was
not one of Defendant MacLaren's concerns.
August 16, 2017, Plaintiff spoke to Defendant Mortensen and
informed him of his inability to perform Salats because of
the lack of a safe space for such worship. Plaintiff asked to
be moved, or for permission to make his Salat in the unit
quiet room or in the lobby next to the officers' desk.
Defendant Mortensen told Plaintiff that he would investigate
the matter and find out what could be done. On August 21,
2017, Defendant Mortensen told Plaintiff that he had spoken
with Defendant Mansfield and that they both agreed that
Plaintiff's inability to make his daily prayers was not a
valid problem. Defendant Mortensen told Plaintiff that if he
wanted to pray, he should do it on his bunk. When Plaintiff
explained that he could not do a proper Salat on his bunk,
Defendant Mortensen told Plaintiff to either work it out with
his roommates or to change his religion. Plaintiff continues
to be unable to perform Salat in the manner required by his
religious beliefs without risking physical assault at the
hands of his roommates.
asserts a violation of his rights under the First and Eighth
Amendments. Plaintiff seeks declaratory and injunctive
Failure to state a claim
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)).
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).
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.
Court concludes that Plaintiff's First and Eighth
Amendment claims against the remaining Defendants are not
clearly frivolous and may not be dismissed on initial review.
Therefore, the Court will serve ...