United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
RAYMOND E. KIRKENDALL, Plaintiff,
UNKNOWN CONKLIN et al., Defendants.
T. Neff 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 Defendants Smith, Clement, Christiansen, Miniard, and
Maranka. The Court will serve the complaint against Defendant
is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of
Corrections (MDOC) at the Ionia Correctional Facility (ICF)
in Ionia, Michigan, where the events giving rise to his
complaint occurred. Plaintiff sues the following MDOC
employees at ICF: Sergeant (unknown) Conklin, Warden W.
Smith, P. Clement, J. Christiansen, G. Miniard, and D.
alleges that Defendant Conklin sprayed Plaintiff with
chemical agent “to excess” while Plaintiff's
hands were “out [of] the slot to cuff up[.]”
(Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.3.) Plaintiff also alleges that
his mail has been thrown away by “staff” without
his knowledge. (Id.) Plaintiff contends that his
right to due process has been violated.
relief, Plaintiff seeks damages.
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).
Defendants Clement, Christiansen, Miniard, and
names several individuals as defendants, but does not make
any specific allegations against them, including Defendants
Clement, Christiansen, Miniard, and Maranka. It is a basic
pleading essential that a plaintiff attribute factual
allegations to particular defendants. See Twombly,
550 U.S. at 544 (holding that, in order to state a claim, a
plaintiff must make sufficient allegations to give a
defendant fair notice of the claim). Where a person is named
as a defendant without an allegation of specific conduct, the
complaint is subject to dismissal, even under the liberal
construction afforded to pro se complaints. See Gilmore
v. Corr. Corp. of Am., 92 Fed.Appx. 188, 190 (6th Cir.
2004) (dismissing complaint where plaintiff failed to allege
how any named defendant was involved in the violation of his
rights); Frazier v. Michigan, 41 Fed.Appx. 762, 764
(6th Cir. 2002) (dismissing plaintiff's claims where the
complaint did not allege with any degree of specificity which
of the named defendants were personally involved in or
responsible for each alleged violation of rights);
Griffin v. Montgomery, No. 00-3402, 2000 WL 1800569,
at *2 (6th Cir. Nov. 30, 2000) (requiring allegations of
personal involvement against each defendant); Rodriguez
v. Jabe, No. 90-1010, 1990 WL 82722, at *1 (6th Cir.
June 19, 1990) (“Plaintiff's claims against those
individuals are without a basis in law as the complaint is
totally devoid of allegations as to them which would suggest
their involvement in the events leading to his
injuries”). Because Plaintiff's claims fall far
short of the minimal pleading standards under Fed.R.Civ.P. 8
(requiring “a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief”), his
complaint must be dismissed against Defendants Clement,
Christiansen, Miniard, and Maranka.
Smith is named as a defendant because he is “legally
responsible for the operation of [ICF] and for the welfare of
all the inmates in that prison.” (Compl., PageID.3.)
Defendant Smith's position does not make him liable for
all the actions of other officials at ICF. A government
official may not be held liable for the unconstitutional
conduct of other officials under a theory of respondeat
superior or vicarious liability. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
676; Monell v. New York City Dep't of Soc.
Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 691(1978); Everson v.
Leis, 556 F.3d 484, 495 (6th Cir. 2009). A claimed
constitutional violation must be based upon active
unconstitutional behavior. Grinter v. Knight, 532
F.3d 567, 575-76 (6th Cir. 2008); Greene v. Barber,
310 F.3d 889, 899 (6th Cir. 2002). The acts of one's
subordinates are not enough, nor can supervisory liability be
based upon the mere failure to act. Grinter, 532
F.3d at 576; Greene, 310 F.3d at 899; Summers v.
Leis, 368 F.3d 881, 888 (6th Cir. 2004). Moreover,
§ 1983 liability may not be imposed simply because a
supervisor denied an administrative grievance or failed to
act based upon information contained in a grievance. See
Shehee v. Luttrell, 199 F.3d 295, 300 (6th Cir. 1999).
“[A] plaintiff must plead that each ...