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Curtis v. County of St. Clair

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

June 13, 2018

COUNTY OF ST. CLAIR, et al., Defendants.



          Patricia T. Morris, United States Magistrate Judge


         For the reasons set forth below, IT IS RECOMMENDED that Plaintiff's claims be sua sponte DISMISSED because the Amended Complaint, (Doc. 32), fails to state any claim upon which relief can be granted. In addition, Plaintiff's Motions To Compel, (Docs. 41, 42, 43, 44, 52), should be DISMISSED as moot.

         II. REPORT

         A. Introduction and Allegations

         Plaintiff is a pre-trial detainee whose cause of action arose while incarcerated at the St. Clair County Jail. (Doc. 32 at PageID.107). Before the Court is his Amended Complaint, which alleges Eighth- and First-Amendment claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants County of St. Clair, Tim Donnellon, Thomas Buckley, Community Mental Health (“CMH”), Hill, Adams, LaBeau, Zalog, Maze, Airention, and Bill Slucher. See generally (Doc. 1). He proceeds in this suit pro se and in forma pauperis. (Doc. 5).

         In June 2017, Plaintiff attempted to hang himself in his cell, but his roommate at the time interrupted the attempt and “untied the homemade rope.” (Doc. 32 at PageID.108). Plaintiff asked his roommate “not to say anything . . . about the at[t]empt because he di[d]n't want to be placed on [suicide] watch, ” and his roommate agreed. (Id. at PageID.109). In September 2017, Plaintiff again tried to hang himself, and his roommate-a different person than in June-halted the attempt. (Id.). Plaintiff also asked this roommate not to speak of the event. (Id.). Although “the courts” had referred Plaintiff to “the center for forensics for evaluation” in July 2017, CMH “still did not start treatment . . . [until] around October.” (Id.). Between May 2017 and October 2017, Plaintiff alleges he sent sixteen emails to CMH detailing his suicidal and homicidal thoughts and requesting mental-health treatment, but that they were “all closed by the f[a]cility staff and never answered or reviewed by Bill Slucher or his staff [i.e., Hill, Zalog, LaBeau, Adams, Maze, and Airington] as they all state closed by f[a]cility staff.” (Doc. 32 at PageID.108). In addition, Plaintiff submitted three “diff[e]rent request[s] for grievance[]” forms to voice his consternation, but “none of these request[s] w[]ere me[]t with a grievance form, ” and as a result, Plaintiff suggests Defendants Hill, Zalog, LaBeau, Adams, Maze, and Airington “acted with deliberate indifference to a serious medical need.” (Doc. 32 at PageID.109).

         “Upon information and belief, ” Plaintiff avers that pre-trial detainees received “only 2 to 3 grievance” forms in the year 2017. (Id.). This policy, Plaintiff argues, continues to inhibit his (and other pre-trial detainees') ability to settle issues within the facility or “seek[] further litigation” under state or federal law. (Doc. 32 at PageID.109-110).[1] Additionally, Defendants Donnellon, Buckley, and the County of St. Clair employ a policy that limits “indigent inmate[s]” to sending out “2.49¢ legal postage[s] a week mak[]ing it imposs[i]ble for” him and other inmates “to make time sensitive deadlines for the courts.” (Doc. 32 at PageID.110). In his view, “[i]f the inst[i]tution subjects you to treatment or conditions that are an atypical and significant hardship in relation to ordinary incidents of prison life, th[e]y must provide you with some level of process.” (Id.). Moreover, “[t]his restricti[ve] policy” as to postage “stops Plaintiff and other[] inmates from freely accessing the courts at will and is unconst[i]tutional.” (Id.).

         B. Screening Procedure and Governing Law

         In enacting the original in forma pauperis (“IFP”) statute, Congress recognized that a litigant whose filing fees and court costs are assumed by the public, unlike a paying litigant, lacks an economic incentive to refrain from filing frivolous, malicious, or repetitive lawsuits.” Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31, 112 S.Ct. 1728, 118 L.Ed.2d 340 (1992) (quoting Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324, 109 S.Ct. 1827, 104 L.Ed.2d 338 (1989)). Therefore, Congress enacted a screening procedure, see 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), which requires that the court review all complaints where the plaintiff is proceeding IFP and sua sponte dismiss a case before service of process 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. When a plaintiff is proceeding without the assistance of counsel, the court is required to liberally construe the document and hold it to a less stringent standard than a similar pleading drafted by an attorney. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520, 92 S.Ct. 594, 30 L.Ed.2d 652 (1972); Hahn v. Star Bank, 190 F.3d 708, 715 (6th Cir. 1999). Rule 8(a) sets forth the basic federal pleading requirement that a complaint “shall contain . . . a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). “Rule 8 requires only that the complaint give the defendant fair notice of the claim and its supporting facts.” E.E.O.C. v. J.H. Routh Packing Co., 246 F.3d 850, 854 (6th Cir. 2001). Despite this relatively low threshold, a complaint must nevertheless contain more than legal labels, conclusions, and a recitation of the elements of a cause of action; it must also contain “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007).

         To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege facts supporting that (1) the conduct about which he complains was committed by a person acting under the color of state law and (2) the conduct deprived him of a federal constitutional or statutory right. In addition, a plaintiff must allege that he suffered a specific injury as a result of the conduct of a particular defendant and he must allege an affirmative link between the injury and the conduct of that defendant. Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362, 371-72, 377, 96 S.Ct. 598, 46 L.Ed.2d 561 (1976).

         C. Analysis

         Plaintiff includes two types of claims in his Amended Complaint: (1) that various defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs, and (2) that various defendants interfered with his right ...

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