United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
T. Neff United States District Judge.
a civil rights action brought by a former jail inmate 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 action brought in forma
pauperis 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). 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.
is a former inmate at the Van Buren County Jail (VBCJ). The
events about which Plaintiff complains occurred at the jail.
Plaintiff sues the following Defendants: the “Van Buren
States Attorney” (presumably, the Van Buren County
Prosecutor); VBCJ; Van Buren County Mental Health; Doctor
Larry Wile; and Attorney Teresa Cypher.
alleges that, from March 21 to August 22, 2013, he was an
inmate at the VBCJ. While there, Defendant Wile prescribed
Plaintiff Neurontin, apparently to treat a mental health
issue. Plaintiff alleges that he underwent two open heart
surgeries in the 1970s. He therefore contends that Neurontin
was contraindicated and that, as a result of taking the drug
for six months, he developed a weak heart valve. In 2014, a
few months after his release from the VBCJ, Plaintiff
underwent valve-replacement surgery.
contends that Defendants VBCJ, Van Buren County Mental
Health, and Doctor Wile tried to kill Plaintiff and then
covered up the problem. Plaintiff also alleges that his
placement in the jail resulted from his mother's
misrepresentations about Plaintiff's mental health.
Plaintiff alleges that the Van Buren County Probate Court
ordered him to take the medications, as a result of a probate
proceeding initiated by Plaintiff's mother, who was
represented by Defendant Cypher.
does not indicate the form of relief he seeks, but, at a
minimum, he seeks release of information about his own
treatment and that of others similarly situated.
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).
statutes of limitations and tolling principles apply to
determine the timeliness of claims asserted under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. 261, 268-69
(1985). For civil rights suits filed in Michigan under §
1983, the statute of limitations is three years. See
Mich. Comp. Laws § 600.5805(10); Carroll v.
Wilkerson, 782 F.2d 44, 44 (6th Cir. 1986) (per curiam).
Accrual of the claim for relief, however, is a question of
federal law. Collyer v. Darling, 98 F.3d 211, 220
(6th Cir. 1996); Sevier v. Turner, 742 F.2d 262, 272
(6th Cir. 1984). The statute of limitations begins to run
when the aggrieved party knows or has reason to know of the
injury that is the basis of his action. Collyer, 98
F.3d at 220.
complaint is untimely. He asserts claims arising, at the
latest, in early 2014, when he underwent valve-replacement
surgery. Plaintiff had reason to know of the
“harms” done to him shortly after he took the
Neurontin, when he developed the heart-valve weakness. Hence,
his claims accrued in late 2013 or early 2014. However,
Plaintiff did not file his complaint until May 2018, well
past Michigan's three-year period of limitations.
Moreover, Michigan law no longer tolls the running of the
statute of limitations when a plaintiff is incarcerated.
See Mich. Comp. Laws § 600.5851(9). Further, it
is well established that ignorance of the law does not
warrant equitable tolling of a statute of limitations.
See Rose v. Dole, 945 F.2d 1331, 1335 (6th Cir.
1991); Jones v. Gen. Motors Corp., 939 F.2d 380, 385
(6th Cir. 1991); Mason v. Dep't of Justice, No.
01-5701, 2002 WL 1334756, at *2 (6th Cir. June 17, 2002).
Supreme Court has recognized, “[i]f the allegations . .
. show that relief is barred by the applicable statute of
limitations, the complaint is subject to dismissal for
failure to state a claim . . . .” Jones v.
Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 215 (2007). Because Plaintiff's
complaint is ...