United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER
V. PARKER U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
County Jail inmate Adam Michael Von Ehl
(“Plaintiff”) filed this pro se civil rights case
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that his constitutional
rights were violated when he was strip searched as part of a
cell shakedown, walked through several other units in his
underwear, and left in a cell in his underwear without jail
clothing for 48 hours after the search in March 2018. He
asserts violations of his constitutional rights under the
Fourth Amendment (illegal search and seizure), Fifth
Amendment (rights of person), Sixth Amendment (illegal
prosecution), Eighth Amendment (cruel and unusual
punishment), Ninth Amendment (denied rights), and Fourteenth
Amendment (due process and equal protection). He names as
Defendants in this action: the Saginaw County Jail, Saginaw
County Sheriff William Federspiel, Undersheriff Phil Hart,
Jail Administrator Lieutenant Kerns, Shift Commander Sargent
Lagalo, and Officers Sweeny and Pulaski. Plaintiff is suing
Defendants in their official capacities and seeks monetary
damages and other relief. The Court has granted Plaintiff
leave to proceed without prepayment of the fees for this
action. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1).
the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996
(“PLRA”), the Court is required to sua sponte
dismiss a complaint before service 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. See 42
U.S.C. § 1997e(c); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
Similarly, the Court is required to dismiss a complaint
seeking redress against government entities, officers, and
employees which it finds to be frivolous or malicious, fails
to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks
monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such
relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. A complaint is frivolous if
it lacks an arguable basis in law or in fact. Denton v.
Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992); Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989).
Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) requires that a complaint set
forth “a short and plain statement of the claim showing
that the pleader is entitled to relief, ” as well as
“a demand for the relief sought.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2), (3). The purpose of this rule is to “give the
defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the
grounds upon which it rests.” Bell Atlantic Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley
v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957) and Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2)). While such notice pleading does not require
detailed factual allegations, it does require more than the
bare assertion of legal conclusions. Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555. Rule 8 “demands more than an unadorned,
the defendant-unlawfully-harmed me accusation.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
“A pleading that offers ‘labels and
conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action will not do.'”
Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
“Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders
‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further
factual enhancement.'” Id. (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).
state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must
allege that (1) he was deprived of a right, privilege, or
immunity secured by the federal Constitution or laws of the
United States; and (2) the deprivation was caused by a person
acting under color of state law. Flagg Bros. v.
Brooks, 436 U.S. 149, 155-57 (1978); Harris v.
Circleville, 583 F.3d 356, 364 (6th Cir. 2009). A pro se
civil rights complaint is to be construed liberally.
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972). Given
this liberal pleading standard, the Court finds that
Plaintiff's Complaint is subject to dismissal in part,
but that service of certain claims upon Defendants Sweeny and
Pulaski is appropriate.
Plaintiff's claims against the Saginaw County Jail must
be dismissed. Section 1983 imposes liability on any
“person” who violates an individual's federal
constitutional or statutory rights. It is well-settled that
county jails, sheriff departments, and other governmental
agencies are not legal entities subject to suit under 42
U.S.C. § 1983. See Edward v. Jail, No.
2:16-cv-11596, 2016 WL 2937146, *2 (E.D. Mich. May 20, 2016)
(citing cases and ruling that county jails, sheriff
departments, and other governmental agencies are not legal
entities amenable to suit under § 1983); Coopshaw v.
Lenawee Cty. Sheriff's Office of Lenawee Cty., No.
05-cv-72569, 2006 WL 3298898, *6-7 (E.D. Mich. Nov. 14, 2006)
(citing cases); see also Boykin v. Van Buren Twp.,
479 F.3d 444, 450 (6th Cir. 2007) (police department is an
improper defendant in a § 1983 case); Rhodes v.
McDannel, 945 F.2d 117, 120 (6th Cir. 1991)
(sheriff's department may not be sued under § 1983).
Plaintiff's claims against the Saginaw County Jail must
therefore be dismissed.
Plaintiff's claims against Defendants Federspiel, Hart,
Kerns, and Lagalo must be dismissed because Plaintiff fails
to allege facts demonstrating their personal involvement in
the events giving rise to his claims. It is well-settled that
a civil rights plaintiff must allege each defendant's
personal involvement to state a claim under § 1983.
See Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Svs., 436 U.S. 658,
691-92 (1978) (Section 1983 liability cannot be based upon a
theory of respondeat superior or vicarious liability);
Everson v. Leis, 556 F.3d 484, 495 (6th Cir. 2009)
(same); see also Taylor v. Michigan Dep't of
Corr., 69 F.3d 716, 727-28 (6th Cir. 1995) (the
plaintiff must allege facts showing that the defendant
participated, condoned, encouraged, or knowingly acquiesced
in alleged misconduct to establish liability). Plaintiff
makes no such factual allegations against Defendants
Federspiel, Hart, Kerns, or Lagalo. Plaintiff also does not
allege facts showing that any claimed injury is the result of
any policy or regulation, or that any improper conduct arose
from the deliberate failure to adequately investigate, train,
or supervise employees. See Ellis v. Cleveland Mun. Sch.
Dist., 455 F.3d 690, 700 (6th Cir. 2006) (setting forth
three-part test for such claims). Conclusory allegations are
insufficient to state a claim under § 1983.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Twombly, 550 U.S.
at 555-57; Crawford-El v. Britton, 523 U.S. 574, 588
(1998); Moldowan v. City of Warren, 578 F.3d 351,
390-91 (6th Cir. 2009).
to the extent that Plaintiff asserts that one or more of the
defendants violated his constitutional rights by denying his
grievances, he fails to state a claim for relief. The First
Amendment guarantees “the right of the people …
to petition the Government for a redress of
grievances.” U.S. Const. amend. I. While a prisoner has
a First Amendment right to file grievances against prison
officials, Herron v. Harrison, 203 F.3d 410, 415
(6th Cir. 2000), the First Amendment does not impose an
affirmative obligation on the government to consider, respond
to, or grant any relief on a petition for redress of
grievances. Smith v. Arkansas State Hwy. Employees, Local
1315, 441 U.S. 463, 464-65 (1979); Apple v.
Glenn, 183 F.3d 477, 479 (6th Cir. 1999) (“A
citizen's right to petition the government does not
guarantee a response to the petition or the right to compel
government officials to act on or adopt a citizen's
views.”). An inmate does not have a
constitutionally-protected interest in a jail or prison
grievance procedure or the right to an effective procedure.
Walker v. Michigan Dep't of Corr., 128 Fed.Appx.
441, 445 (6th Cir. 2005); Argue v. Hofmeyer, 80
Fed.Appx. 427, 430 (6th Cir. 2003) (citing cases). To the
extent that Plaintiff is dissatisfied with the investigation
of his concerns and responses to his grievances, he fails to
state a claim for relief. See Carlton v. Jondreau,
76 Fed.Appx. 642, 644 (6th Cir. 2003); Proctor v.
Applegate, 661 F.Supp.2d 743, 766-67 (E.D. Mich. 2009)
(Borman, J., adopting magistrate judge's report).
Plaintiff thus fails to state a claim upon which relief may
be granted under § 1983 against Defendants Federspiel,
Hart, Kerns, and Lagalo.
Plaintiff's claims alleging violations of his rights
under the Fifth, Sixth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments must
be dismissed because Plaintiff alleges no facts to support
such claims. He merely lists those amendments as bases for
relief without further explanation. As noted, conclusory
allegations are insufficient to state a claim under §
1983. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555-57; Crawford-El, 523 U.S. at 588;
Moldowan, 578 F.3d at 390-91.
Plaintiff's Complaint liberally, however, the Court finds
that he alleges sufficient facts to state claims for relief
under the Fourth and/or Eighth Amendments against Defendants
Sweeny and Pulaski concerning the strip search and the
detention in his cell in only his underwear for 48 hours.
Service of the Fourth and Eighth Amendment claims upon
Defendants Sweeny and Pulaski therefore is appropriate.
reasons stated, the Court concludes that Plaintiff fails to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants Saginaw County Jail,
Federspiel, Hart, Kerns, and Lagalo and as to the alleged
violations of his rights under the Fifth, Sixth, Ninth, and