United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
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.
Tommy Lee Farr is presently incarcerated with the Michigan
Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Baraga Correctional
Facility (AMF) in Baraga County, Michigan. The events about
which he complains occurred while he was incarcerated at the
Earnest C. Brooks Correctional Facility (LRF) in Muskegon
County, Michigan. Plaintiff sues five unknown corrections
officers at LRF.
alleges that on June 23, 2016, he received a note from
another prisoner threatening to kill him. He went to the
front desk at LRF, told two of the defendants about the note,
and asked to be placed in protective custody. One of the
defendants grabbed him by the neck, pushed his hand under
Plaintiff's nose, and pushed Plaintiff's neck
backwards, making it hard for Plaintiff to breathe. The four
other defendants “attacked” Plaintiff from
behind, trying to force him down the hallway back toward his
cell. When doing this, they pulled his left arm backwards.
alleges that he sustained an injury to his neck and a torn
rotator cuff. He alleges that he is in constant pain in his
neck and shoulder. He contends that Defendants violated his
rights under the Eighth Amendment. As relief, he seeks a
declaratory judgment and 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).
Eighth Amendment embodies a constitutional limitation on the
power of the states to punish those convicted of a crime.
Punishment may not be “barbarous, ” nor may it
contravene society's “evolving standards of
decency.” See Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337,
345-46 (1981); Trop v. Dulles, 356 U.S. 86, 101
(1958). The Eighth Amendment also prohibits conditions of
confinement which, although not physically barbarous,
“involve the unnecessary and wanton infliction of
pain.” Rhodes, 452 U.S. at 346. Among
unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain are those that are
“totally without penological justification.”
Supreme Court has held that “whenever guards use force
to keep order, ” the standards enunciated in
Whitley v. Albers, 475 U.S. 312 (1986), should be
applied. Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 7 (1992);
see also Wilkins v. Gaddy, 559 U.S. 34, 37-39
(2010). Under Whitley, the core judicial inquiry is
“whether force was applied in a good-faith effort to
maintain or restore discipline, or maliciously and
sadistically to cause harm.” Hudson, 503 U.S.
at 6-7; Wilkins, 559 U.S. at 37. In determining
whether the use of force is wanton and unnecessary, the court
should evaluate the need for application of force, the
relationship between that need and the amount of force used,
the threat “reasonably perceived by the responsible
officials, ” and any efforts made to temper the
severity of the forceful response. Hudson, 503 U.S.
at 6-7 (citing Whitley, 475 U.S. at 321); accord
Griffin v. Hardrick, 604 F.3d 949, 953-54 (6th Cir.
2010). Physical restraints are constitutionally permissible
where there is penological justification for their use.
Rhodes, 452 U.S. at 346. Moreover, the Court must
give “‘wide-ranging deference'” to
prison officials confronted with a disturbance, because they
“‘must make their decisions in haste, under
pressure, and frequently without the luxury of a second
chance[.]'” Hudson, 503 U.S. at 6 (quoting
Whitley, 475 U.S. at 320-21).
claim fails because it is clear that there was a sufficient
penological justification for Defendants' actions, and
there is no indication that they acted maliciously or
sadistically to cause harm. Attached to Plaintiff's
complaint is a Misconduct Hearing Report regarding the
incident in question. Apparently, Plaintiff was found guilty
of “physical resistance or physical interference with
an employee, ” a Class I misconduct, for resisting
officers' attempts to put him in restraints. (Class I
Misconduct Hr'g Rep., ECF No.1, PageID.6.) In other
words, contrary to ...