United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Northern Division
DEANDRE M. ANDERSON, Plaintiff,
MICHIGAN DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, 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.
is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of
Corrections (MDOC) at the Gus Harrison Correctional Facility
(ARF) in Adrian, Lenawee County, Michigan. The events about
which he complains, however, occurred at the Marquette Branch
Prison (MBP) in Marquette, Marquette County, Michigan.
Plaintiff sues the Michigan Department of Corrections, the
Marquette Branch Prison, Assistant Resident Unit Supervisor
Unknown Govern, Psychologist Robin J. Bailey-Webb,
Corrections Officer Robert White, Corrections Officer Unknown
Vrabal, and Corrections Officer Unknown Speckerman.
complaint and his attached exhibits indicate that he is
contesting an August 25, 2017 class I misconduct conviction
for fighting. Plaintiff claims that prior to the incident, he
had complained to Defendants Bailey-Webb, Govern, and White
of sexual harassment by Defendants Vrabal and Speckerman, as
well as by prisoners Pauli and Hall. Plaintiff claims that
because Defendants Bailey-Webb, Govern, and White failed to
follow PREA [Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003] standards,
he was permitted to remain in an unsafe environment.
Plaintiff asserts that these facts should have prevented him
from being found guilty of the misconduct. Plaintiff seeks
damages and equitable relief.
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).
Eleventh Amendment immunity
the Court notes that Plaintiff may not maintain a § 1983
action against the Michigan Department of Corrections.
Regardless of the form of relief requested, the states and
their departments are immune under the Eleventh Amendment
from suit in the federal courts, unless the state has waived
immunity or Congress has expressly abrogated Eleventh
Amendment immunity by statute. See Pennhurst State Sch.
& Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 98-101 (1984);
Alabama v. Pugh, 438 U.S. 781, 782 (1978);
O'Hara v. Wigginton, 24 F.3d 823, 826 (6th Cir.
1993). Congress has not expressly abrogated Eleventh
Amendment immunity by statute, Quern v. Jordan, 440
U.S. 332, 341 (1979), and the State of Michigan has not
consented to civil rights suits in federal court. Abick
v. Michigan, 803 F.2d 874, 877 (6th Cir. 1986). In
numerous unpublished opinions, the Sixth Circuit has
specifically held that the MDOC is absolutely immune from
suit under the Eleventh Amendment. See,
e.g., McCoy v. Michigan, 369 Fed.Appx. 646,
653-54 (6th Cir. 2010); Turnboe v. Stegall, No.
00-1182, 2000 WL1679478, at *2 (6th Cir. Nov. 1, 2000). In
addition, the State of Michigan (acting through the Michigan
Department of Corrections) is not a “person” who
may be sued under § 1983 for money damages. See
Lapides v. Bd. of Regents, 535 U.S. 613 (2002) (citing
Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58
(1989)). Therefore, the Court dismisses the Michigan
Department of Corrections.
complaint seeks damages from the Marquette Branch Prison
(MBP). An express requirement of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 is
that the defendant be a “person.” See Monell
v. Dep't of Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658 (1978). MBP
is an administrative unit of the Michigan Department of
Corrections. Neither a prison nor a state corrections
department is a “person” within the meaning of
section 1983. Will v. Michigan Dep't of State
Police, 491 U.S. 58 (1989). Furthermore, Plaintiff's
claim against this Defendant is barred by the Eleventh
Amendment. Alabama, 438 U.S. at 782. As noted above,
that amendment prohibits suits in federal court against the
state or any of its agencies or departments. Pennhurst
State School & Hosp, 465 U.S. at 100. MBP is
therefore not subject to a § 1983 action.
appears to be claiming that his misconduct conviction
violated his due process rights. A prisoner's ability to
challenge a prison misconduct conviction depends on whether
the convictions implicated any liberty interest. In the
seminal case in this area, Wolff v. McDonnell, 418
U.S. 539 (1974), the Court prescribed certain minimal
procedural safeguards that prison officials must follow
before depriving a prisoner of good-time credits on account
of alleged misbehavior. The Wolff Court did not
create a free-floating right to process that attaches to all
prison disciplinary proceedings; ...