United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER OF PARTIAL SUMMARY
VICTORIA A. ROBERTS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
prisoner Christopher Nicholson Bey (“Plaintiff”)
filed a pro se Civil Rights Complaint pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that he was not given proper
medical care for gallstones and gallbladder pain while
confined at the Saginaw Correctional Facility in Freeland,
Michigan from May, 2016 through June, 2017. He asserts
violations of his right to be free from cruel and unusual
punishment (deliberate indifference to his medical needs) and
his right to equal protection of the law.
names Dr. Sharon Oliver, an unknown Utilization Management
Medical Director, and Physician Assistant Joshua Buskirk as
defendants; he sues them in their personal and official
capacities. Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive
damages, and any other appropriate relief. The Court granted
Plaintiff leave to proceed without prepayment of the filing
fee for this action. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). After
review of the Complaint, the Court dismisses it in part for
failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted
under § 1983 and on the basis of immunity.
the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996
(“PLRA”), the Court is required to sua
sponte dismiss an in forma pauperis complaint
before service on a defendant 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. 42 U.S.C. §
1997e(c); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). The Court is
similarly required to dismiss a complaint seeking redress
against government entities, officers, and employees which is
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
pro se civil rights complaint is to be construed
liberally. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21
(1972). Nonetheless, Federal 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)
(citation omitted). While this notice pleading standard does
not require “detailed” factual allegations, it
does require more than the bare assertion of legal principles
or 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). “Factual
allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above
the speculative level on the assumption that all the
allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in
fact).” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-56 (citations
and footnote omitted).
state a civil rights claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a
plaintiff must allege that: (1) he or she 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). Additionally, a plaintiff must allege
that the deprivation of his or her rights was intentional.
Davidson v. Cannon, 474 U.S. 344, 348 (1986);
Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327, 333-36 (1986).
With the foregoing standards in mind, the Court finds that
Plaintiff's Complaint is subject to summary dismissal in
Plaintiff fails to allege sufficient facts to state an equal
protection claim. Prisoners are entitled to equal protection
under the law. Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 556
(1974). The linchpin of an equal protection claim is that the
government has intentionally treated people who are similarly
situated in a different manner. Village of Willowbrook v.
Olech, 528 U.S. 562, 564 (2000); Ross v.
Duggan, 402 F.3d 575, 587-88 (6th Cir. 2004);
Bannum, Inc. v. City of Louisville, 958 F.2d 1354,
1359-60 (6th Cir. 1992). Plaintiff makes no such factual
allegations in his pleadings. Prisoners are not members of a
protected class for equal protection purposes, Hampton v.
Hobbs, 106 F.3d 1281, 1286 (6th Cir. 1997), and
Plaintiff fails to indicate with any specificity how he has
been treated differently from others who are similarly
situated. 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).
Plaintiff thus fails to state an equal protection claim; this
claim is dismissed.
Plaintiff's Complaint must also be dismissed in part on
the basis of immunity. Plaintiff sues the defendants in their
official capacities and seeks monetary damages as relief. The
Eleventh Amendment, however, bars civil rights actions
against a state and its agencies and departments unless the
state has waived its immunity and consented to suit or
Congress has abrogated that immunity. Will v. Michigan
Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 66 (1989).
“The state of Michigan . . . has not consented to being
sued in civil rights actions in the federal courts, ”
Johnson v. Unknown Dellatifa, 357 F.3d 539, 545 (6th
Cir. 2004) (citing Abick v. Michigan, 803 F.2d 874,
877 (6th Cir. 1986)), and Congress did not abrogate state
sovereign immunity when it passed § 1983. Chaz
Const., LLC v. Codell, 137 Fed.Appx. 735, 743 (6th Cir.
2005). Eleventh Amendment immunity “bars all suits,
whether for injunctive, declaratory or monetary relief”
against a state and its agencies.” McCormick v.
Miami Univ., 693 F.3d 654, 661 (6th Cir. 2012) (quoting
Thiokol Corp. v. Dep't of Treasury, 987 F.2d
376, 381 (6th Cir. 1993)). Eleventh Amendment immunity
applies to state employees who are sued in their official
capacities. See Colvin v. Caruso, 605 F.3d 282, 289
(6th Cir. 2010) (citing Cady v. Arenac Co., 574 F.3d
334, 344 (6th Cir. 2009)). Because the defendants are
employees of the Michigan Department of Corrections and are
sued in their official capacities, they are entitled to
Eleventh Amendment immunity. Johnson, 357 F.3d at
545. Plaintiff's claim for monetary damages against the
defendants in their official capacities must be dismissed.
the Court finds that Plaintiff's claim against the
defendants alleging the lack of proper medical care for his
gallstones and gallbladder pain (deliberate indifference to
his medical needs) is not subject to summary dismissal. While
Plaintiff may or may not ultimately prevail, he pleads
sufficient facts to state a potential claim for relief.
fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted under
42 U.S.C. § 1983 as to the alleged violation of his
right to equal protection of the law. The Court
DISMISSES his equal protection claim.
Because defendants are entitled to Eleventh Amendment
immunity, the Court DISMISSES the monetary
damages claim against them in their official capacities.
claim concerning the alleged lack of proper medical care for
his gallstones and gallbladder pain (deliberate indifference
to his medical needs) survives the Court's initial
screening under 28 U.S.C. ...