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Aimery v. Jackson

United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division

April 26, 2019

ROBERT JACKSON et al., Defendants.



         This is a civil rights action brought by a state prisoner proceeding in forma pauperis. 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. 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 as frivolous because there is no basis for federal jurisdiction on the face of the complaint.


         I. Factual allegations

          Plaintiff is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Gus Harrison Correctional Facility (ARF) in Adrian, Michigan. However, the events about which he complains occurred in Lansing, Michigan. Plaintiff sues Robert Jackson, a security guard who works at the Social Security Administration (SSA) office in Lansing, Michigan. Plaintiff also sues the SSA and “whatever security company Robert Jackson works for.” (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.1.)

         Plaintiff alleges that he went to the SSA office in Lansing on April 20, 2018, to inform them that they were sending his benefits to “direct express cards” that were not in his possession. (Id., PageID.4.) He spoke with a woman at the office and she handed him a form to sign. He refused to sign the form and asked to speak with her supervisor. She took the form out of his hand and closed the window to her desk. As Plaintiff “was trying to ask her a few last questions, ” Defendant Jackson allegedly pulled Plaintiff from behind and “slammed” him to the ground on his neck. (Id.) Plaintiff tried to escape, but Jackson kept “punching [Plaintiff] back to the floor.” (Id.) Plaintiff crawled backwards to the door and then Jackson allegedly pulled out his night stick and repeatedly struck Plaintiff in the head and on his forearm. Plaintiff reached up to the door handles to pull himself up, but Jackson allegedly grabbed Plaintiff's legs, causing Plaintiff to land on his back and tailbone. After Plaintiff escaped, he was taken to the hospital.

         As relief, Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages from Defendants.

         II. Failure to state a claim

         A 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)).

         Plaintiff does not identify the legal basis for his claims. Construing the complaint generously, the Court can conceive of several different possibilities; however, none of these possibilities gives rise to a viable claim in this Court.

         A. State Law

         Plaintiff potentially states a claim against Defendant Jackson and/or his employer under Michigan common law for assault, battery, and false arrest. However, Plaintiff cannot bring such claims in this Court because he has not alleged the requisite facts for the Court to exercise jurisdiction over them.

         Federal courts have limited subject matter jurisdiction. Generally, jurisdiction is available only when a “federal question” is presented, 28 U.S.C. § 1331, or when the plaintiff and defendant are of diverse citizenship and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000. 28 U.S.C. § 1332. State-law claims do not present a federal question, and Plaintiff does not allege that he and Defendant Jackson and Jackson's employer are citizens of different states.

         Furthermore, Plaintiff cannot bring such claims against the SSA because it is part of the federal government. The federal government “is immune from suit save as it consents to be sued.” United States v. Sherwood, 312 U.S. 584, 586 (1941). As discussed in more detail in the next section, the federal government has not consented to suit for claims of assault, battery, and false arrest. Consequently, the SSA is immune from suit for Plaintiff's state-law claims. See Whittle v. United States, 7 F.3d 1259, 1262 (6th Cir. 1993) (affirming dismissal of suit against federal agency because federal sovereign immunity ...

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