United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Northern Division
OPINION AND ORDER PARTIALLY DISMISSING
PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT AND CLAIMS AGAINST DEFENDANTS
NEVINS, CRANE, MUZINS, SALINAS AND LINDSEY
L. LUDINGTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
a pro se civil rights case brought pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983. Michigan prisoner Robert Taylor Brown
(“Plaintiff”), confined at the G. Robert Cotton
Correctional Facility in Jackson, Michigan, sues Corrections
Officers Klotz, Nevins, Crane, and Muzins, Hearing
Investigator Salinas, and Warden K. Lindsey. Plaintiff
alleges that Defendant Klotz placed him in segregation and
forged/falsified evidence to retaliate against him for filing
a civil rights claim against another corrections officer.
See ECF No. 1 at PageID.5. He further alleges that
the other Defendants “are accountable for
cohesion” with Defendant Klotz. Id. He raises
claims of retaliation, discriminatory harassment, cruel and
unusual punishment, and due process violations. Id.
Plaintiff sues the Defendants in their personal and official
capacities and seeks monetary damages and injunctive relief.
Plaintiff was granted leave to proceed without prepayment of
the filing fee. ECF No. 5. For the following reasons, the
complaint will be partially dismissed.
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). Similarly, a
complaint will be dismissed if it seeks redress against
government entities, officers, and employees that 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
either in law or in fact. Denton v. Hernandez, 504
U.S. 25, 31 (1992); Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S.
319, 325 (1989).
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 notice pleading does not require
“detailed” factual allegations, it does require
more than the bare assertion of legal principles or
conclusions. Id. 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 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).
claims against Defendants Nevins, Crane, Muzins, Salinas, and
Lindsey will be dismissed. It is well-established that a
civil rights plaintiff must allege the personal involvement
of a defendant to state a claim under § 1983 and that
liability cannot be established based upon a theory of
respondeat superior or vicarious liability. Monell v.
Department of Social Svs., 436 U.S. 658, 691-92 (1978);
Everson v. Leis, 556 F.3d 484, 495 (6th Cir. 2009);
see also Taylor v. Michigan Dep't. of
Corrections, 69 F.3d 716, 727-28 (6th Cir. 1995)
(plaintiff must allege facts showing that defendant
participated, condoned, encouraged, or knowingly acquiesced
in alleged misconduct to establish liability). A plaintiff
“must plead that each Government-official defendant,
through the official's own individual actions, has
violated the Constitution.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
676. Plaintiff makes no such factual allegations against the
foregoing defendants. Any assertion that one or more of the
defendants failed to supervise an employee, should be
vicariously liable for another person's conduct, and/or
did not properly respond to the situation is insufficient to
state a claim under § 1983. See, e.g., Shehee v.
Luttrell, 199 F.3d 295, 300 (6th Cir. 1999); see
also Martin v. Harvey, 14 Fed.Appx. 307, 309 (6th Cir.
2001). Plaintiff also does not allege facts showing that any
injury he suffered is the result of a 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 a three-part
test for such claims).
only factual allegation against the foregoing Defendants is
that they “are accountable for cohesion” with
Defendant Klotz. To sustain a civil conspiracy claim under
§ 1983, a plaintiff must allege facts to show: (1) a
single plan, (2) that the alleged co-conspirator shared in
the general conspiratorial objective, and (3) that an overt
act was committed in furtherance of the conspiracy that
deprived the plaintiff of his civil rights. Hooks v.
Hooks, 771 F.2d 935, 943-44 (6th Cir. 1985); see
also Memphis, TN Area Local v. City of Memphis, 361 F.3d
898, 905 (6th Cir. 2004). A plaintiff must plead the
conspiracy with “some degree of specificity.”
Gutierrez v. Lynch, 826 F.2d 1534, 1538 (6th Cir.
1987). Plaintiff makes no such showing. Rather, his
allegations of conspiracy are vague, conclusory, and
unsupported by material facts. It is well-established that
conclusory allegations, without factual support, 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); Maldowan v. City of Warren, 578 F.3d 351,
390-91 (6th Cir. 2009); Lanier v. Bryant, 332 F.3d
999, 1007 (6th Cir. 2003), including a conspiracy claim.
Horton v. Martin, 137 Fed.Appx. 773 (6th Cir. 2005);
Gutierrez, 826 F.2d at 1538. Accordingly,
Plaintiff's claims against Defendants Nevins, Crane,
Muzins, Salinas, and Lindsey will be dismissed.
claims of discriminatory harassment, cruel and unusual
punishment, and due process violations will also be
dismissed. Plaintiff lists the claims in his complaint, but
sets forth no factual allegations to support them. He fails
to identify with any specificity how, when, or by whom he was
subject to racial discrimination, cruel and unusual
punishment, or violations of his due process rights. As
noted, conclusory allegations are insufficient to state a
civil rights claim under § 1983. Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 678; Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-57;
Crawford-El, 523 U.S. at 588; Maldowan, 578
F.3d at 390-91; Lanier, 332 F.3d at 1007. Because
the claims are devoid of factual support, they fail to state
claims upon which relief may be granted in this civil rights
action. Accordingly, Plaintiff's claims for
discriminatory harassment, cruel and unusual punishment, and
due process violations will be dismissed.
complaint against the remaining Defendant, Corrections
Officer Klotz, will be partially dismissed on the basis of
immunity. Plaintiff sues Defendant Klotz, an employee of the
Michigan Department of Corrections, in her official capacity
and seeks monetary damages and injunctive relief. However,
the Eleventh Amendment 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 Defendant Klotz is an employee of the
Michigan Department of Corrections and is sued in her
official capacity, she is entitled to Eleventh Amendment
immunity. See Johnson, 357 F.3d at 545. Accordingly,
Plaintiff's claim for damages against Defendant Klotz in
her official capacity will be dismissed.
retaliation claim against Defendant Klotz in her personal
capacity will not be ...