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Brown v. Muskegon County Jail

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

June 14, 2019

MUSKEGON COUNTY JAIL et al., Defendants.


          Paul L. Maloney, United States District Judge.

         This is a civil rights action brought by a state prisoner. 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 for failure to state a claim.


         I. Factual allegations

         Plaintiff is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Saginaw County Correctional Facility (SRF) in Freeland, Michigan. The events about which he complains occurred while he was detained at the Muskegon County Jail. Plaintiff sues the Muskegon County Jail, Muskegon County Detective Keith Stratton, the Muskegon County Sheriff, and unidentified individuals who work for Muskegon County.

         According to the MDOC's records, [1] a Muskegon County jury found Plaintiff guilty of second-degree murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. In 2018, the state court sentenced him to a prison term of 30 to 60 years. Plaintiff alleges that on March 9, 2017, he was detained at the Muskegon County Jail, facing the charges for which he is now serving a prison sentence. At the jail, Detective Stratton interrogated Plaintiff about the charged offenses. Plaintiff apparently made incriminating statements to Stratton, but Plaintiff contends that Stratton violated his constitutional rights in several ways.

         First, Plaintiff asserts that he did not understand his rights under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), and did not fully understand what was happening during the interrogation because he was “extremely high” and not “[coherent].” (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.7.) Plaintiff contends that his criminal defense attorney raised these issues in a motion to the state court, ostensibly in an effort to suppress Plaintiff's statements from the interrogation, but the state court denied the motion. Plaintiff alleges that his appellate attorney has raised these issues on appeal, as well. That appeal is still pending.

         Second, Detective Stratton allegedly touched Plaintiff's leg “in a way that made Plaintiff feel very uncomfortable.” (Id.) Plaintiff claims that Detective Stratton's touch constituted “excessive force” and an invasion of privacy, in violation of the following: the Eighth Amendment, the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), 34 U.S.C. § 30301 et seq., [2] and a federal statute criminalizing sexual activity in federal prisons, 18 U.S.C. § 2243.

         Plaintiff contends that Muskegon County is liable for the conduct of Defendant Stratton because it failed to train and supervise its employees to prevent them from “nonconsensual[ly] touching” detainees and thereby depriving them of their civil rights. (Id., PageID.8.) Plaintiff also claims that the Muskegon County Sheriff and Detective Stratton failed to provide a “risk free” environment to protect Plaintiff from “unreasonable risk of gross negligence.” (Id.) In addition, these defendants and unidentified Muskegon County employees failed to protect Plaintiff from “harm, ” thereby violating his rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendants' actions caused him to suffer “personal injury, phy[s]ical injury, . . . emotional distress, and pain.” (Id.)

         As relief, Plaintiff seeks a declaration that Defendants violated his rights under the Constitution and federal law, an injunction requiring Defendant Stratton to cease all “unprofessional investigation[s], ” and monetary damages. (Id., PageID.10.)

         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)).

         III. PREA

         Plaintiff cites the PREA, but that statute does not provide him any relief. Plaintiff “has no independent cause of action for any Defendant's failure to comply with the Prison Rape Elimination Act.” Beeman v. Heyns, No. 1:16-cv-27, 2016 WL 1316771, at *12 n.4 (W.D. Mich. Apr. 5, 2016) (citing Montgomery v. Harper, No. 5:14-CV-P38R, 2014 WL 4104163, at *2 (W.D. Ky. Aug. 19, 2014) (“Although not addressed in the Sixth Circuit, district courts have found that the PREA does not create a private cause of action which can be brought by an individual plaintiff.”)); see also McCloud v. Prack, 55 F.Supp.3d 478, 482 n.2 (W.D.N.Y. 2014) (“‘[N]othing in the statute suggests that PREA intended to establish a private cause of action for allegations of prison rape, and every court to address the issue has determined that PREA cannot support such a cause of action by an inmate.'”) (quoting Amaker v. Fischer, No. 10-CV-0977, 2014 WL 4772202, at *14 (W.D.N.Y. Sept. 24, 2014) (collecting cases)); Barhite v. Berghuis, No. 1:14-cv-670, 2014 WL ...

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