United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Northern Division
J. QUIST, 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
amended 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 amended complaint for failure to state a
claim against Defendants Van Ackers, Sebley, Makela, Harris,
and Unknown Party #1. In addition, the Court will dismiss,
for failure to state a claim, the following claims against
the remaining Defendants: Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment
claims based on sexual harassment and denial of medical care;
Plaintiff's retaliation claims; and Plaintiff's claim
that he was denied his right to privacy.
presently is incarcerated with the Michigan Department of
Corrections (MDOC) at Marquette Branch Prison (MBP) in
Marquette, Marquette County, Michigan. The events about which
he complains occurred at that facility. Plaintiff originally
sued the following MBP officials: Correctional Officers
(unknown) Lawry and (unknown) Van Ackers; unknown sergeants,
lieutenants, or inspectors named as “Jane/John
Does” (Unknown Party #1); and an unknown lieutenant on
second shift named as “John Doe” (Unknown Party
#2). Plaintiff thereafter filed an unsigned motion to amend
his complaint (ECF No. 4), in which he sought to substitute
certain officials. In addition, he filed three supplements to
the complaint (ECF Nos. 7, 8, 12). In order to clarify the
complaint for review, on April 19, 2019, the Court ordered
Plaintiff to file an amended complaint that contained all of
his claims against all of the Defendants he intended to sue
(ECF No. 11). Plaintiff now has filed an amended complaint
(ECF No. 14), in which he names the following MBP officials:
Correctional Officers C. Lawry, J. Pucel, (unknown)
Schroderus, (unknown) Van Ackers, and (unknown) Harris;
Lieutenant (unknown) Sebley; Captain (unknown) Makela; and
Inspector(s) Jane/John Doe (Unknown Party #1).
alleges that, on January 26, 2019, he filed a grievance
against a correctional officer who is not a defendant in this
action, alleging that the officer told Plaintiff to
“suck his d*ck.” (Am. Compl., ECF No. 14,
PageID.74.) Plaintiff alleged a violation of the Prison Rape
Elimination Act (PREA), 42 U.S.C. § 15601 et seq. His
complaint went unresolved.
February 10, 2019, Plaintiff wrote four grievances against
Defendant Lawry. In one of those grievances, Plaintiff
alleged that Defendant Lawry threatened to “f*ck”
Petitioner. (Id.) Plaintiff suggests that the
statement was another violation of the PREA, and he filed
another PREA grievance. See Mich. Dep't of Corr.
Policy Directive (PD) 03.03.140 ¶¶ EE-QQ (providing
the two-step process for PREA grievances). Plaintiff
complains that the PREA grievance went unresolved.
February 15, 2019, Defendant Lawry came to Plaintiff's
cell while Plaintiff was masturbating and washing up.
Plaintiff states that he does not go to the showers because
they are open and provide no privacy. He contends that he is
entitled to privacy, including freedom from the risk of being
seen by officers of the same sex. As a result, Plaintiff
covers his cell bars with a blanket. Defendant Lawry ordered
him to show himself. Thereafter, Defendant Lawry apparently
wrote six misconduct tickets in four days, on the grounds
that Plaintiff repeatedly covered his cell bars, disobeyed a
direct order to stop telling Lawry to quit peeking into his
cell, and engaged in threatening behavior. Defendant Lawry
wrote the ticket for threatening behavior on February 16,
2019, which led to Plaintiff being placed in segregation.
That same day, Defendant Van Ackers wrote an unspecified
misconduct ticket against Plaintiff. Plaintiff contends that
the actions of Defendants Lawry and Van Ackers were taken in
retaliation for Plaintiff's grievances against Lawry. As
evidence of the retaliatory motive, Plaintiff asserts that
the misconducts were written shortly after he wrote his PREA
March 18, 2019, Defendant Lawry allegedly came to
Plaintiff's cell with five officers for a cell search.
Plaintiff asserts that the officers conspired to do more than
search his cell. When Plaintiff attempted to turn around or
look backward during the search, Defendants Lawry, Pucel, and
Schroderus assaulted him, during which Plaintiff's face
was run into a glass window and then slammed into the floor.
Defendants issued Plaintiff a misconduct charge for an
assault on staff. Plaintiff was found guilty of the
misconduct charge on March 20, 2019. Plaintiff filed a
grievance. According to Plaintiff, the grievance response
indicated that Defendants Schroderus, Pucel, Harris, and
Lawry stated that Plaintiff lunged at Defendant Lawry, when
he realized that Lawry was going to complete the cell search.
(Am. Compl., ECF No. 14, PageID.76; see also Step-I
Grievance Response, ECF No. 12-1, PageID.50.) Plaintiff
argues that the statements were fanciful and did not support
the use of force, because, even if he lunged, no one was
hurt. Plaintiff also complains that he received no medical
attention, despite the swelling of his right eye.
complains that Defendants Sebley and Makela failed to take
action against Defendant Lawry for the actions alleged in
Plaintiff's grievances, because they were negligent and
failed to prevent or correct the alleged retaliation and
violations of Plaintiff's privacy.
seeks injunctive relief, a declaration that Defendants
violated Plaintiff's First and Eighth Amendment rights,
and compensatory and punitive damages.
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).
Lack of Allegations
amended complaint contains no allegations against Defendant
Harris or the unknown Inspector, Jane/John Doe (Defendant
Unknown Party #1). It is a basic pleading essential that a
plaintiff attribute factual allegations to particular
defendants. See Twombly, 550 U.S. at 544 (holding
that, in order to state a claim, a plaintiff must make
sufficient allegations to give a defendant fair notice of the
claim). The Sixth Circuit “has consistently held that
damage claims against government officials arising from
alleged violations of constitutional rights must allege, with
particularity, facts that demonstrate what each defendant did
to violate the asserted constitutional right.”
Lanman v. Hinson, 529 F.3d 673, 684 (6th Cir. 2008)
(citing Terrance v. Northville Reg'l Psych.
Hosp., 286 F.3d 834, 842 (6th Cir. 2002)). Where a
person is named as a defendant without an allegation of
specific conduct, the complaint is subject to dismissal, even
under the liberal construction afforded to pro se
complaints. See Frazier v. Michigan, 41 Fed.Appx.
762, 764 (6th Cir. 2002) (dismissing the plaintiff's
claims where the complaint did not allege with any degree of
specificity which of the named defendants were personally
involved in or responsible for each alleged violation of
rights); Griffin v. Montgomery, No. 00-3402, 2000 WL
1800569, at *2 (6th Cir. Nov. 30, 2000) (requiring
allegations of personal involvement against each defendant));
Rodriguez v. Jabe, No. 90-1010, 1990 WL 82722, at *1
(6th Cir. June 19, 1990) (“Plaintiff's claims
against those individuals are without a basis in law as the
complaint is totally devoid of allegations as to them which
would suggest their involvement in the events leading to his
injuries.”); see also Wright v. Smith, 21 F.3d
496, 501 (2d Cir. 1994); Krych v. Hvass, 83
Fed.Appx. 854, 855 (8th Cir. 2003); Potter v. Clark,
497 F.2d 1206, 1207 (7th Cir. 1974); Williams v.
Hopkins, No. 06-14064, 2007 WL 2572406, at *4 (E.D.
Mich. Sept. 6, 2007); McCoy v. McBride, No.
3:96-cv-227RP, 1996 WL 697937, at *2 (N.D. Ind. Nov. 5,
1996); Eckford-El v. Toombs, 760 F.Supp. 1267,
1272-73 (W.D. Mich. 1991). Plaintiff fails to even mention
Defendants Harris and Unknown Party #1 in the body of his
complaint. His allegations fall far short of the minimal
pleading standards under Fed.R.Civ.P. 8 (requiring “a
short and plain statement of the claim showing that the
pleader is entitled to relief”). The Court therefore
will dismiss Defendants Harris and Unknown Party #1 from the
alleges that Defendants Van Ackers, Sebley, and Makela were
negligent in their supervision of Lawry and failed to
properly respond to Plaintiff's grievances and
complaints. Plaintiff's allegations fail to state a
allegations of negligence fall short of the state of mind
required to state an actionable § 1983 claim. See,
e.g., Vill. of Willowbrook v. Olech, 528 U.S. 562, 564
(2000) (holding that an equal protection claim requires
intentional and arbitrary difference in treatment);
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 835 (holding that an Eighth
Amendment violation requires a “state of mind more
blameworthy than negligence”); Daniels ...