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Briggs v. Westcomb

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

July 8, 2019

UNKNOWN WESTCOMB et al., Defendants.



         This is 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 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 § 1983 claims for failure to state a claim. The Court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff's state law claims. Those claims will be dismissed without prejudice.


         I. Factual allegations

         Plaintiff is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Michigan Reformatory (RMI) in Ionia, Michigan. The events about which he complains, however, occurred at the Alger Correctional Facility (LMF) in Munising, Michigan. Plaintiff sues LMF Physician Assistant Unknown Westcomb, LMF Corrections Officer Unknown Barber, and LMF Lieutenant Unknown Rondeau.

         Plaintiff suffers from diabetes. Plaintiff alleges that on January 19, 2016, he went to LMF healthcare to get his morning insulin dose. The nurse informed him that Defendant Westcomb had reduced his morning, noon, and evening insulin doses. Plaintiff does not elaborate with regard to the extent of the three changes, but he does explain that the morning dose changed from 48 units to 40 units. Plaintiff asked to speak with or see Defendant Westcomb, to no avail. Plaintiff immediately filed a grievance against Westcomb alleging that she was deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs. On January 25, 2016, perhaps in connection with the grievance, the LMF healthcare supervisor spoke with Westcomb about her actions with respect to Plaintiff's insulin dose change.

         The next day, Westcomb allegedly retaliated against Plaintiff by joining Defendant Barber in ambushing Plaintiff. Westcomb verbally attacked Plaintiff and Barber “became physical” in an attempt to provoke Plaintiff. They did not succeed.

         Plaintiff sought assistance from Defendant Rondeau, but Rondeau told Plaintiff he was “going to the hole.” Plaintiff was taken to segregation. Plaintiff claims that Barber filed a false misconduct report against Plaintiff for Threatening Behavior. He claims that Rondeau filed a false witness statement in support of the misconduct ticket.

         Three days later, on January 29, 2016, a hearing officer found Plaintiff not guilty of Threatening Behavior, but guilty of a lesser offense. Plaintiff sought a rehearing, without success, and then judicial review of the decision, but he claims it was wrongfully denied. Plaintiff alleges that he did not pursue administrative grievances for Rondeau's and Barber's false reports because the MDOC does not permit such grievances.

         Plaintiff was released from segregation, but lost privileges for 30 days.

         Plaintiff claims that he suffered the medical consequences of Defendant Westcomb's deliberate indifference until mid-March of 2016, when a doctor increased Plaintiff's insulin dose.

         Plaintiff seeks declaratory relief and more than $300, 000.00 in compensatory and punitive damages.

         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)).

         To 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 ยง 1983 is a method for vindicating federal rights, not a source of substantive rights itself, the first step in an action ...

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