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Frazier v. Lindsey

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

July 8, 2019

ALVIN FRAZIER, Plaintiff,
v.
KEVIN LINDSEY, UNKNOWN JANE DOE, D. SMITH, UNKNOWN PLESHAKEL, UNKNOWN PRICE, JOEL SALINES, UNKNOWN MOREY, K. FRANCISE, UNKNOWN JONES, UNKNOWN COLTHFELT, UNKNOWN HOGANSON, CHRISTINE MCCUMBER-HEMRY, UNKNOWN DAVIDSON, UNKNOWN DETLOFF, UNKNOWN DIVISH, UNKNOWN HARTINAGEL, UNKNOWN BARNES, UNKNOWN FIELDS, UNKNOWN GANAWAY, UNKNOWN MCNEAL, UKNOWN DOLTHS, UNKNOWN SNYDER, UNKNOWN LAMB, UNKNOWN KLOTZ, UNKNOWN FARHAT, UNKNOWN SAVICKEY, UNKNOWN MORRIS, RICHARD RUSSELL, UNKNOWN WASHINGTON, CARINA BLAIR, UNKNOWN PURDY, BRIAN JOHNSON, TIFFANY KISOR, UNKNOWN SCHUBRING, AND UNKNOWN KING, Defendants.

          ORDER OF PARTIAL SUMMARY DISMISSAL AND DIRECTING PLAINTIFF TO COMPLETE SERVICE DOCUMENTS AND FOR SERVICE OF PROCESS BY THE U.S. MARSHAL

          DAVID M. LAWSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On February 7, 2019, plaintiff Alvin Frazier, a state prisoner at the G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility in Jackson, Michigan, filed a pro se civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and application to proceed without prepaying the fees and costs for this action. The thirty-five defendants named in the caption to the complaint are several employees of the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC). In his complaint and attached exhibits, the plaintiff alleges that these defendants have retaliated against him for pursuing legal redress of other civil rights violations. However, the plaintiff has failed to allege personal involvement on the part of many of the defendants and otherwise has failed to state a plausible claim against all but two of the defendants. The complaint therefore will be dismissed in part.

         I.

         Frazier was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to prison for 15 to 30 years on July 16, 2008. The complaint and attached exhibits recite that in 2017, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan against three MDOC facilities - Chippewa Correctional Facility, Marquette Branch Prison, and Kinross Correctional Facility - alleging that as a result of the MDOC's failure to protect him from the family of his victim, he was assaulted and stabbed several times. Frazier presently alleges that MDOC staff at his current facility since have engaged in a variety of retaliatory actions. He says that he wrongfully was cited with a misconduct ticket after a fight with another prisoner, asserting that the subsequent investigation into that fight was unfair and biased, and that he was denied a favored job within the facility's kitchen based on his race, as well as access to his assigned psychologist. The complaint also includes allegations that personnel have disregarded the rules related to the handling of “legal” mail and that Frazier feels compelled to stand mute as to any other grievances.

         Frazier seeks a declaration that the defendants' conduct violates his Eighth Amendment right not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment and other constitutional rights not specifically enumerated, as well as money damages and an injunction ordering the defendants to cease any further retaliatory action against him.

         II.

         When a plaintiff has asked the Court to waive fees and costs because he cannot afford to pay them, the Court has an obligation to screen the case for merit and dismiss the case if it “(i) is frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). In addition, Congress mandated in the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) that district courts screen for colorable merit every prisoner complaint filed against a state or governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a) (“The court shall review, before docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.”).

         A complaint is frivolous if it lacks an arguable basis in law or fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); see also Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 32 (1992). “A complaint lacks an arguable basis in law or fact if it . . . is based on legal theories that are indisputably meritless.” Brown v. Bargery, 207 F.3d 863, 866 (6th Cir. 2000) (citing Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327-28). Dismissal on the Court's initiative is appropriate if the complaint lacks an arguable basis when filed. Goodell v. Anthony, 157 F.Supp.2d 796, 799 (E.D. Mich. 2001).

         Although a pro se litigant's complaint must be construed liberally, Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007), “[t]he leniency granted to pro se [litigants] . . . is not boundless.” Martin v. Overton, 391 F.3d 710, 714 (6th Cir. 2004). The screening mandated by Congress in section 1915(e)(2) includes the obligation to dismiss civil complaints filed by prospective pro se filers if they “fail[] to state a claim on which relief may be granted.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii); McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 604 (6th Cir. 1997), overruled on other grounds by Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199 (2007).

         To avoid dismissal, a complaint must include “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “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.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). “To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must set forth facts that, when construed favorably, establish (1) the deprivation of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States (2) caused by a person acting under the color of state law.” Dominguez v. Corr. Med. Servs., 555 F.3d 543, 549 (6th Cir. 2009) (quoting Sigley v. City of Parma Heights, 437 F.3d 527, 533 (6th Cir. 2006)).

         A.

         Of the thirty-five individuals named as defendants, the body of the complaint does not contain any allegations with respect to four of them: Jane Doe, Richard Russell, Carina Blair, and Brian Johnson. Under section 1983, a person may file a “[p]ersonal-capacity suit[]” seeking “to impose personal liability upon a [state actor] for actions he takes under color of state law.” Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 165 (1985). To support such a claim, the plaintiff “must plead that each [state actor] defendant, through the [person]'s own individual actions, has violated the Constitution.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 676 (2009). Because he failed to allege any facts that these defendants had any involvement in the events described in the complaint, the plaintiff has not stated a section 1983 claim against them. Potter v. Clark, 497 F.2d 1206, 1207 (7th Cir. 1974) (holding that “[w]here a complaint alleges no specific act or conduct on the part of the defendant and the complaint is silent as to the defendant except for his name appearing in the caption, the complaint is properly dismissed. . . .”).

         Similarly, the complaint alleges that the plaintiff discussed the alleged misconduct with defendants Unknown Morey, Unknown Jones, Unknown Ganaway, Unknown Barnes, Unknown Fields, Unknown Klotz, Unknown Lamb, Unknown Snyder, Unknown Farhat, and Unknown Savickey. But because there are no allegations that these defendants personally ...


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