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Salami v. Eagen

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

July 16, 2019

MICHAEL MOHAMMED SALAMI, Plaintiff,
v.
MICHAEL EAGEN, SONIA WARCHOK, ANTHONY KING, GWENDYLYN WARREN, and HEIDI WASHINGTON, Defendants.

         OPINION AND ORDER DISMISSING DEFENDANT WASHINGTON, DENYING THE MOTION FOR A PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION [6], DENYING THE REQUEST TO CERTIFY A CLASS ACTION [7], DENYING THE REQUEST FOR A DECLARATORY RULING [8], AND DENYING THE REQUEST TO FILE A COMPLAINT [12]

          GEORGE CARAM STEEH, JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         This matter has come before the Court on Michael Mohammed Salami's pro se complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1, and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb, et seq. Plaintiff is a Muslim and state prisoner at the Saginaw Correctional Facility in Freeland, Michigan. The defendants are: Michael Eagen, Chairman of the Michigan Parole Board; Sonia Warchok and Anthony King, two members of the Michigan Parole Board; Gwendylyn Warren, a therapist employed by the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC); and Heidi Washington, Director of the MDOC. Plaintiff sues the defendants in their personal capacities for money damages, a declaratory judgment, and injunctive relief.

         Plaintiff alleges in his complaint that, from May 3, 2018, to December 7, 2018, defendant Eagen forced him to participate in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) at the Detroit Re-Entry Center, which is a programing center for parolees. As part of the programming, Plaintiff was required to engage in prayer, listen to religious speeches, and use materials that contain references to the serenity prayer, God, and spirituality. Defendant Warren, moreover, allegedly forced Plaintiff to consent to treatment, to listen to her religious speeches, and to say serenity prayers. Plaintiff states that, as a Muslim, he may only pray to Allah, and Warren refused to allow him to make Wudu or to pray in an Islamic style.[1]

         Plaintiff further alleges that defendants Warchok and King gave him a twelve-month “flop” and wrote frivolous misconduct tickets about him to discredit him. Plaintiff contends that Eagen suspended his parole because Plaintiff asked the Parole Board for a secular, alternative program to the “higher power” programs such as AA and NA. Plaintiff blames defendant Washington for failing to create an alternative program and for allowing the defendants' illegal conduct to occur.

         II. Analysis

         The Court granted Plaintiff permission to proceed without prepaying the fees and costs for this action. See ECF No. 11. Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996, federal district courts must screen an indigent prisoner's complaint and dismiss a complaint, or any portion of it, that is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim for which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A; 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(1); Flanory v. Bonn, 604 F.3d 249, 252 (6th Cir. 2010); Smith v. Campbell, 250 F.3d 1032, 1036 (6th Cir. 2001). A complaint is frivolous if it lacks an arguable basis in law or in fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). “A complaint is subject to dismissal for failure to state a claim if the allegations, taken as true, show the plaintiff is not entitled to relief.” Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 215 (2007).

         Although a complaint “does not need detailed factual allegations, ” the “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (footnote and citations omitted). In other words, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, ‘to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting 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.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

         A. Defendant Heidi Washington

         As noted above, Plaintiff sues the defendants in their personal capacities. See Compl., ECF No. 1, p. 4, PageID.4. “Personal-capacity suits seek to impose personal liability upon a government official for actions he [or she] takes under color of state law.” Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 165 (1985) (alteration added). An individual is personally liable when “the official, acting under color of state law, caused the deprivation of a federal right.” Id. at 166. Nevertheless, “[p]ersonal capacity suits for damages require personal involvement and cannot be based on respondeat superior.” Harrington v. Grayson, 764 F.Supp. 464, 476 (E.D. Mich. 1991) (citing Risso v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362, 371-73 (1976)).

         Plaintiff attempts to hold defendant Washington liable for failing to create an alternative program to AA and NA and for refusing to do anything about the defendants' allegedly illegal behavior. The complaint, however, fails to indicate that Washington was personally involved in requiring parolees to participate in AA and NA, and she cannot be held liable on a theory of vicarious liability for failing to properly supervise the other defendants, because vicarious liability is not applicable in § 1983 lawsuits. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676. Accordingly, the Court summarily dismisses defendant Washington from this lawsuit.

         B. The Motion for a Preliminary Injunction and Protective Order

         In a document filed as a “Motion for Preliminary Injunction and Protection Order, ” Plaintiff alleges that, on June 6, 2019, the librarian at the Saginaw Correctional Facility refused to make photocopies for him. According to Plaintiff, the librarian also refused to provide Plaintiff with free paper, pens, and carbon paper even though Plaintiff is indigent. Plaintiff asserts that, pursuant to a prison policy directive, he is entitled to the items which he requested, ...


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