United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern 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
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.
is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of
Corrections (MDOC) at the Carson City Correctional Facility
(DRF) in Carson City, Montcalm County, Michigan. The events
about which he complains, however, occurred at the Gus
Harrison Correctional Facility (ARF) in Adrian, Lenawee
County, Michigan. Plaintiff sues the Michigan Department of
Corrections, Warden Unknown Ricumstrict, Administrative Law
Examiner Unknown Jacobsen, Hearing Investigator Unknown
Edmond, Sergeant Unknown Theim, and Inspector Unknown Tanner.
alleges that he received a misconduct report for assault
resulting in a serious physical injury. The misconduct report
was written by Defendant Tanner and accused Plaintiff of
paying Inmate Dorris #522986 to assault Corrections Officers
Brown and Parkhurst on May 6, 2018. Defendant Tanner
indicated that a confidential informant had overheard
Plaintiff telling another inmate that he was worried about a
pay for hire job during a May 6, 2018, phone call. However, a
recording of the phone call revealed no mention of a pay for
hire job. Video surveillance supported Plaintiff's
statement that he used the $50.00 he received from his mother
to purchase food worth $35.00, which Plaintiff then gave to
Inmate Bambata #237521. Inmate Bambata verified this fact.
Plaintiff never gave any money to Inmate Dorris.
hearing report, Defendant Jacobsen states that Plaintiff
could have arranged for the hit on a different date.
Defendant Jacobsen claimed he had received an anonymous note
alleging that Plaintiff and Inmate Dorris had been talking
about assaulting the officers “all day Sunday, ”
but that Plaintiff must have backed out of the deal. However,
no proof was presented verifying this statement. In addition,
this statement contradicted Defendant Jacobsen's theory
that Plaintiff had paid Inmate Dorris to assault the
officers. Defendant Jacobsen also relied on the fact that
just before Inmate Dorris assaulted the guards, he hugged
Plaintiff and shook his hand.
to the misconduct hearing, Plaintiff requested statements
from Inmates Felton and Powell, both of whom were in the hole
during the phone call when Plaintiff allegedly discussed the
planned assault. Defendant Edmond obtained the statements,
but failed to get their signatures. Because of the lack of
signatures, Defendant Jacobsen refused to admit the
statements during the hearing. Plaintiff also requested
statements from Inmates Reed and Hill, but Defendant Edmond
refused to obtain them. Defendant Edmond's conduct
ensured that Plaintiff did not have any exculpatory
statements in his defense.
Ricumstrict told Plaintiff that he was going to do everything
in his power to tie Plaintiff to the assault and that he had
both of his inspectors on Plaintiff's “ass.”
Defendant Theim refused to give Plaintiff any documentation
associated with the confidential informants because Plaintiff
might recognize the handwriting. Plaintiff asserts that he
should have been given a verbatim transcript of the
statements so that he could have the opportunity to prove
them false. Defendant Jacobsen found Plaintiff guilty based
on the statements of confidential informants. Plaintiff
received 10 days in segregation and 30 days' loss of
privileges. Plaintiff was transferred to the Carson City
Correctional Facility and placed in Level 4 security.
claims that Defendants violated his rights under the First
and Fourteenth Amendments. Plaintiff seeks compensatory and
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).
may not maintain a § 1983 action against the Michigan
Department of Corrections. Regardless of the form of relief
requested, the states and their departments are immune under
the Eleventh Amendment from suit in the federal courts,
unless the state has waived immunity or Congress has
expressly abrogated Eleventh Amendment immunity by statute.
See Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman,
465 U.S. 89, 98-101 (1984); Alabama v. Pugh, 438
U.S. 781, 782 (1978); O'Hara v. Wigginton, 24
F.3d 823, 826 (6th Cir. 1993). Congress has not expressly
abrogated Eleventh Amendment immunity by statute, Quern
v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332, 341 (1979), and the State of
Michigan has not consented to civil rights suits in federal
court. Abick v. Michigan, 803 F.2d 874, 877 (6th
Cir. 1986). In numerous opinions, the Sixth Circuit has
specifically held that the MDOC is absolutely immune from
suit under the Eleventh Amendment. See,
e.g., Harrison v. Michigan, 722 F.3d 768,
771 (6th Cir. 2013); Diaz v. Mich. Dep't of
Corr., 703 F.3d 956, 962 (6th Cir. 2013); McCoy v.
Michigan, 369 Fed.Appx. 646, 653-54 (6th Cir. 2010). In
addition, the State of Michigan (acting through the Michigan
Department of Corrections) ...