United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
T. NEFF, 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.
Plaintiff is presently incarcerated with the Michigan
Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Muskegon Correctional
Facility (MCF) in Muskegon, Michigan. The events about which
he complains occurred at that facility. Plaintiff sues Dr.
Doohak Kim, a dentist.
alleges that Dr. Kim works for the MDOC. Dr. Kim treated
Plaintiff on May 14, 2018. Dr. Kim called Plaintiff out to
extract a tooth. Plaintiff told Dr. Kim that the roots of
Plaintiff's teeth wrap around his jaw-a condition
Plaintiff describes as “hooked roots.” For that
reason, Plaintiff asked Dr. Kim to cut his tooth into
sections before extracting it. Dr. Kim denied Plaintiff's
request and attempted to pull the tooth. Dr. Kim's
efforts fractured Plaintiff's jaw and Dr. Kim ended up
having to cut Plaintiff's tooth into sections for
removal. Plaintiff was regularly monitored, evaluated by an
oral surgeon, provided pain relievers, and placed on a soft
diet. Plaintiff notes that his jaw has healed without
incident. Dr. Kim explained to Plaintiff that it was rare
that roots would be so “hooked” that extraction
would result in a broken jaw. (Step I Grievance, ECF No. 1-1,
claims that Dr. Kim should have at least taken x-rays and
should have agreed to cut Plaintiff's tooth for removal
in the first instance. Plaintiff contends Dr. Kim's
decision to pull the tooth without cutting it constitutes
deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's serious medical
needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Plaintiff also
argues that Dr. Kim's actions denied Plaintiff due
process in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.
seeks a declaration that Dr. Kim violated his rights, an
injunction ordering Dr. Kim to stop treating patients
similarly situated to Plaintiff in the same way that he
treated Plaintiff, and compensatory and punitive damages of
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).
alleges that Dr. Kim deprived Plaintiff of a “liberty
interest protected in the substantive components of the
Eighth Amendment . . . which is guaranteed and protected by .
. . the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment . . .
.” (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.8.) Plaintiff's
allegation implicates substantive due process protections
under the Fourteenth Amendment, which prohibits states from
“depriv[ing] any person of life, liberty, or property,
without due process of law[.]” U.S. Const. amend. XIV.
due process prevents the government from engaging in conduct
that shocks the conscience or interferes with rights implicit
in the concept of ordered liberty.” Prater v. City
of Burnside, 289 F.3d 417, 431 (6th Cir. 2002).
“Substantive due process serves the goal of preventing
governmental power from being used for purposes of
oppression, regardless of the fairness of the procedures
used.” Pittman v. Cuyahoga Cty. Dep't of
Children & Family Servs., 640 F.3d 716, 728 (6th
Cir. 2011) (quoting Howard v. Grinage, 82 F.3d 1343,
1349 (6th Cir. 1996)). “Conduct shocks the conscience
if it ‘violates the “decencies of civilized