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. 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
against Defendant Michigan State Police Department on grounds
is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of
Corrections (MDOC) at the Carson City Correctional Facility
(DRF) in Carson City, Montcalm County, Michigan. Plaintiff is
serving several active sentences, but his most recent
sentences-the sentences that relate to his complaint-were
imposed following entry of guilty pleas to stabbing a police
and discharging a weapon toward a building on August 6, 2017.
alleges that on August 6, 2017, apparently in connection with
Plaintiff's arrest, Defendant Michigan State Police
Trooper Unknown Cardenas struck Plaintiff in the head and
face area with a weapon five times. Plaintiff claims
Defendants Michigan State Police Troopers Casey Omiljan and
James Yates physically restrained Plaintiff and held him
while he was handcuffed to facilitate the beating. Plaintiff
sues the Michigan State Police Department for employing the
seeks $1, 500, 000 in compensatory and punitive damages.
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). When a
free citizen claims that a government actor used excessive
force during the process of an arrest, seizure, or
investigatory stop, we perform a Fourth Amendment inquiry
into what was objectively “reasonable” under the
circumstances. Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 396
(1989); Lanman v. Hinson, 529 F.3d 673, 680 (6th
Cir. 2008). Plaintiff's allegations suffice to state a
claim that the individual defendants used excessive force
during Plaintiff's arrest. Plaintiff's allegations
fall short, however, with respect to Defendant Michigan State
Police Department because of sovereign immunity.
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).
Michigan State Police is an agency of the state of Michigan,
protected by sovereign immunity. See Lavrack v. City of
Oak Park, No. 98-1142, 1999 WL 801562, at *2 (6th Cir.
Sept.28, 1999); see also Scott v. Michigan, 173
F.Supp.2d 708, 714 (E.D. Mich. 2001) (finding the Michigan
State Police is an arm of the State of Michigan entitled to
Eleventh Amendment immunity); Jones v. Robinson, No.
12-12541, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 113652, at *8, (E.D. Mich.
Aug.13, 2012) (also finding Michigan State Police Department
is a state agency immune from suit under § 1983);
Haddad v. Fromson, 154 F.Supp.2d 1085, 1091 (W.D.
Mich. 2001) (explaining that the Michigan State Police is a
department of the State of Michigan “created by
statute, ” and is thus entitled to Eleventh Amendment
immunity) (citing Mich. Comp. Laws § 16.250)),
overruled on other grounds, Lapides v. Bd. of
Regents of the Univ. Sys. of Georgia, 535 U.S. 613
(2002). Moreover, the Sixth Circuit has observed that the
Michigan State Police Department is not a
“person” subject to suit under § 1983.
Lavrack, 1999 WL 801562 at *2 (citing Howlett v.
Rose, 496 U.S. 356, 383 (1990)). Accordingly,
Plaintiff's complaint against the Michigan State Police
Department is properly dismissed.
conducted the review required by the Prison Litigation Reform
Act, the Court determines that Defendant Michigan State
Police Department will be dismissed on grounds of immunity,
under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(b).
Plaintiff's excessive ...