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
against Defendants Barnes, Hardiman, and Dixon-Ingalls.
is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of
Corrections (MDOC) at the Muskegon Correctional Facility
(MCF) in Muskegon, Muskegon County, Michigan. The events
about which he complains occurred at that facility. Plaintiff
sues Health Unit Manager Unknown Wilkerson, Grievance
Coordinator L. Barnes, Librarian E. Hardiman, and Business
Manager Unknown Dixon-Ingalls.
alleges that in December of 2017 and February of 2018, he
sent kites to health care complaining of continuous severe
chest pain, that had previously heralded a heart attack.
Plaintiff states that his kites were completely ignored. On
March 7, 2018, Plaintiff specifically addressed a kite to
Defendant Wilkerson, who totally disregarded it. Plaintiff
states that his chest pain continued to worsen.
March 11, 2018, Plaintiff filed a grievance, which was
rejected as vague by Defendant Barnes. In the grievance,
Plaintiff stated that he had sent kites to health care, which
were ignored, and that he was suffering from severe chest
pain and had “received a mild heart attack.” (ECF
No. 1-1, PageID.7). Plaintiff requested pain medication and
complained that he had an abnormality in heart rhythm, which
could lead to fainting or sudden death. Id.
Plaintiff listed his symptoms as pain, clammy skin, shortness
of breath, and nausea and vomiting. Id. Plaintiff
requested an evaluation in order to diagnose his cardiac
28, 2018, Defendant Dixon-Ingalls denied Plaintiff’s
request for envelopes, which impeded Plaintiff’s access
to medical treatment and to the courts. However, on May 29,
2019, Plaintiff submitted the instant complaint, which was
received by the Court on June 6, 2019. Plaintiff claims that
Defendant Hardiman denied his request for copies of the
complaint. Plaintiff continues to suffer with chest pain.
states that Defendants have violated his rights under the
First and Eighth Amendments. Plaintiff seeks declaratory and
injunctive reliefs, as well as compensatory and punitive
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).
claims that Defendant Barnes violated his constitutional
right by improperly rejecting his grievance regarding the
denial of medical care. Petitioner’s right to petition
government is not violated by Defendant’s failure to
process or act on his grievances. The First Amendment
“right to petition government does not guarantee a
response to the petition or the right to compel government
officials to act on or adopt a citizen’s views.”
Apple v. Glenn, 183 F.3d 477, 479 (6th Cir. 1999).
Defendants’ actions have not barred Plaintiff from
seeking a remedy for his grievances. See Cruz v.
Beto, 405 U.S. 319, 321 (1972). “A
prisoner’s constitutional right to assert grievances
typically is not violated when prison officials prohibit only
‘one of several ways in which inmates may voice their
complaints to, and seek relief, from prison officials’
while leaving a formal grievance procedure intact.”
Griffin v. Berghuis, 563 F. App’x 411, 415-16
(6th Cir. 2014) (citing N.C. Prisoners’ Labor
Union, Inc., 433 U.S. 119, 130 n.6 (1977)). Indeed,
Plaintiff’s ability to seek redress is underscored by
his pro se invocation of the judicial process. See Azeez
v. DeRobertis, 568 F.Supp. 8, 10 (N.D. Ill. 1982). Even
if Plaintiff had been improperly prevented from filing a
grievance, his right of access to the courts to petition for
redress of his grievances (i.e., by filing a lawsuit) cannot
be compromised by his inability to file institutional
grievances, and he therefore cannot demonstrate the actual
injury required for an access-to-the-courts claim. See,
e.g., Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 355 (1996)
(requiring actual injury); Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S.
817, 821-24 (1977). The exhaustion requirement only mandates
exhaustion of available administrative remedies.
See 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). If Plaintiff were
improperly denied access to the grievance process, the
process would be rendered unavailable, and exhaustion would
not be a prerequisite for initiation of a civil rights
action. See Ross ...