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Watkins v. Simon

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

November 5, 2019

NAPOLEAN WATKINS, Plaintiff,
v.
UNKNOWN SIMON, Defendant.

          OPINION

          Paul L. Maloney United States District Judge

         This is 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.

         Discussion

         I. Factual allegations

         Plaintiff is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Ionia Correctional Facility (ICF) in Ionia County, Michigan. The events about which he complains occurred at that facility. Plaintiff sues Corrections Officer Unknown Simon.

         Plaintiff complains that Defendant Simon denied Plaintiff food trays on June 22, 2019, July 1, 2019, and “other times.” (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.3.) One of the trays was a Ramadan meal. Moreover, on one occasion, in place of Plaintiff's Saturday “waffle tray, ” Defendant Simon made Plaintiff eat food loaf. Plaintiff asserts that Defendant Simon has taken these actions in retaliation for Plaintiff “getting into it with COs last year.” (Id.)

         Plaintiff claims further that Defendant Simon made sure Plaintiff was placed in a suicide cell where the lights stay on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Plaintiff indicates he was kept in that cell for about 4 weeks.

         Plaintiff claims that Defendant Simon's actions constitute cruel and unusual punishment and interfered with Plaintiff's right to practice his religion.

         Plaintiff seeks $1, 000 for each tray Defendant Simon withheld from 2018 to present (5 trays). Plaintiff seeks an additional award of $50, 000 for pain and suffering during 2018 and $50, 000 for pain and suffering during 2019. Finally, Plaintiff indicates Defendant Simon should be fired, or at least taken out of the unit where prisoners with mental health treatment needs are housed.

         II. Failure to state a claim

         A 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)).

         To 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).

         Plaintiff's allegations implicate the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, the First Amendment's prohibition against interference with the practice of one's religion, and, possibly, the First Amendment's prohibition against retaliation motivated by protected conduct.

         A. Cruel and ...


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