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.
is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of
Corrections (MDOC) at the Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility
(IBC) in Ionia, Ionia County, Michigan. The events about
which he complains, however, occurred at the Earnest C.
Brooks Correctional Facility (LRF) in Muskegon Heights,
Muskegon County, Michigan. Plaintiff sues the following LRF
officials: Correctional Officers Unknown Vanderwagon and
Unknown Cunningham; Sergeant Unknown Brown; Captain Unknown
Ryley; Inspector Unknown Evans; and former Warden Mary
alleges that, on the evening of December 8, 2014, two inmates
armed with knives came into Plaintiff's prison cell and
attempted to steal his property. Plaintiff fought them off,
and the inmates ran out of his cell. Correctional Officers
Furgenson, Hudson, and Vanderwagon were in the hallway, and
they placed the two offending inmates and Plaintiff in
handcuffs. Plaintiff was taken to segregation and then moved
into involuntary protective custody.
Cunningham delivered Plaintiff's property to his new
cell. The property included a duffel bag containing legal
work and literature, as well as a garbage bag containing more
legal work. Plaintiff noticed that he was missing all of the
property that had been stored in his wall locker, which
included all of his state-issued clothes and his 13-inch RCA
complains that Defendant Vanderwagon, in contravention of his
duties under MDOC policies, failed to immediately take
Plaintiff's property from his locker. By the time
Vanderwagon returned to the cell, Plaintiff's lock
apparently had been removed and his property taken. Plaintiff
complained to Defendants Cunningham, Brown, Ryley, and Evans,
asking that they review and preserve the videotape of
movements around his cell, in order to determine who took his
property. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Cunningham,
Brown, Ryley, and Evans failed or refused to investigate as
he requested. In addition, Plaintiff claims that he wrote
Defendant Berghuis a letter, asking her to investigate his
stolen property. His letter went unresolved.
seeks declaratory relief and compensatory 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).
allegations fail to state a claim for numerous reasons.
First, Plaintiff's due process claim is barred by the
doctrine of Parratt v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527 (1981),
overruled in part by Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S.
327 (1986). Under Parratt, a person deprived of
property by a “random and unauthorized act” of a
state employee has no federal due process claim unless the
state fails to afford an adequate post-deprivation remedy. If
an adequate post-deprivation remedy exists, the deprivation,
although real, is not “without due process of
law.” Parratt, 451 U.S. at 537. This rule
applies to both negligent and intentional deprivations of
property, as long as the deprivation was not done pursuant to
an established state procedure. See Hudson v.
Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 530-36 (1984). Because
Plaintiff's claim is premised upon allegedly unauthorized
acts of a state official, he must plead and prove the
inadequacy of state post-deprivation remedies. See
Copeland v. Machulis, 57 F.3d 476, 479-80 (6th Cir.
1995); Gibbs v. Hopkins, 10 F.3d 373, 378 (6th Cir.
1993). Under settled Sixth Circuit authority, a
prisoner's failure to sustain this burden requires
dismissal of his § 1983 due-process action. See
Brooks v. Dutton, 751 F.2d 197 (6th Cir. 1985).
has not and cannot sustain his burden in this case. Plaintiff
has not alleged that state post-deprivation remedies are
inadequate. Moreover, numerous state post-deprivation
remedies were available to him. First, a prisoner who incurs
a loss through no fault of his own may petition the
institution's Prisoner Benefit Fund for compensation.
Mich. Dep't of Corr., Policy Directive 04.07.112, ¶
B (effective Dec. 12, 2013). Aggrieved prisoners may also
submit claims for property loss of less than $1, 000 to the
State Administrative Board. Mich. Comp. Laws § 600.6419;
MDOC Policy Directive 03.02.131 (effective Oct. 21, 2013).
Alternatively, Michigan law authorizes actions in the Court