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 on grounds of immunity and for
failure to state a claim.
is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of
Corrections (MDOC) at the Muskegon Correctional Facility
(MCF) in Muskegon County, Michigan. Plaintiff is serving a
life sentence for first-degree criminal sexual conduct
(CSC-I). Plaintiff was found guilty by a Berrien County
Circuit Court jury during July of 2001 in Case Number
2001-410703-FC. At the same time Plaintiff was being
prosecuted for CSC-I, he was also being prosecuted for
larceny in Case Number 2000-0411372-FC. After Plaintiff's
conviction on the CSC-I offense, the prosecutor dismissed the
charges in the larceny case. Plaintiff's allegations in
this suit relate to the larceny prosecution.
alleges that, on September 7, 2018, he filed a motion in the
Berrien County Circuit Court seeking 18 documents from the
court's files and the prosecutor's files so that he
might pursue a post-conviction appeal in the larceny case.
The court entered an order directing Sharon Tyler, Berrien
County Circuit Court Clerk, and Jeffrey B. Taylor, Berrien
County Prosecutor, to provide the documents. Plaintiff,
anticipating receipt of the documents, filed his motion for
relief from judgment.
and Taylor did not comply. Plaintiff prepared a motion to
hold them in contempt. Plaintiff was concerned that Tyler
would not accept for filing a document pursuing contempt
against her; so, he filed it in the Michigan Supreme Court.
The supreme court clerk rejected the motion because that
court did not have jurisdiction. Plaintiff then filed the
contempt motion, along with a motion to stay his motion for
relief from judgment, in the circuit court. Plaintiff claims
Tyler never docketed the motions.
March 11, 2019, Tyler mailed Plaintiff an envelope containing
3 of the 18 documents. Shortly thereafter, Berrien County
Circuit Court Judge LaSata denied Plaintiff's motion for
relief from judgment. Plaintiff claims the docket in the
larceny case shows that Judge LaSata directed the clerk to
not accept additional filings in the case, but to return them
sues Judge LaSata, Clerk Tyler, and Prosecutor Taylor for
interfering with his access to the courts. Plaintiff also
suggests that Defendants have violated state law and are
liable for state-law torts. Plaintiff additionally sues the
City of St. Joseph and the City of Niles. Plaintiff seeks a
declaration that Defendants violated his constitutional
rights, an injunction compelling Defendants to provide the
documents he seeks and precluding them from rejecting his
pleadings in the larceny case, and $750, 000 in compensatory
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).
Plaintiff contends the Defendants have violated his First
sues the City of St. Joseph and the City of Niles. It is not
apparent why. Perhaps Plaintiff sues the cities because he
believes the cities to be the employers of one or more of the
Defendants. A local government such as a municipality or
county “cannot be held liable solely because it employs
a tortfeasor-or, in other words, a municipality cannot be
held liable under § 1983 on a respondeat
superior theory.” Monell v. Dep't. of Soc.
Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978). Instead, a
municipality may only be liable under § 1983 when its
policy or custom causes the ...