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Johnson v. Mattson

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

November 18, 2019

JIMMIE JOHNSON, Plaintiff,
v.
K. MATTSON et al., Defendants.

          OPINION

          JANET T. NEFF, 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 Saginaw County Correctional Facility (SRF) in Freeland, Saginaw County, Michigan. The events about which he complains, however, occurred at the Alger Correctional Facility (LMF) in Munising, Alger County, Michigan. Plaintiff sues MDOC Housing Unit Officers K. Mattson, H. Beckwith, and J. Haleal.

         Plaintiff is a non-ambulatory, disabled prisoner who uses a wheelchair. He alleges that in early July 2018, he notified Defendant Mattson that “the water from Plaintiff['s] shower was dangerously unsafe and flooding all over his cell.” (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.7.) Defendant Mattson “failed to provide Plaintiff and his aide with appropriate cleaning supplies” and otherwise ignored Plaintiff's warning about the conditions of the shower during the subsequent days. (Id., PageID.9.) On July 15, 2018, Plaintiff fell while attempting to use his shower during the early morning hours, knocking his head and losing consciousness. (Id., PageID.7.)

         Plaintiff apparently was not discovered for some time while he lay on the floor of his cell, semi-conscious and amidst water and raw sewage. He alleges that Defendants Haleal and Beckwith, who both work third shift, failed to notice Plaintiff on the floor while conducting their regular cell checks. Plaintiff was eventually discovered and taken to the LMF Health Care Center to receive treatment. He had painful facial wounds that continue to disrupt his sleep. Plaintiff further alleges that, on July 15, 2018, presumably upon learning of Plaintiff's incident and condition, Defendant Mattson “laughed and said ‘no one deserves to live in shit more than [Plaintiff].'” (Id., PageID.9.)

         Plaintiff seeks declaratory judgment as well as compensatory and punitive damages.

         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).

         Here, Plaintiff asserts Eighth Amendment claims against all three defendants under a theory of deliberate indifference. Plaintiff also asserts a gross negligence claim under state law against all three defendants.

         A. Eighth Amendment Claims

         Plaintiff alleges Defendant Mattson was deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's health and safety because he ignored Plaintiff's warnings about the conditions of his shower, leading to Plaintiff's fall and injuries. Plaintiff further alleges that Defendants Haleal and Beckwith were deliberately indifferent to his health ...


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