United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
J. JONKER, CHIEF 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, for
failure to state a claim, Plaintiff's Fourteenth
Amendment deprivation of property without due process, access
to the courts, and deprivation of adequate medical care for
failure to treat his tooth claims. The Court will further
dismiss Defendant Berrien County from Plaintiff's claim
of deprivation of adequate medical care for denying Plaintiff
is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of
Corrections (MDOC) at the Charles Egeler Reception &
Guidance Center (RGC) in Jackson, Jackson County, Michigan.
The events about which he complains, however, occurred at the
Berrien County Jail, in St. Joseph, Berrien County, Michigan.
Plaintiff sues Berrien County and Sheriff L. Paul Bailey in
his official and individual capacities.
alleges a series of discrete events he experienced as a
pretrial detainee between August and October 2019.
August 2019, while incarcerated at Berrien County Jail,
Plaintiff broke a tooth when he bit into a rock while eating
his meal. He pushed an emergency button immediately to alert
jail staff and requested medical help. Plaintiff waited two
to three hours before a nurse arrived to examine him.
Plaintiff was provided ibuprofen, but his tooth was not
repaired. Plaintiff filed a grievance requesting repair of
his tooth, which was denied. Plaintiff appealed the grievance
decision, but Defendant Bailey denied the appeal.
two months later, in October 2019, Defendant Bailey ordered
deputies to remove all books, including Plaintiff's
religious texts and his sudoku book, from Dorm 2E where
Plaintiff was held. The reason given for the purge was bed
bugs may hide in the books. Plaintiff alleges, however, that
a dog capable of detecting bed bugs had cleared Dorm 2E the
day prior. Exterminators did not treat Dorm 2E, and neither
clothes nor linens were exchanged. Plaintiff's books were
not returned, and replacements were not provided.
unspecified time, Plaintiff requested a pen, envelope, and
stamps to file the instant suit. Plaintiff was told that,
with indigent status, he could receive three stamps each
week. He could purchase a pen and manila envelope only when
no longer indigent. Plaintiff alleges the stamp policy forced
him to choose between writing, for example, this court, his
attorney in his criminal case, his criminal court, and his
wife. Plaintiff further alleges that Defendants refused to
cooperate in his efforts to petition for leave in the instant
case to proceed in forma pauperis.
during his detainment with Berrien County,
“Defendants have refused to give [Plaintiff] all [his]
psych medication” for 120 days. (Compl., ECF No. 1,
PageID.5.) Plaintiff alleges that he was not given Adderall,
Klonopin, Gabapentin, or Prazosin as prescribed. Instead,
“[w]ithout seeing a psychiatrist, doctor or having
[Plaintiff's] medical records they felt [Plaintiff]
should only get lithium . . . [and] Effexor.”
(Id.) As a result, Plaintiff suffered from seizures,
headaches, terror dreams and a manic episode.
seeks $113, 002.20 in compensatory damages and $170, 000 in
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).
alleges claims arising under the First Amendment for free
exercise; the Fourteenth Amendment for deprivation of
adequate medical care, deprivation of property without due
process, and access to the courts, as well as claims under
the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act
sues Berrien County but does not specifically allege any
actions taken by the County. Presumably, Plaintiff contends
that the County is responsible for the alleged actions of its
employees and decisions made by Sheriff Bailey.
government such as a municipality or county “cannot be
held liable solely because it employs a tortfeasor-or, in
other words, a county 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 injury, regardless of
the form of relief sought by the plaintiff. Los Angeles
Cty. v. Humphries, 562 U.S. 29, 35-37 (2010) (citing
Monell, 436 U.S. at 694 (1974)). In a county
liability claim, the finding of a policy or custom is the
initial determination to be made. Doe v. Claiborne
Cty., 103 F.3d 495, 509 (6th Cir. 1996). The policy or
custom must be the moving force behind the constitutional
injury, and a plaintiff must identify the policy, connect the
policy to the governmental entity and show that the
particular injury was incurred because of the execution of
that policy. Turner v. City of Taylor, 412 F.3d 629,
639 (6th Cir. 2005); Alkire v. Irving, 330 F.3d 802,
815 (6th Cir. 2003); Doe, 103 F.3d at 508-509.
“policy” includes a “policy statement,
ordinance, regulation, or decision officially adopted and
promulgated” by the policymaker for the county or
municipality. Monell, 436 U.S. at 690. The Sixth
Circuit has explained that a “custom”
for the purposes of Monell liability must be so
permanent and well settled as to constitute a custom or usage
with the force of law. In turn, the notion of
“law” includes deeply embedded traditional ways
of carrying out state policy. It must reflect a course of
action deliberately chosen from among various alternatives.
In short, a ...