United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Northern Division
OPINION AND ORDER OF SUMMARY DISMISSAL AND DENYING
LEAVE TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS ON APPEAL
L. LUDINGTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
a pro se civil rights case brought pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983 by Michigan prisoner Charles McGlothan
(“Plaintiff”), confined at the Gus Harrison
Correctional Facility in Adrian, Michigan. Plaintiff alleges
that he is an indigent prisoner and was not allowed to make
copies of his motion for a “complaint of mandamus and
want for subject matter jurisdiction” related to his
state criminal proceedings. ECF No. 1 at PageID.5. He alleges
that he was denied his right of access to the courts, that
his grievances were improperly denied, and that he was denied
equal protection and due process. He names Gus Harrison
Librarian Drefke, Gus Harrison Warden Sherman Campbell,
Michigan Department of Corrections Office of Legal Affairs
employee Melody Wallace, and Michigan Department of
Corrections Director Heidi Washington as the defendants in
this action. He seeks monetary damages and injunctive relief.
For the reasons that follow, the complaint will be dismissed.
the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996
(“PLRA”), the Court is required to sua
sponte dismiss an in forma pauperis complaint
before service on a defendant if it determines that the
action is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief against
a defendant who is immune from such relief. 42 U.S.C. §
1997e(c); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). The Court is
similarly required to dismiss a complaint seeking redress
against government entities, officers, and employees which it
finds to be frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief
from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A. A complaint is frivolous if it lacks an
arguable basis either in law or in fact. Denton v.
Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992); Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989).
se civil rights complaint is to be construed liberally.
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972).
Nonetheless, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) requires
that a complaint set forth “a short and plain statement
of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,
” as well as “a demand for the relief
sought.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), (3). The purpose of this
rule is to “give the defendant fair notice of what the
claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)
(citation omitted). While notice pleading does not require
“detailed” factual allegations, it does require
more than the bare assertion of legal principles or
conclusions. Id. Rule 8 “demands more than an
unadorned, the defendant-unlawfully-harmed me
accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009). “A pleading that offers ‘labels and
conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action will not do.'”
Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
“Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders
‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further
factual enhancement.'” Id. (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).
state a civil rights claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a
plaintiff must allege that: (1) he or she was deprived of a
right, privilege, or immunity secured by the Federal
Constitution or laws of the United States; and (2) the
deprivation was caused by a person acting under color of
state law. Flagg Bros. v. Brooks, 436 U.S. 149,
155-57 (1978); Harris v. Circleville, 583 F.3d 356,
364 (6th Cir. 2009). Additionally, a plaintiff must allege
facts indicating that the deprivation of his or her rights
was intentional. Davidson v. Cannon, 474 U.S. 344,
348 (1986); Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327,
names Warden Sherman Campbell as a defendant in this action
based upon his role as the warden and the person who denied
his grievance. It is well-established that a civil rights
plaintiff must allege the personal involvement of a defendant
to state a claim under § 1983 and that liability cannot
be established based upon a theory of respondeat superior or
vicarious liability. Monell v. Department of Social
Svs., 436 U.S. 658, 691-92 (1978); Everson v.
Leis, 556 F.3d 484, 495 (6th Cir. 2009); see also
Taylor v. Michigan Dep't. of Corrections, 69 F.3d
716, 727-28 (6th Cir. 1995) (plaintiff must allege facts
showing that defendant participated, condoned, encouraged, or
knowingly acquiesced in alleged misconduct to establish
liability). A plaintiff “must plead that each
Government-official defendant, through the official's own
individual actions, has violated the Constitution.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676. Plaintiff makes no such
factual allegations against Warden Campbell. Any assertion
that Warden Campbell failed to supervise an employee, should
be vicariously liable for an employee's conduct, and/or
did not properly respond to the situation is insufficient to
state a claim under § 1983. See, e.g., Shehee v.
Luttrell, 199 F.3d 295, 300 (6th Cir. 1999); see
also Martin v. Harvey, 14 Fed.Appx. 307, 309 (6th Cir.
to the extent that Plaintiff asserts that Warden Campbell (or
any other defendant) violated his constitutional rights by
denying his grievance, he fails to state a claim for relief.
The First Amendment guarantees “the right of the people
. . . to petition the Government for a redress of
grievances.” U.S. Const. amend. I. While a prisoner has
a First Amendment right to file grievances against prison
officials, Herron v. Harrison, 203 F.3d 410, 415
(6th Cir. 2000), the First Amendment does not impose an
affirmative obligation on the government to consider, respond
to, or grant any relief on a petition for redress of
grievances. Smith v. Arkansas State Hwy. Employees, Local
1315, 441 U.S. 463, 464-65 (1979); Apple v.
Glenn, 183 F.3d 477, 479 (6th Cir. 1999) (“A
citizen's right to petition the government does not
guarantee a response to the petition or the right to compel
government officials to act on or adopt a citizen's
views.”). An inmate does not have a constitutionally
protected interest in a jail or prison grievance procedure or
the right to an effective procedure. Walker v. Michigan
Dep't of Corrections, 128 Fed.Appx. 441, 445 (6th
Cir. 2005); Argue v. Hofmeyer, 80 Fed.Appx. 427, 430
(6th Cir. 2003) (citing cases). To the extent that Plaintiff
is dissatisfied with the investigation of his complaint and
the responses to his grievance, he fails to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted. See Carlton v.
Jondreau, 76 Fed.Appx. 642, 644 (6th Cir. 2003);
Proctor v. Applegate, 661 F.Supp.2d 743, 766-67
(E.D. Mich. 2009) (Borman, J., adopting magistrate
judge's report). Plaintiff's complaint against Warden
Campbell will be dismissed.
alleges that all the defendants violated his right of access
to the courts. Prisoners have a constitutional right of
access to the courts, which the states have an affirmative
duty to protect. Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817,
821-25 (1977). A prisoner's right of access to the courts
is limited to direct criminal appeals, habeas corpus
applications, and civil rights claims challenging the
conditions of confinement. See Lewis v. Casey, 518
U.S. 343, 355 (1996); Thaddeus-X v. Blatter, 175
F.3d 378, 391 (6th Cir. 1999). This right of access requires
prison authorities to provide either the legal tools
necessary for inmates to represent themselves or the
assistance of legally-trained personnel. See Holt v.
Pitts, 702 F.2d 639, 640 (6th Cir. 1983) (citations
omitted). The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth
Circuit, however, has ruled that the constitutional right of
access to the courts does not entitle prisoners to unlimited
access to free photocopying. See, e.g., Bell-Bey v.
Toombs, No. 93-2405, 1994 WL 105900 (6th Cir. Mar. 28,
1994); Hawk v. Vidor, No. 92-2349, 1993 WL 94007, *1
(6th Cir. Mar. 31, 1993); Al-Jabbar v. Dutton, No.
92-5004, 1992 WL 107016, *1 (6th Cir. May 19, 1992).
prevail on a §1983 claim concerning the denial of access
to the courts, a plaintiff must make some showing of
prejudice or actual injury as a result of the challenged
conduct. See Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 351
(1996). Examples of actual prejudice include having a
non-frivolous case dismissed, being unable to file a
non-frivolous complaint, and missing a court-imposed
deadline. Id. at 353; Harbin-Bey v. Rutter,
420 F.3d 571, 578 (6th Cir. 2005). “[T]he underlying
cause of action, whether anticipated or lost, is an element
that must be described in the complaint.”
Christoper v. Harbury, 536 U.S. 403, 415 (2002).
Additionally, a plaintiff must allege that the deprivation of
rights was the result of intentional conduct to state a
claim. Sims v. Landrum, 170 Fed.Appx. 954, 957 (6th
Cir. 2006); Wojnicz v. Davis, 80 Fed.Appx. 382, 384
(6th Cir. 2003). An allegation of negligence will not
suffice. Collins v. City of Harker Hgts., 503 U.S.
115, 127-30 (1992).
case, Plaintiff makes no such showing. First, though he
states that he seeks to file a mandamus action related to his
criminal proceedings, he does not indicate the basis for such
an action nor provide any details to show that such an action
would not be frivolous. Public records indicate that in 2012,
Plaintiff pleaded no contest to three counts of first-degree
criminal sexual conduct and two counts of second-degree
criminal sexual conduct in the Calhoun County Circuit Court.
See Offender Profile, Michigan Department of
Corrections (“MDOC”) Offender Tracking
did not pursue a direct appeal in the state courts, and the
Michigan Supreme Court denied leave to appeal on collateral
review in 2018. People v. McGlothan, 906 N.W.2d 776
(Mich. Feb. 20, 2018), recon. den. 911 N.W.2d 687
(Mich. May 29, 2018). Plaintiff thus does not have any
pending litigation in the state courts involving his state
criminal proceedings to which a mandamus action could relate.
Moreover, under Michigan law, a state prisoner is ordinarily
only allowed to file one motion for relief from judgment.
See Mich. Ct. R. 6.508(G). Plaintiff ...