Lawson v. Macomb County Jail et al

Filing 4

OPINION and ORDER of Summary Dismissal re 1 Complaint - Signed by District Judge Bernard A Friedman. (FMos)

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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN SOUTHERN DIVISION MICHAEL LAWSON, Plaintiff, v. MACOMB CO. JAIL, et al., Defendants. _______________________________________/ OPINION AND ORDER OF SUMMARY DISMISSAL I. Before the Court is Plaintiff Michael Lawson's pro se civil rights complaint filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983. Plaintiff, an inmate at the Macomb County Jail in Mount Clemens, Michigan, has been granted leave to proceed without prepayment of the filing fee for this action. In his complaint, Plaintiff alleges that he is a diabetic but is not being given a proper diabetic diet, that money is being improperly taken from his account for medical care, and that his concerns are not being addressed because he is African-American. Plaintiff names the Macomb County Jail and Sheriff Mark Hackel as the defendants in this action and sues them in their official capacities. He seeks an appropriate diet and monetary damages. Having reviewed the complaint, the Court dismisses it pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A(b)(1) for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. CASE NO. 2:10-CV-10055 HONORABLE BERNARD A. FRIEDMAN 1 II. 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) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957) and Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2)). While this notice pleading standard does require not require "detailed" factual allegations, it does require more than the bare assertion of legal conclusions. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Rule 8 "demands more than an unadorned, the defendant-unlawfully-harmed me accusation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, _ U.S. _, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (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.'" Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). Under 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. 1997(e)(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 2 frivolous if it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact. See Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992); Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. 1983, a plaintiff must allege that (1) he 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. See Flagg Bros. v. Brooks, 436 U.S. 149, 155-57 (1978); Brock v. McWherter, 94 F.3d 242, 244 (6th Cir. 1996). A pro se civil rights complaint is to be construed liberally. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972). Despite this liberal pleading standard, the Court finds that Plaintiff's complaint is subject to dismissal. III. Plaintiff identifies the Macomb County Jail as a defendant in this action. Section 1983 imposes liability on any "person" who violates an individual's federal constitutional or statutory rights. It is well-settled under Michigan law that county jails, sheriff departments, and other governmental agencies are not legal entities amenable to suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983. See Coopshaw v. Lenawee Co. Sheriff's Office of Lenawee Co., No. 05-CV-72569, 2006 WL 3298898, *6-7 (E.D. Mich. Nov. 14, 2006) (citing cases); Gross v. Evans, No. 06-CV-13065, 2006 WL 2419195, *2 (E.D. Mich. Aug. 22, 2006); see also Petty v. County of Franklin, Ohio, et al., 478 F.3d 341, 347 (6th Cir. 2007) (county sheriff's office was not a legal entity under Ohio law and was not subject to suit under 1983); Castillo v. Cook Co. Mail Room Dep't., 990 F.2d 304, 307 (7th Cir. 1993) (per curiam). Plaintiff's complaint against the Macomb County Jail must therefore be dismissed. Plaintiff also names Sheriff Mark Hackel as a defendant in this action. It is well- 3 established, however, that a civil rights plaintiff must allege the personal involvement of a defendant to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and that liability cannot be established based upon a theory of respondeat superior or vicarious liability. See, e.g., Monell v. Department of Social Svs., 436 U.S. 658, 691-92 (1978); Leary v. Daeschner, 349 F.3d 888, 903 (6th Cir. 2003); 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). Plaintiff has made no factual allegations demonstrating that Sheriff Hackel has been personally involved in the events giving rise to his complaint. His complaint against Sheriff Hackel must therefore be dismissed. IV. For the reasons stated, the Court concludes that Plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted under 42 U.S.C. 1983. Accordingly, the Court DISMISSES this civil rights complaint. This dismissal is without prejudice to the filing of a new complaint naming one or more proper defendants. The Court makes no determination as to the merits of any such complaint. Lastly, the Court concludes that an appeal from this order would be frivolous and therefore cannot be taken in good faith. See 28 U.S.C. 1915(a)(3); see also McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 610-11 (6th Cir. 1997). IT IS SO ORDERED. S/Bernard A. Friedman BERNARD A. FRIEDMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE Dated: January 20, 2010 4

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