Gebrenegusse v. Heyns et al
OPINION and ORDER (1) Overruling Plaintiff's 57 Objections; (2) Adopting Magistrate Judge's 54 Report and Recommendation; and (3) Granting Parole Board Defendants' 37 Motion to Dismiss. Signed by District Judge Robert H. Cleland. (JOwe)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
Case No. 16-12804
DANIEL HEYNS, et al.,
OPINION AND ORDER (1) OVERRULING PLAINTIFF’S OBJECTIONS;
(2) ADOPTING MAGISTRATE JUDGE’S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION; AND
(3) GRANTING PAROLE BOARD DEFENDANTS’ MOTION TO DISMISS
Plaintiff Mikias Gebreneguesse brings this pro se civil rights complaint under 42
U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff names parole board members Michael Eagen and Sonia
Warchock, as well as parole board chair Thomas Combs, all in their individual
capacities (collectively “Parole Board Defendants”) as Defendants, among others. In his
amended complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated his civil rights by forcing
him to undergo a residential substance abuse treatment program (“RSAT”) at the Detroit
Reentry Center (“DRC”), as a condition of his parole. (Dkt. # 4.) Parole Board
Defendants have filed a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6). 1 (Dkt. # 37.) Now before the court is the report and recommendation of United
States Magistrate Judge Anthony P. Patti, to whom all pre-trial matters were referred by
Parole Board Defendants styled their motion as a motion for summary judgment. (See
Dkt. # 37.) However, the magistrate judge observed that Defendants’ motion
consistently referred to the standard for a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6) and could be resolved without looking beyond the pleadings;
accordingly, the magistrate judge opted to construe it as a motion to dismiss. (Dkt. # 54,
P.g ID 508.) This court will do likewise, for the same reasons.
this court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), recommending that the motion be
granted. (Dkt. # 54.) Plaintiff has filed timely objections to the report and
recommendation (Dkt. # 57), which have been fully briefed (Dkt. ## 62, 65.)
The filing of timely objections requires the court to “make a de novo
determination of those portions of the report or specified findings or recommendations
to which objection is made.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). See United States v. Raddatz, 447
U.S. 667, 673 (1980); United States v. Walters, 638 F.2d 947, 949 (6th Cir. 1981). This
de novo review requires this court to examine the relevant pleadings and such evidence
as may have been submitted in support of the motions. A failure to file objections, or a
failure to file specific objections, constitutes a waiver of any further right to appeal.
Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 145-46 (1985); United States v. Walters, 638 F.2d 947,
949-50 (6th Cir. 1981); Howard v. Sec’y of HHS, 932 F.2d 505, 506 (6th Cir. 1991).
In order for this court to apply meaningful de novo review, it is insufficient for the
objecting party to simply incorporate by reference earlier pleadings or reproduce an
earlier unsuccessful motion for dismissal or judgment (or response to the other party’s
dispositive motion). The court treats insufficient objections to a magistrate judge’s
analysis as an unavailing general objection. See Spencer v. Bouchard, 449 F.3d 721,
725 (6th Cir. 2006) (“Overly general objections do not satisfy the objection
The magistrate judge found that Plaintiff’s claims stemmed from Parole Board
Defendants’ decision to grant parole conditioned upon Plaintiff’s completion of RSAT.
(Dkt. # 54, Pg. ID 510-13.) As a result, the magistrate judge concluded Plaintiff’s claims
are barred against Parole Board Defendants by the well-settled doctrine that “[p]arole
board members are absolutely immune from liability for their conduct in individual parole
decisions when they are exercising their decision[-]making powers.” Horton v. Martin,
137 Fed. App’x 773, 775 (6th Cir. 2005) (internal quotation omitted). The court agrees.
Plaintiff’s first objection, contending that the parole board cannot condition a
grant of parole on mental health treatment without a medical judgment by the bureau of
health care services, is misguided. (See Dkt. # 57, Pg. ID 545-46.) But under Michigan
statute, all decisions to release a prisoner on parole “shall be granted solely upon the
initiative of the parole board.” Mich. Comp. Laws § 791.235(1). Thus, the decision to
grant Plaintiff’s parole with this particular condition is indisputably an “exercise of
[Parole Board Defendants’] decision[-]making powers.” Horton, Fed. App’x at 775.
Moreover, even assuming Plaintiff is correct that his parole was granted under the
“person[s] requiring treatment” provision, the statute explicitly provides that the
determination of whether someone is a “person requiring treatment” under the mental
health code is the department of corrections—which includes the parole board. See
Mich. Comp. Laws § 791.235(11).
Plaintiff’s second objection—that the probate court must order mental health
treatment for plaintiff’s parole to be conditioned on it—is overruled for the same reason.
Even assuming Plaintiff is correct regarding civil commitment procedure in Michigan, the
decision to grant parole with or without a given condition is an exercise of the parole
board’s decision-making power for which Parole Board Defendants are absolutely
immune from liability under Horton, 137 Fed. App’x at 775. In any event, § 791.235(22)
requires the parole board to include mental health treatment as a “special condition of
parole” without regard for the outcome of the probate court petition.
As the court has determined that Plaintiff’s claims against Parole Board
Defendants are barred by absolute immunity, the court need not address Plaintiff’s final
objection. The court has read the magistrate judge’s report and recommendation, and
finds it to be well-reasoned, thorough, and correct. Accordingly,
IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff’s objections (Dkt. # 57) are OVERRULED, the
report and recommendation (Dkt. # 54) is ADOPTED in its entirety and incorporated by
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Parole Board Defendants’ motion to dismiss
(Dkt. # 37) is GRANTED.
s/Robert H. Cleland
ROBERT H. CLELAND
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated: August 9, 2017
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing document was mailed to counsel of record on this
date, August 9, 2017, by electronic and/or ordinary mail.
Acting in the Absence of Lisa Wagner
Case Manager and Deputy Clerk
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