Schall v. Dawson et al
OPINION AND ORDER dismissing in part the complaint and directing service upon the remaining defendants. Signed by District Judge George Caram Steeh. (DPer)
Case 2:20-cv-12972-GCS-EAS ECF No. 9, PageID.19 Filed 01/07/21 Page 1 of 8
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
RICHARD SCHALL, #240234,
CASE NO. 2:20-CV-12972
HON. GEORGE CARAM STEEH
SERGEANT DAWSON, et al.,
OPINION AND ORDER DISMISSING IN PART THE COMPLAINT
AND DIRECTING SERVICE UPON THE REMAINING DEFENDANTS
This is a pro se civil rights case brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. Michigan prisoner Richard Schall (“plaintiff”), currently confined at
the Chippewa Correctional Facility in Kincheloe, Michigan, asserts that he
was assaulted by a fellow inmate and denied access to medical care while
confined at the Tuscola County Jail in Caro, Michigan in 2019. The plaintiff
names Sergeant Dawson, Doctor Natole, Deputies Neuville, Brandon
Smithhart, Brittany Glumm, and Ted Hull, and fellow inmate Christopher
Senior as the defendants in this action and sues them in their official and
Case 2:20-cv-12972-GCS-EAS ECF No. 9, PageID.20 Filed 01/07/21 Page 2 of 8
individual capacities. The plaintiff seeks injunctive relief and monetary
damages. The Court has granted the plaintiff leave to proceed without
prepayment of the filing fee. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1).
II. LEGAL STANDARDS
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. See
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. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A. A complaint is frivolous if it lacks an arguable basis in law or in
fact. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992); Neitzke v. Williams,
490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989).
A pro se civil rights complaint is to be construed liberally. Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972). Nonetheless, Federal Rule of Civil
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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 this notice pleading standard
does not require “detailed” factual allegations, it does require more than the
bare assertion of legal principles or conclusions. Twombly, 550 U.S. at
555. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 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).
To 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
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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 to show
that the deprivation of rights was intentional. Davidson v. Cannon, 474
U.S. 344, 348 (1986); Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327, 333-36 (1986).
A. Claims against Christopher Senior
As an initial matter, the Court finds that the plaintiff’s claims against
defendant Christopher Senior, a fellow inmate at the jail, must be
dismissed because he is a private individual, not a state actor subject to
suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See American Mfrs. Mut. Ins. Co. v. Sullivan,
526 U.S. 40, 50 (1999) (stating that “the under-color-of-state-law element
of § 1983 excludes from its reach merely private conduct, no matter how
discriminatory or wrongful”); Rudd v. City of North Shores, Mich., _ F.3d _,
2020 WL 5905062, *5 (6th Cir. Oct. 6, 2020) (citing American); Tahfs v.
Proctor, 316 F.3d 584, 591 (6th Cir. 2003) (a plaintiff may not generally
proceed under § 1983 against a private party).
A private individual is not liable for alleged civil rights violations under
§ 1983 unless his or her conduct is “fairly attributable” to the State, such as
where the State provides “significant encouragement” for the disputed
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conduct or the actor is a “willful participant in joint activity with the State or
its agents.” Brentwood Acad. v. Tennessee Secondary Sch. Athletic Ass’n,
531 U.S. 288, 296 (2001) (quoting Lugar v. Edmondson Oil Co., 457 U.S.
922, 941 (1982)). Absent such a showing, inmates do not act “under color
of any state statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage” as required to
be liable under § 1983. Nobles v. Brown, 985 F.2d 235, 238 (6th Cir.
1992). In this case, the plaintiff does not allege that defendant Senior
acted at the behest of, or in concert with, any state officials. Defendant
Senior, a private individual, is thus not subject to suit under § 1983 and
any claims against him must dismissed.
B. Claims against Sergeant Dawson and Dr. Natole
Secondly, the Court finds that the plaintiff fails to state claims against
defendants Sergeant Dawson and Dr. Natole in his complaint. It is
well-settled that a civil rights plaintiff must allege the personal involvement
of a defendant to state a claim under § 1983 and that liability cannot be
based upon a theory of respondeat superior or vicarious liability. Monell v.
Department of Social Svs., 436 U.S. 658, 691-92 (1978); Turner v. City of
Taylor, 412 F.3d 629, 643) (6th Cir. 2005) (plaintiff must allege facts
showing that defendant participated, condoned, encouraged, or knowingly
Case 2:20-cv-12972-GCS-EAS ECF No. 9, PageID.24 Filed 01/07/21 Page 6 of 8
acquiesced in alleged misconduct to establish liability). In this case, the
plaintiff lists Dawson and Natole as defendants, but does not make any
specific allegations against them. His only reference to defendant Dawson
is that he is a sergeant of the Tuscola County Jail and is “legally
responsible for the safety movement of prisoners.” ECF No. 1, PageID.1.
His only references to Dr. Natole are that he is an “on-call doctor” who is
“legally responsible for the providing health care services to all prisoners”
at the jail, id., and that “a document was fabricated claiming [plaintiff] saw
Dr. Natole which never occurred.” Id. at PageID.2. The plaintiff does not
explain what, if anything, these defendants did or did not personally do or
otherwise allege facts to show that they engaged in unconstitutional
conduct. Conclusory allegations are insufficient to state a civil rights claim
under § 1983. Crawford-El v. Britton, 523 U.S. 574, 588 (1998); Lanier v.
Bryant, 332 F.3d 999, 1007 (6th Cir. 2003); see also Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678;
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-57. The plaintiff thus fails to state claims against
defendants Dawson and Natole in his complaint.
C. Claims against Deputies Neuville, Smithhart, Glumm, & Hull
Lastly, the Court finds that the complaint is not subject to summary
dismissal as to the claims against Deputies Neuville, Smithhart, Glumm,
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and Hull. In his complaint, the plaintiff alleges that he was assaulted by
fellow inmate Christopher Senior on February 11, 2019, suffered a broken
jaw, and requested medical attention, “but was denied by every one of the
deputies herein mentioned in [the] complaint.” ECF No. 1, PageID.2. He
further alleges that he asked for a grievance form numerous times, “but
was denied by every one of the deputies herein mentioned in [the]
complaint” and that he attempted to file a grievance on February 11, 12,
13, 2019, but “was denied access to grievance forms.” Id. Such
allegations are sufficient to state plausible claims against the defendant
deputies under the Eighth and First Amendments. Consequently, the
claims against defendants Deputies Neuville, Smithhart, Glumm, and Hull
survive the Court’s preliminary screening process and are not subject to
dismissal at this time.
For the reasons stated, the Court concludes that the plaintiff fails to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
against defendants Senior, Dawson, and Natole. Accordingly, the Court
DISMISSES those defendants and the claims against them.
The Court further concludes that the plaintiff states potential claims
Case 2:20-cv-12972-GCS-EAS ECF No. 9, PageID.26 Filed 01/07/21 Page 8 of 8
for relief against the remaining defendants such that those claims and
defendants are not subject to summary dismissal. Accordingly, the Court
DIRECTS that a copy of the complaint and a copy of this order be served
upon defendants Neuville, Smithhart, Glumm, and Hull by the United
States Marshal without prepayment of costs.
Lastly, the Court concludes that an appeal from this decision cannot
be taken in good faith. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3); Coppedge v. United
States, 369 U.S. 438, 445 (1962).
IT IS SO ORDERED.
s/George Caram Steeh
GEORGE CARAM STEEH
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated: January 7, 2021
CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE
Copies of this Order were served upon attorneys of record on
January 7, 2021, by electronic and/or ordinary mail and also on
Richard Schall #249234, Chippewa Correctional Facility.
4269 W. M-80, Kincheloe, MI 49784.
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