Clark #199453 v. Mason et al

Filing 4

OPINION ; signed by Judge Robert J. Jonker (Judge Robert J. Jonker, ymc)

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-HWB Clark #199453 v. Mason et al Doc. 4 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN SOUTHERN DIVISION MARIO JAMAL CLARK, Plaintiff, v. WILLIAM LOUNCE MASON et al., Defendants. ____________________________________/ OPINION This is a civil rights action brought by a state prisoner under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The Court has granted Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, PUB. L. NO. 104-134, 110 STAT. 1321 (1996), 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 Plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a claim against Defendant Michigan Department of Corrections. The Court will serve the complaint against Defendant William Lounce Mason. Case No. 1:10-cv-787 Honorable Robert J. Jonker Dockets.Justia.com Discussion I. Factual allegations Plaintiff Mario Jamal Clark presently is incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) and housed at the Gus Harrison Correctional Facility (ARF), though the action he complains of occurred while he was housed at the Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility (IBC). Plaintiff sues food service employee William Lounce Mason and the MDOC. According to the complaint, on February 9, 2010, Plaintiff was sexually assaulted by Defendant Mason, who grabbed Plaintiff's penis and testicles. Plaintiff alleges that the incident was nonconsensual and occurred while he and Mason were in the IBC commissary storage room. Plaintiff filed a grievance about the incident, which was investigated. Mason subsequently was charged in the Ionia County Circuit Court with one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct. II. Failure to state a claim A 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 Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (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, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (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." Ashcroft, 129 S. Ct. -2- at 1949. 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." Ashcroft, 129 S. Ct. at 1949 (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." Ashcroft, 129 S. Ct. at 1950 (quoting FED. R. CIV . P. 8(a)(2)). To 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). Plaintiff may not maintain a 1983 action against the Michigan Department of Corrections. Regardless of the form of relief requested, the states and their departments are immune under the Eleventh Amendment from suit in the federal courts, unless the state has waived immunity or Congress has expressly abrogated Eleventh Amendment immunity by statute. See Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 98-101 (1984); Alabama v. Pugh, 438 U.S. 781, 782 (1978); O'Hara v. Wigginton, 24 F.3d 823, 826 (6th Cir. 1993). Congress has not expressly abrogated Eleventh Amendment immunity by statute, Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332, 341 (1979), and the State of Michigan has not consented to civil rights suits in federal court. Abick v. Michigan, 803 F.2d 874, 877 (6th Cir. 1986). In numerous unpublished opinions, the Sixth Circuit has specifically held that the MDOC is absolutely immune from suit under the Eleventh Amendment. -3- See, e.g., McCoy v. Michigan, No. 08-1541, 2010 WL 841198, at *7 (6th Cir. Mar. 12, 2010); Turnboe v. Stegall, No. 00-1182, 2000 WL1679478, at *2 (6th Cir. Nov. 1, 2000). In addition, the State of Michigan (acting through the Michigan Department of Corrections) is not a "person" who may be sued under 1983 for money damages. See Lapides v. Bd. of Regents, 535 U.S. 613 (2002) (citing Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58 (1989)). Therefore, the Court dismisses the Michigan Department of Corrections. Conclusion Having conducted the review now required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act, the Court determines that Defendant Michigan Department of Corrections will be dismissed for failure to state a claim under 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(b), and 42 U.S.C. 1997e(c). The Court will serve the complaint against Defendant William Lounce Mason. An Order consistent with this Opinion will be entered. Dated: September 8, 2010 /s/ Robert J. Jonker ROBERT J. JONKER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE -4-

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