Green #151154 v. Michigan Department of Corrections et al
OPINION: the court will enter an Order granting Plaintiff's motion to amend his complaint; the Court will also enter a Judgment dismissing this action for failure to state a claim; this is a dismissal as described by 28 U.S.C. 1915(g); the Court discerns no good-faith basis for an appeal; signed by Judge Robert Holmes Bell (Judge Robert Holmes Bell, kcb)
-JGS Green #151154 v. Michigan Department of Corrections et al
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN SOUTHERN DIVISION
TAMERON GREEN, Plaintiff, v. MICHIGAN DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS et al., Defendants. ____________________________________/ OPINION This is a civil rights action brought by a state prisoner pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court has granted Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis, and Plaintiff shall pay the initial partial filing fee when funds are available. 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. Case No. 1:10-cv-976 Honorable Robert Holmes Bell
§§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A; 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c). The Court must read Plaintiff's pro se amended complaint1 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
On October 20, 2010, Plaintiff filed a motion to amend his complaint (docket #5). In his motion, Plaintiff e x p a n d s on the claims in his original complaint (docket #1). Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a), a party may a m e n d the party's pleading once as a matter of course at any time before a responsive pleading is served. Defendants h a v e not yet filed an answer to Plaintiff's complaint. The Court therefore will grant Plaintiff's motion to amend.
U.S. 25, 33 (1992). Applying these standards, Plaintiff's action will be dismissed for failure to state a claim. Discussion I. Factual allegations
Plaintiff is presently incarcerated at the West Shoreline Correctional Facility but complains of events that occurred at the Mound Correctional Facility. In his pro se amended complaint, Plaintiff sues the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC), MDOC Director Patricia Caruso and the MDOC Hearings Division. On January 18, 2010, Plaintiff was escorted to the segregation unit in anticipation of being paroled. While in segregation, Plaintiff received a major misconduct ticket for assault and battery. Because of the major misconduct ticket, Plaintiff's parole was suspended. On January 25, the MDOC Hearings Division found Plaintiff guilty of the major misconduct. As a result, Plaintiff received thirty days' detention and a twelve-month continuation from the Michigan Parole Board. Plaintiff appealed to the Hearings Administrator, but the appeal was denied. Plaintiff also filed a complaint in the Wayne County Circuit Court. The Wayne County Circuit Court dismissed Plaintiff's complaint. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated his due process rights because he was convicted of the major misconduct for assault and battery without any evidence to support the conviction. Plaintiff also claims that the MDOC Hearings Division violated Michigan law and MDOC policy in the administration of Plaintiff's hearing. Plaintiff finally states that MDOC Director Caruso is responsible for the failure of the Hearings Division to follow Michigan law and MDOC policy. -2-
For relief, Plaintiff requests monetary and punitive damages and injunctive relief. (Am. Compl., Page ID#34, docket #5.) II. Immunity
Plaintiff may not maintain a § 1983 action against the Michigan Department of Corrections and the Hearings Division of 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. 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 and the Hearings Division of the Michigan Department of Corrections.
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. 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); Dominguez v. Corr. Med. Servs., 555 F.3d 543, 549 (6th Cir. 2009). 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 alleges that Defendant Caruso is responsible for the failure of the Hearings Division to follow Michigan law and MDOC policy. Defendant Caruso's alleged liability is based on her supervisory authority. Government officials may not be held liable for the unconstitutional conduct of their subordinates under a theory of respondeat superior or vicarious liability. Ashcroft, 129 S. Ct. at 1948; Monell v. New York City Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 691(1978); Everson v. Leis, 556 F.3d 484, 495 (6th Cir. 2009). A claimed constitutional violation must be based upon active unconstitutional behavior. Grinter v. Knight, 532 F.3d 567, 575 (6th Cir. 2008); Greene v. Barber, 310 F.3d 889, 899 (6th Cir. 2002). The acts of one's subordinates are not enough, nor can supervisory liability be based upon the mere failure to act. Grinter, 532 F.3d at 575; Greene, 310 F.3d at 899; Summers v. Leis, 368 F.3d 881, 888 (6th Cir. 2004). "[A] plaintiff must plead that each Government-official defendant, through the official's own individual actions, has violated the Constitution." Ashcroft, 129 S. Ct. at 1948. Plaintiff has failed to allege that Defendant Caruso engaged in any active unconstitutional behavior. Accordingly, he fails to state a claim against Defendant Caruso. To the extent that Plaintiff's amended complaint alleges that Defendant Caruso violated state law or policy, this Court declines to exercise jurisdiction. Section 1983 does not provide redress for a violation of a state law. Pyles v. Raisor, 60 F.3d 1211, 1215 (6th Cir. 1995); Sweeton v. Brown, 27 F.3d 1162, 1166 (6th Cir. 1994). The Sixth Circuit has stated that, where a district court has exercised jurisdiction over a state-law claim solely by virtue of supplemental jurisdiction and where all federal claims are dismissed prior to trial, the court ordinarily should -5-
dismiss the state-law claim without reaching its merits. See Landefeld v. Marion Gen. Hosp., Inc., 994 F.2d 1178, 1182 (6th Cir. 1993); Faughender v. City of N. Olmsted, Ohio, 927 F.2d 909, 917 (6th Cir. 1991)). This claim will be dismissed without prejudice. Conclusion Having conducted the review now required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act, the Court determines that Plaintiff's action will be dismissed for failure to state a claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(b), and 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c). The Court must next decide whether an appeal of this action would be in good faith within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3). See McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 611 (6th Cir. 1997). For the same reasons that the Court dismisses the action, the Court discerns no good-faith basis for an appeal. Should Plaintiff appeal this decision, the Court will assess the $455.00 appellate filing fee pursuant to § 1915(b)(1), see McGore, 114 F.3d at 610-11, unless Plaintiff is barred from proceeding in forma pauperis, e.g., by the "three-strikes" rule of § 1915(g). If he is barred, he will be required to pay the $455.00 appellate filing fee in one lump sum. This is a dismissal as described by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). A Judgment and Order consistent with this Opinion will be entered.
Dated: November 18, 2010
/s/ Robert Holmes Bell ROBERT HOLMES BELL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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