Carter #529329 v. Heyns et al
OPINION; Judgment to issue; signed by Judge Janet T. Neff (Judge Janet T. Neff, clb)
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
Case No. 1:12-cv-1315
Honorable Janet T. Neff
DANIEL HEYNS et al.,
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 has paid the initial
partial filing fee. 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, Plaintiff’s action will be dismissed for failure to state a claim.
Plaintiff Rayford Carter is incarcerated by the Michigan Department of Corrections
(MDOC) at the Ionia Maximum Correctional Facility (ICF). He brings this action on behalf of
himself and a number of other prisoners who are identified in the complaint (Plaintiff and the other
prisoners will be referred to as the “Named Prisoners”). Defendants are employees of the MDOC:
Director Daniel Heyns; Deputy Director Thomas Finco; Royal H. Calley, Director of Mental Health
Programs; Kathleen H. Mutschler, Director of Mental Health Services; ICF Warden John Prelesnik;
ICF Deputy Wardens Erica Huss and Nanette Norwood; and Officer (unknown) Richardson.
Plaintiff alleges that each of the Named Prisoners has been diagnosed with a mental
illness requiring medication and treatment by a psychologist and psychiatrist in order for them to
maintain “mental stability.” (Compl., docket #1, Page ID#5.) At one time or another, the Named
Prisoners have been housed in the general prison population with other prisoners, and as a result,
have been subjected to various forms of mistreatment, including “violence, sexual assaults, rape,
fighting, and murder.” (Id.) In addition, at one time or another, each of the Named Prisoners has
been housed in administrative segregation, resulting in restrictive conditions of confinement and the
denial of proper medication. The denial of medication and the conditions of confinement in
segregation are harmful to the Named Prisoners’ mental health, causing them to suffer “mental
deteriorat[ion]” and to engage in violent behavior that is harmful to themselves and others. (Id. at
Page ID##5-6.) Such behavior leads to additional disciplinary or criminal charges against them, and
then additional punishment in the form of: longer periods of confinement in segregation, loss of
privileges, physical restraints, and/or restrictions on physical necessities (e.g., water, bedding,
clothing, and food).
Plaintiff alleges that each of the Named Prisoners has harmed themselves or others,
each been charged with additional crimes as a result of a deterioration in their respective mental
states, and each has been classified to segregation for “30, 60, 90 to 180 or more days” in isolated
conditions. (Id. at Page ID#8.) In addition, at one time or another, each of the Named Prisoners has
had to lay or walk in their cell, in their own feces or urine, for “hours, days, [or] weeks” at a time.
Plaintiff contends that each of the named Defendants “knew or should have known”
that the Named Prisoners were diagnosed with mental illnesses requiring a specific treatment plan
and a specific medication, and that to house them with other prisoners from the general prison
population, or to confine them in administrative segregation, would pose a risk to the Named
Prisoners’ health or safety, and would cause them to engage in violent behavior. (Id. at Page
ID##11, 14.) Nevertheless, Defendants allegedly disregarded those concerns, confining the Named
Prisoners in “long term” segregation and “refus[ing]” to ensure that they received appropriate care.
(Id. at Page ID#11.)
With respect to Defendants Heyns, Finco, Prelesnik, Huss, Norwood, Mutschler, and
Calley, Plaintiff further contends that they were “fully informed” of the general conditions of
confinement at ICF, through letters, grievances, and/or personal visits to the facility, but they
“authorized” or “condoned” those conditions, failed to correct them, and/or failed to correct the
actions of their subordinates. (Id. at Page ID#22.)
With respect to Defendant Richardson, Plaintiff alleges that he has a “pattern” of
abusing mentally ill prisoners, which is described as follows:
[H]e has fabricated misconducts on [them,] threaten[ed] them with physical harm,
deprived them of showers, food, yard, [and] appliances[.] [He has] verbally abused
them for filing grievances and other complaints . . . and [has] called them derogatory
names, placed them [in] various types of restrictions and threaten[ed] to retaliate
further against them if they continued exercising their rights. [He has] physically
assaulted some prisoners and ha[s] spit in their tray and made racial remarks[.] [He
has] sexually harassed some prisoners during segregation unit rounds and deprived
them of clothing, blankets, sheets, [and/or] water for hours, days.
(Id. at Page ID#23.)
As relief in this action, Plaintiff seeks $500,000 in damages for each Named Prisoner,
and an elaborate injunction requiring, among other things: that the MDOC transfer all mentally ill
prisoners out of administrative segregation, to a designated facility that does not house prisoners in
the general prison population; that all MDOC mental health staff be transferred to the designated
facility so that the mentally ill prisoners can receive the full treatment and programming that they
need; that mentally ill prisoners receive regular monitoring of their condition and receipt of all
necessary medication; that all misconducts against prisoners with mental illnesses be expunged and
any “good time” lost as a result of those misconducts be restored; that Defendants who are found
to have violated the rights of the Named Prisoners be discharged from their position and prohibited
from working at any MDOC facility; and that Defendants and the State of Michigan share the costs
of all medical bills for the Named Prisoners. (Id. at Page ID##10, 12, 15-20.)
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 Atl. 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, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(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.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.
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.” Id. at 678 (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.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (quoting FED. R. CIV. P. 8(a)(2)); see also Hill
v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010) (holding that the Twombly/Iqbal plausibility
standard applies to dismissals of prisoner cases on initial review under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A(b)(1)
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.
Med. Servs., 555 F.3d 543, 549 (6th Cir. 2009).
A. Class Action
Plaintiff purports to bring his complaint as a class action, but the Court declines to
certify a class. Plaintiff bears the burden of demonstrating that his suit meets the prerequisites of
a class action under Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See In re Am. Med. Sys., 75
F.3d 1069, 1086 (6th Cir. 1996). Those requirements include, among other things: (1) a class so
numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable; (2) questions of law or fact common to the
class; (3) claims by the representative parties that are typical of claims by the class; and (4) adequate
representation of the class. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a). Plaintiff has not satisfied his burden. He does
not even attempt to show that the suit meets the requirements of Rule 23. See Johnson v. Wilkinson,
No. 99-3475, 2000 WL 553929, at *1 (6th Cir. Apr. 28, 2000) (affirming the denial of class
certification where a pro se prisoner plaintiff “made no attempt to demonstrate the existence of the
requirements of Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a) and (b)”).
Furthermore, it is well established that pro se litigants are inappropriate
representatives of the interests of others. See Garrison v. Mich. Dep’t of Corr., 333 F. App’x 914,
919 (6th Cir. 2009) (citing Oxendine v. Williams, 509 F.2d 1405, 1407 (4th Cir. 1975)); see also
Dodson v. Wilkinson, 304 F. App’x 434, 438 (6th Cir. 2008); Ziegler v. Michigan, 59 F. App’x 622,
624 (6th Cir. 2003); Palasty v. Hawk, 15 F. App’x 197, 200 (6th Cir. 2001). Because Plaintiff is an
incarcerated, pro se litigant,1 he is not an appropriate representative of a class. For the foregoing
reasons, therefore, the Court declines to grant class certification.
B. Rights of Others
Absent class certification, Plaintiff lacks standing to bring claims on behalf of others.
Newsom v. Norris, 888 F.2d 371, 381 (6th Cir. 1989); Raines v. Goedde, No. 92–3120, 1992 WL
188120, at *2 (6th Cir. Aug. 6, 1992). Furthermore, federal law specifies that cases in the courts of
the United States may be conducted only by the parties personally or through counsel. See 28
U.S.C. § 1654 (providing that “in all courts of the United States, the parties may plead and conduct
their own cases personally or by counsel, as, by the rules of such courts, respectively, are permitted
To the extent that Plaintiff seeks appointment of counsel, his request will be denied for reasons stated in a
to manage and conduct causes therein”). Section 1654 clearly makes no provision for a pro se party
to represent others, and the federal courts have long held that it preserves a party’s right to proceed
pro se, but only with respect to that person’s own claims. Only a licensed attorney may represent
other persons. See Rowland v. Calif. Men’s Colony, Unit II Men’s Advisory Council, 506 U.S. 194,
201–03 (1993); Shepherd v. Wellman, 313 F.3d 963, 970 (6th Cir. 2003); United States v. 9.19 Acres
of Land, 416 F.2d 1244, 1245 (6th Cir. 1969). Thus, Plaintiff may not bring claims on behalf of
C. Conclusory Allegations
To the extent that Plaintiff intends to assert claims on his own behalf, the complaint
is devoid of allegations of specific conduct by the named Defendants which affected Plaintiff
personally or violated his own constitutional rights. Instead, the allegations consist of a laundry list
of conditions faced by one or more members of a large group of prisoners at one time or another
during their incarceration by the MDOC. Such allegations make it impossible to discern the
particular conditions faced by Plaintiff, the nature of his injuries, or the reason why any Defendant
is alleged to be responsible for them. Consequently, the allegations fall far short of the minimal
pleading standards required to state a claim. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 8 (requiring “a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief”); Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570
(requiring the complaint to contain “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face”); see also Gilmore v. Corr. Corp. of Am., 92 F. App’x 188, 190 (6th Cir. 2004) (dismissing
complaint where plaintiff failed to allege how any named defendant was involved in the violation
of his rights); Frazier v. Michigan, 41 F. App’x 762, 764 (6th Cir. 2002) (dismissing plaintiff’s
claims where the complaint did not allege with any degree of specificity which of the named
defendants were personally involved in or responsible for each alleged violation of rights); Griffin
v. Montgomery, No. 00-3402, 2000 WL 1800569, at *2 (6th Cir. Nov. 30, 2000) (requiring
allegations of personal involvement against each defendant). Because Plaintiff cannot raise the
claims of others, his failure to allege an identifiable, personal deprivation by a named Defendant
renders the complaint wholly insufficient to state a claim.
Having conducted the review 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 consistent with this Opinion will be entered.
Dated: April 17, 2013
/s/ Janet T. Neff
Janet T. Neff
United States District Judge
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