LeBlanc #333019 v. Kalamazoo County Sheriff
OPINION; signed by Judge Gordon J. Quist (Judge Gordon J. Quist, jmt)
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
JEFFREY R. LeBLANC,
Case No. 1:14-cv-305
Honorable Gordon J. Quist
KALAMAZOO COUNTY SHERIFF,
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. 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 Jeffrey R. LeBlanc presently is incarcerated at the Richard A. Handlon
Correctional Facility. He was sentenced to a prison term of one year and six months to five years,
after he pleaded nolo contendere to malicious destruction of personal property of more than
$1,000.00 and less than $20,000.00, MICH . COMP. LAWS § 750.337a. He sues the Kalamazoo
Plaintiff’s complaint is brief and somewhat confusing. Plaintiff alleges that he was
arrested without a warrant by the Kalamazoo Police Department on November 28, 2012. He seeks
monetary relief for wrongful incarceration and alleged falsification of documents. Plaintiff alleges
that he filed a grievance about his “whole case,” but that he has received no response. (Compl.,
docket #1, Page ID#2.)
Several weeks after he filed his complaint, Plaintiff filed a motion seeking immediate
release from prison (docket #7), together with a supplement (docket #8). According to the
supplement and its attachments, Plaintiff drove a vehicle belonging to a customer of J&L Auto into
a gas pump at a Marathon gas station. (Id., Page ID#26; Supp., docket #8, Page ID##43-48.) It
appears that Plaintiff was an employee of J&L Auto, and that he was sleeping inside the office when
the police arrived in response to the car owner’s report of damage to her vehicle. (Supp., docket #8,
Page ID#48.) Plaintiff argues that he was illegally prosecuted in the 9th Judicial District Court for
malicious destruction of property, because he was on powerful medications and did not possess the
intent to drive his customer’s car into the gas pump.
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 Atl. Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (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.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. 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.
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
Plaintiff challenges his incarceration by the State of Michigan. A challenge to the
fact or duration of confinement should be brought as a petition for habeas corpus and is not the
proper subject of a civil rights action brought pursuant to § 1983. See Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411
U.S. 475, 484 (1973) (the essence of habeas corpus is an attack by a person in custody upon the
legality of that custody and the traditional function of the writ is to secure release from illegal
custody). Therefore, to the extent that Plaintiff’s complaint challenges the fact or duration of his
incarceration, it must be dismissed. See Adams v. Morris, 90 F. App’x 856, 858 (6th Cir. 2004)
(dismissal is appropriate where § 1983 action seeks equitable relief and challenges fact or duration
of confinement); see also Moore v. Pemberton, 110 F.3d 22, 23-24 (7th Cir. 1997) (reasons for not
construing a § 1983 action as one seeking habeas relief include (1) potential application of Heck
v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), (2) differing defendants, (3) differing standards of § 1915(a)(3)
and § 2253(c), (4) differing fee requirements, (5) potential application of second or successive
petition doctrine or three-strikes rules of § 1915(g)). For the same reasons, Plaintiff’s motion
seeking immediate release will be denied.
To the extent Plaintiff seeks injunctive, declaratory and monetary relief for alleged
violations of Constitutional rights, his claim is barred by Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-87
(1994), which held that “in order to recover damages for allegedly unconstitutional conviction or
imprisonment, or for other harm caused by actions whose unlawfulness would render a conviction
or sentence invalid, a § 1983 plaintiff must prove that the conviction or sentence has been
[overturned].” See Edwards v. Balisok, 520 U.S. 641, 646 (1997) (emphasis in original). In Heck,
the Supreme Court held that a state prisoner cannot make a cognizable claim under § 1983 for an
allegedly unconstitutional conviction or for “harm caused by actions whose unlawfulness would
render a conviction or sentence invalid” unless a prisoner shows that the conviction or sentence has
been “reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared invalid by a state tribunal
authorized to make such determination, or called into question by a federal court’s issuance of a writ
of habeas corpus.” Id. at 486-87 (footnote omitted). The holding in Heck has been extended to
actions seeking injunctive or declaratory relief. See Edwards, 520 U.S. at 646-48 (declaratory
relief); Clarke v. Stalder, 154 F.3d 186, 189-90 (5th Cir. 1998) (claim for injunctive relief
intertwined with request for damages); Wilson v. Kinkela, No. 97-4035, 1998 WL 246401, at *1
(6th Cir. May 5, 1998) (injunctive relief). Plaintiff’s allegations clearly call into question the
validity of his conviction. Therefore, his action is barred under Heck until his criminal conviction
has been invalidated.
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).
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
$505.00 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 $505.00 appellate filing fee in one lump sum.
This is a dismissal as described by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g).
An Order and Judgment consistent with this Opinion will be entered.
Dated: July 29, 2014
/s/ Gordon J. Quist
GORDON J. QUIST
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?