Bergeron #223410 v. Washington 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
PAUL A. BERGERON,
Case No. 1:16-cv-476
Honorable Janet T. Neff
HEIDI WASHINGTON 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. 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
Plaintiff presently is incarcerated in the Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility (IBC).
In his pro se complaint, Plaintiff names sixty-two Defendants, including Michigan Department of
Corrections (MDOC) Director Heidi Washington, MDOC Deputy Driector Kenneth McKee, MDOC
Legal Affairs Director Richard Russell and fifty-nine IBC employees.
Plaintiff’s pleading (ECF No. 1) is composed of a nine-page form complaint and 174
pages of attachments. Plaintiff generally asserts that he has been repeatedly harassed, threatened,
abused and tortured at various MDOC facilities, including IBC. Plaintiff, however, does not provide
any specific factual allegations or details regarding the alleged abuses. He contends that the named
Defendants either were directly involved in the abuse or were aware of the abuse and failed to take
corrective action. Plaintiff further alleges that, “an electrical device is used on me 24-7 now from
Jan. 2016 to the present causing the feelings of organ failure. I’ve attempted to have medical do [a]
thorough exam and blood testing, yet they refuse[,] assisting in my abuse.” (Compl., ECF No. 1,
Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief, as well as monetary damages in excess of one
hundred million dollars.
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)
With the exception of Heidi Washington, Plaintiff fails to mention or make any
factual allegations in the complaint against the named Defendants. It is a basic pleading essential
that a plaintiff attribute factual allegations to particular defendants. See Twombly, 550 U.S. at 544
(holding that, in order to state a claim, a plaintiff must make sufficient allegations to give a
defendant fair notice of the claim). Where a person is named as a defendant without an allegation
of specific conduct, the complaint is subject to dismissal, even under the liberal construction
afforded to pro se complaints. See Frazier v. Michigan, 41 F. App’x 762, 764 (6th Cir. 2002)
(dismissing the 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); Rodriguez v. Jabe, No. 901010, 1990 WL 82722, at *1 (6th Cir. June 19, 1990) (“Plaintiff’s claims against those individuals
are without a basis in law as the complaint is totally devoid of allegations as to them which would
suggest their involvement in the events leading to his injuries.”). Because Plaintiff fails to plead
sufficient facts from which the Court could draw a reasonable inference that Defendants violated
Plaintiff’s constitutional rights, his action must be dismissed for failure to state a claim. See
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570; Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.
Plaintiff’s only allegation against Heidi Washington is that, before becoming Director
of the MDOC, she was warden at the Oaks Correctional Facility during the time that Plaintiff was
harassed, abused and tortured by staff. Government officials may not be held liable for the
unconstitutional conduct of their subordinates under a theory of respondeat superior or vicarious
liability. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676; 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, 575-76 (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 576; Greene, 310 F.3d at 899; Summers v. Leis, 368 F.3d 881, 888 (6th Cir. 2004). Moreover,
§ 1983 liability may not be imposed simply because a supervisor denied an administrative grievance
or failed to act based upon information contained in a grievance. See Shehee v. Luttrell, 199 F.3d
295, 300 (6th Cir. 1999). “[A] plaintiff must plead that each Government-official defendant, through
the official’s own individual actions, has violated the Constitution.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676.
Plaintiff has failed to allege that Defendant Washington engaged in any active unconstitutional
behavior. Accordingly, he fails to state a claim against her.
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
$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).
A Judgment consistent with this Opinion will be entered.
Dated: June 3, 2016
/s/ Janet T. Neff
Janet T. Neff
United States District Judge
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