Rapley #346703 v. Roebuck
OPINION ; signed by Judge R. Allan Edgar (Judge R. Allan Edgar, cam)
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
Case No. 2:14-cv-75
Honorable R. Allan Edgar
JOSEPH J. ROEBUCK,
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 Juan Rapley, a state prisoner currently confined at the Ojibway Correctional
Facility (OCF), filed this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendant
Quartermaster Joseph J. Roebuck. Plaintiff alleges in his complaint that on December 1, 2013,
Plaintiff had a quartermaster call out for a clothing exchange. Plaintiff met Defendant at the
exchange window and began to place clothing into the laundry bin. Defendant Roebuck then reached
into the laundry bin and pulled out a dirty tee shirt, which did not belong to Plaintiff. Defendant
Roebuck accused Plaintiff of trying to turn in a stolen tee shirt. Plaintiff denied the accusation and
Defendant became angry and threw the dirty shirt at Plaintiff, striking him in the chest. Plaintiff
picked the shirt up off the ground and asked Defendant why he had thrown the shirt. Plaintiff
accused Defendant of physically assaulting him in violation of policy and procedure. Defendant
indicated that he and other staff had been behaving that way long before Plaintiff came to OCF, told
Plaintiff to “fuck off,” and slammed the exchange window shut.
Plaintiff returned to his housing unit and asked Assistant Resident Unit Supervisor
Kertu to look at the camera. Plaintiff also requested a grievance form. In the grievance, Plaintiff
complained that Defendant humiliated and intimidated him in violation of policy. Plaintiff’s
grievance was denied at all three levels.
Plaintiff claims that Defendant’s conduct violated his constitutional rights. Plaintiff
seeks damages, as well as an injunction preventing retaliatory actions by Defendant.
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) and
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 claims that Defendant’s conduct constituted an assault. The court construes
this claim as being one under the Eighth Amendment. The Eighth Amendment imposes a
constitutional limitation on the power of the states to punish those convicted of crimes. Punishment
may not be “barbarous” nor may it contravene society’s “evolving standards of decency.” Rhodes
v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 345-46 (1981). The Amendment, therefore, prohibits conduct by prison
officials that involves the “unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain.” Ivey v. Wilson, 832 F.2d 950,
954 (6th Cir. 1987) (per curiam) (quoting Rhodes, 452 U.S. at 346). The deprivation alleged must
result in the denial of the “minimal civilized measure of life’s necessities.” Rhodes, 452 U.S. at 347;
see also Wilson v. Yaklich, 148 F.3d 596, 600-01 (6th Cir. 1998). The Eighth Amendment is only
concerned with “deprivations of essential food, medical care, or sanitation” or “other conditions
intolerable for prison confinement.” Rhodes, 452 U.S. at 348 (citation omitted). Moreover, “[n]ot
every unpleasant experience a prisoner might endure while incarcerated constitutes cruel and unusual
punishment within the meaning of the Eighth Amendment.” Ivey, 832 F.2d at 954.
In order for a prisoner to prevail on an Eighth Amendment claim, he must show that
he faced a sufficiently serious risk to his health or safety and that the defendant official acted with
“‘deliberate indifference’ to [his] health or safety.” Mingus v. Butler, 591 F.3d 474, 479-80 (6th Cir.
2010) (citing Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994) (applying deliberate indifference
standard to medical claims); see also Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 35 (1993) (applying
deliberate indifference standard to conditions of confinement claims)).
In this case, allegations that Defendant hit Plaintiff in the chest with a dirty tee shirt
do not show that Plaintiff suffered a serious risk to his health or safety, nor do they show that
Defendant acted with deliberate indifference to Plaintiff’s health or safety. Moreover, Plaintiff
cannot bring an Eighth Amendment claim for emotional or mental damages because he does not
allege a physical injury. See 42 U. S.C. §1997e(e); see also Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 5
(1992); Harden-Bey v. Rutter, 524 F.3d 789, 795 (6th Cir. 2008). As a result, Plaintiff fails to state
an Eighth Amendment claim against Defendant.
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.
/s/ R. Allan Edgar
R. ALLAN EDGAR
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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