Favors #159735 v. Woods et al
OPINION ; signed by Judge Robert Holmes Bell (Judge Robert Holmes Bell, kcb)
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
GENE T. FAVORS,
Case No. 2:16-cv-33
Honorable Robert Holmes Bell
JEFF WOODS, 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, the Court will dismiss Plaintiff’s complaint for failure
to state a claim against Defendants Woods, Russell, and Unknown Parties. The Court will serve the
complaint against Defendants Leach, Rink, Gugin, Masher, Valle, and Switzer.
Plaintiff Gene T. Favors, a state prisoner currently confined at the Lakeland
Correctional Facility, filed this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against
Defendants Warden Jeff Woods, Grievance Manager Richard D. Russell, Special Activities
Coordinator David M. Leach, Chaplain Unknown Rink, Trinity Foods Employee G. Gugin, Mail
Room Clerk R. Masher, Mail Room Clerk Unknown Valle, Officer Unknown Switzer, and Unknown
Plaintiff’s complaint concerns incidents which occurred while he was confined at the
Chippewa Correctional Facility (URF). In his complaint, Plaintiff asserts that he is a Sunni Muslim
and that Defendants denied him vegan meals which are required for his religion, improperly
prepared his food, causing it to be contaminated with pork, and denied him religious service snacks
and adequate religious services. In addition, Plaintiff alleges that he was retaliated against for filing
grievances, his incoming and outgoing legal mail was interfered with by Defendants, and mail from
his attorney was opened outside his presence. Plaintiff seeks damages and equitable relief.
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); Street v. Corr.
Corp. of Am., 102 F.3d 810, 814 (6th Cir. 1996). 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).
The Court notes that Plaintiff fails to make specific factual allegations against
Defendants Woods and Russell, other than his claim that they failed to conduct an investigation in
response to his grievances. 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 Defendants Woods and Russell engaged in any active unconstitutional behavior.
Accordingly, he fails to state a claim against them.
Nor does Plaintiff allege any specific wrongdoing on the part of Unknown Parties,
named as John and Jane Does. In fact, Plaintiff fails to even mention them in the body of his
complaint. 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 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); Rodriguez
v. Jabe, No. 90-1010, 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’s claims fall far short of the minimal pleading standards under FED. R. CIV. P. 8 (requiring
“a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief”), his
complaint must be dismissed against Defendants Unknown Parties.
Having conducted the review required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act, the Court
determines that Defendants Woods, Russell, and Unknown Parties 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 will serve the complaint against Defendants Leach, Rink, Gugin, Masher, Valle, and Switzer.
An Order consistent with this Opinion will be entered.
/s/ Robert Holmes Bell
ROBERT HOLMES BELL
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated: July 22, 2016
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