Reese v. Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction et al
Memorandum of Opinion and Order Plaintiff's 2 Motion to Proceed in forma pauperis is granted but, for the reasons set forth herein, this action is dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A. The Court c ertifies, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1915(a)(3), that an appeal from this decision could not be taken in good faith. Plaintiff's 5 Motion to Amend is denied, and his pending Motions for assistance in obtaining counsel and for appointment of counsel (ECF Nos. 3 , 4 ) are denied as moot. Judge Benita Y. Pearson on 2/28/2017. (JLG)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO
OHIO DEPARTMENT OF
REHABILITATION AND CORRECTION,
CASE NO. 4:16CV2660
JUDGE BENITA Y. PEARSON
MEMORANDUM OF OPINION AND
ORDER [Resolving ECF Nos. 2, 3, 4 and
Pending before the Court are pro se Plaintiff’s Motion to Proceed in forma pauperis
(ECF No. 2); Motion for Assistance in Obtaining Counsel (ECF No. 3); Motion for Appointment
of Counsel (ECF No. 4); and Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint (ECF No. 5).
Plaintiff’s Motion to Proceed in forma pauperis is granted but, for the following reasons,
Plaintiff’s Complaint is dismissed. Plaintiff’s Motion to Amend is denied. His Motions for
Assistance in Obtaining Counsel and for Appointment of Counsel are denied as moot.
Plaintiff, an Ohio prisoner incarcerated in the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility
(“SOCF”), brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Ohio
Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (“ODRC”); Captain Hill, Trooper Costerella, and
Timothy Groves at the Trumbull Correctional Institution; Sergeant Echonrod and Warden Eric
Shay at the Trumbull County Jail; and Dr. King of the Ohio State Penitentiary. ECF No. 1 at
PageID #: 3. His twenty-two page Complaint does not set forth clear, comprehensible factual
allegations or specific constitutional claims against Defendants. As best as the Court can discern,
Plaintiff complains, as he did in a prior civil rights action he filed in the Southern District of
Ohio, that his rights were violated in connection with conditions and incidents that occurred over
many years during his incarceration in the Trumbull County Jail, the Trumbull Correctional
Institution, and SOCF. Id. at PageID #: 3–21. He contends his property was lost, he was not
transferred to the prison he desired, and he was harassed and sent to segregation without
justification. Id. He asks for return of, and reimbursement for, his property; compensation;
immediate transfer; to have his security status lowered; and that “O.D.R.C. staff” be ordered to
stop harassing him. Id. at PageID #: 22.
II. Standard of Review
Although federal courts are obligated to construe pro se complaints liberally, see
Williams v. Curtin, 631 F.3d 380, 383 (6th Cir. 2011), principles requiring generous construction
of pro se pleadings are not without limits. Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278
(4th Cir. 1985); Young Bok Song v. Gipson, 423 F. App’x 506, 509–10 (6th Cir. 2011). Under
28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A, federal district courts are expressly required to screen all
in forma pauperis actions and prisoner actions seeking redress from governmental defendants,
and to dismiss before service any such action that the court determines is frivolous or malicious,
fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant
who is immune from such relief. See Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470–71 (6th Cir. 2010). In
order to avoid a dismissal for failure to state a claim, a complaint must set forth “sufficient
factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id.
(holding that the dismissal standard articulated in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009) and Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007) governs dismissals for failure to state a claim
under §§1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A). “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 678. In addition, in order to state a claim, a
complaint must “give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon
which it rests.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
The Court has reviewed Plaintiff’s Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§1915(e)(2)(B) and
1915A and finds that it fails to meet minimum pleading requirements or contain allegations
reasonably suggesting Plaintiff has a plausible federal civil rights claim in this case.
First, Plaintiff fails to state a claim against Defendants Warden Eric Shay and Trooper
Costerella. It is well-established that government officials may not be held liable solely under a
theory of respondeat superior and that in order to state a claim, “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 does not make any factual allegations concerning
Defendant Shay’s or Defendant Costerella’s conduct.
As for Defendants Hill, Groves, Echenrod, and King, although Plaintiff’s Complaint
contains some allegations regarding their conduct, these allegations are vague, unsubstantial, or
conclusory, and, as such, they are insufficient to suggest plausible constitutional claims. See
Terrance v. Northville Reg. Psych. Hosp., 286 F.3d 834, 842 (6th Cir. 2002) (“This court has
consistently held that damage claims against governmental officials alleged to arise from
violations of constitutional rights cannot be founded upon conclusory, vague or general
allegations, but must instead, allege facts that show the existence of the asserted constitutional
rights violation recited in the complaint and what each defendant did to violate the asserted
right.”). A pro se plaintiff must meet basic pleading requirements, and a court is not required to
conjure allegations on his behalf. Martin v. Overton, 391 F.3d 710, 714 (6th Cir. 2004); Erwin v.
Edwards, 22 F. App’x 579, 580 (6th Cir. 2001). Plaintiff alleges, in conclusory terms, that
Defendant Hill assaulted him ECF No. 1 at PageID #: 3, 6, and that Defendant Echenrod
harassed him, id. at PageID #: 20. Plaintiff’s only allegations against Defendants Groves and
King are that Defendant Groves told Plaintiff his property was present after Plaintiff reported it
missing, id. at 4, and Defendant King told him he had seen transfers be granted for mental health
reasons before, id. at 5. Plaintiff’s allegations are insufficient to support plausible inferences
that any of these Defendants violated Plaintiff’s constitutional rights.
Finally, Plaintiff has alleged no plausible civil rights claim against the ODRC. A
department of corrections is not a “person” subject to suit under § 1983. See Parker v. Michigan
Dept. of Corrections, 65 F. App’x. 922, 923 (6th Cir. 2003).
For the foregoing reasons, Plaintiff’s Complaint fails to state any plausible claim on
which relief may be granted in this case.
Furthermore, Plaintiff’s Complaint is also subject to dismissal because any claims he
purports to allege under § 1983 are barred by the statute of limitations. Plaintiff did not file this
action until October 13, 2016, and it is apparent on the face of his Complaint that none of
Defendants’ conduct in this case occurred on or after October 13, 2014. Accordingly, the
two-year statute of limitations applicable to § 1983 claims in Ohio bars his claims. Ohio Rev.
Code. § 2305.10; Browning v. Pendleton, 869 F.2d 989, 990 (6th Cir. 1989); see also, e.g.,
Fraley v. Ohio Gallia Cty., Case No. 97-3564, 1998 WL 789385 (6th Cir. Oct. 30, 1998)
(holding that the district court “properly dismissed” the pro se plaintiff’s § 1983 civil rights
claims under § 1915(e)(2)(B) because the complaint was filed after the two-year statute of
Plaintiff’s recently-filed request for leave to amend his Complaint (ECF No. 5) is denied.
Plaintiff’s request for leave to amend, like his original Complaint, is unclear and appears to
complain about the same conditions and incidents as his original Complaint. Like his Complaint,
his request for leave to amend fails to set forth discernible allegations suggesting he might have a
plausible claim under § 1983 against any of the Defendants in this case.
Plaintiff’s motion to proceed in forma pauperis is granted, but, for the reasons stated
above, his action is dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A. The Court
certifies, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1915(a)(3), that an appeal from this decision could not be taken
in good faith. Plaintiff’s Motion to Amend is denied, and his pending Motions for assistance in
obtaining counsel and for appointment of counsel are denied as moot.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
February 28, 2017
/s/ Benita Y. Pearson
Benita Y. Pearson
United States District Judge
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