United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
MELVIN E. JOHNSON, JR., Plaintiff,
BRIAN BROOKS, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OF OPINION AND ORDER
AARON POLSTER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
se Plaintiff Melvin E. Johnson, Jr. filed this action
against Mahoning County Sheriff's Deputy Brian Brooks,
Mahoning County Sheriff's Deputy Miko Malino, Mahoning
County Sheriff Jerry Green, and Mahoning County Jail Warden
Santana. In the Complaint (Doc. # 1), Plaintiff asserts
Brooks sexually harassed him and retaliated against him. He
asserts claims under the First, Fifth and Fourteenth
Amendments as well as the Americans With Disabilities Act
(ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (RA). He
seeks monetary damages.
alleges that on January 8, 2017 at 10:15 p.m., Deputy Brooks
entered Q-pod to do his reported rounds and inspection. He
turned off the television and then went to Plaintiff's
cell. He alleges Brooks removed him from his cell and then
forcefully put his hands down the back of Plaintiff's
pants. He states, without explanation, that Malino interfered
with security operations. He suggests he had to stop Malino
from reading his mother's address in front of other
inmates. He claims he spoke to internal affairs, as well as
Warden Santana and Sheriff Green.
Plaintiff claims he filed grievances. He contends the
Defendants searched his cell, stole his papers and any
evidence he gathered. He states that when his family
contacted the jail and threatened to sue them, he was
attacked and threatened.
claims the Defendants' actions violated his
constitutional rights under the First, Fifth and Fourteenth
Amendments. He further asserts that he has a mental
disability and their actions also violated the ADA and the
STANDARD OF REVIEW
District Court is expressly authorized to dismiss any civil
action filed by a prisoner seeking relief from a governmental
entity, as soon as possible after docketing, if the Court
concludes that the Complaint fails to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted, or if the Plaintiff seeks
monetary relief from a Defendant who is immune from such
relief. 28 U.S.C. §1915A; Siller v. Dean, No.
99-5323, 2000 WL 145167, at *2 (6th Cir. Feb. 1, 2000);
see Hagans v. Lavine, 415 U.S. 528, 536-37 (1974)
(citing numerous Supreme Court cases for the proposition that
attenuated or unsubstantial claims divest the district court
of jurisdiction); In re Bendectin Litig., 857 F.2d
290, 300 (6th Cir. 1988) (recognizing that federal question
jurisdiction is divested by unsubstantial claims).
of action fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted when it lacks “plausibility in the
Complaint.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 564 (2007). A pleading must contain a “short
and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 677-78 (2009). The factual allegations in the
pleading must be sufficient to raise the right to relief
above the speculative level on the assumption that all the
allegations in the Complaint are true. Bell Atl.
Corp., 550 U.S. at 555. The Plaintiff is not required to
include detailed factual allegations, but must provide more
than “an unadorned, the-Defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me
accusation.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
A pleading that offers legal conclusions or a simple
recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not meet
this pleading standard. Id. In reviewing a
Complaint, the Court must construe the pleading in the light
most favorable to the Plaintiff. Bibbo v. Dean Witter
Reynolds, Inc., 151 F.3d 559, 561 (6th Cir.1998).
Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment
protects prisoners from the ‘unnecessary and wanton
infliction of pain.'” Baker v. Goodrich,
649 F.3d 428, 434 (6th Cir. 2011) (quoting Whitley v.
Albers, 475 U.S. 312, 319 (1986)). Pretrial detainee
claims, though they arise under the Due Process Clause of the
Fourteenth Amendment rather than the Eighth Amendment,
City of Revere v. Mass. Gen. Hosp., 463 U.S. 239,
244 (1983), are analyzed under the same rubric as Eighth
Amendment claims brought by prisoners. See Roberts v.
City of Troy, 773 F.2d 720, 723 (6th Cir.1985) (citing
Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 545 (1979)).
Supreme Court in Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 298
(1991), set forth a framework for Courts to use when deciding
whether certain conditions of confinement constitute cruel
and unusual punishment prohibited by the Eighth Amendment. A
Plaintiff must first plead facts which, if true, establish
that a sufficiently serious deprivation has occurred.
Id. Seriousness is measured in response to
“contemporary standards of decency.” Hudson
v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 8 (1992). Routine discomforts
of prison life do not suffice. Id. Only deliberate
indifference to serious medical needs or extreme deprivations
regarding the conditions of confinement will implicate the
protections of the Eighth Amendment. Id. at 9. A
Plaintiff must also establish a subjective element showing
the prison officials acted with a sufficiently culpable state
of mind. Id. Deliberate indifference is
characterized by obduracy or wantonness, not inadvertence or
good faith error. Whitley v. Albers, 475 U.S. 312,
319 (1986). Liability cannot be predicated solely on
negligence. Id. A prison official violates the
Eighth Amendment only when both the objective and subjective
requirements are met. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S.
825, 834 (1994)
first alleges that Brooks touched his buttocks on the evening
of January 8, 2017. Injury to an inmate's privacy or
dignity generally is not objectively serious to establish a
constitutional violation. Some physical injury is required by
42 U.S.C. § 1997e(e). While this physical injury need
not be significant, it must be more than de minimis
for an Eighth Amendment claim to go forward. Flanory v.
Bonn, No. 09-1161, 2010 WL 1791327, at *4 (6th Cir. May
6, 2010). For that reasons, minor, isolated incidents of
touching, even if coupled with offensive sexual remarks, do
not rise to the level of an Eighth Amendment violation.
See Jackson v. Madery, 158 Fed.Appx. 656, 661 (6th
Cir. 2005)(no Eighth Amendment violation where female guard
rubbed and grabbed male prisoner's buttocks during a
shakedown); Johnson v. Ward, 215 F.3d 1326 (6th Cir.
2000)(isolated incident of corrections officer grabbing
inmate's buttock and making sexually harassing comments
was not objectively serious to violate the Eighth Amendment);
Allen v. Johnson, 66 Fed.Appx. 525 (5th Cir. 2003)
(even if it is assumed that a guard touched a prisoner in a
sexual manner during routine pat-down searches, such
allegations are not sufficiently serious assaultive behavior
to show a constitutional deprivation); Boddie v.
Schneider, 105 F.3d 857, 859-60 (2nd Cir.1997) (no
Eighth Amendment violation where female guard squeezed a male
prisoner's hand, touched his penis, made sexually
suggestive comments, and twice pinned him to a door with her
body). Plaintiff alleges a single incident involving Brooks
and does not suggest he suffered an injury. While that
incident may or may not implicate state tort law, as
described, it was not objectively serious to rise to the
level of an Eighth Amendment violation.
also fails to state a claim for retaliation. He does not
allege any facts to specifically connect any of the
Defendants to the alleged retaliation. Plaintiff cannot
establish the liability of any Defendant absent a clear
showing that the Defendant was personally involved in the
activities which form the basis of the alleged
unconstitutional behavior. Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S.
362, 371 (1976); Mullins v. Hainesworth, No.
95-3186, 1995 WL 559381 (6th Cir. Sept. 20, 1995). He alleges
in general that he filed grievances and was sent to
segregation, subjected to cell ...