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Jackson v. Hudson

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

August 2, 2019

James M. Jackson, Plaintiff,
v.
Stuart Hudson, et at., Defendants.

          Deavers, Magistrate Judge

          OPINION AND ORDER

          MICHAEL H. WATSON, JUDGE

         Plaintiff, James M. Jackson, Jr., is a state inmate proceeding without the assistance of counsel. He brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants Stuart Hudson (Director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections), Trayce Thalheimer (Chairperson of the Ohio Board Authority), Kathleen Kovach, Ellen Venters, RF Rauschengerg, Mark Houk, Alicia Handwerk, Shirley Smith, Dr. T. Reveal, Ron Nelson, Jr., Lisa Hunter, and the Ohio Adult Parole Authority (collectively, "Defendants").[1] Compl., ECF No. 3. Defendants moved to dismiss Plaintiffs case for failure to state a claim, for lack of jurisdiction, and for lack of standing. Mot., ECF No. 9. On June 17, 2019, Magistrate Judge Deavers issued a Report and Recommendation ("R&R") recommending the Court grant in part and deny in part Defendants' motion. R&R, ECF No. 18. Defendants timely objected to portions of the Magistrate Judge's R&R, ECF No. 19, and Plaintiff responded, Resp., ECF No. 20. For the following reasons, the Undersigned SUSTAINS Defendants' objection, GRANTS Defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, Mot., ECF No. 9, and DISMISSES Plaintiffs Complaint.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff's § 1983 claim rests on Defendants' alleged "fail[ure] to provide a meaningful statutory mandated parole eligibility/suitability hearing." Compl. 5, ECF No. 3. Plaintiffs parole hearing was insufficient, he says, for two reasons. First, "information provided by Ms. Lisa Hunter, Institutional Parole Officer...was considered by the parole board to be of a mental health nature," but "Ms. Hunter is not a qualified individual by standards set forth by the State of Ohio to determined [sic] mental health fitness to reenter society." Id. Second, "past criminal history going back to when plaintiff was 12 years of age is of an erroneous nature and is part of plaintiffs juvenile record," and it "fail[s] to highlight the improvements made by plaintiff in his rehabilitation process." Id. To remedy these alleged deficiencies, Plaintiff requests a new parole hearing, a mental health and psychological evaluation by a licensed and qualified practitioner, and that "erroneous and outdated information not be used in his parole decision." Id. at 6.

         Defendants moved to dismiss Plaintiffs claim on several bases. They asserted that Plaintiff failed to state a claim for relief because he did not allege that the Parole Board knowingly relied on false information when it made its parole determination. Mot. 4-6, ECF No. 9. For the same reason, Defendants argued that the Court lacks jurisdiction under § 1983. Id. Additionally, they contended that the Adult Parole Authority could not be sued under § 1983 because it is not a "person" under the statute. Id. at 6. They also argued that Defendant Thalheimer must be dismissed because Plaintiff did not allege that Thalheimer personally participated in the alleged deprivation of Plaintiff's constitutional rights. Id. at 6-8. Finally, Defendants asserted that Plaintiff failed to establish Article III standing because he did not demonstrate that the harm he alleged was traceable to any named defendant. Id. at 8-9. Plaintiff opposed Defendants' motion to dismiss. Resp., ECF No. 15.

         Magistrate Judge Deavers recommended granting the motion to dismiss Defendants Adult Parole Authority and Thalheimer from the lawsuit but denying the motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, lack of jurisdiction, and lack of standing. R&R 8-9, ECF No. 18. She notified the parties of their right to file objections to the R&R pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). Id. at 9. And she advised the parties that the failure to object to the R&R within fourteen days would result in a waiver of the right to de novo review by the District Judge and waiver of the right to appeal the decision of the District Court adopting the R&R. Id.

         Defendants timely objected to only the Magistrate Judge's recommendation to deny the motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. Obj., ECF No. 19. Plaintiff opposed Defendants' objection, Resp., ECF No. 20, but did not file any of his own objections.

         Defendants' sole objection is now ripe for review.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Under Rule 72(b), the Court reviews de novo any part of the Magistrate Judge's disposition to which a party has properly objected. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3). The Court may accept, reject, or modify the R&R, receive further evidence, or return the matter to the Magistrate Judge with instructions. Id.

         Defendants object to the Magistrate Judge's recommendation to deny their motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Procedure Rule 12(b)(6), [2] contending that Plaintiffs complaint contains only conclusory allegations devoid of any factual support. A claim survives a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) if it "contain[s] sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). "The plausibility standard is not akin to a 'probability requirement; but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Id. This standard "calls for enough fact to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of [unlawful conduct]." BellAtl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007). A complaint's "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact)." Id. at 555 (internal citations omitted).

         A pro se litigant's pleadings must be, and in this instance are, construed liberally and held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by attorneys. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972). Still, even "the lenient treatment generally accorded to pro se litigants has limits." Pilgrim v. Littlefield, 92 F.3d 413, 416 (6th Cir. 1996). Just like any other plaintiff, pro se plaintiffs must allege more than "naked assertion[s]"-they must provide enough factual enhancement to make their claim not just possible, but plausible. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557.

         III. ...


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