Plaintiff sued defendants in the Court of Claims to recover for personal injuries allegedly inflicted in a series of assaults by unknown guards and inmates while plaintiff was incarcerated at the State Prison of Southern Michigan. His first amended complaint set forth the following eight causes of action: (1) intentional infliction of injury; (2) negligence; (3) maintenance of a defective condition in a public building; (4) breach of contract; (5) fraud; (6) violation of civil rights under 42 USC 1983 and the federal and Michigan Constitutions; (7) conspiracy to deprive plaintiff of his constitutional rights under 42 USC 1985(3); and (8) knowingly failing to prevent the conspiracy alleged in count (7), in violation of 42 USC 1986. The Court of Claims held that it was without jurisdiction to hear plaintiff's constitutional claims and that plaintiff's remedy, if any, was in federal court. Further, the court stated that it did not believe that the state constituted a "person" within the meaning of 42 USC 1983. With respect to the remaining claims, the lower court found that they were barred by the doctrine of governmental immunity or that plaintiff had failed to adequately plead a cause of action. The court further held that plaintiff's claim for intentional infliction of injury was not barred by the statute of limitations.
Court of Claims Jurisdiction.
Defendants averred that the Court of Claims was devoid of subject-matter jurisdiction over constitutional claims and actions against individuals. Although the lower court made no disposition regarding claims against individuals, it found that it was without jurisdiction over constitutional claims, believing that they could not be categorized as either ex contractu or ex delicto.
The jurisdiction of the Court of Claims is exclusive and extends to "all claims and demands, liquidated and unliquidated, ex contractu and ex delicto, against the state and any of its departments, commissions, boards, institutions, arms, or agencies". MCL 600.6419(1); MSA 27A.6419(1). Defendants maintain the "ex delicto" should be narrowly construed so as to encompass only traditional common-law torts. We do not believe that the meaning of ex delicto was intended to be so restricted.
Black's Law Dictionary (4th ed), p 660 defines "ex delicto" as "[f]rom a delict, tort, fault, crime, or malfeasance". "Delict" has a broader meaning than "tort" and is defined as "[a] wrong or injury;
Constitutional claims arising out of violations of civil rights have been regarded as a "species of tort liability". Carey v Piphus, 435 U.S. 247, 253; 98 S.Ct. 1042; 55 L Ed 2d 252 (1978). Moreover, such claims have been compared to personal injury actions for purposes of determining the applicable statute of limitations. Wilson v Garcia, 471 US ___; 105 S.Ct. 1938; 85 L Ed 2d 254 (1985). Since ex delicto claims encompass wrongs against persons which are not restricted soley to traditional torts, and, in any event, civil rights actions are in the nature of torts and can be regarded as delicts, we believe that the Court of Claims was vested with subject-matter jurisdiction over plaintiff's constitutionally-based civil rights claims.
Generally, the Court of Claims does not have jurisdiction over suits against individuals. MCL 600.6419(1); MSA 27A.6419(1). However, jurisdiction does extend to suits against state officers where the acts complained of were performed in an officer's official capacity. Abbott v Secretary of State, 67 Mich.App. 344; 240 N.W.2d 800 (1976); Grunow v Sanders, 84 Mich.App. 578; 269 N.W.2d 683 (1978); Burnett v Moore, 111 Mich.App. 646; 314 N.W.2d 458 (1981); Hamilton v Reynolds, 129 Mich.App. 375; 341 N.W.2d 152 (1983). In determining whether an individual qualifies as a "state officer", the "primary focus [is] on the degree of discretion and independence associated with the position". Hamilton, supra, p 379, citing People v
The Court of Claims was in error when it held that it was divested of jurisdiction by MCL 600.6440; MSA 27A.6440. This provision bars an action in the Court of Claims if the claimant has an adequate remedy in federal court. The Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution "bars suits [for monetary damages] against an unconsenting state in federal court not only when the state is the named party, but also when it is the party in fact". Gordon v Sadasivan, 144 Mich.App. 113, 118; 373 N.W.2d 258 (1985), citing Scheuer v Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232; 94 S.Ct. 1683; 40 L Ed 2d 90 (1974). The Court of Claims Act is not to be construed as a consent to a suit by a private citizen against the state. Brown Brothers Equipment Co v Michigan, 266 F.Supp. 506 (WD Mich, 1967). Moreover, we have found no authority to indicate that this state has consented to suits in federal court which are founded upon 42 USC 1983. Since defendants State of Michigan, Department of Corrections and Perry Johnson could raise the Eleventh Amendment as a defense to this action in federal court, plaintiff's remedy in federal court is inadequate. Therefore, § 6440 did not divest the Court of Claims of jurisdiction.
State Amenability to Suit Under § 1983.
In 42 USC 1983, Congress provided:
"Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of an State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress. For the purposes of this section, any Act of Congress applicable exclusively to the District of Columbia shall be considered to be a statute of the District of Columbia."
Presently, there is a conflict in this Court, paralleling a conflict evident in courts throughout the nation, relative to whether a "state" constitutes a "person" under 42 USC 1983.
In Quern, supra, the Court held that in enacting § 1983 Congress did not intend to abrogate the sovereign immunity of the states guaranteed by the Eleventh Amendment. In a related prior case, the Court had held that under § 1983 "a federal court's remedial power, consistent with the Eleventh Amendment [was] necessarily limited to prospective injunctive relief * * * and [could] not include a retroactive award which [would require] the payment of funds from the state treasury". Edelman v Jordan, 415 U.S. 651, 677; 94 S.Ct. 1347; 39 L Ed 2d 662, reh den 416 U.S. 1000 (1974). In Quern, the Court reaffirmed its holding in Edelman, indicating that prospective relief could be afforded against state officials under § 1983. Moreover, the Court upheld a decision requiring the state to send out notices to a plaintiff class, finding that the notices would not infringe on the Eleventh Amendment.
In a concurring opinion in Quern, Justice Brennan characterized the majority's holding as a determination "that a State is not a `person' [under § 1983]", 440 U.S. 350, a holding with which he did not agree. Although the majority opinion did not expressly refute this characterization, it engaged in a debate with Justice Brennan which has generated confusion regarding the scope of the majority's holding.
Numerous courts have agreed with Justice Brennan's conclusion that the majority effectively held that a state was not a person. See Hampton v Michigan, 144 Mich.App. 794; 377 N.W.2d 920 (1985); Merritt v State, 108 Idaho 20; 696 P.2d 871 (1985); State v Green, 633 P.2d 1381 (Alas, 1981); Boldt v State, 101 Wis.2d 566; 305 N.W.2d 133, cert den 454 U.S. 973; 102 S.Ct. 524; 70 L Ed 2d 393 (1981); Edgar
Other courts have made no explicit finding regarding whether a state is a person, but have held that § 1983 claims against states in state courts are barred based on the doctrine of sovereign immunity. See Fetterman v University of Connecticut, 192 Conn. 539; 473 A.2d 1176 (1984); Thiboutot v Maine, 405 A.2d 230 (1979), aff'd on other grounds 448 U.S. 1; 100 S.Ct. 2502; 65 L Ed 2d 555 (1980).
Yet, other cases have determined that Justice Rehnquist, who wrote for the majority in Quern, determined only that the Eleventh Amendment had not been abrogated by § 1983, while avoiding a determination relative to whether a state is a person. These cases have gone on to determine that a state is a person under § 1983. See Smith v Michigan, 122 Mich.App. 340; 333 N.W.2d 50 (1983), lv gtd 422 Mich. 971 (1985); 363 N.W.2d 641 (1984), cited in Williams v Michigan, 144 Mich.App. 438; 376 N.W.2d 117 (1985); Karchefske v Dep't of Mental Health, 143 Mich.App. 1; 371 N.W.2d 876
Although we believe that there are compelling arguments on both sides of this issue, we hold that a state is a "person" under 42 USC 1983. We find that the latter group of cases, holding that a state is a "person" under 42 USC 1983, presents a more well-reasoned analysis for the following reasons. First, Quern, supra, and Edelman, supra, indicated that prospective injunctive relief could be afforded in federal courts against states pursuant to § 1983. As the court noted in Hodges, supra, p 1283:
"[I]t is obvious that, if any relief at all may be afforded under § 1983 against a state, it must be a `person' within the meaning of the statute for at least some purposes."
Second, we do not believe that the Quern majority implicitly decided that a state was a person as Justice Brennan suggested. Rather, in accord with Smith, supra, and Karchefske, supra, we believe that the holding was limited to a determination that § 1983 did not nullify the sovereign immunity of the states secured by the Eleventh Amendment. The Eleventh Amendment bars a suit against a state in federal court only if the state has not waived its immunity. Hans v Louisiana, 134 U.S. 1; 10 S.Ct. 504; 33 L Ed 842 (1890); Alabama v Pugh,
After concluding that a state was a person under § 1983, the Karchefske panel held that § 1983 actions against the state and state agencies were nonetheless barred in state courts. This holding was based, in part, on Quern, supra, which found that there was no abrogation of Eleventh Amendment immunity since there was only scant evidence of a Congressional intent to the contrary. Quern indicated that if Congress had intended to abrogate such a well-established right it would have done so in a more express fashion. In Karchefske, p 9, the Court stated that it "would expect the same clarity of Congressional intent to abrogate traditional sovereign immunity as the United States Supreme Court demanded (and found lacking) in Quern, supra, with respect to Eleventh Amendment immunity". As the State of Michigan's waiver of sovereign immunity applies only in narrow situations, see MCL 691.1407; MSA 3.996(107) Ross, supra, Karchefske concluded that the state had not made itself amenable to suit under 42 USC 1983. Since we do not believe that Congress intended to abrogate a state's sovereign immunity against its will by permitting the institution of § 1983 actions in state courts, while barring their institution in federal forums, we adopt the reasoning of the Karchefske opinion. Accordingly, we hold that plaintiff has failed to
Further, we do not believe that plaintiff has stated a claim against defendant Johnson under § 1983. Plaintiff has sued defendant Johnson only in his official capacity. He has not alleged a causative act or omission by this defendant which resulted in his injuries. See Clark, supra. Moreover, there are no allegations in the complaint that defendant Johnson acted in bad faith. Thus, as a public official, he is entitled to qualified immunity. Baker v Detroit, 458 F.Supp. 379 (ED Mich, 1978), aff'd on other grounds sub nom Bratton v Detroit, 704 F.2d 878 (CA 6, 1983), cert den 104 S.Ct. 703, reh den 104 S.Ct. 1431 (1984).
Plaintiff's State Law Claims.
In Ross, 420 Mich. 624, the Supreme Court stated:
"Respondeat superior liability generally can be imposed [against a governmental agency] only where the individual tortfeasor acted during the course of his or her employment and within the scope of his or her authority. If either of these conditions is not met, a governmental agency cannot be held vicariously liable." (Footnote omitted.)
We note that Ross, supra, imposed some additional
Plaintiff also maintains that the state defendants can be held directly liable for an intentional tort, based on their alleged intentional failure to transfer plaintiff to a different unit within the prison. However, the mere characterization of an act as "intentional" does not transform simple negligence into an intentional tort. Elliott v Dep't of Social Services, 124 Mich.App. 124; 333 N.W.2d 603 (1983); Hobrla v Glass, 143 Mich.App. 616; 372 N.W.2d 630 (1985). Moreover, this Court has held that an intentional tort must be based on an act of commission, as opposed to an act of omission. Hobrla; Williams, supra. Accordingly, we believe that this claim is so clearly unenforceable as a matter of law that no factual development could
We also hold that plaintiff has failed to state a claim under the public building exception to governmental immunity. See MCL 691.1406; MSA 3.996(106). Although a prison constitutes a public building, Green v Dep't of Corrections, 386 Mich. 459; 192 N.W.2d 491 (1971), the exception is generally limited to allegations of a "dangerous building by way of improper design, faulty construction or the absence of safety devices". Hinds, p 101, citing Pichette v Manistique Public Schools, 403 Mich. 268; 269 N.W.2d 143 (1978); Lockaby v Wayne County, 406 Mich. 65; 276 N.W.2d 1 (1979); Bush v Oscoda Area Schools, 405 Mich. 716; 275 N.W.2d 268 (1979). The exception does not extend to allegations of (1) a failure to provide protection from, or adequate supervision of, other inmates, (2) a failure to provide adequate staff and medical care, or (3) a failure to properly classify plaintiff and/or remove him from the general prison population. See Hinds, supra. These allegations sound in negligence and do not constitute allegations of danger caused by the building itself. See Vargo v Svitchan, 100 Mich.App. 809; 301 N.W.2d 1 (1980), app dis 411 Mich. 1035 (1982). Based on these allegations, plaintiff has failed to plead in avoidance of governmental immunity. With respect to allegations regarding the lack of a padded cell and an inadequate physical structure, it is clear that plaintiff's injuries did not arise from such alleged defects, but from the assaults allegedly inflicted by unknown guards and inmates. Accordingly, we believe that summary judgment was properly granted on this claim.
Plaintiff maintains that he successfully stated a claim based on implied contract and promissory estoppel theories. In his complaint, he alleges that
Plaintiff alleges that defendant knowingly failed to disclose the limitations of the protective custody unit where he was housed. These allegations do not constitute a properly pled cause of action for fraud. Averments of fraud must be stated with particularity. GCR 1963, 112.2; MCR 2.112(B). Plaintiff has not alleged that defendants intended to induce him to rely on this nondisclosure. See Fassihi v Sommers, Schwartz, Silver, Schwartz &
Finally, plaintiff maintains that he was entitled to amend his complaint so as to state a claim before summary judgment was entered. This argument is based solely on GCR 1963, 117.3 [now MCR 2.116(I)(5)] which provides each party with an opportunity to amend his or her complaint in accord with GCR 1963, 118 [now MCR 2.118] where a motion for summary judgment is based on the assertion that there is no genuine issue of material fact. Plaintiff was not entitled to the benefit of this rule since defendants' motion was brought pursuant to GCR 1963, 117.2(1) [now MCR 2.116(C)(8)] for failure to state a claim. In any event, plaintiff obtained the benefit of Rule 118 since he amended his complaint once as of right. Although he could have moved for leave to amend thereafter, or requested a stipulation from defendants allowing such an action, plaintiff took no such initiative. The onus was not on the trial court to extend plaintiff an opportunity to amend before summary judgment was granted.