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Rishton v. Sullivan County

January 4, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Leon Jordan United States District Judge


Bruce S. Rishton, a pretrial detainee in the Sullivan County Detention Center (SCDC), brings this pro se civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiff is ASSESSED the civil filing fee of $350.00. Accordingly, the custodian of the plaintiff's inmate trust account at the institution where he now resides shall submit, as an initial partial payment, whichever is the greater of:

(a) twenty percent (20%) of the average monthly deposits to the plaintiff's' inmate trust account; or

(b) twenty percent (20%) of the average monthly balance in his inmate trust account for the six-month period preceding the filing of the complaint. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1)(A) and (B).

Thereafter, the custodian shall submit twenty percent (20%) of the plaintiff's preceding monthly income (or income credited to his trust account for the preceding month), but only when such monthly income exceeds $10.00, until the full filing fee of $350.00 has been paid to the Clerk's Office.*fn1 McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 607 (6th Cir. 1997).

To ensure compliance with the fee-collection procedure, the Clerk is DIRECTED to mail a copy of this memorandum and order to George Little, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Correction, and to the custodian of inmate accounts at the institution where the plaintiff is now confined.*fn2

In his complaint, the plaintiff alleges five claims. In the first one, he maintains that his 16-person cell in the SCDC routinely houses 30-40 inmates and that 20 inmates, including the plaintiff himself, have been sleeping on the floor for eight months. In his second claim, the plaintiff contends that the ventilation system needs repair and that guards "shake down" his cell to retaliate against the inmates for complaining about the ventilation system. His third claim concerns allegations that inmates rarely go outside-perhaps, only once or twice a month.

The fourth claim is that inmates in his cell endure discrimination and restrictions without reason; that when the inmates file grievances, the guards "step it up a notch;" that some inmates are singled out by the guards, who inform other inmates that "this inmate is causing all of you to suffer by writing grievances," which has led to more than one beating by the other inmates. His fifth and final claim in his complaint is that, virtually, there is no available dental or medical care for inmates and that, though he has filled out a form to see the dentist and was charged a medical fee for the visit, he has not seen a dentist.

An additional claim, which involves his pending state court criminal proceedings, is alleged on a separate sheet of paper. In this claim, the plaintiff asserts that while he is unsure, he thinks that he should sue the county or the prosecutor for violating his constitutional right to due process of law; his right to a speedy trial; his right to counsel; and his right to a reasonable bond.

As an initial matter, the plaintiff's appended claim concerning his state judicial criminal proceedings must be dismissed due to the doctrine established by Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971). Under this doctrine, federal courts must abstain from entertaining lawsuits by individuals seeking to enjoin a criminal prosecution against them in state court where those proceedings implicate important state interests and the plaintiff has an adequate opportunity to raise his challenges in that forum. See O'Shea v. Littleton, 414 U.S. 488, 499-504 (1974). All of the factors supporting abstention are present here. Thus, the Court must abstain from interfering in the plaintiff's state criminal proceedings and hereby DISMISSES all such claims without prejudice.

Before a prisoner may bring a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, he must first allege and show that he has exhausted all available administrative remedies.

42 U.S.C. § 1997e; Brown v. Toombs, 139 F.3d 1102 (6th Cir.), cert. denied, 525 U.S. 833 (1998). Even where money damages are unavailable through a correctional facility's grievance process, a prisoner must still exhaust his state remedies. Booth v. Churner, 531 U.S. 956 (2001). Exhaustion is mandatory and applies to all inmate suits about prison life, including general prison conditions and single incidents that affect only particular prisoners. Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 532 (2002). A district court must enforce the exhaustion requirement sua sponte. Brown, 139 F.3d at 1104.

In order to satisfy the requirements of § 1997e(a), "a prisoner must plead his claims with specificity and show that they have been exhausted by attaching a copy of the applicable administrative dispositions to the complaint." Knuckles El v. Toombs, 215 F.3d 640, 642 (6th Cir.), cert. denied, 531 U.S. 1040 (2000). Satisfaction of this requirement entails filing a grievance concerning each claim stated in the complaint. See Northington v. DeForest, 215 F.3d. 1327 (Table, text at 2000 WL 659260 *1 (6th Cir. May 11, 2000) (citing Brown, 139 F.3d at 1104)).

In this case, the plaintiff maintains, in section II of his complaint, that the SCDC has a grievance procedure; that he submitted grievances "on the subject(s)to be grieved;" that he either did not receive a response or was told that the County is "working on it"or "something ...

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