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Caldwell v. Freeman

June 29, 2007

ALAN CALDWELL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CAPT. PAM FREEMAN; COFFEE COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPT.; NURSE KAYRON BOWEN;*FN1SHERIFF STEVE GRAVES, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Harry S. Mattice, Jr. United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM

Alan Caldwell ("Plaintiff") has filed a pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Court File No. 1, Attachment #2). Plaintiff brings suit against Capt. Pam Freeman, Coffee County Court Sheriff's Department, Nurse Kayron Bowen, and Sheriff Steve Graves. Plaintiff alleges Defendants violated his constitutional rights when they exposed him to unconstitutional jail conditions. Specifically, Plaintiff challenges jail conditions and the handling of his child support case. For the reasons discussed below, Plaintiff's complaint will be DISMISSED (Court File No. 1, Attachment #2) and Defendants' motion to dismiss (Court File No. 10) will be GRANTED.

I. Non-Dispositive Motions

Plaintiff filed a motion for counsel (Court File No. 12) and an indecipherable motion to show cause (Court File No. 13) which is a rambling dissertation of his medical history and the history of his treatment during incarceration. The complaint is being dismissed for the reasons explained below. Accordingly, Plaintiff's motions for counsel and to show cause will be DENIED (Court File Nos. 12 & 13).*fn2

II. Standard of Review

A. Pro Se Pleadings

Pro se pleadings filed in civil rights cases are liberally construed and held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. McNeil v. United States, 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993); Boag v. MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364, 365 (1982); Pilgrim v. Littlefield, 92 F.3d 413, 416 (6th Cir. 1996); Jourdan v. Jabe, 951 F.2d 108, 110 (6th Cir. 1991). However, pro se status does not exempt a plaintiff from the requirement that he comply with relevant rules of procedural and substantive law. Hulsey v. State of Texas, 929 F.2d 168, 171 (5th Cir. 1991); Birl v. Estelle, 660 F.2d 592, 593 (5th Cir. 1981). Pro se plaintiffs must comply with Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure which provides that a complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief. . . ." LRL Properties v. Portage Metro Housing Authority, 55 F.3d 1097, 1104 (6th Cir. 1995).

Although the standard of review is liberal, it does require more than the bare assertion of legal conclusions. Lillard v. Shelby County Bd. Of Educ., 76 F.3d 716, 726 (6th Cir. 1996) (standard of review for dismissing a complaint pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6)-failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted); LRL Properties, 55 F.3d at 1103-04; Allard v. Weitzman (In re DeLorean Motor Co.), 991 F.2d 1236, 1240 (6th Cir. 1993); Hartfield v. East Grand Rapids Public Schools, 960 F. Supp. 1259, 1268 (W.D. Mich. 1997). A complaint must give the defendants fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests. Lillard, 76 F.3d at 726; Gazette v. City of Pontiac, 41 F.3d 1061, 1064 (6th Cir. 1994). "In practice, 'a . . . complaint must contain either direct or inferential allegations respecting all the material elements to sustain a recovery under some viable legal theory.'" Lillard, 76 F.3d at 726 (citations omitted).

The Court screens the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and § 1915(e). Section 1915(e)(2) provides that the Court must dismiss a case at any time if the Court determines that it is frivolous or fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

B. Screening Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A and 1915(e)

When screening a prisoner complaint, a district court must examine both § 1915(e)(2) and § 1915A. If the civil action seeks redress from a governmental entity, officer, or employee, the district court must dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, which (a) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or (b) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from monetary relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Should the complaint contain any allegations that do not fall within § 1915A, the district court must then examine the complaint under § 1915(e)(2). The requirements of §1915(e)(2) overlap the criteria of § 1915A. Section 1915A is restricted to prisoners who sue government entities, officers, or employees. In contrast, § 1915(e)(2) is restricted neither to actions brought by prisoners, nor to cases involving government defendants. Further, § 1915A is applicable at the initial stage of the litigation, while § 1915(e)(2) is applicable throughout the entire litigation process. A case that may not initially appear to meet §1915(e)(2) may be dismissed at a future date should it become apparent that the case satisfies this section. Thus, in prisoner cases, the district court must first examine a complaint under § 1915A and then review the complaint under § 1915(e)(2) before the case can proceed in due course. A district court is required to screen all civil cases brought by prisoners, regardless of whether the inmate paid the full filing fee, is a pauper, is pro se, or is represented by counsel as the statute does not differentiate between various civil actions brought by prisoners. The dismissal of a complaint under §1915(e)(2) or § 1915A does not negate a prisoner's obligation to pay the filing fee in accordance with § 1915(b)(1)(2). See In re Tyler, 110 F.3d [528], 529-30 [(8th Cir. 1997)]. We make it explicit: a court's responsibility under the Prison Litigation Act is to first examine the financial status of a prisoner and make the assessment of fees. After the fees have been assessed, the merits of a complaint or appeal may be reviewed. Our mandate, however, does not prevent a district court from making the fee assessment and conducting the screening process in the same opinion or order.

McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 608 (6th Cir. 1997).

III. Facts

Plaintiff's complaint is difficult to decipher and confusingly pled. Although the Court is able to discern some ยง 1983 claims from Plaintiff's complaint, the Court observes that Plaintiff has also included complaints about the handling of his child support case. Plaintiff's claims as to his child support case will be dismissed, as he makes ...


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