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Johnson v. Johnson

June 12, 2008

GEORGE L. JOHNSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SONYA JOHNSON, MARY JANE WATSON, SOUTHEAST TENNESSEE STATE REGIONAL CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Chief Judge Curtis L. Collier

MEMORANDUM

George L. Johnson ("Johnson") has filed a pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Court File No. 1). Johnson brings suit against Sonya Johnson ("Ms. Johnson"); Mary Jane Watson ("Ms. Watson"), and Southeast Tennessee State Regional Correctional Facility ("S.T.S.R.C.F."). Johnson complains that Ms. Johnson and Ms. Watson, staff members who run the kitchen at S.T.S.R.C.F., required him to remove his prescription glasses before entering the kitchen, presumably for work duty. Johnson apparently refused to remove his glasses, was ultimately found guilty for refusing to remove his glasses, and placed "in the hole." (Court File No. 1, p. 5).

Johnson seeks monetary relief, release from prison, and termination of the defendants' employment. However, no service shall issue and for the reasons discussed below, Johnson's complaint will be DISMISSED (Court File No. 1). Johnson has paid the $350.00 filing fee.

I. 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 plaintiffs from the requirement that they must 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). The 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). Furthermore, 28 U.S.C. § 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 § 1915A and § 1915(e)(2). 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

Construing the facts in Johnson's favor, the Court discerns that on August 2, 2007, Ms. Johnson and Ms. Watson, reported Johnson for refusing to follow a direct order to remove his prescription glasses while working in the kitchen. Although Johnson informed the defendants the glasses were prescription and showed them the prescription for the glasses, these two ladies ordered him to remove his glasses while, presumably, working in the kitchen and, upon his refusal, reported him for disobeying an order.

On August 9, 2007, Johnson was found guilty for not removing his prescription glasses and was placed "in the hole." Johnson was placed "in the hole knowing that [he] wood [sic] have migraines, blurry vision and severe pain[sic] experienced from the incident that happen [sic] in the year of 06 at S.T.S.R.C.F. when a gang member attacked [him] while on the phone." (Court File No. 1, p. 5).

IV. Analysis

A. 42 U.S.C. ...


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