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Miller v. Blackwelder

July 24, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Mattice


Charles W. Miller ("Miller"), was a prisoner confined at the Lincoln County Jail when he filed his pro se civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C.§ 1983 (Court File No. 2). Miller filed a document he entitled "Motion for Amendment of Complaint," which the Court construed as a motion for injunctive relief, since it requested the Court to give him relief from Defendants' alleged retaliation (Court File 17). The Court ordered Defendants to file a response and mailed a copy of the Order to Plaintiff at his address of record, the Lincoln County Jail, on September 20, 2007. The document was returned to the District Court Clerk as undeliverable on October 3, 2007.

Defendants' response to the motion for injunctive relief confirms that Miller is no longer at the Lincoln County Jail (Court File No. 20). The affidavit of Robert Rowe, Chief Administrator of Lincoln County Jail, reflects Miller was transferred to Brushy Mountain Correctional Complex on September 24, 2007. As of July 17, 2008, Miller has not notified the Court of his change of address. The Court previously warned Miller that failure to notify the Court of his change of address would result in the dismissal of this action. However, since the Court has been apprised of Miller's new address, it will not dismiss the case for failure to notify the Court of his change of address.

Nevertheless, for the reasons explained herein, Plaintiff's complaint will be DISMISSED (Court File No. 2) and Defendants' motions for summary judgment will be GRANTED (Court File No. 22).

I. Non-Dispositive Motions

The Court previously reserved ruling on a motion filed by Miller which the Court construed as a motion requesting injunctive relief, since he was asking the Court to relieve him being forced to sleep on the floor without a blanket and denied showers and hygiene items (Court File 17). Defendants have submitted a response and an affidavit by Chief Administrator Robert Rowe denying the claims of retaliation to which Miller has not responded.*fn1 Miller's motion requesting injunctive relief was not made under oath and he has submitted neither a sworn affidavit nor any response refuting Chief Administrator Robert Rowe's affidavit. Nevertheless, because Miller is no longer incarcerated at the Lincoln County Jail, this request for injunctive relief is moot. See Kensu v. Haigh, 87 F.3d 172, 175 (6th Cir. 1996) (claims requesting declaratory and injunctive relief were moot was because plaintiff was no longer in the institution). Accordingly, Miller's motion for injunctive relief is DENIED as MOOT (Court File No. 17).

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).

The Court screens the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and § 1915(e). Section 1915(e)(2) requires the Court to dismiss a case at any time if the Court determines 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 ...

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