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Bell v. Davidson County Sheriff's Office

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

August 28, 2014

TERRANCE L. BELL, Plaintiff,


E. CLIFTON KNOWLES, Magistrate Judge.

I. Introduction and Background

This matter is before the Court upon a Motion to Dismiss filed by Van Modling, Mellnee Ransom, and Jeremy Jones ("Defendants"). Docket No. 17. Defendants have contemporaneously filed a supporting Memorandum of Law (Docket No. 18), and the Declaration of Tom Davis (Docket No. 19). As grounds for their Motion, Defendants argue that this action should be dismissed because Plaintiff did not properly grieve his allegations against Defendant Jones nor did he properly appeal his grievance against Defendants Modling and Ransom, and therefore did not comply with the exhaustion requirements under the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"), 42 U.S.C. § 1997e. Docket No. 17.

Plaintiff has filed a handwritten letter, which the undersigned will construe as a Response. Docket No. 20. In it, Plaintiff essentially contends that he filed a grievance and two "grievance appeals, " but Defendants shook down his cell, looked through all of his papers, and stole the copies of the grievances and appeals he filed in an attempt to "cover their trail." Id.

With leave of Court (Docket No. 22), Defendants have filed a Reply (Docket No. 23). Defendants reply that although Plaintiff's letter references that he filed a grievance about not being placed on the Ramadan list and that he filed two "grievance appeals" via filing a Title VI Complaint, Title VI complaints are not part of the grievance process and thus are not "grievance appeals." Docket No. 23. Defendants argue, therefore, that Plaintiff's letter does not refute their position that he did not file a direct appeal from his grievance through the grievance process. Id. Defendants also note that Plaintiff filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, not Title VI, such that whether Plaintiff exhausted his administrative remedies with regard to his Title VI claims are irrelevant to whether he exhausted his administrative remedies under the instant action. Id. Defendants further assert that, should the Court interpret Plaintiff's Complaint to include a Title VI component, Plaintiff nevertheless fails to state a viable Title VI claim because Title VI claims require a plaintiff to: (1) make a threshold showing that the defendant receives federal financial assistance; (2) establish that the program in question receives federal financial assistance; and (3) demonstrate a nexus between the plaintiff's denied participation and his protected class, which Plaintiff has neither alleged nor demonstrated. Id., citing, e.g., Buchanan v. City of Bolivar, Tenn., 99 F.3d 1352, 1356 (6th Cir. 1996); Grove City College v. Bell, 465 U.S. 555 (1984).

Although the instant Motion is a Motion to Dismiss, as noted above, Defendants have also submitted for consideration the Declaration of Tom Davis. As the undersigned discussed in an Order entered August 11, 2014 (Docket No. 31):

Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(d) provides in relevant part:

Result of Presenting Matters Outside the Pleadings. If, on a motion under Rule 12(b)(6) or 12(c), matters outside the pleadings are presented to and not excluded by the court, the motion must be treated as one for summary judgment under Rule 56. All parties must be given a reasonable opportunity to present all the material that is pertinent to the motion.
... Defendants have clearly filed a Motion under Rule 12(b)(6), and have presented to the Court matters outside the pleadings. The Court will not exclude the Declaration of Mr. Davis. Therefore, the Court will treat the instant Motion as a Motion for Summary Judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56.
Plaintiff shall file a Response to the Motion on or before August 25, 2014....

On August 26, 2014, Plaintiff filed a letter in response to the Court's August 11, 2014 Order, which the Court will construe as a Response to the conversion of the Motion to Dismiss into a Motion for Summary Judgment upon consideration of Mr. Davis' Declaration. Docket No. 34. Plaintiff's Response is, however, unsworn, unverified, contains no citations to the record, and is not in a form required by Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. See id .

Plaintiff filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that Defendants violated his First Amendment rights by not adding him to the Ramadan list. Docket No. 1. Specifically, Plaintiff avers:

I put in a grievance to get put on the Ramadan list and these people here said it was to [sic] late because I was suppose to have put in for to be [sic] put on the list a week prior to Ramadan But here's the thing Ramadan never comes in the same time each year and has to be a siteing [sic] on the moon to let us know when it's in and it never was an announcement made that Ramadan has started I had to find out from another Muslim coming in from the streets... every time I try and save my food during the day to eat it when the sunset [sic] Due to my Religion Some of the CO's would Intentionally throw my food away trying to keep me from practicing my religion...


With regard to what actions Plaintiff took under the Davidson County Sheriff's Office grievance procedure, Plaintiff avers that he "sent in grievance that never was ...

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