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Slone v. Bilbery

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

October 8, 2014

JOSHUA SLONE, Plaintiff,
v.
MAJOR JEWELL BILBERY, SGT. DEAN McBRIDE, SHERIFF ODDIE SHOUPE, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

KEVIN H. SHARP, Chief District Judge.

Plaintiff Joshua Slone, an inmate confined at the White County Justice Center in Sparta, Tennessee, has filed a civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against defendants Major Jewell Bilbery, Sgt. Dean McBride, and White County Sheriff Oddie Shoupe. (ECF No. 1.) The complaint is before the Court for an initial review pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA").

I. Standard of Review

Under the PLRA, the Court is required to dismiss any in forma pauperis or prisoner action if the complaint is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A; 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c). The Sixth Circuit has confirmed that the dismissal standard articulated by the Supreme Court in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), and Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), "governs dismissals for failure to state a claim under [the PLRA] because the relevant statutory language tracks the language in Rule 12(b)(6)." Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010). Thus, to survive scrutiny on initial review, "a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Nonetheless, in conducting the initial review, the Court must read the plaintiff's pro se complaint indulgently, see Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), and accept the plaintiff's allegations as true, unless they are clearly irrational or wholly incredible. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 33 (1992).

II. Factual Allegations

The plaintiff alleges that the conditions of his confinement are unsafe in three particular arenas:

(1) The plaintiff states that inmates at the White County Jail are fed cold food, out-of-date items, and moldy bread, and that the food is "unsafe." He further alleges that the inmates are provided insufficient calories per day to maintain their weight. He states that Sgt. McBride has said that she is feeding inmates 1000-1400 calories per day due to the budget, and that he and inmates are not receiving sufficient nutrients.

(2) According to the plaintiff, the jail is overcrowded, with people sleeping on the floor, nine people sleeping in six-person cells and three people sleeping in two-person cells. The plaintiff does not allege that he is one of the inmates who has to sleep on the floor, and he does not indicate how long the overcrowding has persisted. He does not allege that he has suffered any concrete harm as a result of the overcrowding.

(3) The plaintiff alleges that he was assaulted in the intake bathroom on September 20, 2014 by officers working at the jail, and that even though he alerted administrators to a problem before the assault occurred, no steps were taken to prevent it or to protect the plaintiff. He asserts that the administrators' failure to act amounted to deliberate indifference to his welfare, in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. He claims that he has pictures of the bruises on his face and ribs resulting from this incident. He attaches to his complaint copies of grievances alleging generally that he was afraid of other inmates and officers and demanding to be transferred to another facility.

In addition, the plaintiff alleges that he was "denied [his] right to study law and policy" because the jail administrators refused to provide him with a copy of the T.C.I. handbook (presumably the Rules of the Tennessee Corrections Institute), and the jail library does not have a copy either.

The plaintiff sues the defendants in their official capacity only. He seeks equitable relief and monetary damages.

III. Discussion

The plaintiff seeks to bring suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 to vindicate alleged violations of his federal constitutional rights. Section 1983 confers a private federal right of action against any person who, acting under color of state law, deprives an individual of any right, privilege or immunity secured by the

Constitution or federal laws. Wurzelbacher v. Jones-Kelley, 675 F.3d 580, 583 (6th Cir. 2012). Thus, to state a § 1983 claim, a plaintiff must allege two elements: (1) a deprivation of rights secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States, and (2) that "the deprivation was caused by a person acting under color of state law." ...


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