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Boswell v. Melton

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

April 28, 2015



JOHN S. BRYANT, Magistrate Judge.

For the reasons stated below, the Magistrate Judge RECOMMENDS that Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Docket Entry 20) be GRANTED and that this action be DISMISSED with prejudice for failure to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Magistrate Judge also RECOMMENDS that this dismissal count as a STRIKE under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g);[1] that this be considered the final judgment in this case; and that any appeal NOT be certified as taken in good faith under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3).

I. Statement of the Case

Plaintiff, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, is an inmate at the Overton County Justice Center (OCJC) in Livingston, Tennessee. (Docket Entry 1). On February 20, 2014, Plaintiff filed his Complaint alleging violations of his civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Docket Entry 1). On March 03, 2014, the District Judge referred this case to the Magistrate Judge. (Docket Entry 3). On November 20, 2014, Defendants filed the instant Motion along with a Memorandum of Law in Support, a statement of undisputed facts, and various supportive exhibits. (Docket Entry 20-24). Plaintiff has not filed a response and the time to do so has passed. (Docket Entry 11). Therefore, the matter is now properly before the Court.

II. Standard of Review

A. Summary Judgment

Pursuant to Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FED. R. CIV. P.), "[t]he court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(a). A fact is material if it "might affect the outcome of the suit." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute about a material fact is genuine "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. The Court must "decide whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law.'" Burgess v. Fischer, 735 F.3d 462, 471 (6th Cir. 2013) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251-52).

"The moving party bears the initial burden of establishing an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Adams v. Rockafellow, 66 F.Appx. 584, 585 (6th Cir. 2003) (unpublished opinion) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986)). "Once the moving party has met its burden of production, the nonmoving party cannot rest on its pleadings, but must present significant probative evidence in support of the complaint to defeat the motion for summary judgment." Adams, 66 F.Appx. at 585 (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248-49; LaPointe v. United Autoworkers Local 600, 8 F.3d 376, 378 (6th Cir. 1993)). "[T]he inferences to be drawn from the underlying facts... must be viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd., v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587-88 (1986) (quoting United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962)).

If the nonmoving party fails to meet its burden, the Court may rely on the facts advanced by the moving party. Guarino v. Brookfield Twp. Trustees, 980 F.2d 399, 405 (6th Cir. 1992). However, the Court may not grant a motion for summary judgment simply because a nonmoving party fails to respond. Miller v. Shore Fin. Servs., Inc., 141 F.Appx. 417, 419 (6th Cir. 2005) (unpublished opinion). Instead, "the district court must, at a minimum, examine the moving party's motion for summary judgment to ensure that it has discharged its initial burden." Miller, 141 F.Appx. at 419 (citation omitted).

When a plaintiff is pro se, the Court will review the plaintiff's pleadings under "less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers...." Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). Still, "even pro se complaints must satisfy basic pleading requirements." Dallas v. Holmes, 137 F.Appx. 746, 750 (6th Cir. 2005) (unpublished opinion) (citation omitted).

B. Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies

Pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a), "[n]o action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under [42 U.S.C. § 1983], or any other Federal law, by a prisoner... until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted." 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). Exhaustion is mandatory and defendants have the burden of establishing this affirmative defense. Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 212 (2007). Exhaustion "applies to all inmate suits about prison life, whether they involve general circumstances or particular episodes, and whether they allege excessive force or some other wrong." Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 532 (2002) (citation omitted).

C. Official Capacity and Personal Capacity Claims

In a personal capacity claim, "it is enough to show that the official, acting under color of state law, caused the deprivation of a federal right." Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 166 (1985) (citation omitted).When a plaintiff brings a § 1983 personal capacity claim against a defendant who had a supervisory role, "respondeat superior" will not "impute liability" onto such a defendant unless the plaintiff shows that the defendant encouraged or participated in the ...

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