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Jelks v. Klutz

United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Eastern Division

July 24, 2015

TONNIE JELKS, Plaintiff,
OFFICER KLUTZ, ET AL., Defendants.


JAMES D. TODD, District Judge.

On March 25, 2015, Plaintiff Tonnie Jelks ("Jelks"), who is confined in the Madison County Jail in Jackson, Tennessee, filed a pro se complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (ECF Nos. 1 & 2.) After Jelks submitted the required documentation (ECF No. 5), the Court granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis on April 16, 2015, assessing the civil filing fee pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(a)-(b) (ECF No. 6). The Clerk shall record the defendants as Officer First Name Unknown ("FNU") Klutz, Officer FNU Stewart, [1] Nurse Adam, [2] Dr. FNU Gray, and Nurse FNU Murcer.


In his complaint, Jelks alleges that, on November 30, 2014, he was assaulted by Defendants Klutz and Stewart at the Madison County Jail. (ECF No. 1-1 at PageID 4.). Jelks alleges that after he told the "J.P.A." that his handcuffs were too tight, Klutz took Jelks to a room where his handcuffs were removed and he was told to remove his underwear. ( Id. ) Jelks asked him to hold on a minute, but then two other officers, one of whom was Stewart, came in the room. ( Id. ) The three officers then allegedly threw Jelks head first against the wall, causing pressure on his neck and back. ( Id. ) Jelks further alleges that the officers then handcuffed him and threw him, while naked, into a holding cell. ( Id. ) Jelks alleges that Klutz then put his knee on Jelks's back and the other on his neck, causing more force and pressure. ( Id. ). Jelks maintains that he was not resisting at any time. ( Id. ) Jelks alleges that his neck has a knot in it, he has pain in his back from his neck to his legs, and he cannot hold his head down for a long time. ( Id. ) Jelks asks for the defendants to be fired and to be paid for his pain and suffering. ( Id. )


A. Screening and Standard

The Court is required to screen prisoner complaints and to dismiss any complaint, or any portion thereof, if the complaint-

(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or
(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b); see also 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

In assessing whether the complaint in this case states a claim on which relief may be granted, the court applies the standards under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), as stated in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-79 (2009), and in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-57 (2007). Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010). "Accepting all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true, the Court consider[s] the factual allegations in [the] complaint to determine if they plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief.'" Williams v. Curtin, 631 F.3d 380, 383 (6th Cir. 2011) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 681) (alteration in original). "[P]leadings that... are no more than conclusions... are not entitled to the assumption of truth. While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679; see also Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 n.3 ("Rule 8(a)(2) still requires a showing, ' rather than a blanket assertion, of entitlement to relief. Without some factual allegation in the complaint, it is hard to see how a claimant could satisfy the requirement of providing not only fair notice' of the nature of the claim, but also grounds' on which the claim rests.").

"A complaint can be frivolous either factually or legally. Any complaint that is legally frivolous would ipso facto fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Hill, 630 F.3d at 470 (citing Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325, 328-29 (1989)).

Whether a complaint is factually frivolous under §§ 1915A(b)(1) and 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) is a separate issue from whether it fails to state a claim for relief. Statutes allowing a complaint to be dismissed as frivolous give "judges not only the authority to dismiss a claim based on an indisputably meritless legal theory, but also the unusual power to pierce the veil of the complaint's factual allegations and dismiss those claims whose factual contentions are clearly baseless." Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327, 109 S.Ct. 1827 (interpreting 28 U.S.C. § 1915). Unlike a dismissal for failure to state a claim, where a judge must accept all factual allegations as true, Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949-50, a judge does ...

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