United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Western Division
ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO AMEND, ORDER FOR PARTIAL DISMISSAL OF COMPLAINT WITH PREJUDICE, AND DIRECTING THAT PROCESS BE ISSUED AND SERVED ON DEFENDANTS PRUITT AND THOMPSON. ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR FAST AND SPEEDY TRIAL AND APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL, AND ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR DETERMINATION OF CASE STATUS
JAMES D. TODD, District Judge.
On July 23, 2014, Plaintiff Cedric Cole ("Cole"), a former inmate of the West Tennessee State Penitentiary ("WTSP") in Henning, Tennessee, filed a pro se complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a motion to proceed in forma pauperis, and a motion to appoint counsel in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. (ECF Nos. 1, 2 & 3.) On August 27, 2014, Cole provided his trust fund information to the Court. (ECF No. 6). In an order issued September 10, 2014, United States District Judge Aleta Trauger granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis, assessed the civil filing fee pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 ("PLRA"), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(a)-(b), and transferred the case to the Western District of Tennessee. (ECF No. 7.)
I. THE COMPLAINT and AMENDED COMPLAINT
On March 25, 2015, Cole filed a motion seeking leave to file an amended complaint. (Mot. For Leave to File Compl. 54, ECF No 14.) Cole's amended complaint included the addition of three defendants and a jury demand. ( Id. ) Because the motion was submitted before the complaint had been screened, leave of Court is not required. Accordingly, the motion to amend is GRANTED. The Clerk is directed to modify the docket to reflect that Cole has sued additional parties. The Clerk shall record the Defendants as WTSP Warden Stanley Dickerson, Counselor Lori Hughes, Tennessee Department of Correction ("TDOC") Commissioner Derrick Schofield, and Officers J. Jones, A. Pruitt and First Name Unknown ("FNU") Thompson.
In his original complaint, Cole alleges that he is being restrained against his liberty and denied his Fourteenth Amendment protections by being placed on administrative segregation. (Compl. 5, ECF No. 1.) Cole alleges that he is being "maxed out" without a "max hearing" or proper documents. ( Id. ) Cole alleges that "Warden and Counselor are filing fraudulent documents and not doing their duties." ( Id. )
In his Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint, Cole alleges that on August 29, 2014, Officer Pruitt went into the exam room with Cole, spit into Cole's face, hit Cole with an open fist, and had to be removed from the room by Captain Billy Washington. (Mot. For Leave to File Compl. 61, ECF No 14.) Additionally, Cole alleges that on September 15, 2014, he asked Defendant Thompson for his diet bag. ( Id. at. 64.) Cole contends that after Defendant Thompson did not call the "cpl, " Cole reached out his hand without touching Defendant Thompson. ( Id. ) Allegedly, Defendant Thompson then grabbed Cole, hit Cole, and closed his hand on the flap causing a cut to Cole's finger and injury to Cole's arm. ( Id. ) Cole requests punitive and compensatory damages, reclassification, and return to the general population. (Compl. 5, ECF No. 1.)
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 ...