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Bradley v. Stephens

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

July 31, 2015

D.R. STEPHENS, ET AL., Defendants.


JAMES D. TODD, District Judge.

On January 17, 2014, Plaintiff Edward Bradley ("Bradley"), who is currently an inmate at the Federal Correctional Institution ("FCI") Medium in Forrest City, Arkansas, filed a pro se complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 addressing conditions during his previous incarceration at FCI Memphis in Memphis, Tennessee. (ECF No. 1.) In response to the Court's order, Bradley filed a motion to proceed in forma pauperis on March 2, 2014. (ECF Nos. 3 & 4). In an order issued July 16, 2015, the Court granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis and assessed the civil filing fee pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 ("PLRA"), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(a)-(b). (ECF No. 5) The Clerk shall record the defendants as FCI Warden D.R. Stephens, Unit Manager Kessel, Lieutenant ("Lt.") Taylor, Captain Winfield, Ms. Williams-Grahams, Ms. Mayfield, First Name Unknown ("FNU") Hargrove, FNU Carbernero and Officers FNU Atkins, FNU Towels, FNU Smith, and FNU Hargrove.

I. The Complaint

Bradley's complaint details a variety of conditions at FCI Memphis that he and other U.S. Marshal detainees are asking to be remediated. (ECF No. 1 at PageID 2.) First, Bradley alleges that black mold is growing inside the walls and inside the cells. (ECF No. 1-1 at PageID 3). Second, Bradley alleges the Marshal's detainees are being deprived access to the law library. ( Id. at PageID 4). Third, Bradley alleges they are being deprived of access to the phone. ( Id. ). Bradley states they are getting the phone about every other day, according to how the correctional officer feels that day. ( Id. ) Fourth, Bradley alleges they are being denied the right to buy certain food and other items from the commissary, specifically Vaseline or lotion. ( Id. ) Fifth, Bradley alleges the Marshal's detainees are being held in "23 and 1" lock down; sometimes only getting outside for one hour per day. ( Id. ) Sixth, Bradley alleges they are being exposed to lead paint which, he contends is in every cell. ( Id. ) Lastly, Bradley alleges that Marshal's detainees are receiving inadequate medical and safety checks. ( Id. )

Bradley seeks only injunctive relief, asking that the detainees be given proper medical treatment, daily use of the phone, and daily recreation, that they not be enclosed in cells with lead paint, mildew, leaking roofs, and black mold, and that they not be locked down for twenty-three to twenty-four hours per day.

II. Analysis

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 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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