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Jones v. Clemons

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Greeneville

November 9, 2016




         Raymond Jones, a prisoner confined in the Sullivan County Detention Center ("SCDC") in Blountville, Tennessee, brings this pro se civil rights complaint for injunctive and monetary relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against three correctional officers at the SCDC, in their individual and official capacities [Doc. 1]. Plaintiff has also filed an application to proceed without prepayment of the filing fee, which is supported by a certified copy of his inmate trust account statement and which shows that he lacks sufficient financial resources to pay the filing fee all at once [Doc. 3]. The application is GRANTED [Id.], and Plaintiff need not pay an upfront filing fee.

         I. Filing Fee

         Nevertheless, the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (PLRA), makes a prisoner, such as Plaintiff, responsible for paying the filing fee, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1), and he therefore is ASSESSED the full filing fee of three hundred, fifty dollars ($350).

         The custodian of Plaintiff s inmate trust account at the institution wherein he resides shall submit, as an initial partial payment, whichever is the greater of: (a) twenty percent (20%) of the average monthly deposits to Plaintiffs inmate trust account; or (b) twenty percent (20%) of the average monthly balance in his inmate trust account for the six-month period preceding the filing of the complaint. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1)(A) and (B). Thereafter, the trust account custodian shall submit twenty percent (20%) of Plaintiff s preceding monthly income (or income credited to his trust account for the preceding month), but only when such monthly income exceeds $10.00, until the full filing fee of $350.00 has been paid to the Clerk's Office. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2); McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 607 (6th Cir. 1997), overruled on other grounds by Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199 (2007).[1]

         Payments should be sent to: The Clerk, United States District Court, 220 West Depot Street, Ste. 200, Greeneville, TN 37743. To ensure compliance with the fee-collection procedure, the Clerk is DIRECTED to mail a copy of this Memorandum and Order to the custodian of inmate accounts at the SCDC. The Clerk is also DIRECTED to furnish a copy of this Order to the Court's financial deputy. This Order shall be placed in Plaintiffs institutional file and follow him if he is transferred to another correctional facility.

         II. Screening Standards

         The Court must now review the complaint to determine whether it states a claim entitling Plaintiff to relief or is frivolous or malicious or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) and § 1915A. If so, this suit must be dismissed. In performing this task, the Court bears in mind the rule that pro se pleadings filed in civil rights cases must be liberally construed and held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972).

         Still, the complaint must be sufficient "to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face, " Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007), which simply means that the factual content pled by a plaintiff must permit a court "to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Unless a plaintiff nudges his claims "across the line from conceivable to plausible, his complaint must be dismissed." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. The standard articulated in Twombly and Iqbal "governs dismissals for failure state a claim under [§§ 1915A(b)(1) and 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii)] 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).

         In order to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Plaintiff must establish that he was deprived of a federal right by a person acting under color of state law. Paige v. Coyner, 614 F.3d 273, 278 (6th Cir. 2010). See also Braley v. City of Pontiac, 906 F.2d 220, 223 (6th Cir. 1990) ("Section 1983 does not itself create any constitutional rights; it creates a right of action for the vindication of constitutional guarantees found elsewhere.").

         The Court examines the complaint under these guidelines.

         III. Plaintiffs Allegations

         Plaintiff asserts that, on June 10, 2015, an inmate at the SCDC whose name was Hatcher created a disturbance, by shaking the bars and throwing feces. Although Hatcher admitted to engaging in the conduct and a correctional officer, Officer B. Peters, identified Hatcher as the individual whom he had seen on camera participating in the disquieting incident, several officers, including Defendants Clemons, Preston White and B. Beach, entered the area and ordered the inmates to get down on the ground. Plaintiff claims that, the evening preceding this event, he had suffered pains in his chest and side and blood pressure escalating to "sky high" levels- symptoms which caused him to be seen by medical providers five times. As officers were restraining Inmate Hatcher, Plaintiff identified Hatcher as the culprit-indeed, Hatcher acknowledged his role in the disturbance-denied causing the disturbance, and informed the officers that he was having more chest pains.

         The officers ignored Plaintiffs warning as to the physical difficulty he was experiencing, opened his cell door, and ordered Plaintiff to get down on the ground. Plaintiff began to go down to the ground and was not resisting the order, though he was complying with the order "in a slowly manner." Despite his attempted, albeit slow, compliance with the order, Plaintiff was shot five times with a pepper ball gun. Plaintiff was punched in the head with a closed fist and in ...

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