United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee
a pro se prisoner's complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
[Doc.1]. The Court previously granted Plaintiff leave to
proceed in forma pauperis, screened Plaintiff's
original complaint, and allowed Plaintiff twenty days to
amend his complaint to state exactly how his constitutional
rights were violated and the specific Defendant(s) that
violated his constitutional rights [Doc. 11]. Plaintiff has
filed his amended complaint [Doc. 12]. For the reasons set
forth below, however, no process shall issue and this action
will be DISMISSED for failure to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted under § 1983.
courts shall, at any time, sua sponte dismiss any
claims filed in forma pauperis that are frivolous or
malicious, fail to state a claim for relief, or are against a
defendant who is immune. See, e.g., 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1915(e)(2)(B) The dismissal standard articulated
by the Supreme Court in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662 (2009) and in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 554 (2007) “governs dismissals for failure
state a claim under [28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B]
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). Thus, to survive a review under
this rule, a complaint “must contain sufficient factual
matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.'” Iqbal,
556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).
Courts liberally construe pro se pleadings filed in civil
rights cases and hold them to a less stringent standard than
formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972).
order to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a
plaintiff must establish that he was deprived of a federal
right by a person acting under color of state law. Black
v. Barberton Citizens Hosp., 134 F.3d 1265, 1267 (6th
Cir. 1998); O'Brien v. City of Grand Rapids, 23
F.3d 990, 995 (6th Cir. 1994); Russo v. City of
Cincinnati, 953 F.2d 1036, 1042 (6th Cir. 1992); see
also Braley v. City of Pontiac, 906 F.2d 220, 223 (6th
Cir. 1990) (stating that “Section 1983 does not itself
create any constitutional rights; it creates a right of
action for the vindication of constitutional guarantees found
Allegations of the Complaint
complaint, Plaintiff states that he was “fed food loafs
[sic] for over seventy-two hours [Doc. 1 p. 1]. In his
complaint and amended complaint, Plaintiff alleges that he
has been unable to study law books and fight his case, as the
jail has no law library, and that Defendants Ryner and Samuel
told Plaintiff to sue them for the fact that they would not
allow Plaintiff to see the law books [Id.; Doc. 11
p. 1]. Plaintiff also alleges that his “food
rights” have been violated, specifically alleging that
his food is served uncovered and cold and that the
individuals working with and serving the food do not wear
hairnets, beard guards, or rubber gloves [Id.].
Plaintiff also states that the jail sometimes does not give
him mail for a week after the jail has received it
Plaintiff's claim as to the lack of access to law books
fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted under
§ 1983, as Plaintiff has not alleged that the lack of
access to such books has affected any of his cases or claims.
An inmate has a right of access to the courts under the First
Amendment. Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 822
(1977). In order to establish such a claim for violation of
this right, a plaintiff must show that his efforts to pursue
a non-frivolous legal claim regarding his conviction or
conditions of confinement have been obstructed. Lewis v.
Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 351 (1996). Accordingly, a
plaintiff must plead and prove that his meritorious claims
have been prejudiced by the alleged denial of access to the
courts. Pilgrim v. Littlefield, 92 F.3d 413, 416
(6th Cir. 1996). As Plaintiff has alleged no such prejudice,
this claim fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted under § 1983.
as to the claims regarding food, “the Constitution does
not mandate comfortable prisons.” Rhodes v.
Chapman 452 U.S. 337, 349 (1981). Only extreme
deprivations can be characterized as punishment prohibited by
the Eighth Amendment. Hudson v. McMillan, 503 U.S.
1, 8-9 (1992). An extreme deprivation is one “so grave
that it violates contemporary standards of decency to expose
anyone unwillingly to such a risk. In other words,
the prisoner must show that the risk of which he complains is
not one that today's society chooses to tolerate.”
Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 36 (1993)
(emphasis in original); see also Rhodes v. Chapman,
452 U.S. 337, 347 (1981). Cold food is an ordinary incident
to prisoner life and fails to state a claim for violation of
the Eighth Amendment. Cunningham v. Jones, 567 F.2d
653, 659-60 (6th Cir. 1977). Further, the conditions in which
Plaintiff alleges the jail's food is cooked and served do
not allow the Court to plausibly infer any grave risk to
Plaintiff. As such, these allegations fail to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted under § 1983.
while Plaintiff's amended complaint seeks to add the
Loudon County Sheriff's Department back as a Defendant
and, in his amended complaint, Plaintiff alleges that he
“sometimes” does not get mail until a week after
the jail has received it, Plaintiff does not set forth any
facts tending to suggest that any official policy causes this
delay. Accordingly, even if the Court liberally construes
this claim as against Loudon County, the complaint fails to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted under §
1983 as to this governmental entity. Polk Cnty. v.
Dodson, 454 U.S. 312, 326 (1981) (holding that, for a
constitutional tort to be actionable against a governmental
entity under § 1983, an official policy must be the
moving force behind the alleged constitutional violation).
reasons set forth above, even liberally construing the
complaint and amended complaint in favor of Plaintiff, they
fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted under
§ 1983 and this action will therefore be DISMISSED
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915(A).
Court CERTIFIES that any appeal from this action would not be
taken in good faith and would be totally frivolous. See Rule