United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville
S. MATTICE, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
a pro se prisoner's complaint under 42 U.S.C. §
1983. The Court previously granted Plaintiff's motion for
leave to proceed in forma pauperis, separated the
complaints filed as one document into three separate actions,
and held that this action would proceed only as to the second
complaint therein, specifically pages 4 and 5 of the
complaint filed by Plaintiff [Doc. 1]. 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,
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); 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 elsewhere”).
ALLEGATIONS OF THE COMPLAINT
complaint seeks monetary and declaratory relief based upon
allegations that then-warden, Doug Cook, became annoyed at
Plaintiff and other inmates for filing grievance complaints
and ordered prisoners be locked in their cell for five days,
from February 12, 2016 to February 16, 2016 [Doc. 1 p. 1].
For more than 72 hours, Defendants denied Plaintiff access to
a shower and a telephone [Id. at 2]. On February 14,
2016, Plaintiff's toilet “became stopped up”
causing Plaintiff to breathe in harmful gases from urine and
feces which resulted in an infection in his nose
[Id.]. Plaintiff's toilet was stopped-up for a
total of 23.5 hours [Id.]. Plaintiff claims that
during the lock-down, he was forced to eat three meals inside
his cell [Id.].
argues that the complained of behavior violates his Eighth
Amendment Right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment
alleges that he was locked inside his cell from February 12,
2016 to February 16, 2016, and during that time denied the
use of a shower and a telephone, forced to breathe harmful
gas from a stopped-up toilet, and forced to eat three meals
inside his cell. Plaintiff's complaint, however, was not
filed until April 14, 2017. Thus, Plaintiff's claims are
time-barred. Zundel v. Holder, 687 F.3d 271, 281
(6th Cir. 2012) (holding that, in Tennessee, a one-year
statute of limitations is applicable to § 1983 actions);
see also Tenn. Code Ann. § 28-3-104(a)(3).
Plaintiff had timely claims arising out of the alleged
incidents underlying his complaint, however, Plaintiff's
allegations fail to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted. An Eighth Amendment claim is stated where a prisoner
is denied some element of civilized human existence due to
deliberate indifference or wantonness. Wilson v.
Seiter, 501 U.S. 294 (1991); see Hudson v.
McMillian, 503 U.S. 1 (1992); Street v. Corrections
Corp. of America, 102 F.3d 810, 814 (6th Cir. 1996). In
sum, this prong of the Eighth Amendment affords protection
against conditions of confinement which constitute health
threats, but not against those which cause mere discomfort or
inconvenience. Hudson, 503 U.S. at 9-10 (requiring
extreme or grave deprivation). Inmates “cannot expect
the amenities, conveniences and services of a good
hotel.” Harris v. Fleming, 839 F.2d 1232, 1235
(7th Cir. 1988). There is nothing in the complaint which
suggests that 72 hours without a shower, five days without
telephone usage, or a stopped-up toilet for 23.5 hours
constitutes the type of deprivation which triggers Eighth
the type of physical injury Plaintiff has alleged is de
minimis and does not rise to the magnitude of an Eighth
Amendment claim or entitle him to damages under § 1997.
See Dolberry v. Levine, 567 F.Supp.2d 413, 418
(W.D.N.Y. 2008) (finding a skin rash due to the lack of
showers “is a de minimis injury that does not
give rise to a claim”) (listing cases); Moore v.
Simmons, No. 5:06-CT-3143 H, 2007 WL 4262702, at *3
(E.D. N.C. May 18, 2007) (finding claims of
“stagnant-pooled toilet feces, clogged drains . . .
throwing feces daily, [and] awful smells, ” causing
“sore throat and high grade fever” did not state
an Eighth Amendment claim).
Court further notes that Plaintiff has only sued Defendant
Tennessee Department of Correction, and the Eleventh
Amendment provides the State of Tennessee with immunity from
§ 1983 claims. Rodgers v. Mich. Dep't of
Corrections, 29 Fed. App'x 259, 260 (6th Cir. 2002).
This immunity extends to state governmental agencies, as they
are “arms” of the state. Dubuc v. Mich. Bd.
Of Law Examiners, 342 F.3d 610, 615 (6th Cir. 2003).
Plaintiff's complaint fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted under § 1983 ...