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Harper v. Parker

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Columbia Division

June 22, 2017

KEVIS HARPER, et al., No. 168040, Plaintiffs
TONY PARKER, et al. Defendants.



         Kevis Harper and Michael Mills, inmates of the Turney Center Correctional Complex in Only, Tennessee, along with Nico Farmer, an inmate of the West Tennessee State Prison in Henning, Tennessee, filed this joint pro se action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Tony Parker, CCA, Cherry Lindamood, SCCC Pevahouse Disciplinary, Geneva Roberts, Ronda Staggs, Leigh Staggs, f/n/u Vasqnillova, Don Bright, f/n/u Tanner, f/n/u Bridges, and f/n/u Schultz, alleging violations of his federal civil rights. (Doc. No. 1). They also filed a motion for injunctive relief (Doc. No. 2), a motion for class certification (Doc. No. 3), and a motion for release of medical records and production of incident reports. (Doc. No. 21).

         I. Motion to Amend

         The Court construed the Plaintiffs' submission entitled “Civil Rights 42 U.S.C. 1983" on April 5, 2017 (Doc. No. 15) as a motion to amend the complaint. (Doc. No. 18). See LaFountain v. Harry, 716 F.3d 944, 951 (6th Cir. 2013)(a district court can allow a plaintiff to amend his complaint even when the complaint is subject to dismissal under the Prison Litigation Reform Act's screening requirements for prisoner and in forma pauperis suits).

         Rule 15(a) (2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure states that leave to amend should be freely given “when justice so requires.” In deciding whether to grant a motion to amend, courts should consider undue delay in filing, lack of notice to the opposing party, bad faith by the moving party, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by previous amendments, undue prejudice to the opposing party, and futility of amendment. Brumbalough v. Camelot Care Ctrs., Inc., 427 F.3d 996, 1001 (6th Cir. 2005). “Amendment of a complaint is futile when the proposed amendment would not permit the complaint to survive a motion to dismiss.” Miller v. Calhoun Cnty., 408 F.3d 803, 817 (6th Cir.2005) (citing Neighborhood Dev. Corp. v. Advisory Council on Historic Pres., 632 F.2d 21, 23 (6th Cir.1980)).

         The proposed amendment complaint (Doc. No. 15) is largely identical to the original complaint (Doc. No. 1). There appears to be no undue prejudice to the opposing parties by permitting the Plaintiffs to amend their complaint at this time; no Defendant has been served. Moreover, as explained below, the amendment is not futile in all respects. The Court therefore will grant the motion to amend and screen the amended complaint, as informed by the original complaint, pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A.

         II. PLRA Screening Standard

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), the court must dismiss any portion of a civil complaint filed in forma pauperis that fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, is frivolous, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. Section 1915A similarly requires initial review of any “complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity, ” id. § 1915A(a), and summary dismissal of the complaint on the same grounds as those articulated in § 1915(e)(2)(B). Id. § 1915A(b).

         The Sixth Circuit has confirmed that the dismissal standard articulated by the Supreme Court in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), and Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), “governs dismissals for failure to state a claim under those statutes 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 scrutiny on initial review, “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). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “[A] district court must (1) view the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and (2) take all well-pleaded factual allegations as true.” Tackett v. M & G Polymers, USA, LLC, 561F.3d 478, 488 (6th Cir. 2009) (citing Gunasekera v. Irwin, 551 F.3d 461, 466 (6th Cir. 2009) (citations omitted)).

         Although pro se pleadings are to be held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972); Jourdan v. Jabe, 951 F.2d 108, 110 (6th Cir. 1991), the courts' “duty to be ‘less stringent' with pro se complaints does not require us to conjure up [unpleaded] allegations.” McDonald v. Hall, 610 F.2d 16, 19 (1st Cir. 1979) (citation omitted).

         III. Section 1983 Standard

         Plaintiffs bring their claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 that creates a cause of action against any person who, acting under color of state law, abridges “rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws . . . .” To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege and show two elements: (1) that he was deprived of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States; and (2) that the deprivation was caused by a person acting under color of state law. Tahfs v. Proctor, 316 F.3d 584, 590 (6th Cir. 2003); 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

         IV. Factual Allegations

         The complaint alleges generally that the conditions of confinement for administratively segregated “protective custody” inmates housed at the South Central Correctional Facility are inferior to the conditions of confinement for other inmates held at the same facility and include, but are not limited to, the presence of rats, unsanitary ripped mattresses, moldy showers and cells, exposed electrical wiring, asbestos, and inadequate heat. (Doc. No. 1 at 2; Doc. No. 15 at). In addition, the complaint alleges that, as punishment and in retaliation for complaining about the conditions of their confinement, the segregated inmates are not receiving ...

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