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Moore v. Anderson County Detention Facility

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

July 12, 2017

DONALD E. MOORE, Plaintiff,
v.
ANDERSON COUNTY DETENTION FACILITY, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          HARRY S. MATTICE, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         The Court is in receipt of a pro se prisoner's complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 [Doc. 1] and two motions for leave to proceed in forma pauperis [Docs. 2 and 4]. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's motions for leave to proceed in forma pauperis [Docs. 2 and 4] will be GRANTED, no process shall issue, and this action will be DISMISSED for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted under § 1983.

         I. Filing Fee

         It appears from the motions for leave to proceed in forma pauperis [Docs. 2 and 4] that Plaintiff lacks sufficient financial resources to pay the filing fee. Accordingly, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, Plaintiff's motions for leave to proceed in forma pauperis [Docs. 2 and 4] will be GRANTED.

         Because Plaintiff is incarcerated in the Anderson County Detention Facility, he will be ASSESSED the civil filing fee of $350.00. The custodian of Plaintiff's inmate trust account at the institution where he now resides will be DIRECTED to submit to the Clerk, U.S. District Court, 800 Market Street, Knoxville, Tennessee 37902, as an initial partial payment, whichever is the greater of: (a) twenty percent (20%) of the average monthly deposits to Plaintiff's 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 custodian of Plaintiff's inmate trust account at the institution where he now resides shall submit twenty percent (20%) of Plaintiff's preceding monthly income (or income credited to Plaintiff's trust account for the preceding month), but only when such monthly income exceeds ten dollars ($10.00), until the full filing fee of three hundred fifty dollars ($350.00) as authorized under 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a) has been paid to the Clerk. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2).

         The Clerk will be DIRECTED to send a copy of this Memorandum and Order to the Sheriff of Anderson County to ensure that the custodian of Plaintiff's inmate trust account complies with the Prisoner Litigation Reform Act with regard to payment of the filing fee. The Clerk will also be DIRECTED to forward a copy of this Memorandum and Order to the Court's financial deputy.

         II. Screening Standard

         Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), district courts must screen prisoner complaints and shall, at any time, sua sponte dismiss any claims 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) and 1915(A); Benson v. O'Brian, 179 F.3d 1014 (6th Cir. 1999). 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) and 1915A] 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 an initial review under the PLRA, 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).

         In 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. 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”).

         III. Allegations of the Complaint

         Plaintiff alleges that on April 17, 2017, he received a letter from his attorney that was postmarked April 3, 2017 [Doc. 1 p. 3-4]. Plaintiff states that the letter was not only two weeks from the postmark date, it also had been opened outside of his presence and taped shut [Id. at 4]. Plaintiff asserts that this was a violation of his right to confidential correspondence with his attorney and could have jeopardized Plaintiff's legal case and representation [Id.]. As relief, Plaintiff states that he wants to have an attorney appointed and to file a lawsuit against Anderson County Detention Facility [Id. at 5].

         IV. Legal Analysis

         Plaintiff's allegation that his mail was delayed and opened outside of his presence on one occasion is insufficient to state a claim for violation of his constitutional rights. Johnson v. Wilkinson, 229 F.3d 1152, at *2 (6th Cir. August 11, 2000) (holding that one isolated incident of interference with mail did not violate constitutional rights) (citing Gardner v. Howard, 109 F.3d 427, 431 (8th Cir. 1997)).

         Moreover, to the extent that Plaintiff alleges that this mail incident deprived him of his right of access to the Courts, Plaintiff has not set forth any facts from which the Court can plausibly infer that Plaintiff was prejudiced by the alleged incident as required to state such a claim. Pilgrim v. Littlefield, 92 F.3d 413, 416 (6th Cir. 1996) (holding that a plaintiff “must plead and ...


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