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Shelton v. Bartlett

United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Western Division

July 20, 2017

RASHEED DARNELL SHELTON, Plaintiff,
v.
SGT. JONATHAN BARTLETT, SHARON ROSE, CO TIDWELL, CO BEASLEY, SHEILA AGNEW, CO JOHNSON, KRISTI PARKER, EVELYN BINKLEY, SGT. JEFFREY PERKINS, JOHN DOES, and JANE DOES, Defendants.

          ORDER DISMISSING CLAIMS AND GRANTING LEAVE AMEND

          S. THOMAS ANDERSON, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On May 5, 2016, Plaintiff Rasheed Darnell Shelton, an inmate at the West Tennessee State Penitentiary (“WTSP”) in Henning, Tennessee, filed pro se a Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 accompanied by a motion to proceed in forma pauperis. On May 23, 2016, Shelton provided additional documentation for his motion to proceed in forma pauperis. On June 2, 2016, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee granted Shelton leave to proceed in forma pauperis, assessed the civil filing fee pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(a)-(b), and transferred this matter to the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee at Memphis. The Clerk shall record the Defendants as Sergeant Johnathan Bartlett, Unit 6 Manager Sharon Rose, C/O First Name Unknown (“FNU”) Tidwell, C/O FNU Beasley, IRC Shelia Agnew, C/O Ms. FNU Johnson, IRC Kristi Parker, Case Manager Evelyn Binkley, and Sergeant Jeffery Perkins.[1]

         BACKGROUND

         Shelton alleges that Defendants have put his life and the lives of his family members in imminent danger because “these officers and staff in the unit” have given inmates Shelton's family members' phone numbers and addresses as well as told other inmates that Shelton is a snitch and in prison for rape charges. (Compl. at 3-4.) Shelton further contends that “they” tell inmates that Shelton should be raped and killed. (Id. at 2.) Defendants have also given inmates Shelton's legal mail. (Id.) Defendants have laughed about leaving the door to Shelton's cell as well as the doors of other inmates' cells unsecured so other inmates can harm Shelton. (Id.) Shelton fears that other inmates will rape him or kill him if he is not put in protective custody. (Id.) Shelton seeks $6 million in damages or a transfer back to the county jail from which he came. (Id. at 5.)

         SCREENING STANDARD

         The Court is required to screen prisoner complaints and to dismiss any complaint, or any portion thereof, if the complaint-

(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or
(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b); see also 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         In assessing whether the Complaint in this case states a claim on which relief may be granted, the Court applies the pleadings standards under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), announced in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-79 (2009) and Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-57 (2007). Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010). “Accepting all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true, the Court ‘consider[s] the factual allegations in [the] complaint to determine if they plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief.'” Williams v. Curtin, 631 F.3d 380, 383 (6th Cir. 2011) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 681) (alteration in original). “[P]leadings that . . . are no more than conclusions . . . are not entitled to the assumption of truth. While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679; see also Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 n.3 (“Rule 8(a)(2) still requires a ‘showing, ' rather than a blanket assertion, of entitlement to relief. Without some factual allegation in the complaint, it is hard to see how a claimant could satisfy the requirement of providing not only ‘fair notice' of the nature of the claim, but also ‘grounds' on which the claim rests.”).

         “A complaint can be frivolous either factually or legally. Any complaint that is legally frivolous would ipso facto fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Hill, 630 F.3d at 470 (citing Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325, 328-29 (1989)).

Whether a complaint is factually frivolous under §§ 1915A(b)(1) and 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) is a separate issue from whether it fails to state a claim for relief. Statutes allowing a complaint to be dismissed as frivolous give “judges not only the authority to dismiss a claim based on an indisputably meritless legal theory, but also the unusual power to pierce the veil of the complaint's factual allegations and dismiss those claims whose factual contentions are clearly baseless.” Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327, 109 S.Ct. 1827 (interpreting 28 U.S.C. § 1915). Unlike a dismissal for failure to state a claim, where a judge must accept all factual allegations as true, Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949-50, a judge does not have to accept “fantastic or delusional” factual allegations as true in prisoner complaints that are reviewed for frivolousness. Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327-28, 109 S.Ct. 1827.

Id. at 471.

         “Pro se complaints are to be held ‘to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, ' and should therefore be liberally construed.” Williams, 631 F.3d at 383 (quoting Martin v. Overton, 391 F.3d 710, 712 (6th Cir. 2004)). Pro se litigants and prisoners are not exempt from the requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Wells v. Brown, 891 F.2d 591, 594 (6th Cir. 1989); see also Brown v. Matauszak, 415 F. App'x 608, 612-13 (6th Cir. 2011) (affirming dismissal of pro se complaint for failure to comply with “unique pleading requirements” and stating “a court cannot ‘create a claim which [a plaintiff] has not spelled out in his pleading'”) (quoting Clark v. Nat'l Travelers Life Ins. Co., 518 F.2d 1167, 1169 (6th Cir. 1975)) (alteration in original); Payne v. Sec'y of Treas., 73 F. App'x 836, 837 (6th Cir. 2003) (affirming sua sponte dismissal of complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2) and stating, “[n]either this court nor the district court is required to create Payne's claim for her”); cf. Pliler v. Ford, 542 U.S. 225, 231 (2004) (“District judges have no obligation to act as counsel or paralegal to pro se litigants.”); Young Bok Song v. Gipson, 423 F. App'x 506, 510 (6th Cir. 2011) (“[W]e decline to affirmatively require courts to ferret out the strongest cause of action on behalf ...


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