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Gibson v. McCoig

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee

September 15, 2017

G.W. “BUD” McCOIG, Sheriff of Jefferson County, Tennessee, Defendant.



         The Court is in receipt of a pro se prisoner's civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 [Doc. 2] and a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. 1]. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis 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 motion that Plaintiff lacks sufficient financial resources to pay the filing fee. Accordingly, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, the Court will GRANT Plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. 1]. Because Plaintiff is an inmate in the Jefferson County jail, he will be ASSESSED the civil filing fee of $350.00. The custodian of Plaintiff's inmate trust account at that facility will be DIRECTED to submit to the Clerk, U.S. District Court, 800 Market Street, Knoxville, Tennessee 37902, as an initial partial payment, twenty percent (20%) of the greater of either the average monthly deposits or the average monthly balance in the account for the six months immediately preceding the filing of the complaint. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1).

         After full payment of the initial partial filing fee, the custodian shall submit twenty percent of Plaintiff's preceding monthly income (or income credited to the account), but only when the amount in the account exceeds ten dollars, until the full $350 fee 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 Opinion and accompanying Order to the custodian of inmate accounts at the Jefferson County jail to ensure compliance with these fee-assessment procedures. The Clerk also will be DIRECTED to forward a copy of the Order to the Court's financial deputy.


         Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), district courts must screen prisoner complaints and sua sponte dismiss any claims that are frivolous or malicious, fail to state a claim for relief, or involve 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 Atl. 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). Allegations that give rise to a mere possibility that a plaintiff might later establish undisclosed facts supporting recovery are not well-pled and do not state a plausible claim, however. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 570. Further, formulaic and conclusory recitations of the elements of a claim unsupported by specific facts are insufficient to state a plausible claim for relief. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 681.

         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. 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”).


         In his complaint, Plaintiff makes the following allegations. On July 13, 2016, Plaintiff was arrested for a violation of the Sex Offender Registry Act, booked into the Jefferson County jail, and placed in a holding cell for ten days, without a mattress and with only two blankets-one to place on the concrete floor and one with which to cover up [Doc. 2 pp. 3-4]. The next day, Plaintiff began to fill out a medical request because he was experiencing a sharp pain near his shoulder and neck [Id. at 4]. At some point, Plaintiff was placed in E-Block and was assigned to the top bunk [Id.]. Having to pull himself up to reach the top bunk worsened Plaintiff's pain for several days [Id.]. For three weeks, Plaintiff has suffered unbearable pain and, though he has asked to see the doctor every week since his injury, he did not get to see the doctor because, each week, he has been told that the doctor did not show up [Id.].

         Plaintiff started writing grievances to Defendant Sheriff G. W. McCoig and Captain Ricky Oakes, the latter of whom has not been named as a defendant [Id.]. On August 13, 2016, Plaintiff wrote another grievance to Defendant concerning the matters complained of in this pleading [Id. at 6]. Additionally, Plaintiff wrote two letters complaining about his neck and shoulder pain and his undisclosed mental health issues, and he asked to see the doctor for his problems [Id.]. It is unclear from Plaintiff's contentions as to whether he sent those letters to Defendant or to Captain Oakes [Id.].

         Plaintiff makes the following complaints: Jefferson County Sheriff Department Rules and Regulations contain sixteen rules, but the fifteenth rule that involves the pod's cleaning supplies is not being enforced [Id]. The Head Officer in Charge does not wear gloves when he passes out medications to inmates nor do the trustees who serve meals to inmates wear gloves [Id. at 5]. The food has grown cold by the time it reaches Plaintiff and inmates housed in his pod because their pod is the last one to eat [Id.]. There is no law library access [Id.].

         Plaintiff claims that sex offenders, who are housed in E-Block, are discriminated against by not being permitted to work [Id.]. Plaintiff posits that sex offenders should be allowed to receive work credits, as do inmates in other blocks [Id.]. Plaintiff has submitted three petitions, seeking to have his name removed from the Sex Offender Registry [Id.]. The first letter was returned to him because he was required to submit fingerprints to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (“TBI”) [Id.]. His fingerprints were taken during his incarceration in the Jefferson County jail and were ...

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