United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Eastern Division
ORDER DISMISSING CLAIMS, CERTIFYING AN APPEAL WOULD
NOT BE TAKEN IN GOOD FAITH AND NOTIFYING PLAINTIFF OF
APPELLATE FILING FEE
D. TODD, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
January 13, 2016, Plaintiff Joseph Powell, who is currently
an inmate at the Trousdale Turner Correctional Center (TTCC)
in Hartsville, Tennessee, filed a pro se complaint
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, accompanied by a motion to
proceed in forma pauperis. (ECF Nos. 1 & 2.) The
Court subsequently granted leave to proceed in forma
pauperis and assessed the civil filing fee pursuant to
the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1915(a)-(b). (ECF No. 4.) Powell's
allegations stem from his previous incarceration in the
Hardeman County Correctional Facility (HCCF) in Whiteville,
Tennessee. The Clerk shall record the Defendants as Jason
Woodard, Deputy Commissioner of Operations for the Tennessee
Department of Correction (TDOC); former HCCF Warden Michael
Donahue; current HCCF Warden Grady Perry; former HCCF Chief
Unit Manager First Name Unknown (FNU) Mills; HCCF Unit
Manager FNU Robertson; Sergeant (Sgt.) FNU Golden; Case
Manager FNU Marshall; Acting Unit Manager FNU Taylor; and
Maintenance Supervisor David McDonald. The Defendants are
sued in both their individual and official capacities.
alleges that in October 16, 2014, he filed an emergency
grievance stating that due to his overpowering body odor, he
feared for his safety from other inmates who did not want to
share a cell with him. (ECF No. 1 at 4; see also Ex.
A, ECF No. 1-1.) Powell explained his situation to Defendant
Robertson in January 2014 and again on October 12, 2014.
(Id.) Powell contends that despite Defendant
Robertson's knowledge that he would more than likely be
harmed by her refusal to put Powell in a single cell,
Defendant Robertson refused to assist him and used her
authority to harass Powell with frequent cell changes where
he was put with informants and other incompatible inmates.
(Id., see also Ex. B, ECF No. 1-2.) Powell
further contends that Defendant Mills, who was aware of
Powell's problem because she responded to the grievances,
did not correct the problem, but rather relied upon informal
policies and customs of HCCF to routinely deny grievances.
(Id. at 5.) Similarly, Powell alleges that, based on
HCCF institutionalized policy of routinely denying inmate
grievances, on November 10, 2014, Defendant Donahue refused
to use his authority to correct the problem. (Id.)
Plaintiff further states that on December 1, 2014, Defendant
Woodard “rubber-stamped” the denial of his
2, 2015, Powell and his cellmate had an altercation allegedly
because of Powell's body odor, and Powell made a request
to Defendant Golden that either he or his cellmate be moved.
(Id.) Powell alleges that Defendant Golden advised
him that if he or his cellmate requested another cell change,
she would write them up on a disciplinary charge.
(Id.) On June 17, 2015, after Powell and his
cellmate had another argument, Powell alleges that he asked
Defendants Marshall and Taylor to either move him to another
cell or place him in protective custody. (Id.)
Powell told Defendants Marshall and Taylor that other inmates
did not want to share a cell with him due to his body odor.
(Id. at 6.) However, Defendants Marshall and Taylor
did not grant his request for a cell change and instead
allegedly threatened Powell with a disciplinary write-up.
(Id.) On August 19, 2015, Defendant Perry again
denied a grievance filed by Plaintiff, refusing to discipline
Defendants Marshall, Taylor, or Golden and refusing to grant
Powell single-cell status. (Id., see also
Ex. B, ECF No. 1-2) On August 27, 2015, Defendant Woodard
also denied Plaintiff's grievance. (Id.)
8, 2015, Powell filed a grievance about the cold temperature
in his housing unit, stating that inmates were wearing coats
and that the temperature issue had existed for several years.
(Id., see also Ex. C, ECF No. 1-3.) Powell
alleges that since filing the grievance several of the pods
he lived in have been extremely cold, both in his cell and in
the common areas. (Id.) Powell further alleges that
Defendant McDonald, the maintenance supervisor, is aware of
the cold but allows his staff to operate the air conditioning
unit when they should be heating the pods. (Id.)
seeks a declaratory judgment that the denial of his requests
for single-cell status by Defendants Robertson, Mills,
Donahue, Perry, and Woodard was a denial of due process and
the right to live in a safe environment; that the failure of
Defendants Golden, Marshall, and Taylor to separate Powell
from his cellmate or place him in protective custody status
deprived also was a denial of due process and the right to
live in an unthreatening environment; and that the cold
nature of the pods denied Powell a safe living environment.
(Id. at 7.)
Court is required to screen prisoner complaints and to
dismiss any complaint, or any portion thereof, if the
(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
28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b); see also 28 U.S.C. §
assessing whether the complaint in this case states a claim
on which relief may be granted, the standards under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), as stated in Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-79 (2009), and in Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-57 (2007),
are applied. 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). “[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.”).
complaint can be frivolous either factually or
legally.” Hill, 630 F.3d at 470 (citing
Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989)).
“Any complaint that is legally frivolous would ipso
facto fail to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted.” Id. (citing Neitzke, 490
U.S. at 328-29).
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. Unlike a dismissal for
failure to state a claim, where a judge must accept all
factual allegations as true, a judge ...