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Fisk v. Warren County Sheriff's Department

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

October 27, 2017

KINSLEY FISK, Plaintiff,
v.
WARREN COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT and EDDIE KNOWLES[1]Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

         Before the Court is Plaintiff's pro se complaint for violation of civil rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 [Doc. 2] and motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. 1]. For the reasons discussed below, Plaintiff's request to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. 1] will be GRANTED and Plaintiff will be granted leave to file an amended complaint.

         I. FILING FEE

         Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), any prisoner who files a complaint in a district court must tender the full filing fee or file (1) an application to proceed in forma pauperis without prepayment of fees and (2) a certified copy of his inmate trust account for the previous six-month period. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2). Plaintiff submitted a fully compliant application to proceed in forma pauperis on October 10, 2017 [Doc. 1], and it appears from that application that he lacks sufficient financial resources to pay the $350.00 filing fee. Accordingly, Plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. 1] is GRANTED and, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, the Clerk is DIRECTED to file this action without the prepayment of costs or fees or security therefor as of the date the Complaint was received.

         Because Plaintiff is in custody at the Warren County Jail, he is herewith ASSESSED the civil filing fee of $350.00. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2), the custodian of Plaintiff's inmate trust account at the institution where he now resides is directed to submit to the Clerk, U.S. District Court, 900 Georgia Avenue, Room 309, Chattanooga, Tennessee 37402, twenty percent (20%) of the Plaintiff's preceding monthly income (or income credited to the 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 is DIRECTED to send a copy of this Memorandum to the Warren County Jail to ensure that the custodian of plaintiff's trust account complies with that portion of the Prison Litigation Reform Act relating to payment of the filing fee. The Clerk is DIRECTED to forward a copy of this Memorandum to the Court's financial deputy.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff, currently in custody at the Warren County Jail, filed this complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on October 10, 2017 against Defendants Warren County Sheriff's Department and Eddie Knowles, an administrator at the Warren County Jail. [Doc. 2 p. 3]. Plaintiff brings this action after being denied a furlough for surgery, infringement upon the free exercise of his religion, and not being given a furlough to attend his mother's funeral [Id. at 3-4]. Plaintiff alleges in his complaint as follows.

         Plaintiff has been incarcerated at the Warren County Jail for over a year [Id. at 3]. He claims that he was scheduled to have surgery to fix nerve damage on his hand prior to his incarceration [Id. at 3-4]. After Plaintiff's incarceration and subsequent missed surgery, his wife rescheduled the surgery [Id. at 4]. However, jail officials told Plaintiff that in order for the surgery to be performed, he would have to receive a furlough from a judge [Id.]. After Plaintiff's request for a furlough was denied, he claims that his sentencing judge stated that his medical issues would have to be taken care of by the Warren County Jail [Id.]. Plaintiff alleges that jail officials claimed that no action could be done without the furlough [Id.].

         Plaintiff also claims that as a practicing Muslim, he has been denied the right to practice his religious beliefs [Id.]. He asserts that he told jail officials that he was a Muslim, and “ask[ed] for the things I need.” [Id.]. However, Plaintiff alleges that he has not gotten any response to his requests for over a year [Id.]. Lastly, Plaintiff claims that his constitutional rights were deprived when he was not allowed to go to his mother's funeral, despite the fact that his wife was told that he would be allowed to go and other inmates have been allowed to go to funerals [Id. at 4-5]. Plaintiff requests damages for his pain and suffering, and for the Court to “make [his] situation right the best way possibl[e].” [Id. at 5].

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Sua Sponte Screening Standard

         Under the PLRA, district courts must screen prisoner complaints and sua sponte dismiss those that are frivolous or malicious, fail to state a claim for relief or are against a defendant who is immune. See Benson v. O'Brian, 179 F.3d 1014, 1015-16 (6th Cir. 1999) (“Congress directed the federal courts to review or ‘screen' certain complaints sua sponte and to dismiss those that failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted [or] . . . sought monetary relief from a defendant immune from such relief.”). 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 to 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). However, “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, 561 F.3d 478, 488 (6th Cir. 2009) (citing Gunasekera v. Irwin, 551 F.3d 461, 466 (6th Cir. 2009) (citations omitted)).

         B. § 1983 Standard

          To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the plaintiff must establish that he was deprived of a federal right by a person acting under color of state law. Black v. Barberton Citizens Hospital, 134 F.3d 1265, 1267 (6th Cir. 1998); O'Brien v. City of Grand Rapids, 23 F.3d 990, 995 (6th Cir. 1994); Russo v. City of Cincinnati, 953 F.2d 1036, 1042 (6th Cir. 1992); see also Braley v. City of Pontiac, 906 F.2d 220, 223 (6th Cir. 1990) ("Section 1983 does not itself create any constitutional rights; it creates a right of action for the vindication of constitutional guarantees found elsewhere."). In other words, the plaintiff must plead facts sufficient to show: (1) the deprivation of a right, privilege, or immunity secured to him by the United States Constitution or other federal law; and (2) that the individual responsible for such ...


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