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Hatcher v. Anderson

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

November 9, 2017

SHAMSIDDEEN HATCHER, Plaintiff,
v.
WAYNE ANDERSON and GREGG SIMCOX, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          RONNIE GREER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Shamsiddeen Hatcher, a former prisoner, brings this pro se civil rights action and proposed class action for declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against Sullivan County, Tennessee Sheriff Wayne Anderson and Sullivan County Detention Center (“SCDC”) Chief Jailer Gregg Simcox [Doc. 1]. The complaint alleges that Plaintiff's constitutional rights were violated at the SCDC from January 29, 2014, to December 15, 2015 [Id.]. Plaintiff further alleges that the rights of similarly situated inmates likewise were violated [Id.]. Plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. 4] reflects that he is penniless; thus, the application [Id.] is GRANTED.

         I. PLAINTIFF'S ALLEGATIONS

         According to the allegations in the complaint, Defendants Sheriff and Chief Jailer and all SCDC employees denied Plaintiff various constitutional rights throughout the entire 23-month period that he was confined in the SCDC [Doc. 1]. More specifically, Plaintiff maintains that he was denied the right: (1) to access the courts; (2) to assist in his own criminal defense, thereby denying him his right to self-representation, effective assistance of counsel, and confidential attorney-client communications; (3) to constitutional conditions of confinement; (4) to privacy; (5) to due process of law; (6) not to be subjected to excessive force; and (7) to send/receive mail, without interference by jail authorities [Id.].

         For these alleged violations of his rights, Plaintiff asks for unspecified declaratory and injunctive relief and damages in the sum of nine hundred, ninety-nine thousand and nine hundred, ninety-nine dollars ($999, 999.00) [Id. at 3].

         II. SCREENING

         The Court must screen complaints filed by free world citizens and former prisoners who are proceeding in forma pauperis. See McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 608 (6th Cir. 1997) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), overruled on other grounds by Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199 (2007)). Dismissal is required if complaints are frivolous or malicious, if they fail to state a claim for relief, or if they are seeking monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).

         In performing this task, the Court recognizes that pro se pleadings filed in civil rights cases are construed indulgently and held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. McNeil v. United States, 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993); Pilgrim v. Littlefield, 92 F.3d 413, 416 (6th Cir. 1996). Even so, the complaint must be sufficient “to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face, ” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007), which simply means the factual content pled by a plaintiff must permit a court “to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). The standard articulated in Twombly and Iqbal “governs dismissals for failure state a claim under [§§ 1915A(b)(1) and 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii)] 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).

         In order to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Plaintiff must establish that he was deprived of a federal right by a person acting under color of state law. See 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) (“Section 1983 does not itself create any constitutional rights; it creates a right of action for the vindication of constitutional guarantees found elsewhere.”).

         The Court examines the complaint under these guidelines.

         III. LAW AND ANALYSIS

         A. Timeliness of Claims

         Plaintiff complains about conditions and treatment to which he was subjected in the SCDC from January 29, 2014, to December 15, 2015. For the purposes of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, state statutes of limitations apply to determine the timeliness of claims. Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. 261, 268-69 (1985), superseded by statute on other grounds as recognized in Jones v. R.R. Donnelley & Sons Co., 541 U.S. 369, 377-80 (2004). The one-year statute of limitations period contained in Tenn. Code Ann. § 28-3-104(a) applies to civil rights claims arising in Tennessee. See Berndt v. Tenn., 796 F.2d 879, 883 (6th Cir. 1986); see also Porter v. Brown, 289 F. App'x. 114, 116, 2008 WL 3838227, at *2 (6th Cir. 2008) (“[O]ur precedent has long made clear that the limitations period for § 1983 actions arising in Tennessee is the one-year limitations provision found in Tenn. Code Ann. § 28-3-104(a).”). Ordinarily, the statute begins to run when a plaintiff knows or has reason to know of the injury upon which his action is based. See Eidson v. State of Tenn. Dep't of Children's Servs., 510 F.3d 631, 636 (6th Cir. 2007); Sevier v. Turner, 742 F.2d 262, 273 (6th Cir. 1984).

         Plaintiff would have known of any injury he incurred from the violation of his constitutional rights at the SCDC by December 15, 2015, at the latest. This means that Plaintiff would have had one year from that date, i.e., December 15, 2016, to file this ...


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