United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
WAVERLY D. CRENSHAW, JR., CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Villasana, an inmate of the Trousdale Turner Correctional
Center in Hartsville, Tennessee, brings this pro se, in
forma pauperis action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
against Yolanda Pittman, the Assistant Warden of the
Trousdale Turner Correctional Center, alleging violations of
the Plaintiff's federal civil and constitutional rights.
(Doc. No. 1). The Plaintiff seeks declaratory judgment,
monetary damages, punitive damages, and injunctive relief.
(Id. at 33-36).
complaint is before the Court for an initial review pursuant
to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 28
U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A.
PLRA Screening Standard
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), the court must dismiss any
portion of a civil complaint filed in forma pauperis
that fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted,
is frivolous, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who
is immune from such relief. Section 1915A similarly requires
initial review of any “complaint in a civil action in
which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or
officer or employee of a governmental entity, ”
id. § 1915A(a), and summary dismissal of the
complaint on the same grounds as those articulated in §
1915(e)(2)(B). Id. § 1915A(b).
Sixth Circuit has confirmed that the dismissal standard
articulated by the Supreme Court in Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), and Bell Atlantic Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), “governs
dismissals for failure to state a claim under those statutes
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 scrutiny on
initial review, “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). “A claim has facial plausibility when
the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “[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, USA, LLC, 561F.3d 478, 488 (6th Cir. 2009)
(citing Gunasekera v. Irwin, 551 F.3d 461, 466 (6th
Cir. 2009) (citations omitted)).
pro se pleadings are to be held to a less stringent
standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, Haines
v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972); Jourdan v.
Jabe, 951 F.2d 108, 110 (6th Cir. 1991), the courts'
“duty to be ‘less stringent' with pro
se complaints does not require us to conjure up
[unpleaded] allegations.” McDonald v. Hall,
610 F.2d 16, 19 (1st Cir. 1979) (citation omitted).
Section 1983 Standard
Plaintiff brings his federal claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. Title 42 U.S.C. § 1983 creates a cause of
action against any person who, acting under color of state
law, abridges “rights, privileges, or immunities
secured by the Constitution and laws . . . .” To state
a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege and show
two elements: (1) that he was deprived of a right secured by
the Constitution or laws of the United States; and (2) that
the deprivation was caused by a person acting under color of
state law. Tahfs v. Proctor, 316 F.3d 584, 590
(6th Cir. 2003); 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
complaint alleges that the Trousdale Turner Correctional
Center allows inmates to keep personal televisions inside
their assigned housing cells. The prison provides access to
thirty-four television channels, including English-language
entertainment, sports, and religious programming. In
addition, every weekend the prison broadcasts three or more
“free-world, first-run, theatrically released
English-language movies that have been made available for
distribution by a movie rental company over the prison's
closed-circuit TV system for the entertainment of the
English-speaking prisoners; however, the prison never
broadcasts a Spanish-language movie for the entertainment of
Spanish-speaking prisoners.” (Doc. No. 1 at 10).
According to the Plaintiff, South Central Correctional
Facility, CCA/Whiteville Correctional Facility, and
CCA/Hardeman County Correctional Facility all provide access
to some television stations broadcasting Spanish-language
programs for the prisoners of Hispanic-descent housed within
those facilities. (Id. at 14).
incarcerated at the Trousdale Turner Correctional Center, the
Plaintiff, who is a Mexican citizen, requested prison
officials to provide the Plaintiff and other inmates with
access to Spanish-speaking television stations or programming
as well as Spanish-language weekend movies. According to the
complaint, Defendant Pittman told the Plaintiff that she
would never add “any Mexican stuff” to the
programming provided to inmates at the Trousdale facility.
(Doc. No. 1 at 7). On another occasion, Defendant Pittman
allegedly told the Plaintiff: “If you want Mexican
T.V., you should go back to Mexico!” (Id. at
9). The Plaintiff filed numerous grievances regarding the
matter, but Pittman never responded to the grievances.
complaint alleges that Defendant has denied and continues to
deny the Plaintiff equal treatment under the law in violation
of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States
Constitution. (Doc. No. 1 at 1). “The Equal Protection
Clause prohibits states from ‘mak[ing] distinctions
which either burden a fundamental right, target a suspect
class, or intentionally treat one differently from others
similarly situated without any rational basis for the
difference.'” Coleman v. Governor of
Mich., 413 Fed.Appx. 866, 877 (6th Cir. ...