United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Columbia Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
BARBARA D. HOLMES, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Honorable Waverly D. Crenshaw, Jr., Chief District Judge
Order entered April 6, 2017 (Docket Entry No. 10), the Court
referred this prisoner civil rights action to the Magistrate
Judge for pretrial proceedings under 28 U.S.C. §§
636(b)(1)(A) and (B), Rule 72(b) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure, and the Local Rules of Court.
pending is the motion to dismiss filed by Doreen Trafton
(Docket Entry No. 16), to which Plaintiff has not filed a
response. For the reasons set forth below, the undersigned
respectfully recommends that the motion be granted and
Defendant Trafton be dismissed from this action.
Scott (“Plaintiff”) is an inmate of the Tennessee
Department of Correction (“TDOC”) currently
confined at the Hardeman County Correctional Facility in
Whiteville, Tennessee. He filed this lawsuit pro se
and in forma pauperis on January 30, 2017, seeking
monetary and injunctive relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
for violations of his constitutional rights alleged to have
occurred during his previous confinement at the South Central
Correctional Facility (“SCCF”) in Clifton,
the Court's initial review of the lawsuit under 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A, Plaintiff was found to
have alleged: 1) an arguable First Amendment claim against
Correctional Sergeant Doreen Trafton
(“Trafton”); and 2) an arguable Eight Amendment
claim against Trafton and Correctional Officer Donald Bright
(“Bright”). See Memorandum Opinion
(Docket Entry No. 9) at 5-8. With respect to the First
Amendment claim, Plaintiff asserts that he is a Muslim who
prays five time a day. He alleges that Defendant Trafton
refused to provide him with a cleaning kit to clean his cell
from November 30, 2016, to December 4, 2016, which he
contends interfered with his ability to engage in his prayers
because it would be disrespectful to pray in a
“filthy” cell.” See Complaint
(Docket Entry No. 1) at 2. In support of his Eighth Amendment
claim, Plaintiff alleges that he was subjected to the use of
excessive force on December 26, 2016, when Bright slammed the
“pie flap” slide door on Plaintiff's wrist
while Plaintiff had his arm extended through the cell door
opening. See Amended Complaint (Docket Entry No.
3-1) at 6. Plaintiff alleges that an unnamed correctional
sergeant and Captain f/n/u Keeton subsequently came into the
area and failed to punish or reprimand Bright when Bright
said that he “did not care” and that he
“should have broken” Plaintiff's wrist.
Id. at 8.
Bright has filed an answer. See Docket Entry No. 18.
In lieu of an answer, Defendant Trafton has filed the pending
motion to dismiss. Defendant Trafton argues that she should
be dismissed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure because Plaintiff's allegations are
insufficient to state a claim against her upon which relief
can be granted. She contends that Plaintiff's allegation
that she did not give him cleaning supplies fails to show
that she infringed upon Plaintiff's First Amendment right
to freely exercise his religious beliefs. With respect to
Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claim, Defendant Trafton
contends that Plaintiff's allegations fail to
specifically identify her as being involved in using
excessive force against Plaintiff in any manner and, even if
it is assumed that she was the unnamed sergeant referred to
by Plaintiff in his pleadings, his allegations are not
sufficient to show that she acted or failed to act in a
manner that would support a claim of constitutional liability
has not responded in any manner to the motion to dismiss. In
fact, the docket does not show that Plaintiff has made any
filings in this action since returning completed service
packets to the Clerk's Office in April 2017. See
Docket Entry No. 13.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
motion to dismiss filed under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure is reviewed under the standard that
the Court must accept as true all of the well-pleaded
allegations contained in the complaint and construe the
complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.
Morgan v. Church's Fried Chicken, 829 F.2d 10,
11-12 (6th Cir. 1987). Although a complaint need not contain
detailed factual allegations, the factual allegations
supplied must be enough to show a plausible right to relief.
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544,
555-61, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007) (abrogating
Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d
80 (1957)). See also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009). 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.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. In reviewing the sufficiency
of the complaint, the Court need not accept as true legal
conclusions or unwarranted factual inferences. See
Gregory v. Shelby County, 220 F.3d 433, 446 (6th Cir.
motion to dismiss of Defendant Trafton should be granted.
Even when Plaintiff's factual allegations are taken as
true and are given the most generous reading, his allegations
are simply inadequate to support constitutional claims upon
which relief can be granted against Defendant Trafton.
prison inmates do not lose their First Amendment right to
exercise their religion because of their incarceration,
O'Lone v. Estate of Shabazz, 482 U.S. 342, 348,
107 S.Ct.2400, 96 L.Ed.2d 282 (1987), “the
circumstances of prison life may require some restriction on
prisoners' exercise of their religious beliefs.”
Walker v. Mintzes, 771 F.2d 920, 929 (6th Cir.
1985). Plaintiff's allegation that he was not immediately
provided with a cleaning kit and could not clean his cell for
approximately four days until he obtained a cleaning kit on
what appears to be the regularly scheduled day for
distributing cleaning kits is an allegation that simply fails
to show an event that rises to the level of a constitutional
infringement upon Plaintiff's ability to practice his
religious beliefs. The First Amendment does not require that
prison officials provide inmates with the best possible means
of exercising their religious beliefs nor does it require
that general prison policies and concerns become subordinate
to the religious desires of any particular inmate, and the
internal administration of a correctional facility is a
function legitimately left to the discretion of ...