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Cole v. Washburn

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

January 3, 2018

DAVID COLE, # 440180, Plaintiff,
WARDEN F/N/U WASHBURN, et al., Defendants.



         David Cole, an inmate of the Trousdale Turner Correctional Center in Hartsville, Tennessee, filed this pro se, in forma pauperis action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Warden f/n/u Washburn, Chief Johana Veal, f/n/u Lopez, Sergeant f/n/u Older, Sergeant f/n/u Douglas, Trousdale Turner Correctional Center, “Core Civics of America, ” Tennessee Department of Corrections, Trousdale Turner County, City of Hartsville, and the State of Tennessee, alleging violations of the Plaintiff's civil rights. (Doc. No. 1). As relief, the Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief, a declaratory judgment, compensatory damages, punitive damages, and nominal damages. (Id. at 9).

         The 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.

         I. PLRA Screening Standard

         Under 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).

         The 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)).

         Although 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).

         II. Section 1983 Standard

         Plaintiff brings his complaint 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.

         III. Alleged Facts

         The complaint alleges that, on June 29, 2017, while an inmate of the Trousdale Turner Correctional Center, Defendant Veal instructed Defendants Lopez, Douglas, and Older to place the Plaintiff in segregation. These Defendants placed the Plaintiff in a segregation cell with an inmate who told the officers “not to put anyone in the cell with him or he would stab them.” (Doc. No. 1 at 7). Upon hearing this statement, the Plaintiff asked to be placed in a different cell, but the Defendants Lopez, Douglas, and Older ignored him. While inside the cell, the inmate “swung a knife” at the Plaintiff's face and the Plaintiff blocked the knife with his arm, sustaining a cut to his arm. (Id.) The Plaintiff called for help, and Defendants Davis and Lovine responded. After a thirty minute delay, the Plaintiff received medical attention, his arm was photographed for documentation, and he was escorted by Lovine to the showers where the Plaintiff sat from 11:25 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on “dirty and wet shower floors.” (Id. at 8). The Plaintiff filed a grievance regarding the incident.

         IV. Analysis

         A. Section 1983 official capacity claims for monetary damages

         The Plaintiff's § 1983 claims for monetary damages against any individual Defendant in his or her official capacity are barred by the Eleventh Amendment. See Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 ...

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