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Ward v. Pittman

United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Eastern Division

January 5, 2018

JASON MITCHELL WARD, Plaintiff,
v.
YOLANDA PITTMAN, ET AL., Defendants.

          ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT, CERTIFYING AN APPEAL WOULD NOT BE TAKEN IN GOOD FAITH AND DENYING LEAVE TO APPEAL IN FORMA PAUPERIS

          JAMES D. TODD, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On November 25, 2016, Plaintiff Jason Mitchell Ward (Ward), an inmate at Whiteville Correctional Facility (WCF) in Whiteville, Tennessee, filed a pro se complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 accompanied by a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (ECF Nos. 1 & 2.) On November 30, 2016, the Court issued an order granting leave to proceed in forma pauperis and assessing the civil filing fee pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(a)-(b). (ECF No. 5.) The Clerk shall record the Defendants as WCF Warden of Programs Yolanda Pittman, WCF Commissary Overseer James Johnson, WCF Commissary Manager Jacqueline McCarley, and WCF Warden Tammy Ford.

         I. The Complaint

         Ward alleges that on July 22, 2015, he was notified that because he is a confirmed S.T.G. (Security Threat Group) member, he was being dropped from his job as a commissary worker. (ECF No. 1 at 4.) He contends that this was the result of events that occurred on July 16, 2015, while Ward was passing out commissary to other inmates. At the time, two inmates in a completely different area of the prison were part of an altercation that led to one of the inmates being stabbed and the compound being locked down. (Id.) Ward alleges that he did not have anything to do with that altercation; however, because it was between two known gang members and the administration wanted to send a message to all the inmates, he was fired from his job. (Id. at 5, see also Grievance No. 252633, ECF No. 1-1 at 1-2.)

         Ward further alleges that Defendant McCarley, who was the commissary manager on the day of the altercation, said that Ward could no longer work for her because he is a confirmed S.T.G. member and asked for a non-disciplinary job drop which was approved by Defendant Johnson without conducting an investigation to determine whether Ward was even involved in the incident. (Id.) Similarly, Ward contends that Defendant Pittman never investigated the situation and also agreed to fire Ward from his job position without just cause. (Id., see also ECF No. 1-1 at 3.) Lastly, Ward contends that Defendant Ford approved Ward's being fired and signed his dismissal on August 7, 2017. (Id., see also ECF No. 1-1 at 4.)

         Ward seeks reinstatement to his job, reimbursement for lost earnings, and $15, 000 from each Defendant for compensatory and punitive damages. (Id. at 6.)

         II. Analysis

         A. Screening and Standard

         The Court is required to screen prisoner complaints and to dismiss any complaint, or any portion thereof, if the complaint-

(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or
(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b); see also 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         In assessing whether the complaint in this case states a claim on which relief may be granted, the court applies standards under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), as stated in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-79 (2009), and in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-57 (2007). Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010). “Accepting all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true, the Court ‘consider[s] the factual allegations in [the] complaint to determine if they plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief.'” Williams v. Curtin, 631 F.3d 380, 383 (6th Cir. 2011) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 681) (alteration in original). “[P]leadings that . . . are no more than conclusions . . . are not entitled to the assumption of truth. While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679; see also Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 n.3 (“Rule 8(a)(2) still requires a ‘showing, ' rather than a blanket assertion, of entitlement to relief. Without some factual allegation in the complaint, it is hard to see how a claimant could satisfy the requirement of providing not only ‘fair notice' of the nature of the claim, but also ‘grounds' on which the claim rests.”).

         “A complaint can be frivolous either factually or legally. Any complaint that is legally frivolous would ipso facto fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Hill, 630 F.3d at 470 ...


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