United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Chattanooga
Magistrate Judge Christopher H. Steger
R. MCDONOUGH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Court is in receipt of a pro se prisoner's complaint
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 [Doc. 1] that was transferred
from the Middle District of Tennessee, which assessed
Plaintiff with the filing fee [Doc. 8]. For the reasons set
forth below, this action will be DISMISSED
for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted
under § 1983.
the Prisoner Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”),
district courts must screen prisoner complaints and shall, at
any time, sua sponte dismiss any claims that are
frivolous or malicious, fail to state a claim for relief, or
are against a defendant who is immune. See, e.g., 28
U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915(A); Benson v.
O'Brian, 179 F.3d 1014 (6th Cir. 1999). The
dismissal standard articulated by the Supreme Court in
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009) and in
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
554 (2007) “governs dismissals for failure state a
claim under [28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A]
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 an initial
review under the PLRA, 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).
liberally construe pro se pleadings filed in civil rights
cases and hold them to a less stringent standard than formal
pleadings drafted by lawyers. Haines v. Kerner, 404
U.S. 519, 520 (1972). In order to state a claim under 42
U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must establish that he was
deprived of a federal right by a person acting under color of
state law. Braley v. City of Pontiac, 906 F.2d 220,
223 (6th Cir. 1990) (stating that “Section 1983 . . .
creates a right of action for the vindication of
constitutional guarantees found elsewhere”).
Allegations of the Complaint
alleges that on September 1, 2017, his sister called Bledsoe
County Correctional Complex (“BCCX”), where he is
incarcerated, to notify Plaintiff that his other sister had
passed away, but was unable to reach him after several people
transferred her [Doc. 1 p. 4-5]. Accordingly, Plaintiff's
sister and her husband drove to BCCX to visit Plaintiff
[Id. at 5]. They arrived at BCCX at 1:55 p.m., which
was within the visitation hours, but Defendant
Bryane was not at her post [Id.].
Moreover, when Defendant Bryane returned to her post, she
refused to allow them to sign in and told them that they were
too late for visiting [Id.]. Thus, Plaintiff's
sister and her husband were made to leave [Id.].
When they called about the issue, Defendant Worthington told
them the same thing as Defendant Bryane [Id.].
Plaintiff alleges that, had Defendant Bryane been at her
post, his family would have had time to visit with him
[Id.]. Plaintiff also alleges that his grievance
regarding the situation was denied due to lies
complaint, Plaintiff seeks to hold Defendants Worthington,
Lucas, and Bryane liable for denying him visitation with his
family in violation of the First Amendment [Id. at
6]. Plaintiff also seeks to hold Defendant Brown liable for
lying about Plaintiff's receipt of a write-up to keep
Plaintiff from obtaining relief for his grievance regarding
the denial of visitation [Id.]. Plaintiff also seeks
to hold Defendants Settles, Brown, Bobby, and John and Jane
Does liable for their failure to check into the alleged
misconduct properly [Id. at 6-7].
the Eleventh Amendment provides the State of Tennessee with
immunity from § 1983 claims. Rodgers v. Mich.
Dep't of Corrs., 29 Fed. App'x 259, 260 (6th
Cir. 2002). This immunity extends to state governmental
agencies, as they are “arms” of the state.
Dubuc v. Mich. Bd. Of Law Exam'rs, 342 F.3d 610,
615 (6th Cir. 2003). Moreover, courts treat official-capacity
suits as against the governmental entity. See Kentucky v.
Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 165 (1985). Accordingly, Defendant
Tennessee Department of Correction and any claims against the
individual Defendants in their official capacities are
subject to dismissal as immune under the Eleventh Amendment.
Plaintiff's allegation that Defendant Brown lied to
prevent Plaintiff from receiving relief for his grievance
fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted under
§ 1983, as “there is no inherent constitutional
right to an effective prison grievance procedure.”
LaFlame v. Montgomery Cty. Sheriff's Dep't.,
3 F. App'x 346, 348 (6th Cir. 2001). Thus, this
allegation fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted under § 1983.
liberally construed, Plaintiff's allegations regarding
the denied visitation establish that, although his sister and
her husband timely arrived for visitation, Defendant Bryane
was away from her post and, when she returned to her post,
she did not allow them to visit with Plaintiff because the
time for visitation had passed. Thus, Plaintiff was denied a
visit from his sister and her husband because of the
prison's time restriction on visiting and because
Defendant Bryane was not at her post to allow the visit in a
prisoners retain their constitutional rights that are not
inconsistent with their status as prisoners and/or legitimate
penological interests, the right to free association under
the First Amendment is “among the rights least
compatible with incarceration.” Overton v.
Bazzeta, 539 U.S. 126, 131 (2003). Further, courts
“must accord substantial deference to the professional
judgment of prison administrators, who bear a significant
responsibility for defining the legitimate goals of a
corrections system and for determining the most appropriate
means to accomplish them.” Id. at 132. A court