United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Columbia Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
ALISTAIR E. NEWBERN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
in this prisoner civil rights action are motions by pro se
plaintiffs Kevis Harper, Nico Farmer, and Michael Mills for
injunctive relief (Doc. No. 2) and for class certification
(Doc. No. 3). Defendants Don Bright, Randall Bridges, Cherry
Lindamood, Brenda Pevahouse, Geneva Roberts, Rhonda Staggs,
Zubulon Stults, and Matthew Villanueva have opposed these
motions. (Doc. No. 45.) The motions have been referred to the
Magistrate Judge for report and recommendation. (Doc. No.
25.) For the following reasons, the undersigned RECOMMENDS
that the motion for injunctive relief be FOUND MOOT and the
motion for class certification be DENIED.
are inmates in the custody of the Tennessee Department of
Correction (TDOC). Their complaint, motion for injunctive
relief, and motion for class certification were filed on
February 27, 2017, at which time all three were housed at the
South Central Correctional Facility (SCCF) in Clifton,
Tennessee. Plaintiffs allege that the remaining defendants in
this action, who are employed at SCCF (Doc. No. 1, PageID#
2), subjected them to unsanitary conditions and abuse that
violated their Eighth Amendment rights.
Plaintiffs' Motion for Injunctive Relief (Doc. No.
motion for injunctive relief seeks the issuance of “an
injunction preventing the Defendants from further reckless
actions that are asserted in Plaintiffs['] attached
Complaint”-- all of which took place at SCCF. (Doc. No.
2, PageID# 76.) However, within months of filing suit,
Plaintiff Harper was transferred to the Turney Center
Industrial Complex in Only, Tennessee (Doc. No. 6); Plaintiff
Farmer was transferred to the Morgan County Correctional
Complex in Wartburg, Tennessee (Doc. No. 46); and Plaintiff
Mills was transferred to the West Tennessee State
Penitentiary in Henning, Tennessee (Doc. No. 48). It appears
that Plaintiffs remain in these respective facilities and no
plaintiff is housed at SCCF.
transfer to another prison moots a prisoner's claim for
injunctive relief addressing prison conditions if the alleged
risk of harm does not travel with the prisoner to his new
institution. Compare Colvin v. Caruso, 605 F.3d 282,
295 (6th Cir. 2010) (finding injunctive relief claim not
mooted by transfer when challenged kosher meal policy also
applied to plaintiff at new prison), with Proctor v.
Applegate, 661 F.Supp.2d 743, 763 (E.D. Mich. 2009)
(finding injunctive relief claim moot where none of the
alleged acts did took place and no defendant was employed at
a facility where any plaintiff was then housed).
“Underlying the rule is the premise that injunctive
relief is appropriate only where plaintiff can show a
reasonable expectation or demonstrated probability that he is
in immediate danger of sustaining direct future injury as the
result of the challenged official conduct.”
Proctor, 661 F.Supp.2d at 762; see also Kensu v.
Haigh, 87 F.3d 172, 175 (6th Cir. 1996) (finding claims
for declaratory and injunctive relief regarding legal mail
moot because prisoner was no longer at the institution that
searched his mail). Here, Plaintiffs' claims are either
specific to SCCF as a correctional facility (including claims
alleging unsafe and unsanitary conditions, denial of the
right to worship, inadequate mail delivery, and inadequate
medical care) or specific to the named Defendants who work at
SCCF (including claims alleging rape and assault “by
Defendants”). (Doc. No. 1, PageID# 2.) Because
Plaintiffs are no longer in danger of suffering the alleged
injuries by these Defendants, their motion for injunctive
relief should be FOUND MOOT. Plaintiffs' Eighth Amendment
claims for damages related to the conditions of their
confinement, the denial of medical treatment, and excessive
force remain pending (Doc. No. 24, PageID# 201), subject to
the Court's ruling on Defendants' motion to dismiss
(Doc. No. 43).
Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification (Doc. No.
their motion for class certification (Doc. No. 3), Plaintiffs
ask the Court to certify a class consisting of “all
African-American persons that [SCCF] prison officials have
subjected . . . to cruel and unusual punishment and
deliberate indifferen[ce], ” as Plaintiffs claim they
have suffered those harms. (Doc. No. 3, PageID# 78.) Under
Rule 23(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Court
can certify a class to be represented by one or more of its
members only if the following four conditions are met:
“(1) the class is so numerous that joinder of all
members is impracticable; (2) there are questions of law or
fact common to the class; (3) the claims or defenses of the
representative parties are typical of the claims or defenses
of the class; and (4) the representative parties will fairly
and adequately protect the interests of the class.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a); Stout v. J.D. Byrider, 228 F.3d
709, 716-17 (6th Cir. 2000). Here, Plaintiffs' motion is
short-circuited by the Sixth Circuit's rule that pro se
inmates who lack legal training “are not able
adequately to represent [a] proposed class.” Heard
v. Caruso, 351 F. App'x 1, 15 (6th Cir. 2009)
(citing Oxendine v. Williams, 509 F.2d 1405, 1407
(4th Cir. 1975) (“Ability to protect the interests of
the class depends in part on the quality of counsel, and we
consider the competence of a layman representing himself to
be clearly too limited to allow him to risk the rights of
others.”)); Ziegler v. Michigan, 59 F.
App'x 622, 624 (6th Cir. 2003) (“Generally, pro se
prisoners cannot adequately represent a class.”);
Palasty v. Hawk, 15 F. App'x 197, 200 (6th Cir.
2001) (same). The Court need go no further in its analysis.
Putnam v. Montgomery Cty. Sheriffs Dep 't , No.
3:12-0132, 2012 WL 6645314, at *2 (M.D. Tenn. Dec. 20, 2012),
report and recommendation adopted by Putnam v. Montgomery
Cty. Sheriffs Dep't, No. CIV. 3:12-0132, 2013 WL
173001, at *1 (M.D. Tenn. Jan. 15, 2013). Plaintiffs'
motion for class certification (Doc. No. 3) should be DENIED.
these reasons, the Magistrate Judge RECOMMENDS that
Plaintiffs' motion for injunctive relief (Doc. No. 2) be
FOUND MOOT and Plaintiffs' motion for class certification
(Doc. No. 3) be DENIED.
party has fourteen days after being served with this Report
and Recommendation in which to file any written objections to
it. A party opposing any objections filed shall have fourteen
days after being served with the objections in which to file
any response. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2). Failure to file specific
objections within fourteen days of receipt of this Report and
Recommendation can constitute a waiver of further appeal of