United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
RONNIE GREER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Craig Miller (“Plaintiff”), who is incarcerated
at the Hardeman County Correctional Facility
(“HCCF”) in Whiteville, Tennessee, filed a pro se
complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 [Doc. 11]. Now
before the Court is Plaintiff's motion for leave to
proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. 9] and two motions
requesting the appointment of counsel [Docs. 2 and 10]. For
the reasons that follow, Plaintiff's pending motions will
be DENIED, and Plaintiff will be allowed to
amend his complaint.
MOTION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS
reflects on the docket, and as the Court outlined in its
previous Order, the complaint was originally filed in the
United States District Court for the Western District of
Tennessee [Doc. 1]. On August 18, 2017, that Court granted
Plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis
and transferred this action to the United States District
Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee[Doc. 7].
Accordingly, Plaintiff is already authorized to proceed
in forma pauperis, and no additional authorization
is required. As such, Plaintiff's application to proceed
in forma pauperis [Doc. 9] is DENIED AS
SCREENING THE PLEADING
STANDARD OF LAW
the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”),
district courts must screen prisoner complaints and sua
sponte dismiss those that are frivolous or malicious,
fail to state a claim for relief, or are against a defendant
who is immune. See, e.g., 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, 678 (2009) and in
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)
“governs dismissals for failure to state a claim under
[28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A] because the
relevant statutory language tracks the language in [Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure] 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 and hold them to a less
stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972).
Allegations that give rise to a mere possibility that a
plaintiff might later establish undisclosed facts supporting
recovery are not well-pled and do not state a plausible
claim, however. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 570.
Further formulaic and conclusory recitations of the elements
of a claim which are not supported by specific facts are
insufficient to state a plausible claim for relief.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 at 681.
complaint concerns events that occurred during his previous
incarceration at the Rodger D. Wilson Detention Center in
Knoxville, Tennessee. He has sued Tennessee Department of
Correction (“TDOC”) Commissioner Tony Parker,
Knox County Sheriff Jimmy “J.J.” Jones, Knoxville
Mayor Tim Burchett, and various “Jailers” at the
Detention Center. However, the format of Plaintiff's
complaint is unconventional and the allegations made therein
are a confusing mix of federal constitutional claims, along
with various claims under Tennessee law.
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. Black
v. Barberton Citizens Hosp., 134 F.3d 1265, 1267 (6th
Cir. 1998); O'Brien v. City of Grand Rapids, 23
F.3d 990, 995 (6th Cir. 1994); Russo v. City of
Cincinnati, 953 F.2d 1036, 1042 (6th Cir. 1992); see
also Braley v. City of Pontiac, 906 F.2d 220, 223 (6th
Cir. 1990) (stating that “Section 1983 does not itself
create any constitutional rights; it creates a right of
action for the vindication of constitutional guarantees found
elsewhere”). Although pro se litigants' court
submissions are to be construed liberally and held to a less
stringent standard than submissions of lawyers, pro se status
does not exempt the petitioner from the requirement that he
comply with relevant rules of procedural and substantive law.
Wells v. Brown, 891 F.2d 591, 594 (6th Cir. 1989);
see also Brown v. Matauszak, No. 09-2259, 2011 WL
285251, at *5 (6th Cir. Jan. 31, 2011) (“a court cannot
‘create a claim which [a plaintiff] has not spelled out
in his pleading' ”) (quoting Clark v. Nat'l
Travelers Life Ins. Co., 518 F.2d 1167, 1169 (6th Cir.
1975)). If the court can reasonably read the submissions, it
should do so despite failure to cite proper legal authority,
confusion of legal theories, poor syntax and sentence
construction, or litigant's unfamiliarity with rule
requirements. Boag v. MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364, 102
S.Ct. 700, 70 L.Ed.2d 551 (1982). However, the Sixth Circuit
does not require courts to ferret out the strongest cause of
action on behalf of pro se litigants. Young Bok Song v.
Gipson, 423 Fed. App'x. 506, 510 (6th Cir. 2011).
Not only would that duty be overly burdensome, it would
transform the courts from neutral arbiters of disputes into
advocates for a particular party. Id.
case, the Court finds that even construing Petitioner's
filing in the most liberal manner, this Court is unable to
discern the nature of Petitioner's pleading at issue. The
Court finds that the complaint represents a clear violation
of Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure which
states in relevant part that a complaint “shall contain
[. . . ] a short and plain statement of the claim showing
that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2). Here, the complaint is confusing, verbose and does
not give defendants fair notice of Plaintiffs' claims and
the grounds upon which they rest.
Plaintiff has failed to sign his name to the end of the
complaint. Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
provides: “A party who is not represented by an
attorney shall sign the party's pleading, motion, or
other paper and state the party's address.” Rule 11
further provides that: “If a pleading, motion, or other
paper is not signed, it shall be stricken unless it is signed
promptly after the omission is called to the attention of the
pleader or movant.” Using its discretion, the Court
shall afford Plaintiff an opportunity to bring his pleading
into compliance with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2) (“[A] party may
amend its pleading only with . . . the court's leave. The
court should freely give leave when justice so
requires.”) see also LaFountain v. Harry, 716
F.3d 944, 951 (6th Cir. 2013) (holding that “under Rule
15(a) a district court can allow a plaintiff to amend his
complaint even when the complaint is subject to dismissal
under the PLRA.”). Plaintiff has thirty (30)
days from the date of entry of this Order to file an
amended complaint with a short and plain statement of facts
setting forth exactly how his constitutional rights were
violated and the specific individual(s) who violated his
MOTION TO ...