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Hensley v. Blount County Jail

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville

March 14, 2018

JASON LEE HENSLEY, Plaintiff,
v.
BLOUNT COUNTY JAIL, SOUTHERN HEALTH PARTNERS, CHERYL HOUSEHOLDER, CPL BISHOP, CHIEF FRENCH, CAPTAIN ADAMS, BLOUNT COUNTY JAIL MEDICAL STAFF AND ADMINISTRATION, STACY GRAINGER, QUESINBERRY SMITH, and LT. GREGORY, Defendants.

          GUYTON JJ.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          REEVES JUDGE

         Before the Court is Plaintiff's pro se complaint for violation of civil rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 [Doc. 2] and motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. 1]. For the reasons discussed below, Plaintiff's request to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. 1] will be GRANTED, and Plaintiff's complaint will be DISMISSED sua sponte.

         I. FILING FEE

         Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), any prisoner who files a complaint in a district court must tender the full filing fee or file (1) an application to proceed in forma pauperis without prepayment of fees and (2) a certified copy of his inmate trust account for the previous six-month period. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2). On January 14, 2015, Plaintiff submitted a fully compliant application [Doc. 1], and it appears from his application that he lacks sufficient financial resources to pay the $350.00 filing fee. Accordingly, Plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. 1] is GRANTED and, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, the Clerk is DIRECTED to file this action without the prepayment of costs or fees or security therefor as of the date the Complaint was received. However, because Plaintiff is no longer incarcerated, the Court will not assess a filing fee at this time.[1]

         II. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed this complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on January 14, 2015 against Defendants Blount County Jail, Southern Health Partners (“SHP”), Cheryl Householder (“Householder”), Cpl Bishop (“Bishop”), Chief French (“French”), Captain Adams (“Adams”), Lt. Gregory (“Gregory”), Stacy Grainger (“Grainger”), Quesinberry Smith (“Smith”), and the Blount County Jail Medical Staff and Administration, for alleged violations of his constitutional rights occurring while he was confined at the Blount County Jail [Doc. 2].

         Plaintiff alleges that he failed to receive proper medical care at the Blount County Jail [Doc. 2 p. 3]. Initially, Plaintiff claims that he was seen by a doctor and provided treatment for scabies after the doctor prescribed steroids [Id.]. After Plaintiff's health issues continued, Plaintiff alleges that he was “put back on steroids that helped some[, ] but didn't solve [the] issue” [Id. at 4]. Plaintiff claims that he continued to suffer “scratch marks, bumps, [and] sores from [his] ailment” [Id.]. After Plaintiff informed Defendant Bishop about his continued pain, a nurse provided Plaintiff with a dish soap that he was not allergic to, as well as lotion [Id. at 4].

         Plaintiff also claims that he was provided different treatment for his scabies because he was a “county inmate” [Id. at 6]. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that a federal inmate was detained at the Blount County Jail, and was provided with immediate treatment and prescribed “permethine” to treat his symptoms [Id.]. However, Plaintiff claims that “it took almost 3 months before the doctor gave me the same treatment, ” because Plaintiff was an indigent, county inmate [Id.]. Plaintiff alleges that his scabies were “intensified” due to subsequent nerve damage [Id. at 7]. Plaintiff also claims that he is hypoglycemic, and “medical refuses to give [him] pm sandwiches for [his] low blood sugar” [Id.]. Lastly, Plaintiff alleges that he is supposed to be placed in the bottom bunk due to medical restrictions, but “medical absolutely refuses to be professional with my medical situation” [Id.].

         Further, Plaintiff claims that he “was charged for [his] asthma inhaler 4 times with only 2 inhalers” [Id. at 4]. Additionally, Plaintiff claims that he was also charged twice for his medication after getting a tooth pulled, although he only took one dose [Id. at 6]. Plaintiff then filed a grievance requesting to be refunded his money for the unused medication [Id.]. However, Plaintiff claims that he was retaliated against by correctional officers at the Blount County Jail for attempting to file grievances [Id. at 4]. He claims that “[i]n the process of turning in grievance request forms, I was cussed twice, written up once, and punished with loss of visits” [Id. at 7]. Plaintiff also alleges that the nurses made derogatory statements about him to other inmates and correctional officers [Id. at 4]. He claims that he was “cussed [out]” by Defendant Householder for asking if he was on the sick call list [Id. at 7]. Plaintiff has attached several general request forms, grievances, and sick call requests [Id. at 8-20].

         Plaintiff requests monetary damages for his pain and suffering, for the Court to discipline and order the firing of several Defendants, for the Court to “fix [the] grievance system at Blount Co. Jail, ” and for Plaintiff to be removed from the Blount County Jail [Id. at 5].

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Screening Standard

         Under the 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 Benson v. O'Brian, 179 F.3d 1014, 1015-16 (6th Cir. 1999) (“Congress directed the federal courts to review or ‘screen' certain complaints sua sponte and to dismiss those that failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted [or] . . . sought monetary relief from a defendant immune from such relief.”). 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 to 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). However, “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, 561 F.3d 478, 488 (6th Cir. 2009) (citing Gunasekera v. Irwin, 551 F.3d 461, 466 (6th Cir. 2009) (citations omitted)).

         To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must establish that they were deprived of a federal right by a person acting under color of state law. Black v. Barberton Citizens Hospital, 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) ("Section 1983 does not itself create any constitutional rights; it creates a right of action for the vindication of constitutional guarantees found elsewhere."). In other words, Plaintiff must plead facts sufficient to show: (1) the deprivation of a right, privilege, or immunity secured to her by the United States Constitution or other federal law; and (2) that the individual responsible for such deprivation was acting under color of state law. Gregory v. Shelby Cty., 220 F.3d 433, 441 (6th Cir. 2000).

         B. Improper Defendants

         At the outset, Plaintiff has brought suit against the Blount County Jail, a non-suable entity under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Blount County Jail is a building which serves as a place of confinement for those in custody, and it is not a “person” under § 1983. See Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 689-90 n.53 (1978) (finding that only “bodies politic” are “persons” who can be sued under 42 U.S.C. § 1983); Marbry v. Corr. Med. Serv., No. 99-6706, 2000 WL 1720959, at *2 (6th Cir. Nov. 6, 2000) (holding that “the Shelby County Jail is not an entity subject to suit under §1983”) (citing Rhodes v. McDannel, 945 F.2d 117, 120 (6th Cir. 1991)); Cage v. Kent Cty. Corr. Facility, No. 96-1167, 1997 WL 225647, at *1 (6th Cir. May 1, 1997) (stating that ...


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