United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville
PERCY P. FARRIS, Plaintiff,
ERIC FARROW, MARK LUNDY, BRYAN SOMMERS, ROGER BAILEY, and NORTHEAST CORRECTIONAL COMPLEX, Defendants.
the Court is Plaintiff's pro se amended complaint for
violation of civil rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983
[Doc. 8]. On November 16, 2017, the Court entered an order
screening Plaintiff's original complaint, and found that
“[w]hile in its present form, his complaint does not
state any claim for relief against the named Defendants, it
is conceivable that Plaintiff could cure this defect in the
complaint if given leave to amend his complaint . . .
.” [Doc. 5 p. 8]. The Court then granted Plaintiff
leave to file an amended complaint within twenty-one (21)
days from the date of entry of the Court's order
[Id. at 9]. Plaintiff filed an amended complaint on
January 4, 2018 [Doc. 8].
amended complaint must also be screened to determine whether
it states a claim entitling Plaintiff to relief, or is
frivolous or malicious, or seeks monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2) and § 1915A. For the reasons discussed below,
Plaintiff's complaint will be DISMISSED
amended complaint, Plaintiff brings suit against Defendants
Farrow, Lundy, Sommers, Bailey, and the Northeast
Correctional Complex (“NECX”) [Doc. 8 p. 3].
Plaintiff alleges that during his transfer from the NECX
County Annex to the NECX Main Annex, Defendant Farrow
“willing[ly], unlawfully, and knowingly opened
[Plaintiff's] mail, ” when Defendant Farrow opened
a “sealed outgoing envelope” [Doc. 8 p. 4].
Plaintiff claims that this search of his mail was against
Tennessee Department of Correction policy [Id.].
Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Sommers “agreed
with” Defendant Farrow in the unlawful opening of
Plaintiff's “outgoing mail by preparing the
write-up” [Id.]. Plaintiff additionally claims
that Defendants Bailey and Lundy are responsible for their
role in the grievance process and a disciplinary report
related to Plaintiff's possession of a cellular telephone
[Id.]. Plaintiff requests “[t]o have all
officers involved relieved of their duties, ” as well
as seeks monetary damages [Id. at 5].
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
§ 1983 Standard
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 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, a plaintiff must plead facts sufficient to show: (1)
the deprivation of a right, privilege, or immunity secured to
him 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).
outset, Plaintiff has brought suit against the NECX, a
non-suable entity [Doc. 8 p. 3]. In order to state a claim
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must establish that
he or she 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). NECX is a correctional facility and, as
such, is not a suable entity under § 1983. See
Anderson v. Morgan Cty. Corr. Complex, No. 15-6344, 2016
WL 9402910, at *1 (6th Cir. Sept. 21, 2016) (citing Will
v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 68, 65-71)
(“A state prison is not a ‘person' subject to
suit under § 1983.”); see, e.g., Cage
v. Kent County Corr. Facility, No. 96-1167, 1997 WL
25647, at *1 (6th Cir. May 1, 1997) (“The district
court also properly found that the jail facility named as a
defendant was not an entity subject to suit under §
1983.”); McIntosh v. Camp Brighton, No.
14-CV-11327, 2014 WL 1584173, at *2 (E.D. Mich. Apr. 21,
2014) (finding that a state prison facility is an institution
operated by a state corrections department and “is not
a ‘person' or legal entity subject to suit under 42
U.S.C. § 1983”). Thus, the Northeast Correctional
Complex will be DISMISSED as a Defendant in
Search of Plaintiff's Mail
alleges that upon his transfer to NECX, Defendant Farrow
unlawfully opened a sealed and properly stamped envelope
addressed to Plaintiff's sister [Doc. 8 p. 3]; see
also [Doc. 1]. Prisoners maintain a First Amendment
right to send and receive mail. See Procunier v.
Martinez, 416 U.S. 396, 408-409 (1974), overruled in
part on other grounds by Thornburgh v. Abbott, 490 U.S.
401, 407 (1989); Jones v. North Carolina Prisoners'
Labor Union, Inc., 433 U.S. 119 (1977). An inmate's
exercise of constitutional rights is necessarily limited,
however, “both from the fact of incarceration and from
valid penological objectives-including deterrence of crime,
rehabilitation of prisoners, and institutional
security.” Pell v. Procunier, 417 U.S. 817,
Plaintiff's allegations that his mail was searched on one
occasion, in violation of TDOC policy, are insufficient to
state a claim for a violation of his constitutional rights.
Johnson v. Wilkinson, 229 F.3d 1152 (Table), 2000 WL
1175519, at *2 (6th Cir. Aug. 11, 2000) (holding that one
isolated incident of interference with mail did not violate
plaintiff's constitutional rights) (citing Gardner v.
Howard, 109 F.3d 427, 431 (8th Cir. 1997)); see,
e.g., Colvin v. Caruso, 605 F.3d 282, 293 (6th
Cir. 2010) (citing Johnson for the holding that
“isolated incidents” of interference with
prisoners' rights do not rise to the level of a First
Amendment violation); Okor ...