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Sherman v. Washington County Detention Center

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee

March 20, 2018

RONALD LEE SHERMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
WASHINGTON COUNTY DETENTION CENTER, OFFICER J. SIMMS, OFFICER C. DAVIS, OFFICER KAMPI, and MAJOR DOWNES, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Thomas W. Phillips SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is Plaintiff's pro se complaint for violation of civil rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 [Doc. 1], and motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. 2]. For the reasons discussed below, Plaintiff's request to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. 2] 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 February 22, 2016, the Court entered an Order, directing Plaintiff to either pay the full filing fee or submit a copy of his trust-fund account statement for the past six months [Doc. 3]. Plaintiff then submitted a certified copy of his inmate trust account [Doc. 4], 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. 2] 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.

         Because Plaintiff is a detainee at the Washington County Detention Center, he is herewith ASSESSED the civil filing fee of $350.00. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2), the custodian of Plaintiff's inmate trust account at the institution where he now resides is directed to submit to the Clerk, U.S. District Court, 220 West Depot Street, Suite 200, Greeneville, Tennessee 37743, twenty percent (20%) of the Plaintiff's preceding monthly income (or income credited to the Plaintiff's trust account for the preceding month), but only when such monthly income exceeds ten dollars ($10.00), until the full filing fee of three hundred fifty dollars ($350.00) as authorized under 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a) has been paid to the Clerk. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2).

         The Clerk is DIRECTED to send a copy of this Memorandum to the Washington County Detention Center to ensure that the custodian of Plaintiff's trust account complies with that portion of the Prison Litigation Reform Act relating to payment of the filing fee. The Clerk is DIRECTED to forward a copy of this Memorandum to the Court's financial deputy.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff, currently detained at the Washington County Detention Center (“WCDC”), filed this complaint on February 10, 2016 against Defendants WCDC, Officer J Simms (“Simms”), Officer C Davis (“Davis”), Officer Kampi (“Kampi”), and Major Downes (“Downes”) [Doc. 1 p. 1]. Plaintiff alleges that his pretrial detention violated his rights under the Fourteenth Amendment, as there was no classification process during intake at the WCDC [Id. at 3-4]. Plaintiff claims that because he was a federal pretrial detainee, he should not have been placed in a cell with convicted prisoners [Id. at 4]. Further, Plaintiff states that his cell is overcrowded, as he is being detained in “facilities [which] consisted of [a] 6 x 10-foot cell, in which 2 individuals were confined for . . . at times 30 hours or greater” [Id. at 5]. Additionally, Plaintiff alleges that he is being held in maximum security without any explanation from jail officials [Id.].

         Plaintiff also claims that the food he has received at the WCDC does not constitute an “ample amount” [Id.]. Further, Plaintiff alleges that he had several “disagreements” with Defendants Kampi, Simms, and Davis, where Plaintiff informed the correctional officers about overcrowding in his cell, as well as receiving an improper amount of food [Id. at 5-6]. Also, Plaintiff claims that after he complained about the amount of food he received, Defendant Davis stated that Plaintiff had refused his meal [Id. at 6]. Plaintiff states that when he informed Defendant Downes of his complaints to Defendants Simms and Davis, and that he had not received a requested grievance form, Defendant Downes ignored his repeated requests [Id. at 7]. Additionally, Plaintiff claims that as a federal pretrial detainee, he is entitled to be fed three times a day, although Defendant Davis has stated that Plaintiff is only required to be fed twice a day [Id.]. Specifically, Plaintiff has documented the food that inmates received at the WCDC on January 29 and January 30, 2016, claiming it demonstrates that he is not being “fed the proper calories per day, ” although he details receiving three meals a day [Id. at 8].

         Plaintiff requests “to be treated as a federal inmate or transferred immediately to a federal facility, ” for the kitchen at the WCDC to conform to federal guidelines, and for Defendants Simms, Davis, Kampi, and Downes to be “penalized” [Id. at 9-10].

         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, the 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, the 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 ...


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