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Baker v. Davidson County Sheriff's Office

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

April 4, 2018

RONNIE T. BAKER, Plaintiff,
v.
DAVIDSON COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          WAVERLY D. CRENSHAW, JR. CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Ronnie T. Baker, an inmate currently confined at the Davidson County Sheriff's Office in Nashville, Tennessee, filed this pro se civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Davidson County Sheriff's Office, Ruby Joyner, and Beth Gentry. Plaintiff has also filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis (Doc. No. 2) and a motion to appoint counsel (Doc. No. 4).

         I. Application to Proceed as a Pauper

         A prisoner bringing a civil action may be permitted to file suit without prepaying the filing fee. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). Because it appears from Plaintiff's in forma pauperis application that he lacks sufficient financial resources from which to pay the full filing fee in advance, Plaintiff's application (Doc. No. 2) will be granted. Plaintiff nonetheless remains responsible for paying the full filing fee. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). Plaintiff will therefore be assessed the full $350.00 filing fee, to be paid as directed in the accompanying Order.

         II. Motion to Appoint Counsel

         As stated below, this action will be dismissed because Plaintiff's allegations fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Accordingly, Plaintiff's motion to appoint counsel (Doc. No. 4) will be denied as moot.

         III. Initial Review

         The Court is required to conduct an initial review and dismiss the complaint if it is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A, 1915(e)(2)(B); 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(1). The Court must construe a pro se plaintiff's complaint liberally, United States v. Smotherman, 838 F.3d 736 (6th Cir. 2016) (citing Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)), and accept the plaintiff's factual allegations as true unless they are entirely without credibility. See Thomas v. Eby, 481 F.3d 434, 437 (6th Cir. 2007) (citing Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 33 (1992)).

         A. Factual Allegations

         Plaintiff alleges that on June 20, 2017, Jesse Miles-a fellow inmate at the Davidson County Sheriff's Office (“DCSO”)-punched Plaintiff in his left eye and otherwise physically attacked him during recreation time. (Doc. No. 1 at 5.) Plaintiff and Miles were subsequently designated “incompatible” to prevent further confrontation. (Id.) After the attack, Miles threatened to harm Plaintiff “every time” they crossed paths. (Id.) DCSO correctional officers heard Miles's threats. (Id.) On December 20, 2017, Miles “severely attacked” Plaintiff in the segregation unit while Plaintiff had restraints on his feet, belly, and wrists. (Id.)

         B. Standard of Review

         To determine whether a prisoner's complaint “fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted” under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A and 1915(e)(2)(B), the Court applies the same standard as under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010). The Court therefore accepts “all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true, [and] ‘consider[s] the factual allegations in [the] complaint to determine if they plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief.'” Williams v. Curtin, 631 F.3d 380, 383 (6th Cir. 2011) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 681 (2009)). An assumption of truth does not, however, extend to allegations that consist of legal conclusions or “‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 557 (2007)). A pro se pleading must be liberally construed and “held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson, 551 U.S. at 94 (citing Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)).

         C. Discussion

         “To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must set forth facts that, when construed favorably, establish (1) the deprivation of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States (2) caused by a person acting under the color of state law.” Dominguez v. Corr. Med. Servs., 555 F.3d 543, 549 ...


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