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McLendon v. Montgomery County Jail

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

April 5, 2018

MONTGOMERY COUNTY JAIL, et al., Defendants.




         Plaintiff Jessie Lee McLendon, an inmate currently confined at the Montgomery County Jail in Clarksville, Tennessee, filed this pro se civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Montgomery County Jail and ABL. (Doc. No. 1.) Liberally construing the complaint, the Court will also consider any claims Plaintiff raises against the three individuals referred to in the narrative portion of the complaint-Lieutenant Stilts, Captain Pierce, and an unnamed Chaplain. Plaintiff has also filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. No. 2.)

         I. Application to Proceed as a Pauper

         The Court may authorize a prisoner to file a civil 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 $350.00 filing fee, so the fee will be assessed as directed in the accompanying Order. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1).

         II. 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 in October 2016, he adopted religious beliefs that require him to observe certain dietary restrictions. (Doc. No. 1 at 5.) Plaintiff requested that his meals conform to these restrictions, and he was told there was a “3 month allowance” for the Chaplain to arrange an observant diet. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that he “was switched a few weeks after.” (Id.)

         Plaintiff alleges that he showed the “protein facts” of his diet to ABL, the Chaplain, and prison officials, and requests meals with “proper vitamins, proteins, [and] sugars.” (Id. at 4, 6.) Plaintiff also alleges that prison officials “are still in violation of his religious rights” and requests “proper religious materials.” (Id. at 4-6.) Thus, Plaintiff essentially alleges that the Chaplain switched him to a diet that is not nutritionally adequate and still does not conform to his religious beliefs. (Id. at 4-6.) Plaintiff filed grievances from December 2016 until 2018, but “nothing was fixed.” (Id. at 5.) Plaintiff also sent written complaints to two prison officials-Lieutenant Stilts and Captain Pierce-but they did not respond. (Id.) At the time Plaintiff filed the complaint, “nothing had changed.” (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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