United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
RICHARDSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is a pro se complaint for alleged
violation of civil rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983
(Doc. No. 1), filed by Gerold Askew, a pretrial detainee in
the custody of the Davidson County Sheriff's Office in
Nashville, Tennessee. Plaintiff has also filed an application
to proceed in forma pauperis (IFP) (Doc. No. 2),
which the Court will grant by Order entered contemporaneously
herewith. The complaint is now before the Court for an
initial review pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act
(PLRA), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A, and 42
U.S.C. § 1997e.
REVIEW OF THE COMPLAINT
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), the Court must dismiss any
IFP complaint that is facially 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. Similarly, § 1915A provides that the Court shall
conduct an initial review of any prisoner complaint against a
governmental entity, officer, or employee, and shall dismiss
the complaint or any portion thereof if the defects listed in
§ 1915(e)(2)(B) are identified. Under both statutes,
this initial review of whether the complaint states a claim
upon which relief may be granted asks whether it contains
“sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state
a claim to relief that is plausible on its face, ” such
that it would survive a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Hill v. Lappin, 630
F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010) (quoting Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)).
claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Applying
this standard, the Court must view the complaint in the light
most favorable to Plaintiff and, again, must take all
well-pleaded factual allegations as true. Tackett v. M
& G Polymers, USA, LLC, 561 F.3d 478, 488 (6th Cir.
2009) (citing Gunasekera v. Irwin, 551 F.3d 461, 466
(6th Cir. 2009) (citations omitted)). Furthermore, pro
se pleadings must be liberally construed and “held
to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94
(2007) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106
(1976)). However, pro se litigants are not exempt
from the requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure, Wells v. Brown, 891 F.2d 591, 594 (6th
Cir. 1989), nor can the Court “create a claim which [a
plaintiff] has not spelled out in his pleading.”
Brown v. Matauszak, 415 Fed.Appx. 608, 613 (6th Cir.
2011) (quoting Clark v. Nat'l Travelers Life Ins.
Co., 518 F.2d 1167, 1169 (6th Cir. 1975)).
SECTION 1983 STANDARD
seeks to vindicate alleged violations of his federal
constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Section
1983 creates a cause of action against any person who, acting
under color of state law, deprives an individual of any
right, privilege or immunity secured by the Constitution or
federal laws. Wurzelbacher v. Jones-Kelley, 675 F.3d
580, 583 (6th Cir. 2012). Thus, to state a § 1983 claim,
Plaintiff must allege two elements: (1) a deprivation of
rights secured by the Constitution or laws of the United
States, and (2) that the deprivation was caused by a person
acting under color of state law. Carl v. Muskegon
Cty., 763 F.3d 592, 595 (6th Cir. 2014).
ALLEGATIONS AND CLAIMS
sues the Davidson County Sheriff's Office and Corporal
Jacob Steen, claiming a violation of his Eighth and
Fourteenth Amendment rights. (Doc. No. 1 at 2, 3.) He alleges
that on February 13, 2019, he was called for an insulin check
at 4:30 a.m. and reported to the nurse's station.
(Id. at 5.) While waiting to be called back to see
the nurse, Plaintiff used the restroom in the hallway where
he was waiting and emerged from the restroom to find Corporal
Steen standing outside the restroom door. (Id.)
Corporal Steen asked him, “Can't you read
boy?”, but Plaintiff did not respond and sat back down
to wait for the nurse to call him. (Id.) When he was
called to the nurse's station, Plaintiff stood but Steen
blocked his path to the nurse by standing in front of him
with his arms spread out. (Id.) Plaintiff
“could tell he was looking for a confrontation, ”
but “just sa[id] that's ok and went back to the
unit[, ] then to [his] room” and asked another officer
for his meal tray. (Id.) As the other officer went
to get Plaintiff's breakfast, Steen came to the cell door
with Plaintiff's tray and refused to give the tray to the
other officer. (Id. at 5-6.) Steen handed the tray
to Plaintiff through the door flap and stood smiling in the
door window. (Id. at 6.) Plaintiff's milk and
apple sauce containers were empty and the remaining food was
“shook up[, ] bread smush[ed] down in the oatmeal and
eggs everywhere.” (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that
he has already had one heart attack, and that missing his
medication and breakfast that morning “about gave [him]
another one.” (Id.)
alleges that in the week that followed, he spoke with other
officers and administrators about the incident with Corporal
Steen and was told that Steen was subsequently fired or
resigned over the incident. (Id. at 6-8.) Plaintiff
states that he filed a grievance, but that because the issue
was properly addressed and Steen apparently no longer worked
at the Sheriff's Office, he did not need to pursue a
grievance appeal. (Id. at 11.) As relief in this
Court, Plaintiff seeks $200, 000.00 in damages. (Id.
begin with, it is well settled that county sheriff's
offices are not entities subject to suit under § 1983.
Lunsford v. Davidson Cty. Sheriff Office, No.
3:19-cv-00079, 2019 WL 333553, at *2 (M.D. Tenn. Jan. 25,
2019) (citing, e.g., Rhodes v. McDaniel,
945 F.2d 117, 120 (6th Cir. 1991)). Even if the Court were to
broadly construe Plaintiff's suit against the Davidson
County Sheriff's Office as an attempt to hold the county
itself liable, he does not allege any harm that was caused by
a policy of Davidson County. See City of Canton, Ohio v.
Harris, 489 U.S. 378, 385 (1989) (to hold municipality
liable, plaintiff must allege a direct causal link between a
policy or custom of the municipality and the alleged
constitutional violation). Plaintiff therefore fails to state
a claim against the Sheriff's Office.
Plaintiff fails to allege any actionable deprivation of
rights by Defendant Steen. “Pretrial detainees . . .
are protected [from punishment] by the Fourteenth
Amendment's Due Process Clause, ” Richko v.
Wayne Cty., Mich., 819 F.3d 907, 915 (6th Cir. 2016),
under which they have a right to adequate medical treatment
that is analogous to the Eighth Amendment rights of
prisoners. Garretson v. City of Madison Heights, 407
F.3d 789, 795 (6th Cir. 2005). “Eighth Amendment
jurisprudence clearly establishes that deliberate
indifference to serious medical needs of prisoners
constitutes the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain
that is violative of the Constitution.” Darrah v.
Krisher, 865 F.3d 361, 367 (6th Cir. 2017) (quoting
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104, 105 (1976))
(internal quotation marks omitted). “For this reason,