United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Western Division
ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT, CERTIFYING AN APPEAL
WOULD NOT BE TAKEN IN GOOD FAITH AND NOTIFYING PLAINTIFF OF
APPELLATE FILING FEE
D. TODD UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
October 16, 2017, Plaintiff James Ivory Edgerson, who is
incarcerated at FCI La Tuna in Anthony, New Mexico, filed a
pro se complaint on the form used for commencing
actions pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and a motion to
proceed in forma pauperis. (ECF Nos. 1 & 2.) The
complaint concerns events that occurred at the West Tennessee
Detention Facility (WTDF) in Mason, Tennessee, while Edgerson
was a federal detainee at the WTDF in custody of the U.S.
Marshal Service. (ECF No. 1 at PageID 2.) The Court issued an
order on October 26, 2017, granting leave to proceed in
forma pauperis and assessing the civil filing fee
pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), 28
U.S.C. §§ 1915(a)-(b). (ECF No. 4.) The Clerk shall
record the Defendants as Lisa West, WTDF Business Manager;
Jeremy Hensley, Assistant Warden; and former WTDF Warden
alleges that on June 16, 2017, Defendant West came to the
warehouse where Edgerson worked, went through his personal
belongings, and threw into the trash his Bible and other
items. (ECF No. 1 at PageID 2.) West allegedly was recorded
on video throwing away Edgerson's belongings and saying,
“I'll worry about going to hell later.”
(Id.) Edgerson alleges that West also reported her
actions to Defendants Hensley and Chapman. (Id.)
Edgerson states he grieved the incident but received no
response. (Id.) Edgerson alleges he was fired for
filing a grievance against West and has not been able to
obtain new employment. (Id.) He subsequently filed a
second grievance about the firing. (Id.) Edgerson
alleges that “[t]hey stick together (Mrs. West,
asserts that Defendant West's actions violated his rights
under the First Amendment. (Id. at PageID 3.) He
sues the Defendants in their official and individual
capacities and seeks $3 million in damages. (Id.)
Court is required to screen prisoner complaints and to
dismiss any complaint, or any portion thereof, if the
(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted; or
(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from
28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b); see also 28 U.S.C. §
assessing whether the complaint in this case states a claim
on which relief may be granted, the standards under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), as stated in Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-79 (2009), and in Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-57 (2007),
are applied. Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71
(6th Cir. 2010). The Court accepts the complaint's
“well-pleaded” factual allegations as true and
then determines whether the allegations “plausibly
suggest an entitlement to relief.'” Williams v.
Curtin, 631 F.3d 380, 383 (6th Cir. 2011) (quoting
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 681). Conclusory allegations
“are not entitled to the assumption of truth, ”
and legal conclusions “must be supported by factual
allegations.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. Although
a complaint need only contain “a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), Rule 8 nevertheless
requires factual allegations to make a
“‘showing,' rather than a blanket assertion,
of entitlement to relief.” Twombly, 550 U.S.
at 555 n.3.
se complaints are to be held ‘to less stringent
standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers,' and
should therefore be liberally construed.”
Williams, 631 F.3d at 383 (quoting Martin v.
Overton, 391 F.3d 710, 712 (6th Cir. 2004)). Pro
se litigants, however, are not exempt from the
requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Wells v. Brown, 891 F.2d 591, 594 (6th Cir. 1989);
see also Brown v. Matauszak, 415 Fed.Appx. 608, 612,
613 (6th Cir. Jan. 31, 2011) (affirming dismissal of pro
se complaint for failure to comply with “unique
pleading requirements” and stating “a court
cannot ‘create a claim which [a plaintiff] has not
spelled out in his pleading'” (quoting Clark v.
Nat'l Travelers Life Ins. Co., 518 F.2d 1167, 1169
(6th Cir. 1975))).
Edgerson's claims arose while he was a federal detainee
at the WTDF, his claims cannot be brought under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, which applies only to deprivations of
constitutional rights committed by a person acting under
color of state law. Therefore, his claims arise, if
at all, under Bivens v. Six Unknown Fed. Agents, 403
U.S. 388 (1971). Bivens provides a right of action
against federal employees who violate an individual's
rights under the United States Constitution. “Under the
Bivens line of cases, the Supreme Court has
recognized a cause of action against federal officials for
certain constitutional violations when there are no
alternative processes to protect the interests of the
plaintiff and no special factors counseling against
recognizing the cause of action.” Koubriti v.
Convertino, 593 F.3d 459, 466 (6th Cir. 2010).
Edgerson was a federal detainee when the events at WTDF
occurred, the WTDF is operated not by federal officials but
by CoreCivic, a private prison corporation, and the
Defendants in this case are alleged to be CoreCivic
employees. The Supreme Court has held that a Bivens
action may not be brought against private corporations that
operate prison facilities housing federal detainees and
convicted prisoners. Corr. Servs. Corp. v. Malesko,
534 U.S. 61 (2001). Therefore, Edgerson's
official-capacity claims, which must be treated as having
been brought against CoreCivic, fail to state a valid claim.
Supreme Court also has declined to extend the Bivens
remedy to actions brought against “privately employed
personnel working at a privately operated federal
prison” where the allegedly unconstitutional conduct
“is of a kind that typically falls within the scope of
traditional state tort law.” Minneci v.
Pollard, 565 U.S. 118, 131 (2012).
the Supreme Court recently stated in Ziglar v.
Abbasi that “the Court has made clear that
expanding the Bivens remedy is now a
‘disfavored' judicial activity.” 137 S.Ct.
1843, 1857 (2017). Thus, when claims arise in a new
Bivens context, “a Bivens remedy will
not be available if there are ‘special factors
counselling hesitation in the ...