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Demumbrum v. Morris

United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Eastern Division

May 31, 2019

TREMAINE MONTEZ DEMUMBRUM, Plaintiff,
v.
CORPORAL MORRIS, ET AL., Defendants.

          ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT, DENYING AS MOOT MOTION FOR APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL (ECF NO. 5), CERTIFYING AN APPEAL WOULD NOT BE TAKEN IN GOOD FAITH AND DENYING LEAVE TO APPEAL IN FORMA PAUPERIS

          JAMES D. TODD UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         On December 14, 2018, Plaintiff Tremaine Montez Demumbrum, who is incarcerated at the Northwest Correctional Complex (NWCX) in Tiptonville, Tennessee, filed a pro se complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and a motion to proceed in forma pauperis. (ECF Nos. 1 & 2.) The Court issued an order on December 17, 2018, 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 Corporal First Name Unknown (FNU) Morris; Captain FNU Petty; Sergeant FNU Ward; Corrections Officer (C/O) FNU Cagle; and Russell Stray, Unit Manager.

         Demumbrum alleges that on October 4, 2018, C/O McAllister, who is not named as a defendant, reported an inmate in possession of a homemade knife. (ECF No. 1 at PageID 2.) Defendants Morris and Stray allegedly “rebuffed” C/O McAllister “but stayed in contact with officers to search the inmate's cell.” (Id.) Defendants Petty, Ward, and Cagle allegedly searched the inmate's cell but found nothing. (Id.) Officer McAllister reported that he believed “that the knife had been passed to another inmate but they did not pursue it.” (Id.) Demumbrum alleges that, two days later, the suspected inmate assaulted another inmate with a food tray “but was allowed to stay in our pod under no punitive observation or lock down.” (Id. at PageID 2-3.) The next day, October 7, 2018, the suspected inmate allegedly assaulted Demumbrum with a weapon. (Id. at PageID 2.) Demumbrum asserts that, given that inmate's “propensity for violence and the fact that he had access to a homemade knife, steps should have been taken to ensure that [the inmate] could not harm other inmates.” (Id. at PageID 3.)

         Demumbrum wants the Defendants to be fired and seeks $500, 000 in punitive damages. (Id. at PageID 4.)

         The Court is required to screen prisoner complaints and to dismiss any complaint, or any portion thereof, if the complaint_

(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 such relief.

28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b); see also 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         In 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.

         “Pro 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))).

         Demumbrum filed his complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which provides:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress, except that in any action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer's judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable. For the purposes of this section, any Act of Congress applicable exclusively to the District of Columbia shall be considered to be a statute of the District of Columbia.

         To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two elements: (1) a deprivation of rights secured by the “Constitution and laws” of the United States (2) committed by a defendant acting under color of state law. Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 150 (1970).

         Demumbrum's allegations that the Defendants failed to protect him from the attack by another inmate is analyzed under the Eighth Amendment. The Eighth Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishments. See generally Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294 (1991). Under the Eighth Amendment, prison officials must “take reasonable measures to guarantee the safety of the inmates” and “to protect prisoners from violence at the hands of other prisoners.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832-33 (1994). An Eighth Amendment claim consists of both objective and subjective components. Id. at 834. To satisfy the objective component, a prisoner must show that he “is incarcerated under conditions posing a substantial risk of serious harm.” Id.; see also Miller v. Calhoun Cnty., 408 F.3d 803, 812 (6th Cir. 2005). The subjective component of an Eighth Amendment violation requires a prisoner to demonstrate that prison officials acted with the requisite intent, that is, that the officials acted with “deliberate indifference” to a substantial risk that the prisoner would suffer serious harm. Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834; Wilson, 501 U.S. at 303; Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 32 (1993); Woods v. Lecureux, 110 F.3d 1215, 1222 (6th Cir. 1997). “[D]eliberate indifference describes a state of mind more blameworthy than negligence.” Farmer, 511 U.S. at 835. Thus, “the prison official ...


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