United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Winchester
CODY A. KING, Plaintiff,
AUSTIN SWING, TIM LOKEY, MARY WEST, TONYA EDWARDS, and BECKY (NURSE), Defendants.
K. Lee, Magistrate Judge
R. MCDONOUGH, JUDGE
the Court is a pro se prisoner's complaint for
violation of civil rights filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983 (Doc. 2). The Court previously granted Plaintiff leave
to proceed in forma pauperis and will now screen
Plaintiff's complaint in accordance with the Prison
Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”).
is currently incarcerated at the Bedford County Correctional
Facility (“BCCX”). (Doc. 2.) In his complaint, he
alleges that the prison conditions at BCCX are “cruel
and unusual.” (Id. at 4.) Specifically,
Plaintiff alleges the following: (1) he slept on the floor
from October 8, 2017 to December 5, 2017; (2) prisoners have
been denied medical attention and medication on the weekends
when no nurse is on duty; (3) mail is sometimes withheld for
days or weeks; (4) prisoners are “denied” hygiene
and only get one pair of clothing; (5) inmates are often
housed with other inmates that have “deadly diseases
like TB, Hep C, [or] AIDS”; (6) there are 185 inmates
in a 65-man facility; (7) inmates are denied cleaning
supplies and laundry goes out and may not come back for three
or four days; (8) there is inadequate food on inmate trays;
(9) “guards are beating inmates to death” with no
consequences; (10) there are rodents and rats in the BCCX
food preparation area; (11) the sewers are backing up into
the sinks and showers; (12) state inspectors never leave the
tower during their inspections; and (13) there are
“rats and deadly spiders” in the pods where
inmates sleep. (Id. at 2-3.) Finally, Plaintiff
alleges that he has written grievances to Tim Lokey, Mary
West, Jennifer Little, and Austin Swing but “most go
unanswered” or he receives “off the wall”
responses. (Id. at 2.)
the PLRA, district courts must screen prisoner complaints and
sua sponte dismiss any claims that are frivolous or
malicious, fail to state a claim for relief, or are against a
defendant who is immune. See, e.g., 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1915(e)(2)(B), 1915A(b); Benson v.
O'Brian, 179 F.3d 1014, 1016 (6th Cir. 1999). The
dismissal standard articulated by the Supreme Court in
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), and in
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007),
“governs dismissals for failure state a claim under [28
U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A] because the
relevant statutory language tracks the language in Rule
12(b)(6).” Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468,
470-71 (6th Cir. 2010). Thus, to survive an initial review
under the PLRA, a complaint “must contain sufficient
factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.'”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly,
550 U.S. at 570). Courts liberally construe pro se
pleadings filed in civil rights cases and hold them to a less
stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). However,
allegations that give rise to a mere possibility that a
plaintiff might later establish undisclosed facts supporting
recovery are not well-pled and do not state a plausible claim
for relief. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 570. Formulaic
and conclusory recitations of the elements of a claim which
are not supported by specific facts are also insufficient to
state a plausible claim for relief. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must
establish that he was deprived of a federal right by a person
acting under color of state law. Braley v. City of
Pontiac, 906 F.2d 220, 223 (6th Cir. 1990) (stating that
“Section 1983 does not itself create any constitutional
rights; it creates a right of action for the vindication of
constitutional guarantees found elsewhere”).
threshold matter, Plaintiff has failed to identify how any of
the named Defendants were involved in the alleged deprivation
of his constitutional rights. See Frazier v.
Michigan, 41 Fed.Appx. 762, 764 (6th Cir. 2002)
(describing that a § 1983 complaint “must allege
that the defendants were personally involved in the alleged
deprivation of federal rights”). The only reference to
Defendants Lokey, West, and Swing in Plaintiff's
complaint is an assertion that Defendant has submitted
grievances to them at some point. (Doc. 2, at 2.)
Plaintiff's complaint does not mention Defendants Tonya
Edwards and Becky. (See generally id.)
extent Plaintiff seeks to hold Swing responsible in his
official capacity as Sheriff, § 1983 liability
“must be based on more than respondeat superior, or the
right to control employees.” Shehee v.
Luttrell, 199 F.3d 295, 300 (6th Cir. 1999).
“Thus, liability under § 1983 must be based on
active unconstitutional behavior and cannot be based upon
‘a mere failure to act.'” Id.
(citing Salehpour v. Univ. of Tenn., 159 F.3d 199,
206 (6th Cir. 1998)). However, liability may attach to a
supervisory official if the plaintiff can “show that a
supervisory official at least implicitly authorized, approved
or knowingly acquiesced in the unconstitutional conduct of
the offending subordinate.” Taylor v. Mich.
Dep't of Corr., 69 F.3d 76, 81 (6th Cir. 1995). But
Defendant has alleged no facts that would support supervisory
liability for Swing. On this basis alone, Plaintiff's
complaint must be dismissed.
Plaintiff's complaint also fails to state a claim for any
constitutional violation. “It is undisputed that the
treatment a prisoner receives in prison and the conditions
under which he is confined are subject to scrutiny under the
Eighth Amendment.” Helling v. McKinney, 509
U.S. 25, 31 (1993). Although prison conditions may be
restrictive and harsh, prison officials must provide
prisoners with the “minimal civilized measure of
life's necessities, ” such as food, sanitation,
medical care, and personal safety. See Rhodes v.
Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 347-48 (1981); Flanory v.
Bonn, 604 F.3d 249, 253 (6th Cir. 2010).
to establish an Eighth Amendment violation, a plaintiff must
make a two-prong showing. First, the deprivation alleged must
be, objectively, “sufficiently serious, ” (the
“objective prong”) and second, the prison
official must have been deliberately indifferent to
plaintiff's health or safety (the “subjective
prong”). Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834
(1994). Plaintiff's allegations fail to satisfy the
Plaintiff alleges that there are 185 inmates in a 65-man
facility and that he slept on the floor from October 8, 2017
to December 5, 2017. However, “overcrowding is not, in
itself, a constitutional violation.” Agramonte v.
Shartle, 491 Fed.Appx. 557, 560 (6th Cir. 2012).
“[I]f the overcrowding results in the denial of a basic
human need, such as food, shelter, or warmth, that would be a
constitutional wrong.” Starnes v. Green Cty.
Sheriff's Dep't, No. 2:08-CV-244, 2010 WL
2165368, at *5 (E.D. Tenn. May 26, 2010). Plaintiff does not
allege that the crowded facility has led to denial of his
basic human needs. Moreover, Plaintiff's allegation that
he slept on the floor for approximately two months, without
alleging any additional harm, does not amount to an extreme
deprivation required to state an Eighth Amendment claim.
See Jones v. Toombs, 77 F.3d 482 (6th Cir. 1996)
(table) (“The defendants did not violate Jones's
Eighth Amendment rights by depriving him of a mattress for a
two week period.”); see also Grissom v. Davis,
55 Fed.Appx. 756, 758 (6th Cir. 2003) (finding no Eighth
Amendment violation where ...