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Winston v. Shelby County

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

June 4, 2019

RYAN WINSTON, JR. Plaintiff,
v.
SHELBY COUNTY, ET AL., Defendants.

          ORDER TO MODIFY THE DOCKET, DISMISSING COMPLAINT AND GRANTING LEAVE TO AMEND

          JAMES D. TODD UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         On August 24, 2017, Plaintiff Ryan Winston, Jr., who is in custody at the Shelby County Criminal Justice Center (Jail) in Memphis, 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 August 28, 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 Shelby County, [1] Officer First Name Unknown (FNU) Bradfelid, and Officer FNU Dickerson.[2]

         Winston alleges that he was “abused and violated” by officers at the Jail. (ECF No. 1 at PageID 2.) Winston states he had attempted suicide to get the attention of an unnamed sergeant, who then ordered Winston moved to J-pod. (Id.) Officer Dickerson came to transport Winston to J-pod. (Id.) As Winston was being escorted to J-pod, he “notice[d]” that the cell was unsanitary and had feces in it. (Id.) Winston refused to be housed in the cell and “was handcuffed and carried and held against my will.” (Id.)[3]

         Winston alleges that on another occasion he again was handcuffed and dragged against his will toward a classroom. (Id. at PageID 3.) Officers Dickerson and Bradfelid allegedly threatened Winston and attacked him while he was handcuffed. (Id.) Winston states that he has lost sleep since the alleged attack and is “afraid that this could happen to me again.” (Id.) Winston alleges that his “mental state has been shakey [sic], ” and though he is in protective custody, he does not feel safe. (Id.) Winston states he wants “my confertdental [sic] award for my pains and suffering.” (Id.)

         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))).

         Winston 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 . . . .

         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).

         Winston's claims against the Shelby County Sheriff's Office and any official capacity claims against Officers Bradfelid and Dickerson must be treated as claims against Shelby County. The complaint, however, does not state a valid § 1983 claim against Shelby County. When a § 1983 claim is made against a municipality or county, the court must analyze two distinct issues: (1) whether the plaintiff's harm was caused by a constitutional violation; and (2) if so, whether ...


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