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Moody v. Alexander

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

June 12, 2019

JOSEPH L. MOODY, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHNNY ALEXANDER, ET AL., Defendants.

          ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT AND GRANTING LEAVE TO AMEND

          JAMES D. TODD UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         On December 26, 2018, Plaintiff Joseph L. Moody, who is incarcerated at the Hardin County Jail (Jail) in Savannah, 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 January 16, 2019, granting leave to proceed in forma pauperis and assessing the civil filing fee pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(a)-(b). (ECF No. 6.) The Clerk shall record the Defendants as Hardin County Sheriff Johnny Alexander, Jail Administrator Derick Cortez, and the Jail Nursing Staff.

         Moody complains of various issues relating to his confinement at the Jail. He states that Defendant Cortez refuses inmates access to law books, the toilets overflow for weeks at a time, state and county inmates are housed together as are inmates with violent and non-violent charges, all inmates must share one set of hair clippers, and he is “not allowed access to media or news.” (ECF No. 1 at PageID 2-3.) Moody further alleges that some corrections officers or guards allow one inmate to dispense all inmates' medications and “sign off that everyone rec[e]ived said meds.” (Id.) Moody also alleges that the nursing staff will not allow individual inmates to retrieve their own medications and refuse medical care to indigent inmates. (Id.) Moody alleges that he has been denied medical treatment for his stage four cancer and requests “steroids for brain and meds for Thyroids [sic].” (Id. at PageID 3.) Moody also states that three inmates jumped and assaulted another inmate, and there “was no way to get a [guard] back here to break up the fight.” (Id.)

         Moody seeks an order “that Jail be made to do job And Give Inmates proper care and medical Attention” and $500, 000 in unspecified damages. (Id. at PageID 4.)

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

(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))).

         Moody 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).

         To the extent Moody seeks to sue the Jail, his claim is construed against Hardin County. The complaint, however, does not state a valid § 1983 claim against Hardin 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 the municipality ...


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