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Fulton v. Shelby County

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

June 17, 2019

JUSTIN O. FULTON, Plaintiff,
v.
SHELBY COUNTY, ET AL., Defendants.

          ORDER PARTIALLY DISMISSING COMPLAINT AND DIRECTING THAT PROCESS BE ISSUED AND SERVED ON THE REMAINING DEFENDANT

          JAMES D. TODD, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         On May 12, 2017, Plaintiff Justin O. Fulton, who is incarcerated at the Shelby County Correctional Center 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 complaint concerns events that occurred while Fulton was a pretrial detainee at the Shelby County Criminal Justice Center. (ECF No. 1 at PageID 2.) The Court issued an order on June 16, 2016, 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. 6.) The Clerk shall record the Defendants as the Shelby County Criminal Justice Center (Jail);[1] Officer First Name Unknown (FNU) Bohanna, Officer FNU McGhee, and Nurse FNU Lucas.

         Fulton alleges that on January 11, 2017, while medication was being distributed to inmates at the Jail, Officer Bohanna assaulted him as he reached through the opening in his pod to receive his pills. (ECF No. 1 at PageID 2.) Fulton alleges that Officer McGhee then approached him, called him derogatory names, and sprayed a substance Fulton refers to as “Freeze” into Fulton's eyes. (Id. at PageID 2-3.) Fulton states that he was not immediately taken for medical attention despite his complaints that he could not see. (Id. at PageID 3.) Eventually a different officer took Fulton for medical attention and an unspecified prison official photographed Fulton's face and eyes. (Id.) According to Fulton, Officer Bohanna told a sergeant that Fulton was reaching for the nurse who was handing out the medication, yet Fulton alleges he did not receive a disciplinary write-up regarding the incident. (Id.) Fulton alleges that he grieved the incident but was told he filed it too late. (Id. at PageID 2.)

         Fulton asserts that the Defendants violated his rights under the Eighth Amendment. (Id. at PageID 3.) He seeks $10 million in damages, requests that Officers Bohanna and McGhee be “relieved of duty, ” and wants an investigation against the officers. (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))).

         Fulton 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).

         Fulton does not allege any action whatsoever by Nurse Lucas. When a complaint fails to allege any action by a Defendant, it necessarily fails to “state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. Any purported claims against Nurse Lucas are ...


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