United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Greeneville
RONNIE GREER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Matthew Scott Quillen has filed a civil rights complaint
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, seeking redress for
alleged constitutional violations that occurred while he was
housed at the Sullivan County Jail in Blountville, Tennessee
[Doc. 1]. This matter is before the Court for screening
pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act
the PLRA, district courts must screen prisoner complaints and
shall, at any time, 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) and 1915A;
Benson v. O'Brian, 179 F.3d 1014 (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).
order to 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 . . . creates a right of
action for the vindication of constitutional guarantees found
elsewhere”). “Absent either element, a section
1983 claim will not lie.” Christy v. Randlett,
932 F.2d 502, 504 (6th Cir. 1991).
ALLEGATIONS OF THE COMPLAINT
alleges that while housed in disciplinary segregation at the
Sullivan County Jail, Captain Lee Carswell denied him
adequate recreation time and adequate access to the kiosk law
library, which he needed to prepare for his felony trial
[Doc. 1 at 3-4]. He also claims that he was unable to report
a Prison Rape Elimination Act incident until the day after it
occurred because Captain Carswell would not allow him timely
access to a telephone [Id. at 4].
also asserts that inmates in disciplinary segregation are fed
inadequate amounts of cold food on Styrofoam plates, and that
the plates are often left in the cells overnight to attract
bugs and mice [Id.]. Finally, he contends that he is
mentally ill and on a variety of psychotropic medications
that require monitoring, but that his blood has never been
drawn to check to determine whether the drugs are at a
therapeutic or dangerous level, despite his requests that
medical staff do so [Id. at 5].
Plaintiff's complaint of inadequate recreation time fails
to raise a constitutional issue, as the Eighth Amendment
entitles prisoners only sufficient exercise to maintain
reasonably good physical and mental health. See Walker v.
Mintzes, 771 F.2d 920, 927 (6th Cir. 1985). Plaintiff
has alleged that he gets one hour of recreation time daily,
and he has failed to allege “that the denial of
recreation caused him any physical injury or placed him at
substantial risk of serious harm sufficient to constitute an
Eighth Amendment violation.” Hardin v. Ruth,
No. 1:12-cv-30, 2012 WL 5304191, at *6 (E.D. Tenn. Oct. 25,
2012). Therefore, Plaintiff's allegations relating to
recreation time fail to state a claim for relief under §
as to Plaintiff's claim that he is denied access to the
law library kiosk, the Court notes that Plaintiff's
complaint is that he has to use the kiosk during recreation
time and cannot use it at his leisure [See Doc. 1 at
4]. However, Plaintiff has no protected right to demand when
he will use the facility's kiosk. Walker v.
Mintzes, 771 F.2d 920, 931-32 (6th Cir. 1985)
(“Prison regulations [may] reasonably limit the times,
places, and manner in which inmates may engage in legal
research and preparation of leg[al] papers so long as the
regulations do not frustrate access to the courts”).
Moreover, Plaintiff has not alleged that he has suffered some
legal harm as a result of the restricted access, and
therefore, his allegation fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted. See Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S.
343, 354 (1996) (holding inmate claiming lack of access must
demonstrate his prison officials impeded non-frivolous civil
rights or criminal action); Kensu v. Haigh, 87 F.3d
172, 175 (6th Cir. 1996) (“An inmate who claims his
access to the courts was denied fails to state a claim
without any showing of prejudice to his litigation.”).
as to Plaintiff's complaint that he was temporarily
denied telephone access, the Court finds nothing in his
complaint indicates that he was prevented from reporting the
alleged sexual assault incident to prison officials.
Moreover, an inmate's right to telephone access “is
subject to rational limitations in the face of legitimate
security interests of the penal institution.”
Washington v. Reno, 35 F.3d 1093, 1100 (6th Cir.
1994) (citation omitted). Accordingly, Plaintiff's
allegation that he was denied access to a telephone for
twenty-four hours fails to state a § 1983 claim.
the Court considers Plaintiff's claim that he is fed
cold, inadequately-portioned food on Styrofoam plates. The
Court notes that “the Constitution does not mandate
comfortable prisons.” Rhodes v. Chapman 452
U.S. 337, 349 (1981). Only “extreme deprivations”
that deny a prisoner “‘the minimal civilized
measure of life's necessities” will establish a
conditions of confinement claim. Hudson v. McMillan,
503 U.S. 1, 8-9 (1992) (citations and quotations omitted).
Prison authorities may not, however, “ignore a
condition of confinement that is sure or very likely to cause
serious illness and needless suffering the next week or month
or year.” Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 33
(1993). In examining such claims, the court must determine
whether the risk of which the plaintiff complains is
“so grave that it violates contemporary standards of
decency to expose anyone unwillingly to such a risk.
In other words, the prisoner must show that the risk of which
he complains is not one that today's society chooses to
tolerate.” Id. at 36 (1993); see also
Rhodes, 452 U.S. at 347. In this case, there is nothing
in Plaintiff's complaint to allow the Court to plausibly
infer that the jail's food and how it is served poses an
unreasonable risk to Plaintiff's health or safety.
See Cunningham v. Jones, 567 F.2d 653, 659-60 (6th
Cir. 1977) (providing that where a prisoner's diet is
sufficient to sustain the prisoner's good health, no
constitutional right has been violated). Accordingly, these
allegations fail to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted under § 1983.
as to Plaintiff's claim that his blood has not been drawn
to check to determine whether his psychotropic medications
are at therapeutic levels, the Court notes that a prison
official violates the Eighth Amendment with regard to lack of
medical treatment only when he responds with deliberate
indifference to serious medical needs. Farmer v.
Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994); Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97 (1976). This standard requires that
the medical condition be objectively serious, but it also
requires that the prison official actually knew and
disregarded the excessive risk to the inmate's health.
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837. In this instance, Plaintiff
has alleged that jail staff have ignored his medical sick
call requests, but his allegation that precautionary testing
is necessary fails to demonstrate that jail officials
actually knew of and disregarded an excessive risk to his
health. Moreover, even if the Court presumed that the failure
to provide cautionary testing satisfied both the objective
and subjective components of the deliberate indifference
standard, Plaintiff has nonetheless failed to establish any
damages from the ...