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Satterfield v. Tennessee Department of Correction

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville

July 23, 2019

ANTHONY PRINGLE SATTERFIELD, Plaintiff,
v.
TENNESSEE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION, LOUDON COUNTY JAIL, and LOUDON COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          HARRY S. MATTICE, JR., UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         The Court is in receipt of a pro se prisoner's complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 [Doc. 1] and a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. 2]. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis [Id.] will be GRANTED and this action will be DISMISSED for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted under § 1983.

         I. FILING FEE

         It appears from the motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis that Plaintiff lacks sufficient financial resources to pay the filing fee. Accordingly, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, this motion [Id.] will be GRANTED.

         It also appears, however, that Plaintiff is no longer incarcerated or is incarcerated in an unknown jail, as the United States Postal Service returned the Court's previous mail to Plaintiff as undeliverable [Doc. 4 p. 2] and the Tennessee Department of Corrections lists Plaintiff as on parole (https://apps.tn.gov/foil-app/search.jsp). Accordingly, the Clerk will be DIRECTED to update Plaintiff's address to the permanent home address listed in the complaint [Doc. 1 p. 3] and to send this memorandum opinion and the accompanying order to that address and the Court will not assess the filing fee.

         II. SCREENING STANDARD

         Under 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) and 1915(A); 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 Atl. 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). 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, however. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 570. Further, formulaic and conclusory recitations of the elements of a claim which are not supported by specific facts are insufficient to state a plausible claim for relief. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 681 (2009).

         III. ANALYSIS

         The substantive portion of Plaintiff's complaint states as follows:

TDOC has neglected my care and saf[ety] I have done 3 1/2 years on a two. I'm still doing time. My p[h]ysical and mental condition has extre[mely] declin[e]d. It has [a]ffected my emo[]tional and spir[itu]al state tr[e]mendously in a negative way. I[‘]m still be[ing] h[e]ld in the county jail I need this matter handle[d] please.

         [Doc. 1 p. 3-4]. As relief, Plaintiff seeks release and compensatory damages [Id. at 5].

         First, these allegations are conclusory and formulaic and contain no supporting factual allegations and, as set forth above, formulaic and conclusory recitations of the elements of a claim which are not supported by specific facts are insufficient to state a plausible claim for relief. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 681 (2009).

         Further, Defendant Tennessee Department of Correction (“TDOC”) is an agency of the State of Tennessee and therefore not a “person” who may be sued under § 1983. Howlett v. Rose, 496 U.S. 356, 365-66 (1990) (holding that “the State and arms of the State, which have traditionally enjoyed Eleventh Amendment immunity, are not subject to suit under § 1983 in either federal or state court”). Defendants Loudon County Jail and Loudon County Sheriff's Department likewise are not “persons” subject to suit under § 1983. Cage v. Kent County Corr. Facility, No. 96-1167, 1997 WL 225647, at *1 (6th Cir. May 1, 1997) (stating that “[t]he district court also properly found that the jail facility named as a defendant was not ...


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