United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee
A. VARLAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Auqeith Byner, an inmate in the custody of the Tennessee
Department of Correction (“TDOC”), 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 Northeast Correctional
Complex (“NECX”) [Doc. 2]. This matter is before
the Court for screening pursuant to the Prison Litigation
Reform Act (“PLRA”).
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 on December 10, 2017, he was a barber housed in
the Segregated Management Unit (“SMU”) at NECX,
and on that date, Corporal Guirusso informed Plaintiff that
he was to cut the hair of the inmates on the unit [Doc. 2 p.
6, 8]. Plaintiff maintains that Corporal Guirusso locked him
in a room with mentally ill inmate Brandon White and left
[Id.]. Plaintiff asserts that while he was cutting
White's hair, White attacked him [Id.].
Plaintiff contends that he tried to defend himself while
kicking on the door, and that finally, after 10 to 15
minutes, he got the attention of Correctional Officer Fisher,
who radioed for help [Id. at 6, 9]. Officers arrived
shortly thereafter, and once the door was open, Plaintiff was
able to get away from White [Id. at 9].
claims that he was injured, both physically and emotionally,
during the attack, and he contends that Defendants'
failure to follow policy and supervise SMU inmates at all
times caused him to suffer these injuries, for which he seeks
the Eighth Amendment, prison officials have a duty to protect
inmates from violence by other inmates and to take reasonable
measures to protect their safety. Farmer v. Brennan,
511 U.S. 825, 832-33(1994). Liability attaches to an
officer's failure to protect an inmate only where the
inmate demonstrates that he was “incarcerated under
conditions posing a substantial risk of serious harm and that
the prison officials acted with deliberate indifference to
the inmate's safety.” Id. at 834.
“Deliberate indifference” means that a prison
official is liable only where he knows that the inmate faces
a substantial risk of serious harm and disregards the risk.
Id. at 837 (quotation marks omitted). Therefore, in
order for liability to attach to a prison official's
failure to protect, the substantial risk and need for
protection must be obvious. See, e.g., Adames v.
Perez, 331 F.3d 508, 512 (5th Cir. 2003).
of the subjective component necessary to establish
failure-to-protect liability, an officer cannot be
deliberately indifferent when an inmate is a victim of an
unforeseeable attack. Tucker v. Evans, 276 F.3d 999,
1001 (8th Cir. 2002). Therefore, an officer's negligence
or dereliction of duty cannot be the basis of a
failure-to-protect claim. See Daniels v. Williams,
474 U.S. 327 (1986) (holding negligence does not state
§1983 cause of action).
is nothing in Plaintiff's complaint that will permit the
Court to infer that, prior to the attack, inmate White posed
a substantial risk of serious harm to Plaintiff, nor is there
that reason to infer that any Defendant was subjectively
aware of such a risk and disregarded it. Therefore, Plaintiff
has failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted
under § 1983.
stated above, Plaintiff's complaint fails to state a
claim for relief under § 1983. Therefore, this action
will be DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. Further,
the Court will CERTIFY that any appeal from
this action would not be taken in good faith and would ...