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Horton v. Madison County Sheriff's Department

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

August 27, 2019

LARRY D. HORTON, Plaintiff,
v.
MADISON COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT, ET AL., Defendants.

          ORDER ASSESSING PLAINTIFF HORTON'S PRO RATA FILING FEE OF $116.66 PURSUANT TO PLRA, DISMISSING COMPLAINT AND GRANTING LEAVE TO AMEND

          JAMES D. TODD UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On December 10, 2018, Plaintiff Larry D. Horton and fifteen others, all of whom at the time were incarcerated at the Madison County Criminal Justice Complex (CJC) in Jackson, Tennessee, filed a joint pro se complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (ECF No. 1.) The complaint was opened as case number 18-1241-JDT-cgc. The Court issued an order on August 7, 2019, that, inter alia, dismissed all Plaintiffs except Horton and Willmer Omar Pacheco-Lopez. (ECF No. 3.) On August 21, 2019, the Court granted Plaintiff Horton leave to proceed in forma pauperis and severed the claims of Pacheco-Lopez. (ECF No. 4.) The Court also noted that Horton's share of the civil filing fee would be assessed in a separate order. (Id. at PageID 21.) Thereafter, the lead Plaintiff in case number 18-1241, James Lee McClain, filed a motion to reconsider the dismissal of his claims. (No.18-1241, ECF No. 29.) The Court granted McClain's motion and reinstated him as a Plaintiff in that case. (ECF No. 5.) The Court also severed Horton's claims into this case. (Id. at PageID 24.)[1]

         Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(a)-(b), a prisoner bringing a civil action must pay the filing fee required by 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a).[2]Although the obligation to pay the fee accrues at the moment the case is filed, see McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 605 (6th Cir. 1997), partially overruled on other grounds by LaFountain v. Harry, 716 F.3d 944, 951 (6th Cir. 2013), the PLRA provides the prisoner the opportunity to make a “down payment” of a partial filing fee and pay the remainder in installments. Id. at 604.

         Accordingly, Plaintiff Horton is ORDERED to cooperate fully with prison officials in carrying out this order. It is ORDERED that the trust account officer at Plaintiff's prison shall calculate and submit to the Clerk of Court a partial initial filing fee equal to twenty percent (20%) of the greater of the average balance in or deposits to Plaintiff's trust account for the six months immediately preceding the completion of the affidavit. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1).

         It is further ORDERED that after the initial partial filing fee is fully paid, the trust account officer shall withdraw from Plaintiff's trust account and submit to the Clerk monthly payments equal to twenty percent (20%) of all deposits credited to Plaintiff's account during the preceding month, but only when the amount in the account exceeds $10, until Horton's $116.66 share of the civil filing fee is paid.

         Each time the trust account officer makes a payment to the Court as required by this order, he shall submit to the Clerk along with the payment a copy of the prisoner's account statement showing all activity in the account since the last payment under this order. All payments and account statements should be sent to:

Clerk, United States District Court, Western District of Tennessee, 111 S. Highland Ave., Rm. 262, Jackson, TN 38301

         and shall clearly identify Plaintiff's name and the case number as included on the first page of this order.

         If Plaintiff Horton is transferred to a different prison or released, he is ORDERED to notify the Court immediately, in writing, of his change of address. If still confined, he shall provide the officials at the new facility with a copy of this order. If Plaintiff fails to abide by these or any other requirements of this order, the Court may impose appropriate sanctions, up to and including dismissal of this action, without any additional notice or hearing by the Court.

         The Clerk shall mail a copy of this order to the official in charge of trust fund accounts at Plaintiff's prison.

         The complaint also is before the Court for screening. Horton sues the Madison County Sheriff's Department and the State of Tennessee, alleging that these entities and their “employees/representatives, ” subjected Horton (and all original Plaintiffs in this matter) to deplorable conditions, including mold and mildew on the walls, floors, and ceilings within the CJC. (ECF No. 1 at PageID 2.) The complaint further alleges the cells and pods at the CJC are overpopulated, forcing some inmates to sleep on the floor without a mattress or blanket. (Id.) The complaint alleges there are insufficient tables at which to sit during meals, the paint along “the feed trap” is chipped, and that the CJC forces inmates to live in overall “animal conditions.” (Id.) The complaint also alleges the ceilings leak and have sprouted mushrooms and that the inmates are allowed insufficient shower time. (Id.) It is alleged that inmates are confined to their cells “24 hours a day without recreation in an insect infested poorly ventilated area” and that each is allowed only eight square feet of space. (Id. at PageID 5.)[3]

         The complaint seeks to hold the Madison County Sheriff's Department and the State of Tennessee liable based on a “casual [sic] connection between the officials [sic] conduct and are liable and or responsible for subjecting all plaintiffs and or caused us to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishments.” (Id. at PageID 7.) The complaint in passing alleges that the State of Tennessee “imposes a hardship on the plaintiffs limited to no access to the courts which is adequate[, ] effective and meaningful.” (Id. at PageID 8.) It further alleges that the State “does not comply with due process of law and or rights.” (Id.)

         The complaint seeks condemnation or repair of the CJC, an end to the alleged overpopulation, cleaning of the mold and mildew, a free health check for every inmate by “qualified doctors, ” additional mattresses and blankets, fines levied against the Sheriff's Department and State, and $50 million in compensatory damages. (Id. at PageID 3.)

         The Court is required to screen prisoner complaints and to dismiss any complaint, or any ...


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