United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
WILLIAM L. CAMPBELL, JR., UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Justin Williams, an inmate of the Northwest Correctional
Complex (NWCX) in Tiptonville, Tennessee, has filed a pro
se complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. No. 1.)
Plaintiff has also filed an application for leave to proceed
in forma pauperis (IFP) (Doc. No. 2) and a Motion
for PLRA Screening. (Doc. No. 6.)
case is before the Court for ruling on the IFP application
and for initial review pursuant to the Prison Litigation
Reform Act (PLRA), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and
1915A, and 42 U.S.C. § 1997e.
APPLICATION TO PROCEED IFP
the PLRA, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a), a prisoner bringing a
civil action may apply for permission to file suit without
prepaying the filing fee of $350.00 required by 28 U.S.C.
§ 1914(a). Because it is apparent from Plaintiffs UP
application that he lacks the funds to pay the entire filing
fee in advance, his application (Doc. No. 2) is
GRANTED. However, the Court declines to
assess the filing fee because the fee has already been
assessed against Plaintiff in connection with his original
attempt to file this lawsuit (Case No. 3:19-cv-00261), which
was dismissed without prejudice.
INITIAL REVIEW OF THE COMPLAINT
PLRA Screening Standard
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), the Court must dismiss any
IFP complaint that is facially frivolous or malicious, fails
to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks
monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such
relief. Similarly, Section 1915A provides that the Court
shall conduct an initial review of any prisoner complaint
against a governmental entity, officer, or employee, and
shall dismiss the complaint or any portion thereof if the
defects listed in Section 1915(e)(2)(B) are identified. Under
both statutes, this initial review of whether the complaint
states a claim upon which relief may be granted asks whether
it contains "sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face, " such that it would survive a motion to dismiss
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Hill v.
Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010) (quoting
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)).
claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Applying this
standard, the Court must view the complaint in the light most
favorable to Plaintiff and, again, must take all well-pleaded
factual allegations as true. Tackett v. M& G
Polymers, USA, LLC, 561 F.3d 478, 488 (6th Cir. 2009)
(citing Gunasekera v. Irwin, 551 F.3d 461, 466 (6th
Cir. 2009) (citations omitted)). Furthermore, pro se
pleadings must be liberally construed and "held to less
stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94
(2007) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106
(1976)). However, pro se litigants are not exempt from the
requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure,
Wells v. Brown, 891 F.2d 591, 594 (6th Cir. 1989),
nor can the Court "create a claim which [a plaintiff]
has not spelled out in his pleading." Brown v.
Matauszak, 415 F.App'x 608, 613 (6th Cir. 2011)
(quoting Clark v. Nat'l Travelers Life Ins. Co.,
518 F.2d 1167, 1169 (6th Cir. 1975)).
Section 1983 Standard
Plaintiff seeks to vindicate alleged violations of his
federal constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Section 1983 creates a cause of action against any person
who, acting under color of state law, deprives an individual
of any right, privilege or immunity secured by the
Constitution or federal laws. Wurzelbacher v.
Jones-Kelley, 675 F.3d 580, 583 (6th Cir. 2012). Thus,
to state a Section 1983 claim, Plaintiff must allege two
elements: (1) a deprivation of rights secured by the
Constitution or laws of the United States, and (2) that the
deprivation was caused by a person acting under color of
state law. Carl v. Muskegon Cty., 763 F.3d 592, 595
(6th Cir. 2014).
Allegations and Claims
Plaintiff alleges that on February 3, 2019, at 3:00 a.m., he
was picked up in a prisoner transport van driven by two
unnamed Defendants, for transport from Gainesville, Florida
to NWCX in Tennessee. (Doc. No. 1 at 2.) He alleges that the
van was overcrowded, with seven prisoners on board, and that
the drivers had contacted dispatch to see if a larger van
were available but were denied. (Id.) Within ten
minutes of beginning the 13½ -hour trip, "the
air-conditioning and ventilation system completely stopped
functioning." (Id. at 2-3.) After about fifteen
minutes of banging on the side of the van, the prisoners
succeeded in getting the drivers to stop the van.
(Id. at 3.) After being informed that the
ventilation was not working, the drivers "fiddled with
several wires and switches for about 5 minutes" before
determining that they could not fix the problem.
(Id.) The drivers advised the prisoners that they
had "contacted dispatch and [were] told to continue
onward because no other vehicles were available, " and
that "it was just a short ride to the holding facility
at Waycross, GA." (Id.) They further stated
that "it was Super Bowl night and they couldn't
accept [any] delays because no matter what they had to be at
home before the game." (Id.)
alleges that the van continued traveling north for
approximately four hours before arriving at the next stop, an
"unknown county jail" where the prisoners exited
the van and "hydration" was made available.
(Id. at 3, 4.) Plaintiff alleges that the group of
prisoners "advised the drivers that they needed to call
another vehicle or get the a/c fixed, " but the drivers
advised that the destination was "like 30 minutes"
away. (Id. at 3.) The prisoners got back ...