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Williams v. Troutt

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

October 24, 2019

COREY DENZAL WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
SONYA TROUTT, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM

          ALETA A. TRAUGERA, United States District Judge.

         Corey Denzal Williams, a pretrial detainee at the Sumner County Jail in Gallatin, Tennessee, filed this pro se civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Sonya Troutt and Preston Stockdale. (Doc. No. 1 at 2.) He paid the filing fee. (Doc. No. 5.) The complaint is before the court for an initial screening, as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”).

         I. Initial Review

         Under the PLRA, the court must screen and dismiss the complaint if it is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim, or seeks monetary relief against an immune defendant. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. The court must also construe a pro se complaint liberally, United States v. Smotherman, 838 F.3d 736, 739 (6th Cir. 2016) (citing Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)), and accept the factual allegations as true unless they are entirely without credibility, Thomas v. Eby, 481 F.3d 434, 437 (6th Cir. 2007) (citing Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 33 (1992)).

         II. Factual Allegations

         On April 13, 2019, the plaintiff went to recreation so his pod could be searched. (Doc. No. 1 at 12.) When the plaintiff returned, Officer Stockdale was waiting in his cell to strip search him. (Id.) The plaintiff did not refuse, but felt uncomfortable with Stockdale present due to “prior encounters” with him. (Id.) Officers Stockdale and Blake asked the plaintiff to remove his clothes, and he stripped to his underwear. (Id.) Stockdale “got mad and combative, ” and the plaintiff asked him to leave. (Id.) Stockdale refused, and the plaintiff felt “uncomfortable and de-humanized, like [he] was sub-human, or a caged animal put on display for someone's viewing pleasures.” (Id.)

         Officer Blake grabbed the plaintiff to “control the situation, ” and Officer Stockdale repeatedly punched the plaintiff in the face. (Id.) According to the plaintiff, he was then “engulfed” by 10 to 15 officers who used “more force than was needed.” (Id.) The plaintiff was punched, kneed, and kicked in the head and face. (Id.) The plaintiff suffered a swollen eye and injured thumb. (Id. at 5.) He alleges that he did not hit any officer during this incident. (Id. at 12.)

         The plaintiff also alleges that the jail administration “knowingly allowed” Officer Stockdale to be present in the plaintiff's pod. (Id.) Specifically, he alleges that Jail Administrator Sonya Troutt “knowingly let” Stockdale enter his cell to “shake down and strip search [him].” (Id. at 13.) The plaintiff requests monetary damages. (Id. at 5.)

         B. Standard of Review

         To determine whether a prisoner's complaint “fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted” under the PLRA's screening requirements, the court applies the same standard as under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010). The court therefore accepts “all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true, [and] ‘consider[s] the factual allegations in [the] complaint to determine if they plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief.'” Williams v. Curtin, 631 F.3d 380, 383 (6th Cir. 2011) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 681 (2009)). An assumption of truth does not, however, extend to allegations that consist of legal conclusions or “‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 557 (2007)). A pro se pleading must be liberally construed and “held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson, 551 U.S. at 94 (citing Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)).

         C. Discussion

         “To prevail on a cause of action under § 1983, a plaintiff must prove ‘(1) the deprivation of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States (2) caused by a person acting under the color of state law.'” Winkler v. Madison Cty., 893 F.3d 877, 890 (6th Cir. 2018) (quoting Shadrick v. Hopkins Cty., 805 F.3d 724, 736 (6th Cir. 2015)).

         1. Capacity of Defendants

         There are two defendants in this action-Jail Administrator Sonya Troutt and Correctional Officer Preston Stockdale. (Doc. No. 1 at 2.) The plaintiff checked a box reflecting that he brings this action against Troutt in her individual capacity, and left the “official capacity” box blank. (Id.) Conversely, the plaintiff checked a box reflecting that he brings this action ...


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