United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Eastern Division
ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT AND GRANTING LEAVE TO
D. TODD UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
8, 2019, Plaintiff Erik Lee Lawson, who is incarcerated at
the Perry County Jail (Jail) in Linden, Tennessee, filed a
pro se complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983
and a motion to proceed in forma pauperis in the
U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee.
(ECF Nos. 1 & 2.) United States District Judge Aleta A.
Trauger issued an order on June 20, 2019, granting leave to
proceed in forma pauperis and assessing the civil
filing fee pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act
(PLRA), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(a)-(b). (ECF No. 4.)
Judge Trauger also transferred Lawson's complaint to this
Court because the allegations in the complaint concern events
that allegedly occurred in Perry County, which is part of the
Western District of Tennessee. See 28 U.S.C. §
123(c)(1). (Id.) The Clerk shall record the
Defendants as Candace Runions and Jail Administrator April
Morgan. Lawson sues the Defendants only in their official
capacities. (ECF No. 1 at PageID 2.)
alleges that, when he was booked into the Perry County Jail,
he notified a nurse that he has a food allergy to eggs, which
she noted in his record. (Id. at PageID 5.) Lawson
alleges, however, that the Jail staff continue to serve him
eggs or food products containing eggs. (Id.) He
alleges that, by being served these foods, the Defendants are
depriving him of “proper nutritional needs
daily.” (Id.) He seeks damages. (Id.)
Court is required to screen prisoner complaints and to
dismiss any complaint, or any portion thereof, if the
(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted; or
(2) seeks monetaee also 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B).ry relief from a defendant who is immune from
28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b); see also 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B).ry relief from a defendant who is immune from
assessing whether the complaint in this case states a claim
on which relief may be granted, the standards under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), as stated in Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-79 (2009), and in Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-57 (2007),
are applied. Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71
(6th Cir. 2010). The Court accepts the complaint's
“well-pleaded” factual allegations as true and
then determines whether the allegations “plausibly
suggest an entitlement to relief.'” Williams v.
Curtin, 631 F.3d 380, 383 (6th Cir. 2011) (quoting
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 681). Conclusory allegations
“are not entitled to the assumption of truth, ”
and legal conclusions “must be supported by factual
allegations.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. Although
a complaint need only contain “a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), Rule 8 nevertheless
requires factual allegations to make a
“‘showing,' rather than a blanket assertion,
of entitlement to relief.” Twombly, 550 U.S.
at 555 n.3.
se complaints are to be held ‘to less stringent
standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers,' and
should therefore be liberally construed.”
Williams, 631 F.3d at 383 (quoting Martin v.
Overton, 391 F.3d 710, 712 (6th Cir. 2004)). Pro
se litigants, however, are not exempt from the
requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Wells v. Brown, 891 F.2d 591, 594 (6th Cir. 1989);
see also Brown v. Matauszak, 415 Fed.Appx. 608, 612,
613 (6th Cir. Jan. 31, 2011) (affirming dismissal of pro
se complaint for failure to comply with “unique
pleading requirements” and stating “a court
cannot ‘create a claim which [a plaintiff] has not
spelled out in his pleading'” (quoting Clark v.
Nat'l Travelers Life Ins. Co., 518 F.2d 1167, 1169
(6th Cir. 1975))).
filed his complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which
Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance,
regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or
the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be
subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person
within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any
rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution
and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action
at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for
redress . . . .
state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two
elements: (1) a deprivation of rights secured by the
“Constitution and laws” of the United States (2)
committed by a defendant acting under color of state law.
Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 150
allegations against Defendant Morgan in her official capacity
are construed as allegations against Perry County. See
Matthews v. Jones, 35 F.3d 1046, 1049 (6th Cir. 1994).
When a § 1983 claim is made against a municipality or
county, the court must analyze two distinct issues: (1)
whether the plaintiff's harm was caused by a
constitutional violation; and (2) if so, whether the
municipality or county is responsible for that violation.
Collins v. City of Harker Heights, Tex., 503 U.S.
115, 120 (1992).
government such as a municipality or county “cannot be
held liable solely because it employs a
tortfeasor-or, in other words, a municipality cannot be held
liable under § 1983 on a respondeat superior
theory.” Monell v. Dep't. of Soc. Serv.,
436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978) (emphasis in original); see also
Searcy v. City of Dayton, 38 F.3d 282, 286 (6th Cir.
1994). A municipality may be held responsible for a
constitutional deprivation only if there is a direct causal
link between a municipal policy or custom and the alleged
deprivation. Monell, 436 U.S. at 691-92; Deaton
v. Montgomery Co., Ohio, 989 F.2d 885, 889 (6th Cir.
1993). To demonstrate municipal liability, a plaintiff
“must (1) identify the municipal policy or custom, (2)
connect the policy to the municipality, and (3) show that his
particular injury was incurred due to execution of that
policy.” Alkire v. Irving, 330 F.3d 802, 815
(6th Cir. 2003) (citing Garner v. Memphis Police
Dep't, 8 F.3d 358, 364 (6th Cir. 1993)).
“[T]he touchstone of ‘official policy' is
designed ‘to distinguish acts of the
municipality from acts of employee ...