United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Eastern Division
ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT, GRANTING LEAVE TO AMEND
AND DENYING MOTIONS TO APPOINT COUNSEL (ECF Nos. 18 &
D. TODD UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
March 4, 2019, Plaintiff Anthony Turner Johnson, who
currently is incarcerated at the Trousdale Turner
Correctional Center in Hartsville, Tennessee, filed a pro
se complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (ECF No.
1.) Johnson's complaint addresses alleged conditions at
the Madison County Criminal Justice Complex (CJC) in Jackson,
Tennessee, where Johnson previously was confined.
(Id. at PageID 2.) After Johnson submitted the
necessary financial documents, the Court issued an order
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. 6.) On June 28, 2019, Johnson submitted
an amended complaint listing several additional Defendants.
(ECF No. 13.) The Clerk shall record the Defendants as
Madison County; Nurses Kayla, Sarah, and Rita; Corrections
Officers (C/O) First Name Unknown (FNU) Carter, B. Giovanni,
and FNU Blurton; Sergeants FNU Brown and FNU Gilly; and
Lieutenant FNU Balderama.
alleges the CJC is unsanitary and that inmates are threatened
and harassed when they try to voice their concern about the
conditions. (ECF No. 1 at PageID 2.) Unnamed captains,
sergeants, and lieutenants allegedly denied the inmates mat
covers to avoid contact with mold. (Id.) He asserts
the CJC is overcrowded and infested with spiders, and the
toilets leak. (Id. at PageID 3.) Unspecified CJC
employees allegedly withheld important mail from inmates and
denied others free exercise of their religion. (Id.)
Johnson alleges he was forced to become a vegetarian because
the CJC would not provide him Kosher meats. (Id.)
The mold in the CJC caused asthma flare ups and skin rashes
and bumps on some inmates. (Id. at PageID 4.) The
CJC allegedly told inmates to follow certain cleaning
policies but did not provide cleaning products.
(Id.) Gnats allegedly contaminated inmates'
food, causing inmates to contract Hepatitis A. (Id.)
Trustee inmates did not wash their hands after handling mops
and buckets and before serving food. (Id.) Food and
drink sometimes contained paint chips or hair, which sickened
inmates, but many did not receive medical care. (Id.
at PageID 4-5.)
amended complaint, Johnson names several individuals
allegedly responsible for the many violations. (ECF No. 13.)
He alleges that COs Blurton, Giovanni, and Carter told
trustee inmates to hand out food wearing the same gloves worn
when handling cleaning supplies. (Id. at PageID 53.)
These officers would then serve inmates through food flaps
coated in chipping paint that could fall into food and
drinks. (Id.) Defendants Gilly, Brown, and Balderama
allegedly placed inmates with tuberculosis in open population
with other inmates. (Id.) Balderama also
overpopulated rooms with three to four inmates, even though
the cells are designed for only two. (Id.)
Inmates' sick-call requests were allegedly
“neglected” by Nurses Kayla and Sarah.
(Id.) Defendant Carter did not call for maintenance
when the toilets were not working. (Id.) On one
three-day occasion, Balderama locked down the facility and
denied inmates an hour of recreation, a shower, and phone
calls. (Id. at PageID 54.) For another three-week
period, inmates had to eat cold meals. (Id.) Johnson
also alleges that he developed tuberculosis because of
inadequate medical care at the CJC. (Id.) Although
he tested negative while at the CJC, he was retested after
being moved to another facility and tested positive.
seeks to sue on behalf of himself and several other current
or past inmates of the CJC. (ECF No. 1 at PageID 9.) He does
not specify the relief he seeks but states only that he is
“wanting of compensation.” (Id. at
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 monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from
such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b); see also 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
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
claims in Johnson's complaint are directed at Madison
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 ...