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Moore v. Madison County Sheriff's Department

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

November 6, 2019




         On July 24, 2019, Plaintiff Jermaine Moore and ten other individuals, 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 pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (ECF No. 1.) On August 7, 2019, the Court ordered each Plaintiff to file a motion to proceed in forma pauperis and a copy of his prison trust account statement. (ECF No. 2.) Only four Plaintiffs complied, and the Court granted their motions and severed each Plaintiff's case into a separate matter. (ECF No. 5.) Once Moore's case had been severed, the Court assessed the pro rata civil filing fee for Moore pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(a)-(b). (ECF No. 7.)

         On September 11, 2019, Moore and Plaintiff Tony Latrell Moore, Sr., submitted an amended complaint that listed six Plaintiffs but was signed by only Moore and Moore. (ECF No. 12.) The amended complaint is now before the Court for screening.[1] The Clerk shall record the Defendants as the Madison County Sheriff's Department and Lieutenant Lisa Balderrama.

         Moore alleges numerous issues with “the living conditions of the CJC.” (ECF No. 4 at PageID 15.) He alleges that there is insufficient living space, beds, and mats; there is black mold and mildew on the cell and shower floors and walls; the cells are overcrowded; and inmates are locked in their cells for 72 hours at a time without showers or “communication with the outside world.” (Id.) Moore also alleges that Lieutenant Balderrama denied his request for a “Whole Foods Diet” in compliance with his Jewish religion. (Id.)

         In a separate filing, Moore alleges that he wrote to Balderrama multiple times about the leaks in the cell, the broken toilet in the pod, and the mold and mildew throughout the CJC. (ECF No. 8.) He also wrote to her about inmates being locked in their cells for days at a time without access to showers, phones, or recreation. (Id.) Moore attached to his filing three grievances he sent about the issues in the CJC, two of which are addressed to Balderrama. (ECF No. 8-1.) The third, dated October 1, 2019, is addressed to Captain Rudder (who is not listed as a Defendant) because, according to the grievance, Moore had “written LT Balderrama multiple request form informing her of these issues and I have[n't] heard anything back from her.” (Id. at PageID 27.) The grievance is addressed to Captain Rudder “[be]cause you're LT [B]alderrama superior an[d] if you can't help I do not know what other precaution to take.” (Id.)

         Moore seeks monetary damages, a Whole Foods Diet, and condemnation of the CJC. (ECF No. 4 at PageID 16.)

         The Court is required to screen prisoner complaints and to dismiss any complaint, or any portion thereof, if the complaint-

(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).

         In 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.

         “Pro 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))).

         Moore filed his amended complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which provides:

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 ...

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