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Hill v. Maintance

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

November 8, 2019

ASTIN HILL, Plaintiff,
v.
MAINTANCE, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM

          ELI RICHARDSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Astin Hill, a pre-trial detainee currently in the custody of the Davidson County Sheriff's Office in Nashville, Tennessee, filed this pro se, in forma pauperis action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against “Maintance” and the Davidson County Sheriff's Office. (Doc. No. 1).

         The complaint is before the Court for an initial review pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A.

         I.PLRA Screening Standard

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), the court must dismiss any portion of a civil complaint filed in forma pauperis that fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, is frivolous, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. Section 1915A similarly requires initial review of any “complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity, ” id. § 1915A(a), and summary dismissal of the complaint on the same grounds as those articulated in § 1915(e)(2)(B). Id. § 1915A(b).

         The court must 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 plaintiff's factual allegations as true unless they are entirely without credibility. See Thomas v. Eby, 481 F.3d 434, 437 (6th Cir. 2007) (citing Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 33 (1992)). Although pro se pleadings are to be held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520- 21 (1972); Jourdan v. Jabe, 951 F.2d 108, 110 (6th Cir. 1991), the courts' “duty to be ‘less stringent' with pro se complaints does not require us to conjure up [unpleaded] allegations.” McDonald v. Hall, 610 F.2d 16, 19 (1st Cir. 1979) (citation omitted).

         III. Section 1983 Standard

         Title 42 U.S.C. § 1983 creates a cause of action against any person who, acting under color of state law, abridges “rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws . . . .” To state a claim under Section 1983, a plaintiff must allege and show two elements: (1) that he was deprived of a right 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. Dominguez v. Corr. Med. Servs., 555 F.3d 543, 549 (6th Cir. 2009) (quoting Sigley v. City of Panama Heights, 437 F.3d 527, 533 (6th Cir. 2006)); 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

         IV. Alleged Facts

         The complaint alleges that, while incarcerated in the Davidson County Sheriff's Office, Plaintiff's sink stopped draining on August 8, 2019. Plaintiff sought help from the facility maintenance workers, but no one has responded to Plaintiff's requests. Plaintiff is in his cell 23 hours a day. He has been unable to wash his face or hands or brush his teeth, and he has contracted an eye infection. According to the complaint, “the water in the sink created a smell w[h]ere it's unbearable to breathe . . . .” (Doc. No. 1 at 7). Plaintiff vomits “just about every time” he eats due to the smell. (Id.) Plaintiff would like the sink to be repaired or to change cells. He also seeks compensation for his eye infection and “the maintance [sic] not coming to see [him].” (Id. at 8.).

         V. Analysis

         The complaint names two Defendants to this action: the Davidson County Sheriff's Office and “Maintance.” (Doc. No. 1 at 2).

         First, a police or sheriff's department is not an entity capable of being sued under 42 U.S.C § 1983. See, e.g., Durham v. Estate of Gus Losleben, No. 16-1042-STA-egb, 2017 WL 1437209, at *2 (W.D. Tenn. Apr. 21, 2017); McKinney v. McNairy Cnty., Tenn., 1:12-CV-01101, 2012 WL 4863052, at *3 (W.D. Tenn. Oct. 11, 2012); Newby v. Sharp, 3:11-CV-534, 2012 WL 1230764, at *3 (E.D. Tenn. Apr. 12, 2012); Mathes v. Metro. Gov't of Nashville and Davidson Cnty., No. 3:10-CV-0496, 2010 WL 3341889, at *2 (M.D. Tenn. Aug. 25, 2010). Thus, the complaint fails to state claims upon which relief can be granted under Section 1983 against the Davidson County Sheriff's Office. These claims will be dismissed.

         Next, the complaint names “Maintance” as a Defendant. The Court infers that Plaintiff intended to name the maintenance department of the Davidson County Sheriff's Office as a Defendant. However, the maintenance department of the Davidson County Sheriff's office is not a suable entity under Section 1983 either. See Bertalan v. SCI Graterford State Prison, No. 18-69, 2018 WL 491007, at *1 (E.D. Pa. Jan. 18, 2018) (finding that a state prison's maintenance department was not a “person” for purposes of Section 1983); Smith v. Fox, No. 4:07-1482-HFF-TER, 2007 WL 2156636, at *2 (D. S.C. July 25, 2007) (“Plaintiff's use of the term ‘Maintenance Department' to refer to undisclosed individuals intended to be made defendants in a ...


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