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Milstead v. Alexander

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

December 3, 2019

JIMMY EVAN MILSTEAD, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHNNY ALEXANDER and TRACY WHITE, Defendants.

          ORDER PARTIALLY DISMISSING COMPLAINT AND DIRECTING THAT PROCESS BE ISSUED AND SERVED ON THE DEFENDANTS

          JAMES D. TODD UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         On October 8, 2019, Plaintiff Jimmy Evan Milstead, who is incarcerated at the Hardin County Jail (Jail) in Savannah, Tennessee, filed a pro se complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and a motion to proceed in forma pauperis. (ECF Nos. 1 & 2.) The Court issued an order on October 9, 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.) The Clerk shall record the Defendants as Hardin County Sheriff Johnny Alexander and Jail Administrator Tracy White.

         Milstead alleges he has not been given a razor for shaving while at the Jail. (ECF No. 1 at PageID 2.) Instead, he alleges, the Jail staff passes out a single set of hair clippers for all inmates and does not sterilize them between uses. (Id.) He asserts that Sheriff Alexander “is responsible for every inmate in here” and that Administrator White “know[]s that it's not healt[h]y passing around those bloody hair clippers every Saturday[, ] but they still pass them out, spreading infect[iou]s di[sease]s.” (Id.) Milstead worries that he has been exposed to Hepatitis C from using the clippers. (Id.)

         Milstead further alleges that “[t]hey do not allow any [B]ible studies or religious material” at the Jail. (Id. at PageID 4.) He alleges that his church has mailed him Bible studies, but the Jail has had them returned or put in his property but not given to him. (Id.) Milstead alleges that a representative from the “Church of Christ” speaks in the pod every Wednesday night for about twenty minutes, and no other religious service is allowed. (Id.) He asserts that the Defendants are “forc[]ing the Church of Christ on every inmate in this Jail.” (Id.)

         Milstead also alleges that there is no law library at the Jail and no law books. (Id.) He alleges that he “had and lost a Jury Trial” on September 10, 2019, and now has been unable to “work on [his] appeal or post-conviction” while incarcerated at the Jail. (Id.) Milstead also alleges that there are no newspapers “or any kind of new[]s media” at the Jail. (Id.) He finally alleges that “[t]hey have opened [his] legal mail” without him present, including a letter from his attorney sent before his trial in September 10, 2019. (Id.)

         Milstead seeks use of a razor for shaving at while at the Jail, allowance of Bible studies and other religious material, new law books and use of a law library, and an end to the Jail staff opening his legal mail. (Id. at PageID 3.) Milstead also wants compensatory damages but only if he has been exposed to Hepatitis C from using the hair clippers. (Id.)

         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))).

         Milstead filed his 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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