United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Eastern Division
ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT AND GRANTING LEAVE TO
D. TODD, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
October 15, 2019, Plaintiff Velved Davis, who is incarcerated
at the Morgan County Correctional Complex in Wartburg,
Tennessee, filed a pro se complaint pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983. (ECF No. 1.) The complaint concerns
events that allegedly occurred while Davis was incarcerated
at the Hardeman County Correctional Facility (HCCF) in
Whiteville, Tennessee. (Id. at PageID 2.) After
Davis submitted the necessary 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. 4.) The Clerk shall record the
Defendants as CoreCivic and Correctional Officers First Name
Unknown (FNU) Tuggle and Gable.
alleges that on June 25, 2019, Officers Tuggle and Gable
forced him into a cell that was flooded from a broken
sprinkler head. (ECF No. 1 at Pag e I D 4 .) Dav is alleges
that he previously had been housed in the cell, where the
sprinkler head was “pop[p]ed” and “still
running water.” (Id.) He alleges that the
conditions were unchanged when the officers returned him to
the cell. (Id.) Davis asserts that the officers
“used excessive force while [I] was in
restraints” and forced him into the “inhabitual
[sic] cell as a form of punishment.” (Id.)
Davis alleges that he grieved the incident, which the
grievance committee determined was grievable. (Id.)
He seeks unspecified compensation. (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 monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from
28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b); see also 28 U.S.C. §
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
sues CoreCivic, a private company that “performs the
traditional state function of operating a prison [and
therefore] acts under color of state law for purposes of
§ 1983.” Thomas v. Coble, 55 Fed.Appx.
748, 748 (6th Cir. 2003) (citing Street v. Corr. Corp. of
Am., 102 F.3d 810, 814 (6th Cir. 1996)). The Sixth
Circuit has applied the standards for assessing municipal
liability to claims against private corporations that operate
prisons or provide medical care or food services to
prisoners. Id. at 748-49; Street, 102 F.3d
at 817-18; Johnson v. Corr. Corp. of Am., 26
Fed.Appx. 386, 388 (6th Cir. 2001); see also Eads v.
State of Tenn., No. 1:18-cv-00042, 2018 WL 4283030, at
*9 (M.D. Tenn. Sept. 7, 2018). To prevail on a § 1983
claim against CoreCivic, Davis “must show that a policy
or well-settled custom of the company was the ‘moving
force' behind the alleged deprivation” of his
rights. Braswell v. Corr. Corp. of Am., 419
Fed.Appx. 622, 627 (6th Cir. 2011). Davis, however, does not
allege anything about CoreCivic, much less that one of its
policies of customs was the moving force behind the alleged
violation of his rights. He therefore fails to state a claim
alleges that Officers Tuggle and Gable “used excessive
force” when placing him back into the flooded cell. The
Eighth Amendment protects a convicted inmate from cruel and
unusual punishments, including “the unnecessary and
wanton infliction of pain.” See Hudson v.
McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 5 (1992) (quoting Whitley v.
Albers, 475 U.S. 312, 319 (1986)); Wilson v.
Seiter, 501 U.S. 294 (1991). Establishing an Eighth
Amendment claim of excessive force requires a showing that
(1) “the alleged wrongdoing was objectively
‘harmful enough' to establish a constitutional
violation, ” and (2) “‘the officials
act[ed] with a sufficiently culpable state of
mind.'” Hudson, 503 U.S. at 8 (quoting
Wilson, 501 U.S. at 298, 303). Davis, however, does
not describe the officers' actions that he contends
constituted excessive force. He merely concludes that they
used excessive force on him. That contention alone does not
satisfy the pleading ...