United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Eastern Division
BRAXTON L. TAYLOR, Plaintiff,
MADISON COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT, ET AL., Defendants.
ORDER PARTIALLY DISMISSING AMENDED COMPLAINT AND
DIRECTING THAT PROCESS BE ISSUED AND SERVED ON DEFENDANT
D. TODD UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
November 6, 2019, the Court issued an order dismissing
Plaintiff Braxton L. Taylor's pro se complaint
and granting leave to file an amended complaint. (ECF No.
10.) On November 20, 2019, Taylor submitted an amended
complaint, (ECF No. 11), which is before the Court for
screening. The Clerk shall list the Defendants as Madison
County Sheriff John Mehr, the Madison County Jail
Administrator, and Lieutenant First Name Unknown Balderrama.
reiterates his concerns about mildew and black mold on the
walls and floors of the bathrooms, showers, and living
quarters at the Madison County Criminal Justice Complex
(CJC). (Id. at PageID 31.) He asserts that Sheriff
Mehr and the unnamed Jail Administrator “are
responsible for the upkeep and care of not only the prisoners
but also where they are kept” but alleges that they
“have failed miserably” in fulfilling that
responsibility. (Id. at PageID 32.) Taylor alleges
that he has been diagnosed with breathing problems from his
exposure to the mildew and mold and psychological problems
“from worrying about how serious the breathing problems
also alleges that he has been housed in “seriously
overpopulated conditions, ” which made him and other
inmates “suscept[i]ble to unnecessary violence and
communicable diseases.” (Id. at PageID 32-33.)
He alleges that the conditions at the CJC “are so far
below standards that 8th Amendment violations are just
hanging there like ripe fruit on the lowest limbs. Just walk
up and pick one.” (Id. at PageID 33.)
further alleges that the “Defendants have
abridged/shirked th[ei]r responsibility in affording
plaintiff” access to showers and recreation.
(Id.) He asserts that he is entitled to five hours
per week of outdoor recreation time and at least three
showers per week. (Id. at PageID 35.) Yet, he
alleges, the Defendants have “failed . . .
miserably” at fulfilling that responsibility.
alleges that he has been denied a kosher diet, which has
forced him “to go hungry until he has to eat unclean
portions.” (Id. at PageID 33.) Later in his
amended complaint, he alleges that Lieutenant Balderrama
“failed to make it where plaintiff could eat in good
faith or conscience. She basically denied feeding him at
all.” (Id. at PageID 35.)
sues the Defendants in their official and individual
capacities. (Id. at PageID 36.) He seeks $6 million
in compensatory damages. (Id. at PageID 35-36.)
legal standards for assessing the claims in an inmate's
complaint were set forth in the prior order of dismissal,
(ECF No. 10 at PageID 25-27), and will not be reiterated
claims against the Defendants in their official capacities
are construed as against Madison County. For the reasons
explained in the previous order, Taylor fails to state a
claim against Madison County or any Defendant in his or her
official capacity. (Id. at PageID 27.)
alleges that his exposure to black mold has caused him
medical and psychological problems. This claim arises under
the Eighth Amendment's prohibition of cruel and unusual
punishments. See Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104
(1976). An Eighth Amendment claim consists of both objective
and subjective components. Farmer v. Brennan, 511
U.S. 825, 834 (1994). To satisfy the objective component, a
prisoner must show that he “is incarcerated under
conditions posing a substantial risk of serious harm.”
Id.; see also Miller v. Calhoun Cnty., 408
F.3d 803, 812 (6th Cir. 2005). The subjective component of an
Eighth Amendment violation requires a prisoner to demonstrate
that the official acted with the requisite intent, that is,
that he had a “sufficiently culpable state of
mind.” Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834; see also
Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 297, 302-03 (1991).
“[D]eliberate indifference describes a state of mind
more blameworthy than negligence.” Farmer, 511
U.S. at 835. Thus, “the prison official must know of
and disregard an excessive risk to inmate health or
safety.” Id. at 837-38.
to black mold may constitute an objectively serious risk of
serious harm to inmate health under the Eighth Amendment.
See Morales v. White, No. 07-2018-STA-DKV, 2008 WL
4585340, at *14 (W.D. Tenn. Oct. 10, 2008) (citing cases).
Although Taylor alleges generally that the Sheriff and Jail
Administrator have failed in their responsibility for upkeep
of the CJC, he does not allege that either Defendant was
aware of the black mold and the health risks it posed and
deliberately ignored those conditions. Taylor cannot sue the
Sheriff and Jail Administrator merely because they are in a
position of authority. He must allege their personal
involvement in the alleged deprivation of his rights, which
he does not do. See Martin v. Harvey, 14 Fed.Appx.
307, 309 (6th Cir. 2001) (citing Monell v. Dep't of
Soc. Servs. of N.Y., 436 U.S. 658, 691-95 (1978),
Copeland v. Machulis, 57 F.3d 476, 481 (6th Cir.
1995), and Bellamy v. Bradley, 729 F.2d 416, 421
(6th Cir. 1984)). While it is possible the Sheriff and Jail
Administrator were negligent in failing to keep abreast of
the conditions of the CJC and address any issues, that
negligence would not amount to a constitutional violation.
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 835. Because Taylor fails to
allege either Defendant's personal involvement in the
conditions, he does not meet the subjective component of an
Eighth Amendment violation and fails to state a claim against
either in their individual capacity.
problems befall his allegation that the CJC is overpopulated.
Taylor generally alleges that Sheriff Mehr and the Jail
Administrator “are responsible for keeping
[overpopulation] minimized, ” but he does not allege
either's personal involvement in the conditions.
Moreover, Taylor does not allege that he has been adversely
affected by the alleged overpopulation. He alleges only that
the overpopulation has made him and others
“suscept[i]ble” to violence and illness.
Taylor's allegation of a hypothetical risk to his health
or safety because of the overpopulation is insufficient to
state an Eighth Amendment violation, see Lewis v.
McClennan, 7 Fed.Appx. 373, 375 (6th Cir. 2001), and he
lacks standing to assert the constitutional rights of any
other inmate, see Newsom v Norris, 888 F.2d 371, 381
(6th Cir. 1989).
alleges that the “Defendants” have not provided
him adequate recreation time or showers. The Sixth Circuit
has held that “a total or near-total deprivation of
exercise or recreational opportunity, without penological
justification, violates Eighth Amendment guarantees.”
Rodgers v. Jabe, 43 F.3d 1082, 1086 (6th Cir. 1995)
(quoting Patterson v. Mintzes, 717 F.2d 284, 289
(6th Cir. 1983)). Taylor does not specify whether he was
denied any recreational time or showers. He alleges
only that the Defendants have “shirked their
responsibility” to provide him what he believes to be
adequate showers and recreation. His sparce allegations do
not state an Eighth Amendment claim.
he had alleged a total deprivation of recreation time or
showers, he refers to the Defendants only collectively
without specifying who among them is responsible for the
inadequate recreation and showers. Under even a liberal
construction, Taylor's allegations again fail to state a
claim against any Defendant. See Marcilis v. Twp. of
Redford, 693 F.3d 589, 596-97 (6th Cir. 2012) (quoting
Lanman v. Hinson, 529 F.3d 673, 684 (6th Cir. 2008))
(affirming district court's dismissal of complaint that
“makes only categorical references to
‘Defendants'” and holding that the complaint
failed to “‘allege, with particularity, facts
that demonstrate what each defendant did to violate the
asserted constitutional right'”); Frazier v.
Michigan, 41 Fed.Appx. 762, 764 (6th Cir. 2002)
(affirming that, because Plaintiff ...