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Oliver v. Knight

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

January 13, 2020

RICKY OLIVER, Plaintiff,
v.
DANIEL KNIGHT, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ELI RICHARDSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is a pro se complaint for alleged violation of civil rights (Doc. No. 1), filed by Ricky Oliver, an inmate at the Trousdale Turner Correctional Center in Hartsville, Tennessee. After initially filing an application to proceed in forma pauperis (IFP) supported by evidence of his attempts to procure the necessary documents from his inmate trust account custodian (Doc. No. 2), Plaintiff filed a second IFP application with these documents attached. (Doc. No. 4.)

         This matter is now before the Court for a determination of Plaintiff's pauper status and an initial review of the complaint pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A, and 42 U.S.C. § 1997e.

         APPLICATION TO PROCEED AS A PAUPER

         Under the PLRA, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a), a prisoner bringing a civil action may apply for permission to file suit without prepaying the filing fee of $350.00 required by 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a). Because it is apparent from Plaintiff's IFP application that he lacks the funds to pay the entire filing fee in advance, his application (Doc. No. 4) will be granted by separate Order.

         INITIAL REVIEW OF THE COMPLAINT

         I. PLRA SCREENING STANDARD

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), the Court must dismiss any IFP complaint that is facially frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. Similarly, Section 1915A provides that the Court shall conduct an initial review of any prisoner complaint against a governmental entity, officer, or employee, and shall dismiss the complaint or any portion thereof if the defects listed in Section 1915(e)(2)(B) are identified. Under both statutes, this initial review of whether the complaint states a claim upon which relief may be granted asks whether it contains “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face, ” such that it would survive a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)).

         “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Applying this standard, the Court must view the complaint in the light most favorable to Plaintiff and, again, must take all well-pleaded factual allegations as true. Tackett v. M & G Polymers, USA, LLC, 561 F.3d 478, 488 (6th Cir. 2009) (citing Gunasekera v. Irwin, 551 F.3d 461, 466 (6th Cir. 2009) (citations omitted)). Furthermore, pro se pleadings must be liberally construed and “held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)). However, pro se litigants are not exempt from the requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Wells v. Brown, 891 F.2d 591, 594 (6th Cir. 1989), nor can the Court “create a claim which [a plaintiff] has not spelled out in his pleading.” Brown v. Matauszak, 415 Fed.Appx. 608, 613 (6th Cir. 2011) (quoting Clark v. Nat'l Travelers Life Ins. Co., 518 F.2d 1167, 1169 (6th Cir. 1975)).

         II. SECTION 1983 STANDARD

         Plaintiff seeks to vindicate alleged violations of his federal constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Section 1983 creates a cause of action against any person who, acting under color of state law, deprives an individual of any right, privilege or immunity secured by the Constitution or federal laws. Wurzelbacher v. Jones-Kelley, 675 F.3d 580, 583 (6th Cir. 2012). Thus, to state a Section 1983 claim, Plaintiff must allege two elements: (1) a deprivation of rights 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. Carl v. Muskegon Cty., 763 F.3d 592, 595 (6th Cir. 2014).

         III. ALLEGATIONS AND CLAIMS

         Plaintiff claims that the Defendant, Correctional Officer Daniel Knight, was deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's safety in violation of his Eighth Amendment rights. (Doc. No. 1 at 6.) He succinctly states the facts in support of this claim, as follows:

As Oliver was working at his regular job in the prison kitchen on 13 May 2018, a huge gang-affiliated inmate approached him and accused him in a loud voice of stealing some items which the inmate had stashed to steal himself and ordered Oliver “to get out of his chow hall.” When Oliver denied the false accusation, the inmate placed his arms around Oliver's neck putting Oliver into a choke-hold, lifted Oliver upwards until his feet no longer touched the floor rendering Oliver's ability to escape harm impossible and causing Oliver to lose consciousness. After Oliver had lost consciousness, the inmate dropped Oliver causing him to strike his head on a metal table. Oliver suffered blunt impact head trauma and was ...

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