Nelson v. Norwood et al
ORDER re 1 Complaint Referred (42:1983) filed by A'Nicholas Jamario Nelson; Plaintiff's claims are hereby DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. A separate Judgment will be entered. Signed by Honorable Susan O. Hickey on September 27, 2017. (mjm)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
HOT SPRINGS DIVISION
A’NICHOLAS JAMARIO NELSON
Civil No. 6:17-CV-06078
SHERIFF DAVID NORWOOD, JAIL
ADMINISTRATOR JAMES BOLTON,
JAILER CODY BRIGHT, JAILER ZACHARY
CRIAG and SHIFT SUPERVISOR JAMES
This is a civil rights action filed by the Plaintiff pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff
proceeds pro se and in forma pauperis.
The case is before the Court for preservice screening under the provisions of the Prison
Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court has the obligation to
screen any complaint in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or
employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a).
Plaintiff filed his Complaint on August 21, 2017. (ECF No. 1). He alleges that, while
incarcerated in the Ouachita County Detention Complex, Defendants Craig, Bright, and Smith placed
him in a pod with inmates on Plaintiff’s enemy alert list. Plaintiff alleges he was placed in the pod for
“unknown reasons.” Plaintiff alleges he was stabbed twice by a known enemy as a result of this
placement. (ECF No. 1 at pp. 5-6).
Plaintiff proceeds against all Defendants in their official capacity only. (ECF No. 1 at p. 4).
Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages. (ECF No. 1 at p. 8).
Under the PLRA, the Court is obligated to screen the case prior to service of process being
issued. The Court must dismiss a complaint, or any portion of it, if it contains claims that: (1) are
frivolous, malicious, or fail 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).
A claim is frivolous if “it lacks an arguable basis either in law or fact.” Neitzke v. Williams,
490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). A claim fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted if it does
not allege “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “In evaluating whether a pro se plaintiff has asserted sufficient
facts to state a claim, we hold ‘a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded . . . to less stringent
standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.’” Jackson v. Nixon, 747 F.3d 537, 541 (8th Cir.
2014) (quoting Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)). Even a pro se plaintiff must allege specific
facts sufficient to support a claim. Martin v. Sargent, 780 F.2d 1334, 1337 (8th Cir. 1985).
Plaintiff listed Defendants Norwood and Bolton in his case caption, but failed to make any
allegations against them elsewhere in his Complaint. Merely listing a Defendant in a case caption is
insufficient to support a claim against the Defendant. Krych v. Hass, 83 Fed. App’x. 854, 855 (8th Cir.
2003) (stating that court properly dismissed pro se complaint that was silent as to defendant except for
his name appearing in caption). Even in an official-capacity suit under section 1983, “a plaintiff must
show either that the official named in the suit took an action pursuant to an unconstitutional
governmental policy or custom . . . or that he or she possessed final authority over the subject matter
at issue and used that authority in an unconstitutional manner.” Sexton v. Wayne, 4:13-cv-3171, 2014
WL 1767472, at *1 (D. Neb. May 2, 2014) (quoting Nix v. Norman, 879 F.2d 429, 433 (8th Cir. 1989)).
Plaintiff therefore failed to state a plausible claim against Defendants Norwood and Bolton.
Plaintiff also failed to allege a plausible official-capacity claim against the remaining
Defendants. Under section 1983, a defendant may be sued in either his individual capacity, or in his
official capacity, or in both. In Gorman v. Bartch, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals discussed the
distinction between individual and official-capacity suits. As explained by the Gorman case:
Claims against government actors in their individual capacities differ from those in
their official capacities as to the type of conduct that is actionable and as to the type of
defense that is available. Claims against individuals in their official capacities are
equivalent to claims against the entity for which they work; they require proof that a
policy or custom of the entity violated the plaintiff’s rights, and the only type of
immunity available is one belonging to the entity itself. Personal capacity claims, on
the other hand, are those which allege personal liability for individual actions by
officials in the course of their duties; these claims do not require proof of any policy
and qualified immunity may be raised as a defense.
Gorman v. Bartch, 152 F.3d 907, 914 (8th Cir. 1998) (internal citations omitted). “[R]igorous
standards of culpability and causation must be applied to ensure that the [county] is not held liable
solely for the actions of its employee” in cases where a plaintiff claims a county has caused an
employee to violate the plaintiff=s constitutional rights. Bd. of Cnty. Comm’rs, Okla. v. Brown, 520
U.S. 397, 405 (1997).
Here, Plaintiff failed to make any allegation that a custom or policy of Ouachita County was
responsible for the violation of his constitutional rights. Instead, he simply alleged that Defendants
Craig, Bright, and Smith placed him in the pod for “unknown reasons.” Plaintiff therefore failed to
state a plausible official-capacity claim against these Defendants.
For these reasons, Plaintiff’s claims are hereby DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. A
separate Judgment will be entered.
IT IS SO ORDERED, this 27th day of September, 2017.
/s/ Susan O. Hickey
Susan O. Hickey
United States District Judge
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?