Powell v. Blount County Juvenile Detention Center

Filing 9

MEMORANDUM AND OPINION as set forth in following order.Signed by District Judge Thomas A Varlan on 1/19/10. (copy mailed to pro se plaintiff)(ABF)

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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE AT KNOXVILLE C.P., by and through his mother, MARILYN POWELL, pro se, Plaintiff, v. BLOUNT COUNTY JUVENILE DETENTION CENTER, Defendant. ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) No.: 3:09-CV-277 (VARLAN/SHIRLEY) MEMORANDUM OPINION This civil action is before the Court on defendant Blount County Juvenile Detention Center's Motion to Dismiss [Doc. 6], in which defendant moves the Court to dismiss plaintiff's pro se complaint [Doc. 3] brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983 because defendant is not a "person" which can be sued under 1983 and therefore the complaint fails to state a claim for which relief can be granted. Plaintiff has responded in opposition [Doc. 8], asserting that defendant is a "suitable entity within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. 1983." [Id.] Defendant has not filed a reply and the time for doing so has passed. See L.R. 7.1(a), 7.2. The matter is ripe for determination. Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983, plaintiff, proceeding pro se, brought this civil rights action against defendant alleging that her son, CP, was discriminated against by defendant because of his disability and race [Doc. 2, p. 2]. Plaintiff also alleges that defendant violated the due process rights of both plaintiff and CP by "adopting a policy for locking CP down because he has a disability and defending himself from a white male detainee . . . ." [Id.]. Defendant is the only defendant named by plaintiff [see Doc. 3]. As an initial matter, the Court notes that it is mindful that a complaint filed by a pro se plaintiff is to be liberally construed. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972). In order to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. 1983, a plaintiff must establish that he or she was deprived of a federal right by a person acting under color of state law. Black v. Barberton Citizens Hosp., 134 F.3d 1265, 1267 (6th Cir. 1998); O'Brien v. City of Grand Rapids, 23 F.3d 990, 995 (6th Cir. 1994). However, defendant is not a legal entity amendable to suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 because it is not a "person" within the meaning of 1983. See Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 688-90 (1978) (describing the meaning of "persons" under 42 U.S.C. 1983); Cage v. Kent County Corr. Facility (Jail), No. 96-1167, 1997 WL 225647, at *1 (6th Cir. May 1, 1997). Defendant is not a municipality or a part of a local government, but rather, a name--Blount County Juvenile Detention Center--assigned to a building in Blount County which houses juvenile inmates, and, as such, is not a separate legal entity which can be sued under 42 U.S.C. 1983. Thus, defendant is not a "person" within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. 1983. See Shoemaker v. Greene County "Jail" Detention Center, No. 2:07-CV-124, 2007 WL 2159295, at * 1 (E.D. Tenn. July 26, 2007) ("The Greene County `Jail' Detention Center is a building and not a `person' who can be sued under 1983."); Seals v. Grainger County Jail, No. 3:04CV606, 2005 WL 1076326 (E.D. Tenn. May 6, 2005) ("The Grainger County Jail . . . is not a suable entity within the meaning of 1983."). 2 Accordingly, and for the reasons stated herein, the Court finds that defendant's Motion to Dismiss [Doc. 6] is well-taken and it is hereby GRANTED. Because it is quite clear that plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted under 42 U.S.C. 1983 because plaintiff has not sued a legal entity subject to suit under this civil rights statute, this case is hereby DISMISSED. The clerk is DIRECTED to close this case. An appropriate order will be entered. s/ Thomas A. Varlan UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 3

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