Fredrickson v. Bedford County Jail
MEMORANDUM AND OPINION. Plaintiffs motion to compel Defendant to provide a copy of his trust fund account certificate [Doc.6] and this motion [Id.] will be DENIED as moot. Also, Plaintiffs motion for leave to proceed in forma pauper is [Doc. 5] will be GRANTED. Even liberally construing the complaint in favorof Plaintiff, however, it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted under § 1983. Accordingly, this action will be DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915(A). Signed by District Judge Harry S Mattice, Jr on 4/12/2018. (BDG, ) Memorandum mailed to Fredickson and Sheriff of Bedford County.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE
JOSEPH RICHARD FREDRICKSON,
BEDFORD COUNTY JAIL,
This is a pro se prisoner’s civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Now before
the Court is Plaintiff’s motion to compel Defendant Bedford County to provide him with his trust
fund account statement [Doc. 4]1 and motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. 5],
which is supported by his inmate account certificate [Doc. 6]. For the reasons set forth below,
Plaintiff’s motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. 5] will be GRANTED and this
action will be DISMISSED for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted under §
It appears from Plaintiff’s motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. 5] and his
inmate trust fund account certificate [Doc. 6] that Plaintiff lacks sufficient financial resources to
pay the filing fee. Accordingly, Plaintiff’s motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. 5]
While this motion was docketed as an amended complaint, it is apparent from the
substance thereof that it is not an amended complaint, but rather a motion to compel Defendant to
provide Plaintiff with his trust fund account certificate so that the Court would allow Plaintiff to
proceed in forma pauperis. Accordingly, the Clerk will be DIRECTED to update the docket to
reflect this. Further, as it is apparent that Plaintiff did receive a copy of his trust fund account
certificate [Doc. 6], this motion will be DENIED as moot.
will be GRANTED. As Plaintiff is incarcerated in the Bedford County Correctional Facility, he
will be ASSESSED the civil filing fee of $350.00.
The custodian of Plaintiff’s inmate trust account at the institution where he now resides
will be DIRECTED to submit to the Clerk, U.S. District Court, 900 Georgia Avenue,
Chattanooga, Tennessee 37402, as an initial partial payment, whichever is the greater of: (a) twenty
percent (20%) of the average monthly deposits to Plaintiff’s inmate trust account; or (b) twenty
percent (20%) of the average monthly balance in his inmate trust account for the six-month period
preceding the filing of the complaint. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1)(A) and (B). Thereafter, the
custodian of Plaintiff’s inmate trust account at the institution where he now resides shall submit
twenty percent (20%) of Plaintiff’s preceding monthly income (or income credited to Plaintiff’s
trust account for the preceding month), but only when such monthly income exceeds ten dollars
($10.00), until the full filing fee of three hundred fifty dollars ($350.00) as authorized under 28
U.S.C. § 1914(a) has been paid to the Clerk. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2).
The Clerk will be DIRECTED to send a copy of this memorandum opinion and the
accompanying order to the Sheriff of Bedford County to ensure that the custodian of Plaintiff’s
inmate trust account complies with the Prisoner Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”) with regard to
payment of the filing fee. The Clerk will also be DIRECTED to forward a copy of this
memorandum opinion and accompanying order to the Court’s financial deputy.
Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), district courts must screen prisoner
complaints and shall, at any time, sua sponte dismiss any claims that are frivolous or malicious,
fail to state a claim for relief, or are against a defendant who is immune. See, e.g., 28 U.S.C. §§
1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915(A); Benson v. O’Brian, 179 F.3d 1014 (6th Cir. 1999). The dismissal
standard articulated by the Supreme Court in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009) and in Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 554 (2007) “governs dismissals for failure state a claim under
[28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A] because the relevant statutory language tracks the
language in Rule 12(b)(6).” Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470–71 (6th Cir. 2010). Thus, to survive
an initial review under the PLRA, a complaint “must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). Courts liberally construe pro se pleadings filed in civil rights cases
and hold them to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972).
In order to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must establish that he 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).
ALLEGATIONS OF THE COMPLAINT
Despite being aware that “its facility is laden with molds, fungi, rust[,] and unidentified
bacterial and virus growths throughout,” Defendant has filed to take any action to correct these
conditions or to protect Plaintiff [Doc. 1 p. 1–2]. Also, Defendant is aware that its menu “falls
below the caloric requirement as set forth in the minimum jail standards of Tennessee” and has
been notified that its “nutritionally deficient menu could result in severe malnutrition,” but has not
corrected this deficiency [Id. at 2]. Further, Defendant is aware that its collection of legal books
is outdated, cannot be used to find current rules and regulations, and falls below the minimum
standards for jails and prisons in the State of Tennessee, but has refused to allow Plaintiff to access
up to date legal materials and resources [Id. at 2–3]. Defendant has also removed Plaintiff’s access
to the press and media in violation of Plaintiff’s First Amendment rights and has taken no steps to
correct this [Id. at 3]. Lastly, Defendant does not meet the minimum jail and prison standards for
the State of Tennessee, but has no intention to bring itself in line with those standards [Id. at 3–4].
1. Proper Defendant
First, the only entity Plaintiff has sued in this matter is Bedford County Jail. The jail,
however, is a building and is not subject to suit under § 1983. See Monell v. Dep’t of Soc. Servs.,
436 U.S. 658, 688–90 (finding that in a suit against a local government unit, only “bodies politic”
are “persons” who are amenable to be sued under § 1983); Cage v. Kent County Corr. Facility,
No. 96-1167, 1997 WL 225647, at *1 (6th Cir. May 1, 1997) (stating that “[t]he district court also
properly found that the jail facility named as a defendant was not an entity subject to suit under §
1983). Accordingly, the Court liberally construes Plaintiff’s complaint as against Bedford County.
2. Conditions of Confinement
Plaintiff alleges that Bedford County knows that it has mold, rust, fungi, and bacterial and
viral growths throughout, but has failed to fix these conditions [Id. at 1–2]. “[T]he Constitution
does not mandate comfortable prisons.” Rhodes v. Chapman 452 U.S. 337, 349 (1981). Only
“extreme deprivations” that deny a prisoner “‘the minimal civilized measure of life’s necessities”
will establish a conditions of confinement claim. Hudson v. McMillan, 503 U.S. 1, 8–9 (1992)
(citations and quotations omitted). Prison authorities may not, however, “ignore a condition of
confinement that is sure or very likely to cause serious illness and needless suffering the next week
or month or year.” Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 33 (1993). In examining such claims, the
court must determine whether the risk of which the plaintiff complains is “so grave that it violates
contemporary standards of decency to expose anyone unwillingly to such a risk. In other words,
the prisoner must show that the risk of which he complains is not one that today’s society chooses
to tolerate.” Id. at 36 (1993); see also Rhodes, 452 U.S. at 347.
Nothing in the complaint allows the Court to plausibly infer that any of the conditions of
confinement set forth in Plaintiff’s complaint amounts to an extreme deprivation that exposes
Plaintiff to a grave risk. Accordingly, Plaintiff’s complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief
may be granted under § 1983 based on the conditions of his confinement.
3. Jail Menu
Plaintiff also alleges that the jail’s menu does not provide the minimum amount of calories
that Tennessee jails are required to provide and that it has not corrected its nutritionally deficient
menu that could cause malnutrition [Id. at 2]. While a jail’s failure to provide sufficient calories
may violate a prisoner’s constitutional rights, see Welch v. Spaulding, 627 F. App’x 479, 482–84
(6th Cir. 2015), Plaintiff does not allege that he is not receiving sufficient calories. Rather, he
alleges that the jail does not provide inmates with food that would provide the number calories that
the State of Tennessee requires the jail to provide. As claims may be brought under § 1983 only
for violations of constitutional rights, however, violation of state policy is insufficient to state a
claim under § 1983. Pyles v. Raisor, 60 F.3d 1211, 1215 (6th Cir. 1995). Moreover, Plaintiff sets
forth no facts to support his allegations that the menu is “nutritionally deficient and could cause
malnutrition” [Id. at 2]. Conclusory statements such as this are insufficient to state a claim for
relief. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.W. 662, 679 (2009). As such, Plaintiff’s allegations regarding the
jail’s menu fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted under § 1983.
4. Legal Books
Plaintiff next alleges that the jail’s collection of legal books is outdated, cannot be used to
find current rules and regulations, and falls below the minimum standards for jails and prisons in
the State of Tennessee, but it has refused to allow Plaintiff to access up to date legal materials and
resources [Id. at 2–3]. An inmate has a right of access to the courts under the First Amendment.
Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 822 (1977). In order to establish such a claim for violation of this
right, a plaintiff must show that his efforts to pursue a non-frivolous legal claim regarding his
conviction or conditions of confinement have been obstructed. Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 351
(1996). Accordingly, a plaintiff must plead and prove that his meritorious claims have been
prejudiced by the alleged denial of access to the courts. Pilgrim v. Littlefield, 92 F.3d 413, 416
(6th Cir. 1996). As Plaintiff has alleged no such prejudice, this claim fails to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted under § 1983.
5. Access to Press and Media
Plaintiff also asserts that Defendant has removed Plaintiff’s access to the press and media
in violation of Plaintiff’s First Amendment rights [Id. at 3]. Plaintiff, however, has not set forth
any specific facts supporting this allegation, nor has he set forth any facts from which the Court
can plausibly infer that Defendant Bedford County has a custom or policy behind this alleged
constitutional violation as required for Defendant Bedford County to be liable for such a claim.
Monell v. Dep’t of Soc. Servs, 436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978) (holding that a government can only be
liable where its official policy causes the constitutional rights violation). Accordingly, these
allegations fail to state a claim against Defendant Bedford County upon which relief may be
granted under § 1983.
6. Jail and Prison Standards
Lastly, Plaintiff’s allegation that the jail does not meet the State of Tennessee’s minimum
jail and prison standards likewise fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted under §
1983, as failure to follow state law or regulations is not a violation of the constitution. Gotten v.
Davis, 215 F. App’x 464, 468 (6th Cir. 2007) (holding that “there is no constitutionally protected
libery interest in having a state parole board follow its own statutes and regulations”).
For the reasons set forth above, the Clerk will be DIRECTED to correct the docket as to
Plaintiff’s motion to compel Defendant to provide a copy of his trust fund account certificate [Doc.
6] and this motion [Id.] will be DENIED as moot. Also, Plaintiff’s motion for leave to proceed
in forma pauperis [Doc. 5] will be GRANTED. Even liberally construing the complaint in favor
of Plaintiff, however, it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted under § 1983.
Accordingly, this action will be DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and
The Court CERTIFIES that any appeal from this action would not be taken in good faith
and would be totally frivolous. See Rule 24 of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure.
AN APPROPRIATE JUDGMENT ORDER WILL ENTER.
/s/ Harry S. Mattice, Jr._______
HARRY S. MATTICE, JR.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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