Fisk v. Warren County Sheriff Dept.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER, Plaintiff submitted a fully compliant application to proceed in forma pauperis on October 10, 2017 1 , and it appears from that application that he lacks sufficient financial resources to pay the $350.0 0 filing fee. Accordingly, Plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis 1 is GRANTED and, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, the Clerk is DIRECTED to file this action without the prepayment of costs or fees or security therefor as of the date the Complaint was received. Because Plaintiff is in custody at the Warren County Jail, he is herewith ASSESSED the civil filing fee of $350.00. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2), the custodian of Plaintiff's inmate trust account at the institution where he now resides is directed to submit payments as set forth. Plaintiff is hereby ORDERED to file an amended complaintwhichwill replace and supersede his prior complaintwithin twenty-one (21) days of the entry of thisOrder. Plaintiff is ADVISED that, unless within twenty-one (21) days of the date on this Order he amends his complaint to remedy the deficiencies noted by the Court, this action will be DISMISSED without further notice to Plaintiff for failure to state a claim entitling him to relief under § 1983. Signed by District Judge Pamela L. Reeves on 10/27/17. (c/m to Kinsley Fisk at Warren County Jail, along with complaint form, and cc Warren County Jail and financial deputy)(ADA)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE
WARREN COUNTY SHERIFF’S
DEPARTMENT and EDDIE
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Before the Court is Plaintiff’s pro se complaint for violation of civil rights pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983 [Doc. 2] and motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. 1]. For the
reasons discussed below, Plaintiff’s request to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. 1] will be
GRANTED and Plaintiff will be granted leave to file an amended complaint.
Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), any prisoner who files a complaint in
a district court must tender the full filing fee or file (1) an application to proceed in forma pauperis
without prepayment of fees and (2) a certified copy of his inmate trust account for the previous
six-month period. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2). Plaintiff submitted a fully compliant application to
proceed in forma pauperis on October 10, 2017 [Doc. 1], and it appears from that application that
The Court has corrected the spelling of the Defendant’s name, which the Plaintiff
misspelled as “Knowels.” See Brown v. Warren County Jail, No. 4:13-CV-80, 2017 WL 1025941,
at *1 (E.D. Tenn. Mar. 15, 2017). Accordingly, the Clerk is DIRECTED to correct his name in
the Court file.
he lacks sufficient financial resources to pay the $350.00 filing fee. Accordingly, Plaintiff’s
motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. 1] is GRANTED and, pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915, the Clerk is DIRECTED to file this action without the prepayment of costs or fees or
security therefor as of the date the Complaint was received.
Because Plaintiff is in custody at the Warren County Jail, he is herewith ASSESSED the
civil filing fee of $350.00. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2), the custodian of Plaintiff's inmate
trust account at the institution where he now resides is directed to submit to the Clerk, U.S. District
Court, 900 Georgia Avenue, Room 309, Chattanooga, Tennessee 37402, twenty percent (20%) of
the Plaintiff's preceding monthly income (or income credited to the 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 is DIRECTED to send a copy of this Memorandum to the Warren County Jail
to ensure that the custodian of plaintiff's trust account complies with that portion of the Prison
Litigation Reform Act relating to payment of the filing fee. The Clerk is DIRECTED to forward
a copy of this Memorandum to the Court's financial deputy.
Plaintiff, currently in custody at the Warren County Jail, filed this complaint under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 on October 10, 2017 against Defendants Warren County Sheriff’s Department and
Eddie Knowles, an administrator at the Warren County Jail. [Doc. 2 p. 3]. Plaintiff brings this
action after being denied a furlough for surgery, infringement upon the free exercise of his religion,
and not being given a furlough to attend his mother’s funeral [Id. at 3–4]. Plaintiff alleges in his
complaint as follows.
Plaintiff has been incarcerated at the Warren County Jail for over a year [Id. at 3]. He
claims that he was scheduled to have surgery to fix nerve damage on his hand prior to his
incarceration [Id. at 3–4]. After Plaintiff’s incarceration and subsequent missed surgery, his wife
rescheduled the surgery [Id. at 4]. However, jail officials told Plaintiff that in order for the surgery
to be performed, he would have to receive a furlough from a judge [Id.]. After Plaintiff’s request
for a furlough was denied, he claims that his sentencing judge stated that his medical issues would
have to be taken care of by the Warren County Jail [Id.]. Plaintiff alleges that jail officials claimed
that no action could be done without the furlough [Id.].
Plaintiff also claims that as a practicing Muslim, he has been denied the right to practice
his religious beliefs [Id.]. He asserts that he told jail officials that he was a Muslim, and “ask[ed]
for the things I need.” [Id.]. However, Plaintiff alleges that he has not gotten any response to his
requests for over a year [Id.]. Lastly, Plaintiff claims that his constitutional rights were deprived
when he was not allowed to go to his mother’s funeral, despite the fact that his wife was told that
he would be allowed to go and other inmates have been allowed to go to funerals [Id. at 4–5].
Plaintiff requests damages for his pain and suffering, and for the Court to “make [his] situation
right the best way possibl[e].” [Id. at 5].
Sua Sponte Screening Standard
Under the PLRA, district courts must screen prisoner complaints and sua sponte dismiss
those that are frivolous or malicious, fail to state a claim for relief or are against a defendant who
is immune. See Benson v. O'Brian, 179 F.3d 1014, 1015–16 (6th Cir. 1999) (“Congress directed
the federal courts to review or ‘screen’ certain complaints sua sponte and to dismiss those that
failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted [or] . . . sought monetary relief from a
defendant immune from such relief.”). 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 to 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). However,
“a district court must (1) view the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and (2) take
all well-pleaded factual allegations as true.” Tackett v. M&G Polymers, 561 F.3d 478, 488 (6th
Cir. 2009) (citing Gunasekera v. Irwin, 551 F.3d 461, 466 (6th Cir. 2009) (citations omitted)).
§ 1983 Standard
To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the plaintiff must establish that he was deprived
of a federal right by a person acting under color of state law. Black v. Barberton Citizens Hospital,
134 F.3d 1265, 1267 (6th Cir. 1998); O'Brien v. City of Grand Rapids, 23 F.3d 990, 995 (6th Cir.
1994); Russo v. City of Cincinnati, 953 F.2d 1036, 1042 (6th Cir. 1992); see also Braley v. City of
Pontiac, 906 F.2d 220, 223 (6th Cir. 1990) ("Section 1983 does not itself create any constitutional
rights; it creates a right of action for the vindication of constitutional guarantees found
elsewhere."). In other words, the plaintiff must plead facts sufficient to show: (1) the deprivation
of a right, privilege, or immunity secured to him by the United States Constitution or other federal
law; and (2) that the individual responsible for such deprivation was acting under color of state
law. Gregory v. Shelby Cty., 220 F.3d 433, 441 (6th Cir. 2000). Plaintiff’s complaint in its current
form fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.2
Claims Against the Warren County Sheriff’s Department
Plaintiff has named as a Defendant the Warren County Sheriff’s Department. However,
the Warren County Sheriff’s Department is a municipal department of Warren County, and is not
itself a municipality. See, e.g., Smith v. Ritter, No. 1:12-CV-417, 2013 WL 3753984, at *4 (E.D.
Tenn. July 15, 2013) (holding that “the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department is not a suable
entity for § 1983 purposes”); Bradford v. Gardner, 578 F.Supp. 382, 383 (E.D. Tenn. 1984) (citing
Williams v. Baxter, 536 F.Supp. 13, 16 (E.D. Tenn. 1981)); see also Matthews v. Jones, 35 F.3d
1046, 1049 (6th Cir. 1994); Rhodes v. McDannel, 945 F.2d 117, 120 (6th Cir. 1991); Brinkley v.
Loftis, No. 3:11–CV–1158, 2012 WL 2370106, at *3 (M.D. Tenn. June 22, 2012). Thus, the
Warren County Sheriff’s Department is not a “person” subject to suit within the terms of § 1983.
See Monell v. Dep’t of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 689–90 n.53 (1978) (finding that only “bodies
politic” are “persons” who can be sued under 42 U.S.C. § 1983). Therefore, because the Warren
County Sheriff’s Department is not an entity that can be sued under § 1983, Plaintiff fails to state
a claim against this Defendant.
Courts in the Sixth Circuit have rejected heightened or lower pleading standards for §
1983 claims and instead found that Twombly and Iqbal plausibility pleading standards govern. See
e.g., Hutchison v. Metro Gov’t of Nashville & Davidson Cty., 685 F. Supp. 2d 747, 751 (M.D.
Tenn. 2010) (“In context of Section 1983 municipal liability, district courts in the Sixth Circuit
have interpreted Iqbal’s standards strictly.”); Vidal v. Lexington Fayette Urban Cty. Gov’t, No.
5:13-117-DCR, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 124718, at *3 (E.D. Ky. Sept. 8, 2014); Kustes v. Lexington
Fayette Urban Cty. Gov’t, No. 5:12-323-KKC, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 125763, at *5 (E.D. Ky.
Sept. 3, 2013).
Official Capacity Claims
Plaintiff has also filed suit against Defendant Knowles, an administrator at the Warren
County Jail. The Sixth Circuit has made clear that a suit brought against a public, government
official will not be construed as seeking damages against a defendant in his individual capacity
unless the claim for individual liability is clearly and definitively set forth in the pleading. Perlfrey
v. Chambers, 43 F.3d 1034, 1038 (6th Cir. 1995); Thiokol Corp. v. Dep’t of Treasury, 987 F.2d
376, 383 (6th Cir. 1993). In fact, absent any indication a defendant is being sued in his individual
capacity, courts must assume the defendant is being sued only in his official capacity as an
employee of the government entity. Whittington v. Milby, 928 F.2d 188, 193 (6th Cir. 1991).
Therefore, Plaintiff’s claims against Defendant Knowles are brought against him in his official
However, to establish a claim for damages, Plaintiff must show that each Defendant upon
whom he seeks to impose liability, through that Defendant’s own conduct, has violated Plaintiff’s
constitutional rights. See Robertson v. Lucas, 753 F.3d 606, 615 (6th Cir. 2014) (“A critical aspect
of the § 1983 . . . universe is that to be held liable, a plaintiff must demonstrate ‘that each
Government-official defendant, through the official’s own individual actions, has violated the
Constitution.’”) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 676 (2009)); see also Marcilis v. Twp.
of Redford, 693 F.3d 589, 596 (6th Cir. 2012) (“This Court has consistently held that damage
claims against government officials arising from alleged violations of constitutional rights must
allege, with particularity, facts that demonstrate what each defendant did to violate the asserted
constitutional right.”) (quoting Lanman v. Hinson, 529 F.3d 673, 684 (6th Cir. 2008)).
Plaintiff has failed to allege the personal involvement of Defendant Knowles in violating
his constitutional rights. No specific allegations appear in Plaintiff’s complaint to claim that
Defendant Knowles was responsible for, or even knew of, the alleged wrongdoings of the jail staff.
The Sixth Circuit has found that where a person is named as a defendant without an allegation of
specific conduct, the complaint against him is subject to dismissal, even under the liberal
construction afforded to pro se complaints. See Gilmore v. Corr. Corp. of Am., 92 F. App’x 188,
190 (6th Cir. 2004) (dismissing complaint where plaintiff failed to allege how any named
defendant was involved in the violation of his rights); Frazier v. Michigan, 41 F. App’x 762, 764
(6th Cir. 2002) (dismissing the plaintiff's claim where the complaint did not allege with any degree
of specificity which of the named defendants were personally involved in or responsible for each
alleged violation of rights); Griffin v. Montgomery, 238 F.3d 421, 2000 WL 1800569, at *2 (6th
Cir. Nov. 30, 2000) (requiring allegations of personal involvement for each defendant); Rodriguez
v. Jabe, 904 F.2d 708, 1990 WL 82722, at *1 (6th Cir. 1990) (“Plaintiff's claims against those
individuals are without a basis in law as the complaint is totally devoid of allegations as to them
which would suggest their involvement in the events leading to his injuries.”).
The requirement to plead that a defendant was personally involved arises because
“[section] 1983 liability cannot be imposed under a theory of respondeat superior.” Grinter v.
Knight, 532 F.3d 567, 575 (6th Cir. 2008) (internal citation omitted). To the extent that Plaintiff
seeks to hold Defendant Knowles liable based on his supervisory role as jail administrator, a theory
of supervisory liability is unacceptable in a § 1983 case. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 676
(2009) (“[O]ur precedents establish . . . that Government officials may not be held liable for the
unconstitutional conduct of their subordinates under a theory of respondeat superior.”); Monell v.
Dep’t of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978) (finding that liability under § 1983 may not be
imposed simply because a defendant “employs a tortfeasor”). Thus, “a plaintiff must plead that
each Government-official defendant, through the official’s own official actions, violated the
Constitution.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676. A plaintiff must show “that the supervisor encouraged the
specific instance of misconduct or in some other way directly participated in it.” Bellamy v.
Bradley, 729 F.2d 416, 421 (6th Cir. 1984) (internal citation omitted).
Plaintiff’s complaint fails to allege that Defendant Knowles violated any of Plaintiff’s
constitutional rights, or that Defendant Knowles “directly participated” or “encouraged” violations
by the jail staff. Without factual contentions to support “the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged,” Plaintiff fails to state a claim upon which relief
may be granted against Defendant Knowles. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
Refusal of Furlough Claims
Plaintiff claims that officials at the Warren County Jail violated his constitutional rights
through his sentencing judge’s refusal to grant a furlough for Plaintiff to receive surgery on his
hand. Additionally, Plaintiff states that his constitutional rights were violated when jail officials
refused to allow him to attend his mother’s funeral.
To the extent that Plaintiff’s conclusory allegations can be construed as asserting violations
of his Fourteenth Amendment Due Process rights, he has failed to state a claim upon which relief
may be granted. It appears that Plaintiff asserts that the failure of prison officials to grant him the
respective furloughs violated his Fourteenth Amendment right to due process. A Fourteenth
Amendment procedural due process claim depends on the existence of a constitutionally
cognizable “liberty or property interest” with which the State has interfered. Kentucky. Dep’t of
Corr. v. Thompson, 490 U.S. 454, 460 (1989). While there is “no federal constitutional right to a
furlough, a state can create a liberty interest protected by the due process clause by its own
actions.” Burks v. Harris, 56 F.3d 64, 1995 WL 325688, at *2 (6th Cir. 1995) (per curiam) (citing
Thompson, 490 U.S. at 461–63; Gibbs v. Hopkins, 10 F.3d 373, 377 (6th Cir. 1993)).
“A state creates a protected liberty interest ‘by placing substantive limitations on official
discretion.’” Gibbs v. Hopkins, 10 F.3d 373, 377 (6th Cir. 1993) (quoting Olim v. Wakinekona,
461 U.S. 238, 249 (1983)). The Sixth Circuit has held that “in order to create a protected liberty
interest, a statute, rule or regulation must use explicitly mandatory language that establishes
‘specific substantive predicates’ which limit official discretion by mandatorily requiring specific
action by the responsible officials once the substantive predicates are found to be in
place.” Mackey v. Dyke, 29 F.3d 1086, 1089 (6th Cir. 1994). In this context, a state-created liberty
interest can only exist as a freedom from a restraint which would constitute an “atypical and
significant hardship on the inmate in relation to the ordinary incidents of prison life.” See
Wilkinson v. Austin, 545 U.S. 209, 223 (2005) (citing Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 484 (1995)
(holding that the liberty interests created by the Due Process clause are limited to freedom from
restraint which imposes “atypical and significant hardship” on the inmate)). Once such an interest
is established, the Court then turns to what kind of process is due. Id.
Tennessee Code Annotated § 40–35–316(a), the relevant statute governing furloughs at
county jails, reads in part as follows:
In any case in which a defendant has been sentenced to a local jail or workhouse
subject to the provisions of § 40–35–212, the sentencing court shall have
jurisdiction to grant furlough for any medical, penological, rehabilitative or
humane reasons, upon conditions to be set by the sentencing court.
In this case, it is clear that the state has not created any liberty interest protected by the Due Process
clause. See Burks v. Harris, 56 F.3d 64, 1995 WL 325688, at *1 (6th Cir. 1995) (per curiam)
(“The Tennessee Statute allowing courts to furlough prisoners does not create protected liberty
interest.”). The statute “neither places any ‘substantive limitations’ on that court’s discretion nor
uses ‘explicit mandatory language.’” Id. Ultimately, a furlough is not a freedom from an atypical
and significant hardship in relation to ordinary prison life; it is a freedom from ordinary prison life
The state statute governing furloughs, Tennessee Code Annotated § 40–35–316(a), gives
discretion to the sentencing court on whether to grant a furlough. See id. (holding “the decision
whether to grant a prisoner furlough is entirely discretionary with the court”). As the discretion is
with the sentencing court, it is unclear how Defendants could have deprived Plaintiff of any liberty
interest. Plaintiff was informed that any request for a furlough had to go through his sentencing
judge. Since Defendants were not in control of the furlough process, Defendants could not have
deprived Plaintiff of his due process rights. Plaintiff sets forth no facts from which the Court can
plausibly infer that jail officials had any responsibility to help him receive a furlough. As such,
even liberally construing the complaint as a whole in favor of Plaintiff, the Court finds that Plaintiff
has failed to state a due process claim against the respective Defendants.
Plaintiff also claims that his constitutional rights were violated by jail officials’ refusal of
his request to attend his mother’s funeral. However, “[a]n inmate has no liberty interest in
attending a family member’s wake or funeral, as the denial of such an opportunity does not impose
an atypical and significant hardship on the inmate in relation to the ordinary incidents of prison
life.” Rathers v. Raney, 238 F.3d 423, 2000 WL 1871702, at *2 (6th Cir. 2000) (holding “[t]he
district court properly dismissed [the plaintiff’s] claim that the defendants improperly denied him
permission to attend his brother’s wake or funeral”); see also Jones v. Hawkins Cty. Sheriff’s Dep’t,
No. 2:09-CV-76, 2010 WL 4962953, at *2 (E.D. Tenn. Dec. 1, 2010) (collecting cases to dismiss
Plaintiff’s due process and Eighth Amendment claims, as “the Constitution does not confer a due
process right upon a prisoner to attend a funeral”). Therefore, Plaintiff also fails to state a claim
for relief under § 1983 relating to his allegations that he was not allowed to attend his mother’s
However, Plaintiff also claims that officials at the Warren County Jail stated that they were
unable to take any action regarding his hand. “[D]eliberate indifference to [the] serious medical
needs of prisoners constitutes the ‘unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain,’” which violates the
Eighth Amendment. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976) (quoting Gregg v. Georgia, 428
U.S. 153, 173 (1976)). An Eighth Amendment claim is composed of two parts: (1) an objective
component, which requires a plaintiff to show a “sufficiently serious” deprivation; and (2) a
subjective component, which requires a showing of a sufficiently capable state of mind, one of
“deliberate indifference.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834, 842 (1994).
Deliberate indifference is illustrated by a prison official who acts or fails to act despite
knowledge of a substantial risk of serious harm to an inmate under his care. Id. “[W]here a
prisoner receives some medical care and the dispute is over its adequacy, no claim has been stated.”
Bryan v. Washington Cty. Sheriff’s Dep’t, No. 2:10-cv-169, 2012 WL 523653, at *2 (E.D. Tenn.
Feb. 15, 2012) (citing Westlake v. Lucas, 537 F.2d 857, 860 n.5 (6th Cir. 1976)). However,
“[w]hen prison officials are aware of a prisoner’s obvious and serious need for medical treatment
and delay medical treatment of that condition for non-medical reasons, their conduct in causing
the delay creates [a] constitutional infirmity.” Blackmore v. Kalamazoo Cty., 390 F.3d 890, 899
(6th Cir. 2004). Further, “a prisoner who suffers pain needlessly when relief is readily available
has a cause of action against those whose deliberate indifference is the cause of his suffering.” See
Berryman v. Rieger, 150 F.3d 561, 566 (6th Cir. 1998) (citing Boretti v. Wiscomb, 930 F.2d 1150,
1154–55 (6th Cir. 1991)); see also Estelle, 429 U.S. at 103 (“[T]he denial of medical care may
result in pain and suffering which no one suggests would serve any penological purpose.”).
Viewing the complaint in a light most favorable to Plaintiff, he alleges that jail officials at
the Warren County Jail failed to provide necessary medical treatment in stating they were unable
to treat his hand. However, Plaintiff has not sufficiently alleged that he informed a named
Defendant of this medical condition or that he sought medical care from a Defendant. Importantly
the subjective component of an Eighth Amendment claim requires the plaintiff to show that a
defendant possessed a culpable mental state, one of “deliberate indifference.” Farmer, 511 U.S.
at 834; Estelle, 419 U.S. at 104. Therefore, even if the Court deems Plaintiff’s hand condition to
be the type of serious medical need which would satisfy the objective component of an Eighth
Amendment claim, there are no contentions which permit the Court to infer a state of mind of
deliberate indifference on the part of any Defendant. Without factual contentions to support “the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged,” Plaintiff fails to state
a plausible Eighth Amendment claim. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. However, because Plaintiff is
proceeding pro se and may be able to allege sufficient facts to state a legally non-frivolous claim
for failure to provide medical treatment, the Court will allow plaintiff to amend his complaint as
to this claim.
Plaintiff’s Free Exercise Claim
The First Amendment provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting an
establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” U.S. Const. amend. I. Prisoners
retain certain constitutional rights while incarcerated, including the right to exercise their religious
beliefs, Cruz v. Beto, 405 U.S. 319 (1972); Thompson v. Kentucky, 712 F.2d 1078, 1080 (6th Cir.
1983), subject to reasonable restrictions and limitations by prison officials. See O'Lone v. Estate
of Shabazz, 482 U.S. 342, 350–53 (1987); Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78, 88–93 (1987).
Plaintiff’s allegations concerning the free exercise of his religion are purely speculative
and do not state an actionable § 1983 claim. See Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570 (a complaint will be
insufficient unless it offers factual contentions showing a right to relief beyond a “speculative
level”); Johnson v. CCA-Northeast Ohio Corr. Ctr. Warden, 21 F. App’x 330, 333 (6th Cir. 2001)
(noting that speculative allegations are insufficient to state a § 1983 claim); Geiger v. Prison Realty
Trust, Inc., 13 F. App’x 313, 315 (6th Cir. 2001) (observing that a speculative contention fails to
allege a First Amendment claim). Plaintiff only claims that he has been denied “the things I need”
to practice his religion [Doc. 2 p. 4]. This Court lacks jurisdiction over purely speculative claims
since they do no present an actual “case or controversy” which this Court can consider. North
American Natural Resources, Inc. v. Strand, 252 F.3d 808, 812-13 (6th Cir. 2001). Therefore,
Plaintiff fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted as to the free exercise of his
religion. However, the Court does not find that it would be inequitable or futile to allow Plaintiff
to amend his complaint as to this claim.
While Plaintiff’s complaint as stated does not state a claim upon which relief may be
granted as filed against these Defendants, some of Plaintiff’s allegations could state a claim, if
amended. Accordingly, Plaintiff is allowed twenty-one (21) days from the date of entry of this
order to amend his complaint as set forth below. See LaFountain v. Harry, 716 F.3d 944, 951 (6th
Cir. 2013) (“Under Rule 15(a) a district court can allow a plaintiff to amend his complaint even
when the complaint is subject to dismissal under the PLRA.”). The Court finds that Plaintiff may
be able to allege sufficient facts to state a legally non-frivolous claim regarding the Warren County
jail officials’ failure to provide medical treatment, as well as alleged restrictions upon Plaintiff’s
ability to practice his religion.
Based on the above, Plaintiff’s motion to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. 1] is
GRANTED. Furthermore, Plaintiff is hereby ORDERED to file an amended complaint—which
will replace and supersede his prior complaint—within twenty-one (21) days of the entry of this
Order. Plaintiff is ADVISED that, unless within twenty-one (21) days of the date on this Order
he amends his complaint to remedy the deficiencies noted by the Court, this action will be
DISMISSED without further notice to Plaintiff for failure to state a claim entitling him to relief
under § 1983. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(b).
Plaintiff is ORDERED to inform the Court immediately of any address changes. Failure
to provide a correct address to this Court within ten (10) days following any change of address
will result in the dismissal of this action.
Plaintiff’s amended complaint must comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8, which
provides, in relevant part, that a pleading must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,” and that “[e]ach allegation must be simple, concise,
and direct.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2), (d)(1). Accordingly, Plaintiff’s amended complaint should
contain only concisely stated claims for violations of civil rights, in paragraphs that are labelled
and clearly identify the specific causes of action that he wishes to pursue as to each defendant and
the facts supporting each such claim.3
Plaintiff is further NOTIFIED that, under Rule 15(c), the Court may only address the
merits of claims that “relate back” to the original complaint – that is, the Court can consider only
those claims and allegations that “arose out of the conduct, transaction, or occurrence set out – or
attempted to be set out – in the original pleading.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(c)(1)(B). Thus, Plaintiff is
on notice that his amended complaint is not the place for Plaintiff to set forth any wrongs of a
different factual or legal nature that Plaintiff has perceived subsequent to the filing of his original
complaint. Instead, the amended complaint is merely an opportunity for Plaintiff to name proper
entities as defendants to this suit, clarify the exact nature of his claims against each defendant, and
provide concise factual allegations supporting each such claim.
The Clerk is DIRECTED to send Plaintiff a form § 1983 complaint which Plaintiff may
use to draft this amended complaint.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
A S S
UNITED STATES DISTRICT
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