Evans v. Maury County Jail et al
MEMORANDUM signed by District Judge Waverly D. Crenshaw, Jr on 3/2/2017. (xc:Pro se party by regular and certified mail.)(DOCKET TEXT SUMMARY ONLY-ATTORNEYS MUST OPEN THE PDF AND READ THE ORDER.)(hb)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE
MAURY COUNTY JAIL, et al.
The Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, is an inmate at the Maury County Jail in Columbia,
Tennessee. He brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Maury County Jail and
Bucky Rowland, Sheriff of Maury County, seeking injunctive relief and damages.
The Plaintiff has recently converted to Judaism. He claims that the defendants have violated
his right to exercise his religious beliefs by not consistently providing him with kosher meals.
To establish a claim for § 1983 relief, the plaintiff must plead and prove that a person or
persons, while acting under color of state law, deprived him of some right guaranteed by the
Constitution or laws of the United States. Parratt v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527, 535 (1981).
A county jail or workhouse is not a person that can be sued under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Grimmett v. Wilson County Jail, 2015 WL 787228 (M.D. Tenn.); Staggs v. Lewis County Jail, 2009
WL 3877682 (M.D. Tenn.); see also Petty v. County of Franklin, Ohio, 478 F.3d 341, 347 (6th Cir.
2007)(a county sheriff’s department is also not a “person” subject to liability under § 1983). As a
consequence, the Plaintiff has failed to state an actionable claim against the Maury County Jail.
The Plaintiff is bringing this action against Sheriff Rowland in his official capacity only.
Because the Plaintiff in an official capacity action seeks damages not from the individually named
defendant but from the entity for which the defendant is an agent, Pusey v. City of Youngstown, 11
F.3d 652,657 (6th Cir.1993), “an official capacity suit is, in all respects other than name, to be treated
as a suit against the entity.” Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159,166 (1985). In essence, then, the
Plaintiff’s claims are against Maury County, the municipal entity that employs Sheriff Rowland.
Hafer v. Melo, 502 U.S. 21,25 (1991).
A claim of governmental liability requires a showing that the misconduct complained of
came about pursuant to a policy, statement, regulation, decision or custom promulgated by Maury
County or its agent, the Maury County Sheriff’s Department. Monell v. New York City Department
of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658 (1978). In short, for Maury County to be liable under § 1983, there
must be a direct causal link between an official policy or custom and the alleged constitutional
violation. City of Canton v. Harris, 489 U.S. 378 (1989). To establish the requisite causal link, the
Plaintiff has to “identify the policy, connect the policy to the county itself and show that the
particular injury was incurred because of the execution of that policy”. Garner v. Memphis Police
Department, 8 F.3d 358, 363-64 (6th Cir.1993).
The Plaintiff has offered nothing to suggest that his rights were violated pursuant to a policy
or regulation of Maury County that required the jailers at the Maury County Jail to deny him kosher
meals. Therefore, the Plaintiff has failed to state a claim against Sheriff Rowland acting in his
In the absence of an actionable claim, the Court is obliged to dismiss the Complaint sua
sponte. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).
An appropriate order will be entered.
WAVERLY D. CRENSHAW, JR.
United States District Judge
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