Casteel v. Marshall County Jail
MEMORANDUM OPINION OF THE COURT. Signed by Chief Judge Waverly D. Crenshaw, Jr on 7/7/17. (xc:Pro se party by regular mail. ) (DOCKET TEXT SUMMARY ONLY-ATTORNEYS MUST OPEN THE PDF AND READ THE ORDER.)(am)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE
LEONARD B. CASTEEL,
MARSHALL COUNTY JAIL,
CHIEF JUDGE CRENSHAW
Leonard B. Casteel, proceeding pro se, is an inmate at the Marshall County Jail in
Lewisburg, Tennessee. He brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Marshall
County Jail, seeking damages.
According to the Complaint, while on his way to a shower, the Plaintiff tripped and fell down
some stairs. He injured his head, left shoulder, left hip and lower back. An ambulance took the
Plaintiff to a local hospital for examination and treatment. (Doc. No. 1 at 5.) The Plaintiff alleges
that he was injured as a result of negligence. (Id. at 7.) The Plaintiff further alleges continued
injuries, including numbness in his legs and loss of bladder control (Id.)
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).
The sole defendant named in this action is the Marshall County Jail. A county jail 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.).
Of course, giving this pro se pleading a liberal construction, the Court could construe the
Complaint as an attempt to state a claim against Marshall County, the entity responsible for the
operation of the Jail. However, for Marshall County to be liable, the Plaintiff would have to allege
and prove that his constitutional rights were violated pursuant to a “policy statement, ordinance,
regulation or decision officially adopted and promulgated” by the county. Monell v. Department of
Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 689-690 (1978). No such allegation appears in the Complaint.
In any event, the Plaintiff is alleging that he was injured as a result of someone’s negligence.
Negligent conduct, however, is not actionable under § 1983 because it does not rise to the level of
a constitutional deprivation. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). This is true with respect
to negligence claims arising under both the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. Whitley v. Albers,
475 U.S. 312, 319 (1986) (Eighth Amendment) (“It is obduracy and wantonness, not inadvertence
or error in good faith, that characterize the conduct prohibited by the Cruel and Unusual
Punishments Clause”); Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327, 333 (1986) (Fourteenth Amendment). To
the extent Plaintiff’s continued numbness of legs and loss of bladder control are a result of his fall,
he is unable to prove a negligence claim. However, if Plaintiff is being denied medical assistance
for his continuing injuries, he may have an actionable Eighth Amendment claim. The Plaintiff has
failed to allege an actionable § 1983 claim against the Marshall County Jail. Under such
circumstances, the Court is obliged to dismiss the Complaint without prejudice sua sponte. 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).
An appropriate order will enter.
WAVERLY D. CRENSHAW, JR.
CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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