Nelson v. Osborne et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION OF THE COURT. Signed by District Judge Waverly D. Crenshaw, Jr on 3/28/17. (xc:Pro se party by regular and certified mail.)(DOCKET TEXT SUMMARY ONLY-ATTORNEYS MUST OPEN THE PDF AND READ THE ORDER.)(am)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE
LAVONDAS CORDELL NELSON
OFFICER OSBORNE, et al.
Lavondas Cordell Nelson is proceeding pro se. He is an inmate at the Rutherford County
Adult Detention Center (R.C.A.D.C.) in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. He brings this action pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Officer Osborne and Cpl. Roberts, members of the R.C.A.D.C. staff,
asking that the defendants be reprimanded and suspended without pay; with compensation for the
days of work he missed because of a rescheduled court date. (Doc. No. 1 at 6).
On February 23, 2017, the Plaintiff was due in court to answer a charge of driving under the
influence. That morning, he reported to the booking area of the Detention Center for a ride to court.
The defendants were assigned the duty of transporting the Plaintiff and other prisoners to court.
The Plaintiff boarded a van. The inmates in the van were being very noisy. This seemed to
be getting on the defendants’ nerves. Despite all the noise in the van, though, Plaintiff asked Officer
Osborne to turn on the radio. Officer Osborne did not answer the Plaintiff. Instead, the van returned
to the boarding area where the Plaintiff was asked to get off the van.
The defendants told other officers that the Plaintiff’s court date had been rescheduled
because the Plaintiff was being disruptive. There was no disciplinary action, however, taken against
the Plaintiff. He believes that the defendants’ refusal to transport him to court was unlawful (i.e., a
denial of due process) and “personally spiteful”. (Id. at 5).
This action is being brought against the defendants in their official capacities only. (Id. at
2). The Plaintiff seeks damages not from the individually named defendants but from the defendants
as agents in their official capacity, Pusey v. City of Youngstown, 11 F.3d 652,657 (6th Cir.1993).
In “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 Rutherford County, the municipal entity that operates the Rutherford County Adult
Detention Center. 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
Rutherford County or its agent, the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department. Monell v. New York
City Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 690-691 (1978). In short, for Rutherford 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, 385 (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 are no allegations in the Complaint suggesting that the Plaintiff was removed from the
van and had his court date rescheduled because of a policy, regulation or custom promulgated and
enforced by Rutherford County or its agent, the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department.
Consequently, the Plaintiff has failed to state a claim against Officer Osborne and Cpl. Roberts
acting in their official capacities.
In the absence of an actionable claim, the Court must 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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