Richardson v. Robertson et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER: Accordingly, Plaintiff Michael D. Richardson's application (Doc. No. 2 ) is GRANTED, and he is ASSESSED the $350.00 filing fee. The Clerk is DIRECTED to send a copy of this Order to the Davidson County Sher iff's Office. Plaintiff MUST file an Amended Complaint within 30 DAYS of the date this Order is entered on the docket, and it must include the assigned case number, No. 3:22-cv-00716. Signed by District Judge Eli J. Richardson on 11/17/2022. (xc:Pro se party by regular mail along with a blank 1983 complaint for prisoners. Copy of Order mailed to Davidson County Sheriff's Office.) (DOCKET TEXT SUMMARY ONLY-ATTORNEYS MUST OPEN THE PDF AND READ THE ORDER.)(ln)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE
MICHAEL D. RICHARDSON #482401,
LT. T. ROBERTSON, et al.,
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff Michael Richardson, a pretrial detainee1 at the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office
(DCSO) in Nashville, Tennessee, filed a pro se civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Doc.
No. 1) and an application to proceed as a pauper. (Doc. No. 2.) As explained below, the application
will be granted, but upon initial review of the Complaint, Plaintiff fails to state a claim for relief
at this time. To proceed in this case, Plaintiff must file an Amended Complaint by following the
instructions at the end of this Order.
I. APPLICATION TO PROCEED AS A PAUPER
Plaintiff’s application to proceed as a pauper is accompanied by a certified copy of his
inmate trust account statement, as required by statute. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). These documents
reflect that Plaintiff cannot pay the full filing fee in advance. (Doc. No. 2 at 3 (showing a spendable
balance of $0.82 at the time of filing).) Accordingly, Plaintiff’s application (Doc. No. 2) is
GRANTED, and he is ASSESSED the $350.00 filing fee, to be paid as follows:
The Complaint does not clarify whether Plaintiff is a convicted prisoner or pretrial detainee (Doc. No. 1
at 2), but the Court takes judicial notice of Plaintiff’s status from the Davidson County Criminal Court Case
Information database. See https://sci.ccc.nashville.gov/Search/CaseSearchDetails/2250775%5E5442993%
5ECJIS/MICHAEL%5ERICHARDSON%5E03091979%5E482401/ (last visited Nov. 8, 2022) (reflecting
that Plaintiff has an ongoing state criminal case); Fed. R. Evid. 201(b) (allowing judicial notice of facts that
“can be accurately and readily determined from sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned”).
Case 3:22-cv-00716 Document 4 Filed 11/17/22 Page 1 of 5 PageID #: 37
The custodian of Plaintiff’s inmate trust account is DIRECTED to submit to the Clerk of
Court, as an initial payment, “20 percent of the greater of—(A) the average monthly deposits to
[the plaintiff’s] account; or (B) the average monthly balance in [the plaintiff’s] account for the 6month period immediately preceding the filing of the complaint.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). After
the initial filing fee is fully paid, the trust account officer must withdraw from Plaintiff’s account
and pay to the Clerk monthly payments equal to 20% of all deposits credited to Plaintiff’s account
during the preceding month, but only when the amount in the account exceeds $10. These
payments must continue until the $350.00 filing fee is paid in full. Id. § 1915(b)(2).
The Clerk is DIRECTED to send a copy of this Order to the Davidson County Sheriff’s
Office to ensure that the custodian of Plaintiff’s inmate trust account complies with the portion of
28 U.S.C. § 1915 pertaining to payment of the filing fee. If Plaintiff is transferred from his present
place of confinement, the custodian of his inmate trust account MUST ensure that a copy of this
Order follows Plaintiff to his new place of confinement for continued compliance with this Order.
All payments made in compliance with this Order must clearly identify Plaintiff’s name and the
case number as shown on the first page of this Order, and must be mailed to: Clerk, U.S. District
Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, 719 Church Street, Nashville, TN 37203.
II. INITIAL REVIEW
The Court must review the Complaint to determine if it is frivolous or malicious, fails to
state a claim, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28
U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B), 1915A; 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(1). In doing so, the Court applies the same
standard as under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d
468, 470– 71 (6th Cir. 2010). The Court therefore accepts “all well-pleaded allegations in the
complaint as true, [and] ‘consider[s] the factual allegations in [the] complaint to determine if they
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plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief.’” Williams v. Curtin, 631 F.3d 380, 383 (6th Cir. 2011)
(quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 681 (2009)). An assumption of truth does not extend to
allegations that consist of legal conclusions or “‘naked assertion[s]’ devoid of ‘further factual
enhancement.’” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 557
(2007)). And because Plaintiff is representing himself, the Court must hold the Complaint to “less
stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89,
94 (2007) (citing Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)).
Plaintiff is proceeding under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which permits individuals to bring civil
claims based on violations of “the Constitution or federal laws by those acting under color of state
law.” Smith v. City of Salem, Ohio, 378 F.3d 566, 576 (6th Cir. 2004). Rather than write the factual
basis for his claims on the Complaint, Plaintiff directs the Court to attached Jail Incident Reports
completed by six DCSO staff members. (Doc. No. 1 at 6; id. at 9, 13 (Lt. Robertson); id. at 8, 10
(Officer Ryan Nichols); id. at 11, 14 (Officer Demarious Hamilton); id. at 12 (Officer Brandson
Monger); id. at 15, 17–18 (Corporal Kyvari Bolden); id. at 16 (Officer Robriquez Malone).) This
type of incorporation by reference is not necessarily improper. See Com. Money Ctr., Inc. v. Illinois
Union Ins. Co., 508 F.3d 327, 335 (6th Cir. 2007) (citing Fed. R. Civ. P. 10(c)) (“[D]ocuments
attached to the pleadings become part of the pleadings and may be considered on a motion to
dismiss.”). But the attached documents do not permit this case to proceed because they do not
contain any allegations that are personal to Plaintiff.
The Jail Incident Reports concern an incident at DCSO just after midnight on December
26, 2021. According to the reports, officers conducted a “shakedown” of a housing pod, which
involved removing inmates from the pod, strip searching the inmates, searching the pod for items
that did not belong, and removing those items. When inmates returned to the pod, many became
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disruptive, refused to follow the directives of DCSO staff members, and threatened staff.
Lieutenant Talina Robertson eventually sprayed a chemical agent to re-establish order within the
pod. Four unidentified inmates were pulled from the pod to receive medical attention, and inmate
Qwaveion Wilson was taken to the hospital after a door was closed on his finger, severing it. (See
Doc. No. 1 at 8–18.) Plaintiff sues DCSO and Lt. Robertson. (Id. at 1–2.)
Plaintiff, however, is not mentioned at all in the Jail Incident Reports that make up the
substance of the Complaint. And absent class certification, Plaintiff “lacks standing to assert the
constitutional rights of other prisoners.” Dodson v. Wilkinson, 304 F. App’x 434, 438 (6th Cir.
2008) (Newsom v. Norris, 888 F.2d 371, 381 (6th Cir. 1989)). As the Complaint currently stands,
therefore, Plaintiff has not alleged facts that concern him in any way—much less facts supporting
a reasonable inference that Plaintiff suffered a constitutional violation, as he claims. (See Doc. No.
1 at 5 (asserting claims under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments)); LeFever v. Ferguson, 645
F. App’x 438, 447 (6th Cir. 2016) (citing Jaco v. Bloechle, 739 F.2d 239, 241 (6th Cir. 1984))
(“Claims under [Section] 1983 are personal to the party injured by a constitutional violation.”).
The Court also notes that DCSO—understood as either a place of incarceration or a law
enforcement agency—is not a proper defendant to a Section 1983 suit. See Mathes v. Metro. Gov’t
of Nashville and Davidson Cnty., No. 3:10-cv-0496, 2010 WL 3341889, at *2 (M.D. Tenn. Aug.
25, 2010) (collecting cases establishing that “police departments and sheriff’s departments are not
proper parties to a § 1983 suit”); McIntosh v. Camp Brighton, No. 14-CV-11327, 2014 WL
1584173, at *2 (E.D. Mich. Apr. 21, 2014) (collecting cases establishing that a prison facility “is
not a ‘person’ or legal entity subject to suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983”). So, even if the Complaint
stated a claim for relief, Plaintiff could not maintain this case against Defendant DCSO.
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Rather than dismiss the case at this time, the Court will allow Plaintiff an opportunity to
file an Amended Complaint. See LaFountain v. Harry, 716 F.3d 944, 951 (6th Cir. 2013) (“[U]nder
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.”). For this purpose, the Clerk is DIRECTED to send
Plaintiff a blank form Section 1983 complaint for prisoners.
III. INSTRUCTIONS TO PLAINTIFF
To proceed, Plaintiff MUST file an Amended Complaint that explains how one or more
Defendants acted (or failed to act) in a way that harmed Plaintiff specifically (rather than other
inmates). The Amended Complaint must include all factual allegations, legal claims, and
Defendants that Plaintiff wants to pursue regarding the alleged incident at DCSO on December 26,
2021. The Amended Complaint will replace the prior complaint for all purposes. See In re
Refrigerant Compressors Antitrust Litig., 731 F.3d 586, 589 (6th Cir. 2013) (citation omitted).
Plaintiff MUST file the Amended Complaint within 30 DAYS of the date this Order is
entered on the docket, and it must include the assigned case number, No. 3:22-cv-00716. Plaintiff
may request more time to comply before the deadline expires, if necessary. To file in person or by
mail, the Court’s address is: U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, 719 Church
Street, Nashville, TN 37203.
When the Court receives the Amended Complaint, it will conduct a fresh screening to
determine if Plaintiff states a claim for relief. If Plaintiff does not file an Amended Complaint,
however, the Court will dismiss this case for failure to state a claim.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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