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Owens v. Brown

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division

February 14, 2018

MARCUS OWENS PLAINTIFF
v.
OFFICER MARK BROWN, Miller County Detention Center DEFENDANT

          ORDER

          Susan O. Hickey United States District Judge.

         This is a civil rights action filed by Plaintiff pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff proceeds pro se and in forma pauperis. The case is before the Court for preservice screening under the provisions of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court has the obligation to screen any complaint in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a).

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed his initial Complaint on January 18, 2018. (ECF No. 1). He is currently incarcerated in the Miller County Detention Center (“MCDC”) as a pre-trial detainee. Plaintiff has named Officer Mark Brown as a Defendant in this action. Plaintiff claims his constitutional rights were violated on January 1, 2018, when Defendant Brown:

was suppose to bring me a allergy Tray to beans but he didn't he tried to give me one with beans, and I told him I was allergic to beans and he said he would have to bring me a Johnny Sack[1] back and that wasn't the case, they were only suppose to substitute my beans like they normally do.

Id. at pgs. 4-5. Plaintiff then claims he refused the Johnny Sack and Defendant Brown “just dropped it on the floor at the door and shut the door.” Id. Plaintiff alleges his constitutional rights were violated “by [Defendant Brown] throwing my food on floor.”

         Plaintiff is suing Defendant in his individual and official capacities. Although he has not alleged that he was injured as a result of the conduct of Defendant, Plaintiff is seeking compensatory and punitive damages in the amount of $10, 000.00. (ECF No. 1, p. 7).

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Under the PLRA, the Court is obligated to screen the case prior to service of process being issued. The Court must dismiss a complaint, or any portion of it, if it contains claims that: (1) are frivolous, malicious, or fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

         A claim is frivolous if “it lacks an arguable basis either in law or fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). A claim fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted if it does not allege “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “In evaluating whether a pro se plaintiff has asserted sufficient facts to state a claim, we hold ‘a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, . . . to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.'” Jackson v. Nixon, 747 F.3d 537, 541 (8th Cir. 2014) (quoting Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)). But regardless of whether a plaintiff is represented or appearing pro se, his complaint must allege specific facts sufficient to state a claim. See Martin v. Sargent, 780 F .2d 1334, 1337 (8th Cir.1985).

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Individual Capacity Claim

         Plaintiff claims that Defendant Brown violated his constitutional rights when he brought Plaintiff a Johnny Sack instead of a replacement tray without beans on it and then threw it on the floor when Plaintiff refused the sack. The Court construes Plaintiff's claim as one alleging unlawful conditions of confinement.

         “[W]hen the State takes a person into its custody and holds him there against his will, the Constitution imposes upon it a corresponding duty to assume some responsibility for his safety and general well-being.” County of Sacramento v. Lewis, 523 U.S. 833 (1998) (citation omitted). The Constitution does not mandate comfortable prisons, but neither does it permit inhumane ones. See Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994). The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the imposition of cruel and unusual punishment. U.S. Const. amend. VIII; see also Butler v. Fletcher, 465 F.3d 340, 345 (8th Cir. 2006) (deliberate indifference standard of the Eighth Amendment applies to claims brought by both pretrial detainees and convicted inmates that prison officials failed to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, etc.). The ...


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