United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division
HOLMES, III CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
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).
filed his Complaint on February 1, 2018. (ECF No. 1). He was
directed to file an Amended Complaint, and did so on February
20, 2018. (ECF No. 7). He alleges his constitutional rights
were violated when he was incarcerated in the Crawford County
Detention Center. (ECF No. 1, 7). Plaintiff alleges that on
August 17, 2017, Defendants opened his legal mail without
Plaintiff being present. Plaintiff alleges they cut open the
envelope, put scotch tape over the postmark, and “told
me the sender done it.” (ECF No. 7 at 4).
proceeds against all Defendants in their official capacities
only. (ECF No. 7 at 4). Plaintiff did not indicate what
damages he seeks. (ECF No. 7 at 7).
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.
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)). Even a
pro se Plaintiff must allege specific facts
sufficient to support a claim. Martin v. Sargent,
780 F.2d 1334, 1337 (8th Cir. 1985).
failed to state any plausible official capacity claims. Under
Section 1983, a defendant may be sued in either his
individual capacity, or in his official capacity, or in both.
In Gorman v. Bartch, 152 F.3d 907 (8th Cir. 1998),
the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals discussed the distinction
between individual and official capacity suits. As explained
by the Court in Gorman:
“Claims against government actors in their individual
capacities differ from those in their official capacities as
to the type of conduct that is actionable and as to the type
of defense that is available. See Hafer v. Melo, 502
U.S. 21, 112 S.Ct. 358, 116 L.Ed.2d 301 (1991). Claims
against individuals in their official capacities are
equivalent to claims against the entity for which they work;
they require proof that a policy or custom of the entity
violated the plaintiff's rights, and the only type of
immunity available is one belonging to the entity itself.
Id. 502 U.S. at 24-27, 112 S.Ct. at 361-62 (1991).
Personal capacity claims, on the other hand, are those which
allege personal liability for individual actions by officials
in the course of their duties; these claims do not require
proof of any policy and qualified immunity may be raised as a
defense. Id. 502 U.S. at 25-27, 112 S.Ct. at
Gorman, 152 F.3d at 914.
Plaintiff failed to allege that his rights were violated by a
custom or policy of Crawford County, and the Court can infer
none from a single incident of opened mail. He therefore
failed to state a plausible official capacity claim.
Plaintiff had intended to state a personal capacity claim,
his Complaint also failed to state a plausible personal