United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
O. Hickey United States District Judge
a civil rights action filed by Plaintiff Clifton O. Solomon
(“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.
filed his initial Complaint on May 14, 2018. (ECF No. 1). His
application to proceed in forma pauperis
(“IFP”) was granted the same day. (ECF No. 5).
Plaintiff is currently incarcerated in the Miller County
Detention Center (“MCDC”) awaiting trial on
pending criminal charges. (ECF No. 1, p. 3). Plaintiff is
asserting claims for alleged violations of the MCDC's
disciplinary procedures, as well as for alleged violations of
his due process rights. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that
on April 17, 2018, he was taken to a segregated cell by
Officer Hensley and Corporal Brown to await a pending
disciplinary hearing. (ECF No. 1, p. 4). Plaintiff alleges
that placing him in a segregated cell prior to his
disciplinary hearing violated the Inmate Handbook. (ECF No.
1, pp. 4-5). Plaintiff alleges that he remained in
segregation for over week before he was brought before the
MCDC's disciplinary committee on April 26, 2018.
(Id.) Plaintiff claims that “all charges were
dismissed upon viewing of Video by disciplinary
committee.” (ECF No. 1, p. 2). Plaintiff is suing
Defendants in their official capacity only. (ECF No. 1, pp.
4-5). Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages. (ECF
No. 1, p. 7). In addition, Plaintiff requests an order
requiring MCDC officials to follow the facilities' rules
and policies as they are written. (Id.) Plaintiff
further requests the termination of Officer Hensley's
employment with the MCDC. (Id.)
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)).
However, 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).
to Plaintiff's Complaint, Defendants Hensley, Brown,
Adams and Watson are employed as officers at the MCDC. In
addition, Plaintiff alleges Defendants Watson and Adams are
members of the MCDC's disciplinary committee. Section
1983 provides a federal cause of action for the deprivation,
under color of state law, of a citizen's “rights,
privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and
laws” of the United States. In order to state a claim
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege that a
defendant acted under color of state law and they violated a
right secured by the Constitution. West v. Atkins,
487 U.S. 42 (1988); Dunham v. Wadley, 195 F.3d 1007,
1009 (8th Cir.1999). Under section 1983, a defendant may be
sued in either his individual capacity, or in his official
capacity, or claims may be stated against a defendant in both
his individual and his official capacities. Gorman v.
Bartch, 152 F.3d 907, 914 (8th Cir. 1998). With respect
to official capacity claims, they are “functionally
equivalent to a suit against the employing governmental
entity.” Veatch v. Bartels Lutheran Home, 627
F.3d 1254, 1257 (8th Cir. 2010). In other words,
Plaintiff's official capacity claims against Defendants
are treated as claims against Miller County. See Murray
v. Lene, 595 F.3d 868, 873 (8th Cir. 2010).
is well established that a municipality [or county] cannot be
held liable on a respondeat superior theory, that
is, solely because it employs a tortfeasor.”
Atkinson v. City of Mountain View, Mo., 709 F.3d
1201, 1214 (8th Cir. 2013). To establish Miller County's
liability under section 1983, “plaintiff must show that
a constitutional violation was committed pursuant to an
official custom, policy, or practice of the governmental
entity.” Moyle v. Anderson, 571 F.3d 814, 817
(8th Cir. 2009) (citation omitted).
describes the custom or policy of Miller County that he
believes caused a violation of his constitutional rights as
According to The Inmate HandBook officer Hensley and Cpl.
Brown violated the Disciplinary procedure, set in place by
Miller County Jail Department, and Due to the fact that
Inmate Clifton O. Solomon was placed in disciplinary
Segregation Befor the process of Allow me to go Befor the
disciplinary Committee violates my 14th Amendment
of the Due process…The Disciplinary procedures and
policy are under federal and state laws that Require Jail
official to follow procedural Requirements and Certain
guidelines, the written Disciplinary procedure was Violate
Due to the fact that officer Hensley violated a prison
constitutional right to no Allowing me my Right to go befor
the Disciplinary committee Before Placing me in lockdown
(ECF No. 1, pp. 5-6). Plaintiff also submitted a Report of
Disciplinary Committee Findings dated April 26, 2018, which
appears to confirm Plaintiff's allegations that he was
placed in segregation for nine days before he had a hearing.
(ECF No. 1, p. 8).
Hensley and Adams' alleged failure to abide by Miller
County's policy does not subject Miller County to
liability under section 1983. As previously stated, a county
“cannot be held liable on a respondeat
superior theory, that is, solely because it employs a
tortfeasor.” Atkinson, 709 F.3d at 1214. In
addition, the law is clear that an internal jail policy or
procedure does not create a constitutional right, nor does
the failure to follow such a regulation rise to the level of
a section 1983 claim. See Kennedy v. ...