United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
JAMES D. WILLIAMS PLAINTIFF
SHERIFF JACKIE RUNION, Miller County, Arkansas; WARDEN JEFFIE WALKER, Miller County Detention Center “MCDC”; CAPTAIN GOLDEN ADAMS, MCDC; SERGEANT ALLEN GRIFFEN, MCDC; LIEUTENANT MILLER, MCDC; and SERGEANT GUTHERIE, MCDC DEFENDANTS
O. Hickey United States District Judge.
a civil rights action filed by Plaintiff James D. Williams
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 April 24, 2018. (ECF No. 1).
That same day, the Court directed Plaintiff to file an
Amended Complaint to clarify his claims against Defendants
and submit an application to proceed in forma
pauperis (“IFP”). (ECF No. 2). On May 14,
2018, Plaintiff filed his Amended Complaint and IFP
application. (ECF Nos. 4, 5). The Court granted
Plaintiff's application to proceed IFP the following day.
(ECF No. 7).
is currently incarcerated in the Miller County Detention
Center (“MCDC”), serving a sentence as a result
of a parole violation. (ECF No. 4, p. 3). Plaintiff has named
Sheriff Jackie Runion, Warden Jeffie Wallker, Captain Golden
Adams, Sergeant Allen Griffen, Lieutenant Miller, and
Sergeant Gutherie as Defendants. According to Plaintiff's
Amended Complaint, Defendant Runion is the Sheriff of Miller
County; Defendant Walker is the Warden at the MCDC; and
Defendants Adams, Miller, Griffen, and Gutherie are employed
as officers at the MCDC. He claims that mold in the shower
has caused him to have a constant cold and a runny nose.
Id. at 4. Plaintiff alleges he has informed
Defendants about the mold but they have denied that the
conditions exist and have refused to correct the unsanitary
conditions. Id. Plaintiff also claims that
Defendants opened his legal mail outside of his presence.
Plaintiff is suing Defendants in their individual and
official capacities, and seeks compensatory and punitive
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 Atl. 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).
alleges four distinct types of claims against Defendants: (1)
official capacity claims; (2) conditions of confinement; (3)
opening his confidential legal; and (4) inadequate grievance
prodecure. The Court will separately address each type of
claim to determine whether Plaintiff alleges sufficient facts
to state a plausible claim upon which relief may be granted.
Official Capacity Claims
section 1983, a defendant may be sued in either his
individual capacity, in his official capacity, or both.
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.
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).
Plaintiff asserts official capacity claims against
Defendants, he has not alleged that any policy, custom, or
practice of Miller County was the moving force behind his
claims regarding the jail's conditions, grievances, or
the opening of his legal mail. Accordingly, Plaintiff has
failed to state a claim against Defendants in their official