United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Western Division
Procedure for Filing Objections
Recommended Disposition (“Recommendation”) has
been sent to Judge Billy Roy Wilson. Mr. King may file
written objections with the Clerk of Court is he disagrees
with the Recommendation's findings or conclusion. To be
considered, objections must be filed with the Clerk of Court
within 14 days. Objections should be specific and should
include the factual or legal basis for the objection.
King does not file objections, he risks waiving the right to
appeal questions of fact. And, if no objections are filed,
Judge Wilson can adopt this Recommendation without
independently reviewing the record.
King, a pre-trial detainee at the Pope County Detention
Center (“Detention Center”), filed this civil
lawsuit without the help of a lawyer under 42 U.S.C. §
1983. (Docket entry #2) In his complaint, Mr. King alleges
that Defendant Bombgardener violated his rights by opening
his legal mail outside of his presence on one occasion.
Prison Litigation Reform Act requires federal courts to
review complaints filed by prisoners seeking relief from
government employees or government entities. Courts are
obliged to dismiss claims that fail to state a claim for
relief before ordering service of process. 28 U.S.C. §
1915A(b). The Court has liberally reviewed the complaint in
this case and has liberally construed Mr. King allegations.
Even if all allegations in the complaint are true, Mr. King
has not stated a federal claim for relief.
King alleges that, on December 30, 2018, Defendant
Bombgardener opened his “legal mail” outside of
his presence. Under settled law, legal mail is narrowly
defined as mail “to or from an inmate's
attorney.” Gardner v. Howard, 109 F.3d 427,
431 (8th Cir. 1997). Mr. King did not specify what type of
legal mail Defendant Bombgardener opened on the date in
question, but even if he opened mail from Mr. King's
attorney, no liability arises from an isolated incident of
opening incoming confidential legal mail “without any
evidence of improper motive or resulting interference with
the inmate's right to access the courts or right to
counsel.” Id. Here, Mr. King has not alleged
or indicated that Defendant Bombgardener acted with an
improper motive or that any other constitutional violation
occurred as a result of Defendant Bombgardener's
Court recommends that Mr. King's claims be DISMISSED,
without prejudice, based on his failure to state a
constitutional claim for relief. The Court recommends that
this dismissal count as a “strike” for purposes
of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g) and suggests that an in forma
pauperis appeal of this dismissal would be frivolous and
would not be taken in good faith.
 In his complaint, Mr. King does not
attribute any unconstitutional conduct to Captain Rowdy
Sweet. Clemmons v. Armontrout, 477 F.3d 962, 967
(8th Cir. 2007) (“Liability under section 1983 requires
a causal link to, and direct responsibility for, the
deprivation of rights). Furthermore, although he names the
Detention Center as a party Defendant, the Detention Center
may not be held liable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Day
v. Minnehaha County, 632 Fed.Appx. 305 (8th Cir. 2016)
(per curiam) (citing Scott County Jail, 328 F.3d
1026, 1026 (8th Cir. 2003) (“county jails are not legal
entities amendable to suit”)). As a result, Mr.
King's claims against these Defendants also fail.
 To the extent Mr. King claims that
Defendant Bobgardener denied him access to the courts, that
claim also fails. To prevail on such a claim, a detainee must
show that he suffered an “actual injury”
regarding a “nonfrivolous and arguably meritorious
underlying legal claim.” White v. Kautzky, 494
F.3d 677, 680 (8th Cir. 2007) (citing Christopher v.
Harbury,536 U.S. 403, 413 (2002)). In this context,
“actual injury” means “actual prejudice
with respect to contemplated or existing litigation, such as
the inability to meet a filing deadline or to present a
claim.” Lewis v. Casey,518 U.S. 343, ...