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Gray v. Pulaski County Regional Detention Facility

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Western Division

May 23, 2019



         The following Recommended Disposition (“Recommendation”) has been sent to United States District Judge James M. Moody, Jr. You may file written objections to all or part of this Recommendation. If you do so, those objections must: (1) specifically explain the factual and/or legal basis for your objection; and (2) be received by the Clerk of this Court within fourteen (14) days of the date of this Recommendation. If you do not file objections, Judge Moody can adopt this Recommendation without independently reviewing all of the evidence in the record. By not objecting, you may waive the right to appeal questions of fact.

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff Clark Gray (“Gray”) is a pretrial detainee in the Pulaski County Regional Detention Facility (“PCRDF”). He has filed a pro se § 1983 Complaint and Amended Complaint alleging that Defendants violated his constitutional rights. Docs. 2 & 5. Before Gray may proceed with this case, the Court must screen his allegations.[1]

         II. Discussion

         In his original Complaint, Gray alleged that Defendant PCRDF and an indeterminate number of unnamed Doe Defendants[2] subjected him to inhumane conditions of confinement because of the presence of black mold in the showers, the ceiling registers, and the air ducts in the R Unit of the PCRDF. According to Gray, even though the showers, registers and vents were recently cleaned, the mold had already returned. He alleged that the “toxic” mold posed a safety hazard and made it hard to breathe. Doc. 2.

         On November 6, 2018, the Court entered an Order informing Gray that his Complaint was deficient because: (1) the PCRDF was not a legal entity that could be sued in a § 1983 action; (2) he was required to name individuals who were responsible for the alleged constitutional violations; and (3) his case could not proceed until he identified at least one of the individual Doe Defendants listed in his Complaint. Doc. 4 at 2. The Court further ordered Gray to file an Amended Complaint that:

(1) names individual Defendants who allegedly violated his constitutional rights; (2) states specific facts about how each of those Defendants personally participated in exposing him to black mold, including dates, times and places, if applicable; (3) describes how long he was exposed to black mold in the PCRDF and how he was personally harmed by that exposure; and (4) explains why he has named Defendants in both their individual and official capacities.

Id. at 2-3 (emphases added).

         On December 3, 2018, Gray filed an Amended Complaint. Doc. 5. That pleading corrects none of the deficiencies outlined by the Court. Instead, the Amended Complaint states in its entirety:

There [is] black mold in the vent [in the] showers on the ceiling and the return vent of the cells and the return vents do not come off. They can't be cleaned and it [is] still very hard to breath[e] smelling that black mold.

Id. at 4. In the section for listing Defendants, Gray identifies no individuals or entities, leaving the entire section blank. Id. at 1-2. For the following reasons, the Court finds that, even reading his Complaint and Amendment together, and giving those pleadings a liberal construction, [3] Gray has failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

         First, the only named Defendant in the original Complaint was the PCRDF. As previously explained to Gray, it is well settled that a county detention facility is not a legal entity that can be sued in a § 1983 action. See Owens v. Scott County Jail, 328 F.3d 1026, 1027 (8th Cir. 2003); Williams v. Pulaski County Detention Facility, 278 Fed.Appx. 695, 695 (8th Cir. 2008). Accordingly, the PCRDF is not a proper Defendant.

         Second, rather than identifying at least one of the individual Doe Defendants - as directed by the Court and as required for his case to proceed - Gray's Amended Complaint names no Defendants whatsoever. Doc. 5 at 1-2. Gray provides no further information to identify, or enable the United States Marshal to effectuate service upon, any of the Doe Defendants, who are unnamed and indeterminate in number. See Estate of Rosenberg v. Crandell, 56 F.3d 35, 37 (8th Cir. 1995) (affirming dismissal of “various other John Does to be named when identified”); Lee v. Armontrout, 991 F.2d 487, 489 (8th Cir. 1993) (explaining that it is responsibility of a prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in a § 1983 action to provide a proper service address for each defendant); Munz v. Parr, 758 F.2d 1254, 1257 (8th Cir. 1985) (dismissal of a “John Doe” defendant named by a plaintiff proceeding in forma pauperis is proper when it appears that the true identity of the defendant cannot be learned); Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(m) (requiring dismissal of defendants who are not served within ninety days of the filing of the complaint).

         More fundamentally, however, Gray has not offered sufficient allegations of personal involvement on the part of any Doe Defendant, or any other individual. See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676 & 678 (explaining that, because there is no vicarious liability in § 1983 actions, a prisoner “must plead that each Government-official defendant, through the official's own individual actions, has violated the Constitution”; complaint must contain sufficient “factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged”). Liability under § 1983 “requires a causal link to, and direct responsibility for, the deprivation of rights.” Madewell v. Roberts,909 F.2d 1203, 1208 (8th Cir. 1990). ...

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