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Huffman v. Lacey

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division

September 5, 2019

CHRIS LEE HUFFMAN PLAINTIFF
v.
MS. LACEY, Jailer; JANA TALLANT, Jail Administrator, Howard County Detention Facility; and SHERIFF BRYAN MCJUNKINS, Howard County, Arkansas DEFENDANTS

          ORDER

          Susan O. Hickey Chief United States District Judge.

         This is a civil rights action filed by Plaintiff, Chris Lee Huffman, 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 provisions of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Pursuant to the PLRA, the Court has the obligation to screen any complaint in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity, officer or employee.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed his Complaint on August 5, 2019. (ECF No. 1). His application to proceed in forma pauperis was granted that same day. (ECF No. 3). Plaintiff has named Ms. Lacey-a Jailer at the Howard County Jail (“HCJ”), Jana Tallant-the Administrator of the HCJ, and Brian McJunkins-the Sheriff of Howard County, as Defendants in this action.

         Plaintiff describes his claim as “unsafe and unclean en[vironment], No. Evac plan. No medical.” (ECF No. 1, p. 4). Specifically, he states:

On 7-15-19 Howard County Jail [flooded] dude to creek next to it all inmates bang on door to get offices to come to back we seen cars and floating by the inmates stood in water for 6 hours then serve food to us with no gloves Water was coming out of drains and stink. But they did not have no plan to get us out we beat on windows we saw boats [rescuing] people but would not help us we had to ware same cloths we wade in water for 4 days.
(Id. at pp. 4-5).

         Plaintiff also alleges, “They did not have no emergency evacuation plan and no medical staff at no time here.” (Id. at p. 5). As a result, Plaintiff states, “I have bad dreams I am drowning cant sleep need to see [mental] health been feeling sick.” (Id. at p. 8). Plaintiff proceeds against all Defendants in their official and personal capacities. (Id. at 4). He seeks compensatory damages. (Id. at 10).

         The Court takes judicial notice of a news report documenting that on July 15, 2019, the remnant of Tropical Storm Barry made its way through Arkansas. The storm dropped 8.47 inches of rainfall on Nashville, Arkansas-where the HCJ is located. The report states, “Inmates from the Howard County jail were evacuated Tuesday afternoon. Seven inmates were moved to Department of Correction sites while the rest were bused to the Sevier County jail in De Queen.”[1] While this report differs from Plaintiff's account of the flood and the alleged lack of evacuations, there is no question the flooding occurred, and the Defendants were not responsible for such flooding.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Under 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. § 1915A(b).

         A claim 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).

         However, mere conclusory allegations with no supporting factual averments are insufficient to state a claim upon which relief can be based. Allen v. Purkett, 5 F.3d 1151, 1153 (8th Cir. 1993); see also Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914 (8th Cir. 2004). “[A] pro se plaintiff requires no special legal training to recount the facts surrounding his alleged injury, and he must provide such facts if the court is to determine whether he makes out a claim on which relief can be granted.” Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991) (citation omitted).

         III. ...


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