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Johnson v. Griffie

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

September 16, 2019

CHARLES SAMUEL JOHNSON JR. PLAINTIFF
v.
SERGEANT GRIFFIE, Miller County Detention Center “MCDC”; CAPTAIN ADAMS, MCDC; JANE DOE, Guard MCDC; CORPORAL POOLE, MCDC; and K. WATSON, Disciplinary Committee MCDC DEFENDANTS

          ORDER

          Susan O. Hickey Chief United States District Judge.

         This is a civil rights action filed by Plaintiff Charles Samuel Johnson Jr. 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 the PLRA, the Court must screen any complaint in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity, officer or employee. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action pro se on September 5, 2019. (ECF No. 1). That same day, the Court granted Plaintiff's in forma pauperis application. (ECF No. 3). Plaintiff is currently incarcerated in the Miller County Detention Center (“MCDC”). Plaintiff asserts two claims.

         Plaintiff asserts Claim One against Defendants Griffie, Doe, Poole, and Watson. Plaintiff describes Claim One as “Terrorist Threat, Abuse of Power, Inciting Violence.” (ECF No. 1, p. 5). He claims that on August 22, 2019, he called Defendant Griffie a racial slur. He alleges that Defendant Griffie demanded that he submit to handcuffs, and that Plaintiff complied. Defendant Griffie then allegedly removed the handcuffs and threatened Plaintiff, telling him that the only thing keeping him from beating Plaintiff up was his kids. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Griffie was then about to strike Plaintiff but was talked out of it by an unknown female guard.[1] Plaintiff alleges further that Defendants Poole and Watson witnessed this incident but did nothing.

         Plaintiff asserts Claim Two against Defendant Adams. Plaintiff describes Claim Two as “Abuse of Power.” Plaintiff alleges that he told Defendant Adams that Defendant Griffie had threatened him. Plaintiff claims that Defendant Adams reviewed video footage of the incident but took no disciplinary action against Defendant Griffie. Thus, Plaintiff claims that Defendant Adams is covering up crimes in the MCDC.

         Plaintiff proceeds against Defendants in their individual and official capacities. He seeks compensatory and punitive damages, and asks for damages for “pain & suffering also mental anguish.” Id. at p. 9.

         II. APPLICABLE LAW

         Under the PLRA, the Court must screen this 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 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).

         III. DISCUSSION

         The Court will begin by separately addressing Plaintiff's two claims against Defendants in their individual capacities. Then the Court will address Plaintiffs official capacity claims.

         A. Verbal Threats

         Plaintiff claims that Defendant Griffie verbally threatened him with violence on one occasion and that Defendants Doe, Poole, and Watson ...


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