United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division
OPINION AND ORDER
HOLMES, III U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
proceeds in this matter pro se and in forma
pauperis pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. 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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a).
filed his Complaint on August 19, 2019. (ECF No. 1). He
alleges that when he was taken to court to be sentenced on
June 6, 2019, Defendants violated his constitutional rights.
(Id. at 3-8). Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that
while he was in leg irons, a belly chain, and handcuffs
attached to the belly chain, Defendant Sizemore pushed him
onto a bench and then slammed him to the ground.
(Id. at 4-5, 7-8). Plaintiff does not allege that
Defendant Hammond was involved in the use of excessive force,
instead stating that Hammond saw Plaintiff on the floor and
asked Sizemore why he was laying there. (Id. at 5).
Plaintiff suffered a swollen and bloody elbow from
Sizemore's actions. (Id.). Plaintiff asked to
use the restroom to clean himself up before he appeared
before the judge for sentencing and Defendants did not permit
him to do so. This required Plaintiff to appear before Judge
Tabor for sentencing looking like he had been in a fight.
(Id. at 8).
proceeds against both Defendants in their official and
personal capacities. (Id. at 4-5). He seeks
compensatory and punitive damages. (Id. at 6).
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 complaint 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.
failed to state any plausible official capacity claims. Under
Section 1983, a defendant may be sued in either his
individual capacity, or in his official capacity, or in both.
In Gorman v. Bartch, 152 F.3d 907 (8th Cir. 1998),
the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals discussed the distinction
between individual and official capacity suits. As explained
by the Court in Gorman:
“Claims against government actors in their individual
capacities differ from those in their official capacities as
to the type of conduct that is actionable and as to the type
of defense that is available. See Hafer v. Melo, 502
U.S. 21, 112 S.Ct. 358, 116 L.Ed.2d 301 (1991). Claims
against individuals in their official capacities are
equivalent to claims against the entity for which they work;
they require proof that a policy or custom of the entity
violated the plaintiff's rights, and the only type of
immunity available is one belonging to the entity itself.
Id. 502 U.S. at 24-27, 112 S.Ct. at 361-62 (1991).
Personal capacity claims, on the other hand, are those which
allege personal liability for individual actions by officials
in the course of their duties; these claims do not require
proof of any policy and qualified immunity may be raised as a
defense. Id. 502 U.S. at 25-27, 112 S.Ct. at
Gorman, 152 F.3d at 914. Defendants are identified
as employees of either the Sebastian County Sheriff's
Office or the Sebastian County Courthouse. Plaintiff failed
to allege any policy or custom of Sebastian County which
violated his rights. He therefore failed to state any
plausible official capacity claims.
allegation that Defendants did not permit him the opportunity
to clean his elbow before sentencing fails to state a
cognizable constitutional claim. Plaintiff does not allege
that he was denied personal hygiene opportunities for a
lengthy time, nor that he received a harsher sentence because
he was not permitted to clean his elbow. As his sole personal
allegation against Defendant Hammond is that he did not
permit Plaintiff the opportunity to clean his elbow,
Defendant Hammond should be dismissed as a party from this