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Moon v. Richland Correctional Institute

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

June 4, 2019

ROBERT E. MOON, Plaintiff,



         Pro se Plaintiff Robert Moon brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Richland Correctional Institute (“RCI”) where he is confined. (Doc. #: 1). Moon claims that there are birds in the “chow hall” that fly around during mealtime and drop bird feces on the table. (Id. at 3). Plaintiff asks this Court to require RCI to make the dining hall safe and healthy and to award him three million dollars in damages. (Id. at 5).

         For the reasons that follow, this case is dismissed.

         A. Standard of Review

         Pro se pleadings are held to a less stringent standards than pleadings drafted by lawyers, and must be liberally construed. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972) (per curiam). That said, federal district courts are expressly required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) to screen all in forma pauperis actions and to dismiss before service any such action that is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. The standard for dismissal articulated in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009) and Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007) with respect to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) also governs dismissal under § 1915(e)(2)(B) for failure to state a claim. Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010). Therefore, in order to survive scrutiny under § 1915(e)(2)(B), a pro se complaint “‘must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.'” Id. (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678).

         B. Analysis

         1. Defendant is not subject to suit under § 1983

         To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege a violation of a right secured by the constitution by a person acting under color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988) (citations omitted). As an initial matter, RCI is not a legal entity capable of being sued under § 1983. Miles v. Richland Corr. Inst., No. 1:14-CV-01648, 2015 WL 366898, at *3 (N.D. Ohio Jan. 27, 2015) (RCI is not a legal entity capable of being sued under § 1983) (citing Brown v. Imboden, 2011 WL 3704952 at * 2 (N.D. Ohio Aug. 23, 2011) (finding that Mansfield Correctional Institution is not sui juris and, therefore, not capable of being sued under § 1983)).

         Moreover, RCI is part of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (“ODRC”). ODRC is an agency of the State of Ohio and immune from suit pursuant to the Eleventh Amendment, unless the State of Ohio has waived its sovereign immunity or consented to be sued in federal court. See Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989). Congress did not intend that § 1983 abrogate the State of Ohio's Eleventh Amendment immunity, and the State of Ohio has not waived that immunity to suit in federal court. See Id. at 66-67; Mixon v. State of Ohio, 193 F.3d 389, 397 (6th Cir. 1999).

         Because Defendant is not sui juris and the ODRC is immune from suit, Plaintiff fails to state a plausible § 1983 claim upon which relief can be granted, and this action is dismissed pursuant to § 1915(e).

         2. Plaintiff fails to state a plausible § 1983 claim

         This action is subject to dismissal for the additional reason that Plaintiff fails to state a plausible § 1983 claim. Moon does not specifically identify the right secured by the Constitution of which he was allegedly deprived. Although not specifically stated, it appears that Plaintiff is attempting to assert an Eighth Amendment claim. Therefore, reading the Complaint liberally, the Court construes his claim as alleging an Eighth Amendment violation.

         The Eighth Amendment protects inmates by requiring that “prison officials ... ensure that inmates receive adequate food, clothing, shelter, and medical care, and ... ‘take reasonable measures to guarantee the safety of the inmates.'” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994) (quoting Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 526-27 (1984)). Unconstitutional conditions-of-confinement claims are analyzed under the Eighth Amendment deliberate-indifferent standard for cruel and unusual punishment. Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 298-99 (1991). Deliberate indifference has two components: (1) objectively, the constitutional deprivation must be sufficiently serious, and (2) subjectively, the government official must disregard a known or obvious risk. Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834. To satisfy the objective component, Plaintiff must allege that the deprivation was “sufficiently serious, ” that is, a denial of the “minimal civilized measure of life's necessities.” Id. (citations omitted). To satisfy the subjective component, Plaintiff must show that the prison official has a “sufficiently culpable state of mind.” Id. In a prison conditions case, that state of mind is one of ‘deliberate indifference' to an excessive risk to inmate health or safety. Id. at 837.

         Here, Plaintiff fails to allege sufficient facts regarding birds in the dining hall to establish the objective component. “Conditions-of-confinement cases are highly fact-specific, but one guiding principle is that the length of exposure to the conditions is often paramount.” Lamb v. Howe, 677 Fed.Appx. 204, 209 (6th Cir. 2017) (citing DeSpain v. Uphoff, 264 F.3d 965, 974 (10th Cir. 2001) (“In general, the severity and duration of deprivations are inversely proportional[.]”)). Plaintiff provides no facts from which this Court may infer that his allegation of birds in ...

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