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Shipman v. Dale County Jail

United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Southern Division

May 10, 2018

KEVIN CHRISTOPHER SHIPMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
DALE COUNTY JAIL, et al., Defendants.

          RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          TERRY F. MOORER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Kevin Shipman, an inmate incarcerated at the Dale County Jail, brings this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action against Wally Olson, the Sheriff of Dale County, Alabama, Jail Administrator Ron Nelson, the Dale County Commission, and the Dale County Jail. Shipman seeks to challenge conditions of confinement at the jail. Upon review, the court concludes the claims presented by Shipman against the Dale County Commission and the Dale County Jail are subject to dismissal under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i).[1]

         II. DISMISSAL OF DEFENDANTS

         A. Dale County Jail

         Shipman names the Dale County Jail as a defendant. The law is settled that a county sheriff's department “is not a legal entity and, therefore, is not subject to suit or liability under section 1983.” Dean v. Barber, 951 F.2d 1210, 1214 (11th Cir. 1992). It therefore follows that a building or structure utilized by a sheriff's department is not a legal entity subject to suit.

         In light of the foregoing, it is clear that the Dale County Jail is not a legal entity subject to suit and is therefore due to be dismissed as a defendant under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i).

         B. Dale County Commission

         Shipman names the Dale County Commission as a defendant. The Dale County Commission and its individual members are absolutely immune from monetary damages for claims arising from the appropriation of funds for the maintenance and operation of a county jail. See Woods v. Gamel, 132 F.3d 1417, 1420 (11th Cir. 1998) (holding Alabama county commissioners are entitled to absolute legislative immunity). Neither the county commission nor its individual members are responsible for the day-to-day operation of the Dale County Jail. Turquitt v. Jefferson County, Alabama, 137 F.3d 1285, 1289 (11th Cir. 1998). Under Alabama law, “an Alabama sheriff acts exclusively for the state rather than for the county in operating a county jail.” Id. at 1288. “Alabama counties have no duties with respect to the daily operation of the county jails and no authority to dictate how the jails are run.” Id. at 1291. “Alabama counties [also] are not liable under a theory of respondeat superior for a sheriff's official acts that are tortious.” McMillian v. Monroe Cty., Ala., 520 U.S. 781, 789 (1997). Accordingly, Shipman's complaint against the Dale County Commission is subject to summary dismissal under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

         III. CONCLUSION

         Accordingly, it is the RECOMMENDATION of the Magistrate Judge that:

         1. Plaintiff's claims against the Dale County Jail be DISMISSED with prejudice prior to service of process under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i).

         2. Plaintiff's claims against the Dale County Commission be DISMISSED without prejudice prior to service of process ...


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