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Stackhouse v. Covington County Jail

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

January 7, 2019

JAMES E. STACKHOUSE, Plaintiff,
v.
COVINGTON COUNTY JAIL, et al., Defendants.

          RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          Charles S. Coody United States Magistrate Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action is pending before the court on a complaint filed by James E. Stackhouse, an indigent inmate incarcerated in the Covington County Jail, in which he challenges his access to medical and dental treatment. Doc. 1 at 2-3. Stackhouse names the Covington County Jail, and Dennis Meeks, the Sheriff of Covington County, as defendants in this cause of action.

         Upon thorough review of the complaint, the court finds that the claims presented by Stackhouse against the Covington County Jail are subject to summary dismissal in accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i).[1]

         II. DISMISSAL OF THE COVINGTON COUNTY JAIL

         Stackhouse names the Covington County Jail as a defendant in this case. The law is well settled that

in order to state a claim for relief under Section 1983, a plaintiff must satisfy two elements. First, a plaintiff must allege that an act or omission deprived him “of some right, privilege, or immunity secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States.” Hale v. Tallapoosa Cty., 50 F.3d 1579, 1582 (11th Cir. 1995). Second, a plaintiff must allege that the act or omission was committed by “a person acting under color of state law.” Id. While local governments qualify as “persons” under Section 1983, state agencies and penal institutions are generally not considered legal entities subject to suit. See Grech v. Clayton Cty., 335 F.3d 1326, 1343 (11th Cir. 2003). Consequently, a county jail [is] not [a] viable defendant[] under Section 1983. Williams v. Chatham Cty. Sherriff's Complex, No. 4:07-CV-68, 2007 WL 2345243, at *1 (S.D. Ga. Aug. 14, 2007) (“The county jail . . . has no independent legal identity and therefore is not an entity that is subject to suit under Section 1983.”).

Bell v. Brown, 2017 WL 3473845, at *5 (S.D. Ga. Aug. 11, 2017); see Ex parte Dixon, 55 So.3d 1171, 1172 n.1 (Ala. 2010) (“Generally, the departments and subordinate entities of municipalities, counties, and towns that are not separate legal entities or bodies do not have the capacity to sue or be sued in the absence of specific statutory authority.”).

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

         III. CONCLUSION

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

1. The plaintiff's claims against the Covington County Jail be dismissed with prejudice prior to service of process pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i).
2. The Covington County Jail be dismissed as a defendant in this cause of action.
3. This case, with respect to the plaintiff's claims against defendant Dennis Meeks, be referred back to the ...

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