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Lloyd v. Alabama Dept. of Corrections

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

September 20, 2019

ROBERT S. LLOYD, #250 886, Plaintiff,




         This 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action is pending before the court on a pro se complaint filed by Robert Lloyd, an inmate confined at the Bullock Correctional Facility. Lloyd challenges the conditions of his confinement which he complains resulted in him being assaulted and injured by another inmate. Named as defendants are the Alabama Department of Corrections (“ADOC”), inmate Dedric Shepherd, Lieutenant W. Cousins, and Warden Antonio Mclain. Upon review, the court concludes that Plaintiff's complaint against the ADOC and inmate Shepherd are due to be dismissed prior to service of process under the directives of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i).[1]


         A. The Alabama Department of Corrections

         Lloyd names the ADOC as a defendant. The Eleventh Amendment bars suit directly against a state or its agencies, regardless of relief sought. Pennhurst State School & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89 (1984); Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265 (1986) (Unless the State of Alabama consents to suit or Congress rescinds its immunity, a plaintiff cannot proceed against the State or its agencies as the action is proscribed by the Eleventh Amendment and “[t]his bar exists whether the relief sought is legal or equitable.”).

“[T]he Eleventh Amendment prohibits federal courts from entertaining suits by private parties against States and their agencies [or employees].” Alabama v. Pugh, 438 U.S. 781, 781, 98 S.Ct. 3057, 57 L.Ed.2d 1114 (1978). There are two exceptions to this prohibition: where the state has waived its immunity or where Congress has abrogated that immunity. Virginia Office for Prot. & Advocacy v. Stewart, 563 U.S. 247, 131 S.Ct. 1632, 1637-38, 179 L.Ed.2d 675 (2011). “A State's consent to suit must be ‘unequivocally expressed' in the text of [a] relevant statute.” Sossamon v. Texas, 563 U.S. 277, 131 S.Ct. 1651, 1658, 179 L.Ed.2d 700 (2011) (quoting Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 98, 104 S.Ct. 900, 79 L.Ed.2d 67 (1984)). “Waiver may not be implied.” Id. Likewise, “Congress' intent to abrogate the States' immunity from suit must be obvious from ‘a clear legislative statement.'” Seminole Tribe of Fla. v. Florida, 517 U.S. 44, 55, 116 S.Ct. 1114, 134 L.Ed.2d 252 (1996) (quoting Blatchford v. Native Vill. of Noatak, 501 U.S. 775, 786, 111 S.Ct. 2578, 115 L.Ed.2d 686 (1991)).

Selensky v. Alabama, 619 Fed.Appx. 846, 848-49 (11th Cir. 2015). Thus, neither the State of Alabama or its agencies may be sued unless the State has waived its Eleventh Amendment immunity, see Pennhurst State School & Hospital v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100 (1984), or Congress has abrogated the State's immunity, see Seminole Tribe v. Florida, 517 U.S. 44, 59 (1996).

Neither waiver nor abrogation applies here. The Alabama Constitution states that “the State of Alabama shall never be made a defendant in any court of law or equity.” Ala. Const. art. I, § 14. The Supreme Court has recognized that this prohibits Alabama from waiving its immunity from suit. Pugh, 438 U.S. at 782, 98 S.Ct. 3057 (citing Ala. Const. art. I, § 14.)

Selensky, 619 Fed.Appx. at 849. “Alabama has not waived its Eleventh Amendment immunity in § 1983 cases, nor has Congress abated it.” Holmes v. Hale, 701 Fed.Appx. 751, 753 (11th Cir. 2017) (citing Carr v. City of Florence, Ala., 916 F.2d 1521, 1525 (11th Cir. 1990)). Consequently, any claims lodged against the State of Alabama or its agencies are frivolous as these claims are “based on an indisputably meritless legal theory[, ]” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989), and are therefore due to be dismissed with prejudice under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i).

         B. Inmate Shepherd

         Lloyd seeks damages in this § 1983 action for injuries he received on April 15, 2019, because of an attack on him by inmate Dedric Shepherd. According to the complaint, inmate Shepherd attacked and robbed Lloyd as Lloyd accessed his property box. When Lloyd ran after inmate Shepherd to retrieve his property, inmate Shepherd assaulted him by hitting him in his left temple and left eye with a mop handle. Lloyd maintains he has lost vision in his right eye. Doc. 1 at 2-3.

         An essential element of a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action is that a person acting under color of state law committed the asserted constitutional deprivation. American Manufacturers Mutual Ins. Company v. Sullivan, 526 U.S. 40 (1999); Willis v. University Health Services, Inc., 993 F.2d 837, 840 (11th Cir. 1993).

To state a [viable] claim for relief in an action brought under § 1983, [a plaintiff] must establish that [he was] deprived of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States, and that the alleged deprivation was committed under color of state law. . . . [T]he under-color-of-state-law element of § 1983 excludes from its reach “‘merely private conduct, no matter how discriminatory or wrongful, '” Blum v. Yaretsky, 457 U.S. 991, 1002, 102 S.Ct. 2777, 73 L.Ed.2d 534 (1982) (quoting Shelley v. Kraemer, 334 U.S. 1, 13, 68 S.Ct. 836, 92 L.Ed. 1161 (1948)). . . . [Consequently, ] state action requires both an alleged constitutional deprivation “caused by the exercise of some right or privilege created by the State or by a rule of conduct imposed by the State or by a person for whom the State is responsible, ” and that “the party charged with the deprivation must be a ...

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