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McClendon v. Houston County Jail

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

September 25, 2019

BENJAMIN McCLENDON, Plaintiff,
v.
HOUSTON COUNTY JAIL, et al., Defendants.

          RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          CHARLES S. COODY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Benjamin McClendon, an inmate incarcerated at the Houston County Jail in Dothan, Alabama, brings this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 challenging a denial of adequate medical care and the conditions of confinement at the Houston County Jail. This action is pending on McClendon's complaint against Sheriff Donald Valenza, Commander James Brazier, Jason Smoak, the Houston County Jail, and the Houston County Health Department. Doc. 1. Upon review, the court concludes that dismissal of McClendon's complaint against the Houston County Health Department and the Houston County Jail prior to service of process is appropriate under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).[1]

         I. DISCUSSION

         A. The Houston County Health Department

         McClendon names the Houston County Health Department, a division of the Alabama Department of Health, as a defendant. The State of Alabama and, by extension, its departments are absolutely immune from suit. Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265 (1986) (holding that unless the State consents to suit, a plaintiff cannot proceed against the State or any department thereof as the action is proscribed by the Eleventh Amendment and “[t]his bar exists whether the relief sought is legal or equitable.”). Consequently, McClendon's claims against the Houston County Health Department are frivolous as they are “based on an indisputably meritless legal theory.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989).[2]

         B. The Houston County Jail

         McClendon names the Houston County Jail as a defendant. 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 Houston 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).

         II. CONCLUSION

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

1. Plaintiff's § 1983 claims against Defendants Houston County Health Department and Houston County Jail be DISMISSED with prejudice under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i);
2. The Houston County Health Department and the Houston County Jail be DISMISSED with prejudice and terminated as parties prior to service of process under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i);
3. This case be REFERRED to the undersigned for further proceedings.

         It is further

         ORDERED that on or before October 9, 2019, Plaintiff may file an objection to the Recommendation. Any objection filed must specifically identify the findings in the Magistrate Judge's Recommendation to which Plaintiff objects. Frivolous, conclusive or general objections will not be considered by the District Court. Plaintiff ...


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