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Hale v. Burns

July 23, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. Ronnie Greer United States District Judge


Phillip D. Hale, a prisoner now confined in the Northeast Correctional Complex, has filed this pro se complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against several Greene County, Tennessee law enforcement officials. His claims arise out of an incident which he maintains occurred while he was in custody at the Greene County Detention Center [GCDC].

Plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis is GRANTED and he is ASSESSED the filing fee of three hundred and fifty dollars ($350). The custodian of plaintiff's inmate trust account at the institution where he now resides is DIRECTED to submit to the Clerk of Court, as an initial partial payment, twenty percent (20%) of the greater of either the average monthly deposits to the inmate trust account or the average monthly balance in the account, for the six (6) months immediately preceding the filing of the complaint. 28 U.S.C.§ 1915(b)(1).

After the initial partial filing fee has been paid, the custodian shall submit twenty percent (20%) of plaintiff's preceding monthly income credited to his account, but only when the amount in the account exceeds ten dollars ($10), until the full $350 fee has been paid.*fn1 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2).

The Clerk is DIRECTED to mail a copy of this Order to the custodian of inmate trust accounts at plaintiff's place of confinement and also to George Little, the Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Correction, to ensure compliance with the above assessment procedures.

1. Plaintiff's Allegations

Plaintiff makes the following allegations in his complaint. In the wee morning hours of July 19, 2006, plaintiff was assaulted by defendant J. B. Morman with a cup. Plaintiff threatened to throw feces on him if ever he did it again. All inmates in the medication line were ordered to return to the pod, at which point defendant Mormon opened the door and pushed plaintiff. Defendant Jason Riddle slammed him onto the floor.

Plaintiff could feel heels and boots in his back, and he saw defendants Jeremy Bowman, Jason Armstrong, Jennifer Raider, and Lieutenant Eddie Tweed enter. Thereafter, plaintiff was kicked, stomped, handcuffed, and, from inches away, sprayed with pepper spray-one eye at a time. Next, plaintiff was jerked up from the floor and, while he was being led by his hair to the drunk tank, his head was slammed against everything.

Once plaintiff arrived at the drunk tank, defendant Armstrong slammed his head into the wall and warned plaintiff that, if he moved in a threatening manner or swung at anything or anyone, "they the officers would beat [him] to death." Plaintiff was handcuffed for one hour, taken to the shower afterwards, forced to eat a regular meal [plaintiff is a diabetic], refused medication and medical care, and ultimately locked down in his cell.

Later, plaintiff was visited by his public defender attorney, Michael Walcher, and seen by the nurse, who put him on medical watch until morning. When plaintiff was released from the medical watch, an officer who was escorting plaintiff back to his pod told him that the Sheriff had ordered inmates to be beaten "any time from now on a c.o. [correctional officer] tells an inmate something." Plaintiff was served with a disciplinary write-up in connection with these events.

Plaintiff would have the Court investigate this matter, stop any future such incidents from happening, issue an order of protection against the defendants, administer drug tests to the GCDC staff, and award him the sum of $500,000.00.

2. Screening the Complaint

The Court must now review the complaint to determine whether it states a claim entitling plaintiff to relief or is frivolous or malicious or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) and § 1915A; McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 607 (6th Cir. 1997). If so, this suit must be dismissed.

First of all, since plaintiff is no longer confined in the GCDC, and since he is no longer exposed to the purported wrongful conditions at that facility, all issues concerning injunctive relief with respect to those conditions have become moot by virtue of his transfer to a state prison. ...

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