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Presnell v. Hollyfield

January 31, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Leon Jordan United States District Judge


Morgan Presnell, a state prisoner confined in the Washington County Detention Center (WCDC), has filed this pro se civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff is ASSESSED the civil filing fee of $350.00. The custodian of plaintiff's inmate trust account at the institution where he now resides shall submit, as an initial partial payment, whichever is the greater of: (a) twenty percent (20%) of the average monthly deposits to plaintiff's inmate trust account; or (b) twenty percent (20%) of the average monthly balance in his inmate trust account for the six-month period preceding the filing of the complaint.

28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1)(A) and (B).

Thereafter, the custodian shall submit twenty percent (20%) of plaintiff's preceding monthly income (or income credited to his trust account for the preceding month), but only when such monthly income exceeds $10.00, until the full filing fee of $350.00 has been paid to the Clerk's Office.*fn1 McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 607 (6th Cir. 1997).

To ensure compliance with the fee-collection procedure, the Clerk is DIRECTED to mail a copy of this memorandum and order to the custodian of inmate accounts at the institution where plaintiff is now confined and to George Little, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Correction.

In his complaint and the exhibit attached thereto, plaintiff alleges that Nurse Bruce Fillers falsely accused him of hoarding medication and thereafter, defendant Fillers and Nurse Pat Hollyfield stopped dispensing his mental health medication to him. He further alleges that he has filled out request forms since he arrived at the WCDC to see Debra Cloyd, a mental health therapist, but that she has not seen him-not even when his medications were discontinued. Additionally, he maintains that Major Brenda Downes, who is over the facility and, thus, is responsible for the welfare and treatment of inmates, has done nothing about his medications or about his legal mail being opened outside his presence, despite his written requests regarding these things. Finally, plaintiff contends that defendant Downes has authority to approve grievance forms but does not do so; that the state and federal inmates in the facility are not allowed grievance forms; and (impliedly) that this constitutes a deprivation of an institutional grievance system.

The Court must now screen the complaint and, if it is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim, or names defendants who are immune, it must be dismissed. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and § 1915(e).

1. Claims against Nurses Pat Hollyfield and Bruce Fillers

Giving this pro se plaintiff's pleading the generous construction to which it is entitled, Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972), the Court infers that he is asserting that, for disciplinary purposes and without consulting the physician, these defendants discontinued his medication prescribed to treat a psychological condition.

The Eighth Amendment is violated when a prison official is deliberately indifferent to an inmate's serious medical needs. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 103 (1976). An Eighth Amendment claim has both an objective and a subjective component. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994). The objective component requires the plaintiff to show a "sufficiently serious" deprivation. Id. The subjective component requires a showing of a sufficiently culpable state of mind-one of deliberate indifference. Id., at 842. Deliberate indifference is illustrated by a prison official who acts or fails to act despite knowledge of a substantial risk of serious harm to an inmate under his care. Id.

Plaintiff arguably states an Eighth Amendment claim against defendants Hollyfield and Fillers. Clark-Murphy v. Foreback, 439 F.3d 280, 293 (6th Cir. 2006) (finding that a prisoner has a right to medically-necessary psychological treatment under the Eighth Amendment).

2. Claims against Debra Cloyd

Far more tenuous is plaintiff's allegation that defendant Cloyd did not come to see him-not even when his medications were stopped, in spite of his numerous requests. Plaintiff depicts this defendant as a "supposed" mental health therapist, but does not identify her as an employee of the WCDC or explain her association with the facility or its inmates. Nor does he indicate that defendant Cloyd is or was his therapist; that she has any legal obligation to address his mental condition; or that she played any role in discontinuing his medication. ...

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