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Cash v. Hawkins County Jail

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Greeneville Division

September 12, 2014



J. RONNIE GREER, District Judge.

Acting pro se , Sage Andrew Cash, a state inmate housed in the Hawkins County jail ("the jail") in Rogersville, Tennessee, has submitted this civil rights complaint and amended complaint for injunctive relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, asserting that he is being subjected to unconstitutional treatment and conditions at the jail, (Docs. 1, 4).

Plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis is GRANTED, (Doc. 2), and he is ASSESSED the full filing fee of three hundred and fifty dollars ($350). 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. Id., McGore v. Wrigglesworth , 114 F.3d 601, 605 (6th Cir. 1997), overruled on other grounds by Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199 (2007). Payments should be sent to: Clerk, USDC; 220 W. Depot St., Suite 200; Greeneville, TN 37743.

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. This order shall be placed in plaintiff's prison file and follow him if he is transferred to another correctional institution.

I. Screening.

The Court now must screen the pleadings to determine whether the case should be dismissed as frivolous, malicious or for failure to state a claim or because monetary damages are sought from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) (2) and § 1915A. In performing this task, the Court bears in mind the rule that pro se pleadings filed in civil rights cases must be liberally construed and held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Haines v. Kerner , 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). All well-pleaded allegations in the complaint will be taken as true and the factual allegations will be considered to determine whether "they plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief." Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 681 (2009). The Court examines the complaint in light of those requirements.

II. Plaintiff's Allegations.

Named in the complaint as the defendants are the Hawkins County jail, Butch Gallion, who serves as a jail lieutenant, Southern Health Partners, who is the provider of medical services at the facility, and Ronnie Lawson, Sheriff of Hawkins County.

According to the pleading, plaintiff has been experiencing worsening vision, but has been told in response to the grievances, requests, and medical forms he submitted to the jail authorities seeking help, that the facility does not fund and (by inference) does not provide medical care for inmates with vision problems. Plaintiff fears that he will succumb to blindness if he must await completion of his four-year jail sentence to obtain proper vision care. Plaintiff also maintains that the jail does not have an up-to-date law library to serve prisoners.

In his amended complaint, plaintiff alleges that he has been threatened by defendant Gallion, subjected to acts of retaliation for filing this lawsuit, including being beaten. More specifically, plaintiff contends that, on Tuesday (September 2, 2014), three officers came to his cell and told him that he was being terminated from his trustee position and ordered him to pack his belongings because he was being moved to a different cell. The next day, he asked to change cells based on conflicts he was having with his cellmate in the new cell. Plaintiff was removed from the cell and taken into the hall, where he was sprayed with mace, choked, and severely beaten by unnamed officers.

Plaintiff asserts that he then was handcuffed for six hours, taken to the "drunk" tank, and placed in a restraint chair, though he was not being disorderly and was still blinded as a result of having mace sprayed on him. Upon plaintiff's release from the restraint chair, the officers ordered him to sit down to avoid being sprayed with another dose of mace and, when he asked why he was being treated in this fashion, they explained that "they were just doing what they were told to do." Plaintiff sat in the drunk tank, with his nose broken, both wrists lacerated from wearing overly-tight handcuffs, and mace in his eyes, until Friday, September 5th, when he was able to take a shower.

III. Law & Analysis.

A. Deprivation of Vision Care

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