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Hughes v. Rogersville City Police Dep't

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

November 6, 2014

MARTIN ELLISON HUGHES, Plaintiff,
v.
ROGERSVILLE CITY POLICE DEP'T; JOEY MADDOX; CHARLES GIBSON; HAWKINS COUNTY CORR. FACILITY; RONNIE LAWSON, Sheriff; TONY ALLEN, Chief Deputy; LT. GALLION, Chief Jailer; SOUTHERN HEALTH PARTNERS; BRITNEY L/N/U; BRIAN L/N/U; DR. MATHEWS; INV. RENTAL PROPERTIES; GLEN COURTNEY, Sr. Owner; DONNA CHRISTIAN, Sec'y; BUDDY BAIRD, Att'y at Law; PAT JOHNSON, Det.; JIM SHANKS, Det.; and CHRIS FUNK, Officer; Defendants.

MEMORANDUM and ORDER

J. RONNIE GREER, District Judge.

Acting pro se, Martin Ellison Hughes, a pretrial detainee, has submitted this civil rights complaint for injunctive, equitable, and monetary relief and three amended complaints under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, [Docs. 1, 10-11, and 20]. Plaintiff has paid the civil filing fee of four hundred dollars ($400) and therefore, his application to proceed without prepayment of fees, [Doc. 2], is DENIED as MOOT. Because Plaintiff has paid the filing fee, the screening procedures in 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), which apply to prisoners who are proceeding in forma pauperis, do not apply to him. Benson v. O'Brian, 179 F.3d 1014 (6th Cir. 1999).

However, the screening provisions in 28 U.S.C. § 1915A that authorize the dismissal of fee-paid prisoner complaints seeking relief from a governmental entity, officer, or employee do apply in this case. Hyland v. Clinton, 3 F.Appx. 478, 479, 2001 WL 128340, at *1 (6th Cir. Feb. 7, 2001). Dismissal under these provisions is appropriate where the allegations in the complaint are frivolous, malicious, or fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

In screening these complaints, 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). Still, the complaint must be sufficient "to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face, " Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007), which simply means the factual content pled by a plaintiff must permit a court "to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). The Court examines the complaint in light of those requirements.

II. Plaintiff's Allegations

In his complaint, Plaintiff has sued the Rogersville City Police Department and two police officers who arrested him, namely Joey Maddox and Charles Gibson, claiming that, following a fracas at his apartment building between Plaintiff and numerous individuals, he was the only person taken to jail, while those other equally or more culpable "victims" remained at liberty.

In his first amended pleading, [Doc. 10], Plaintiff adds, as Defendants, the Hawkins County Correctional Facility, Sheriff Ronnie Lawson, Chief Deputy Tony Allen, and Chief Jailer Lt. Gallion, asserting that they have engaged in medically negligent conduct and, in violation of state statutes, misconduct and official oppression. Moreover, Plaintiff maintains that the Rogersville Police Department will not conduct a proper investigation into the criminal case against him nor into the burglary and looting of his apartment.

Other Defendants added in the first amended pleading are the Southern Health Partners, an entity which provides medical care to prisoners at the jail, and Dr. Matthews, who is the Southern Health Partners' "on site" physician. Though Plaintiff has shown the authorities his personal medical records, including x-rays and several doctors' reports, which purport to prove that metal fragments are loose in his right leg and knee from a prior surgery, Dr. Matthews informed Plaintiff that Sheriff Lawson "would never approve any surgery or costly medical help" for him.

The final Defendants added in the first amended complaint are Investment Rental Properties (the "Company"), which operates the apartment building where the altercation occurred and where Plaintiff was arrested; the owner of the Company, Glen Courtney, Sr.; and the Company's secretary, Donna Christian. Plaintiff's theory of liability for these three Defendants are that the on-site security officer (who also was a tenant in the apartment building) did not respond when Plaintiff was being attacked and that the Defendants did not secure Plaintiff's residence after he was arrested, which allowed his apartment to be burglarized and ten thousand dollars ($10, 000) worth of property stolen.

In the second amended complaint, still other Defendants are named, [Doc. 11]. Buddy Baird, who was Plaintiff's attorney in the pending state criminal case, is added as a Defendant because, according to Plaintiff, he advised Plaintiff to waive a preliminary hearing and because, after Plaintiff signed the waiver, Attorney Baird left the courtroom and Plaintiff was held without bond. Furthermore, Defendant Baird also labored under a conflict of interest because he lived in housing operated by the Company. Britney and Brian, whose last names are unavailable to Plaintiff, have also been named as Defendants, though no allegations of fact have been offered to show any constitutional wrongdoing on their parts.

In the third amended complaint, Plaintiff adds as Defendants Pat Johnson and Jim Shanks, both detectives with the Rogersville Police Department, and another Rogersville police officer, Chris Funk. These Defendants, according to the pleading, were involved in Plaintiff's unlawful arrest and failed to conduct a proper investigation into the circumstances leading to his arrest. It is also claimed that these Defendants refused to allow Plaintiff to report the burglary of his apartment on the night of his arrest. It is further claimed that Plaintiff has been moved from pod to pod in the jail, locked down 23 hours a day in maximum security, housed in a cell without running hot water or a functioning air system, and subjected to physical threats and violence in the jail environment.

For the alleged violations of his rights, Plaintiff seeks the dismissal of all state criminal charges lodged against him, the initiation of criminal charges against the true culprits in the altercation at Plaintiff's apartment building, a retraction of the slanderous article in the newspaper report of the incident, a formal apology from the arresting officers, and compensation for loss of time with his family and the embarrassment caused by the untoward actions taken against him.

III. Discussion

A. Review under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

The Court must now review the complaint, under § 1915A, as to Defendants Rogersville City Police Department, Rogersville Police Officers Joey Maddox, Charles Gibson, Pat Johnson, Jim Shanks, and Chris Funk, Hawkins County Sheriff Ronnie Lawson, Chief Deputy Tony Allen, and Chief Jailer Lt. Gallion to determine whether ...


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