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Sherwood v. Jones

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

November 12, 2014

JASON SHERWOOD, Plaintiff,
v.
f/n/u JONES, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM

JOHN T. NIXON, District Judge.

Plaintiff Jason Sherwood (#388040), an inmate at the Morgan County Correctional Complex (MCCX) in Wartburg, Tennessee, brings this pro se, in forma pauperis action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, seeking compensatory, punitive, and nominal damages against f/n/u Jones, f/n/u Cogswell, f/n/u Sullivan, f/n/u Castell, and Warden f/n/u Chapman in their individual and official capacities. (Doc. No. 6.) At the time of the events set forth in the complaint, all defendants allegedly were employees of the South Central Correctional Facility ("SCCF") in Clifton, Tennessee, where the plaintiff formerly was incarcerated. The plaintiff also has submitted two motions for appointment of counsel. (Doc. Nos. 3, 8.)

I. Standard of Review

Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"), this Court must conduct an initial screening of a prisoner's pro se complaint against a governmental entity or official. The Court must dismiss the complaint sua sponte before service on any defendant if the complaint asserts claims that are frivolous or malicious, fails to state claims upon which relief can be granted, or seeks damages from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A.

The plaintiff brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The statute creates a cause of action against any person who, acting under color of state law, abridges "rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws...." To state a claim under § 1983, the plaintiff must allege and show: (1) that he was deprived of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States; and (2) that the deprivation was caused by a person acting under color of state law. Parratt v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527, 535 (1981) (overruled in part by Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327, 330 (1986)); Flagg Bros. v. Brooks, 436 U.S. 149, 155-56 (1978); Black v. Barberton Citizens Hosp., 134 F.3d 1265, 1267 (6th Cir. 1998). Both parts of this two-part test must be satisfied to support a claim under § 1983. See Christy v. Randlett, 932 F.2d 502, 504 (6th Cir. 1991).

II. Analysis

A. Defendant Casteel must be dismissed.

The plaintiff names f/n/u Castell as a defendant. However, there are no allegations in the complaint connecting Casteel to any wrongdoing. ( See Doc. No. 6 at 1-6.) In fact, Castell is not even mentioned in the body of the complaint. ( Id. ) A plaintiff must allege how each defendant was personally involved in the acts about which the plaintiff complains. Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362, 375 (1976). The plaintiff must "allege with particularity' all material facts to be relied upon when asserting that a governmental official has violated a constitutional right." Terrance v. Northville Reg'l Psychiatric Hosp., 286 F.3d 834, 842 (6th Cir. 2002).

Because the plaintiff's allegations omit how Casteel was personally involved in the acts about which the plaintiff complains, the Court will dismiss the plaintiff's Section 1983 claims against Casteel for failure to state claims upon which relief can be granted.

B. The plaintiff's official capacity claims for monetary damages must be dismissed.

To the extent that the plaintiff seeks monetary damages against any defendant in his or her official capacity, those claims are barred by the Eleventh Amendment. See Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 64, 71 (1989). Thus, those claims must be dismissed.

C. The plaintiff's medical treatment claims must be dismissed.

In the plaintiff's Declaration submitted in support of his complaint, the plaintiff alleges that he did not receive proper medical treatment after the alleged attack by defendants Cogswell and Jones. (Doc. No. 9 at 9.) To establish a violation of his Eighth Amendment constitutional rights resulting from a denial of adequate medical care, the plaintiff must show that the defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976); Brooks v. Celeste, 39 F.3d 125, 127 (6th Cir. 1994). "Deliberate indifference" is the reckless disregard of a substantial risk of serious harm; mere negligence, or even gross negligence, will not suffice. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 835-36 (1994); Williams v. Mehra, 186 F.3d 685, 691 (6th Cir.1999) ( en banc ); Westlake v. Lucas, 537 F.2d 857, 860-61 n. 5 (6th Cir. 1976); see also Estelle, 429 U.S. at 105-06.

A prisoner's difference of opinion regarding diagnosis or treatment does not rise to the level of an Eighth Amendment violation. Estelle, 429 U.S. at 107. Further, where a prisoner has received some medical attention but disputes the adequacy of that treatment, the federal courts are reluctant to second-guess the medical judgments of prison officials and constitutionalize claims that sound in state tort law. Westlake, 537 F.2d at 860 n. 5 (6th Cir. 1976). Finally, to set forth a viable claim for the denial of medical care, the plaintiff ...


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