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Lynn v. Melton

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

January 28, 2015

TIMMY LYNN, Plaintiff,
v.
W.B. MELTON, SHANNON HARVEY, STEVE HOPPER, BETH DAVIS, JOHN GARRETT, ERIN BULLARD, and SHAWN SIDWELL, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

KEVIN H. SHARP, Chief District Judge.

Plaintiff Timmy Lynn, an inmate confined at the Robertson County Detention Center in Springfield, Tennessee, has filed this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants W.B. Melton, Shannon Harvey, John Garrett, and Erin Bullard based on allegations of violations of his civil rights when he was housed at the Overton County Justice Center; against Defendants Steve Hopper and Beth Davis based on events that occurred when the plaintiff was incarcerated at the Smith County Detention Center; and against Shawn Sidwell, the plaintiff's former defense attorney. The complaint (ECF No. 1) is before the Court for an initial review pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA").

I. Standard of Review

Under the PLRA, the Court must conduct an initial review of any civil complaint brought by a prisoner if it is filed in forma pauperis, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), seeks relief from government entities or officials, 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, or challenges the prisoner's conditions of confinement, 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c). Upon conducting this review, the Court must dismiss the complaint, or any portion thereof, that fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, is frivolous, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A; 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c). The Sixth Circuit has confirmed that the dismissal standard articulated by the Supreme Court in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), and Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), "governs dismissals for failure to state a claim under [the PLRA] because the relevant statutory language tracks the language in Rule 12(b)(6)." Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010). Thus, to survive scrutiny on initial review, "a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). In conducting the initial review, the Court must read the plaintiff's pro se complaint indulgently, see Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), and accept the plaintiff's allegations as true unless they are clearly irrational or wholly incredible. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 33 (1992).

II. Factual Allegations

The plaintiff brings claims based on four separate events:

Event #1

The plaintiff alleges that he was assaulted by another inmate, Gee, at the Overton County Detention Center on July 28, 2014 while the plaintiff was on protective-custody status. He alleges that the assault resulted from the deliberate and knowing acts of one correctional officer, "C/O Gary, " who intentionally left a cell door open to permit Gee into the area where the plaintiff was. The plaintiff does not sue C/O Gary, however. Instead, he sues defendants W.B. Melton, Overton County Sheriff at the time the event occurred, and Shannon Harvey, Overton County Jail Administrator at the time. Although the plaintiff does not say so directly, it appears from the complaint that he sues defendants John Garrett and Erin Bullard on the basis that they are the current Overton County Sheriff and Jail Administrator, respectively.

Event #2

On January 28, 2014, when the plaintiff was at the Smith County Detention Center, he was assaulted by his cellmate, Jonathon Woods, despite the fact that the plaintiff and Woods had filed grievances and made several written and verbal requests that they be separated based on their inability to "get along." (ECF No. 1, at 8.) The requests were denied. Woods eventually assaulted the plaintiff "due to their differences" ( id. ), injuring him badly enough that he was admitted to the Emergency Room in Cookeville, Tennessee. The plaintiff alleges that defendants Steve Hopper was Smith County Sheriff and Beth Davis was the Smith County Jail Administrator when the assault occurred.

Event #3

In September 2013 and August 2014, the plaintiff was represented in his criminal cases by attorney Shawn Sidwell of Overton County. The plaintiff alleges that Sidwell "knowingly and intentionally violated [the plaintiff's] civil and constitutional rights, " and that Sidwell's "improper treatment, misrepresentation, and negligence" affected the plaintiff's cases and his safety. (ECF No. 1, at 9.)

Event #4

The plaintiff alleges that on September 3, 2014, while he was incarcerated at the Overton County Detention Center, he was treated with excessive force by shift Sgt. Donnie Alred, who used pepper spray on the plaintiff and struck him repeatedly event though the plaintiff was handcuffed and subdued. Other correctional officers physically removed Sgt. Alred from the area so that the plaintiff's handcuffs ...


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