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Bostic v. Biggs

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

March 13, 2015

JAMES E. BOSTIC, Plaintiff,
v.
SHARA BIGGS, MENTAL HEALTH COOPERATIVE, INC., ENSLEY DAWSON, MS. AMBER (l/n/u), and DAVIDSON COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

ALETA A. TRAUGER, District Judge.

On January 20, 2015, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation ("First R&R") that recommends that the Complaint be dismissed as to defendants Davidson County Sheriff's Office ("DCSO") and "Ms. Amber." (Docket No. 25.) The plaintiff timely filed Objections. (Docket No. 28). On February 9, 2015, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation ("Second R&R") that recommends that the Complaint be dismissed in its entirety, under the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995, for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. (Docket No. 29.) The plaintiff timely filed Objections. (Docket No. 38). The plaintiff's Objections contain a request to amend the Complaint. (Id.)

For the following reasons, the court will overrule both Objections in part, sustain both Objections in part, accept and adopt both R&Rs in part, reject both R&Rs in part, allow the plaintiff an opportunity to amend the Complaint, and return this matter to the Magistrate Judge for further proceedings.

When a magistrate judge issues a report and recommendation regarding a dispositive pretrial matter, the district court must review de novo any portion of the report and recommendation to which a specific objection is made. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b); 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C); United States v. Curtis, 237 F.3d 598, 603 (6th Cir. 2001); Massey v. City of Ferndale, 7 F.3d 506, 510 (6th Cir. 1993). Objections must be specific; an objection to the report in general is not sufficient and will result in waiver of further review. See Miller v. Currie, 50 F.3d 373, 380 (6th Cir. 1995). Upon reviewing the objections, the district court may "accept, reject, or modify the recommended disposition; receive further evidence; or return the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions." Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3).

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff James E. Bostic ("Bostic") is an individual who, at all times relevant to this action, has been in the custody of the DCSO. The DCSO is a unit of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County ("Metro Government") that, inter alia, operates Metro Government jails. Defendant Ensley Dawson ("Dawson") is a DCSO Mental Health Coordinator. Defendant Ms. Amber is - to extent the court is able to discern - a DCSO mental health staff person. Defendant Mental Health Cooperative, Inc. ("MHC") is a behavioral health agency serving adults, including those held by the DCSO, with serious mental illness through management, rehabilitation, and recovery. Defendant Shara Biggs ("Biggs") is a social worker employed by MHC.

On February 21, 2014, Bostic filed a Complaint against the defendants in the Circuit Court of Davidson County, Tennessee. (Docket No. 1-1.) The Complaint alleges denial of adequate mental health services while Bostic was in the custody of the DCSO and under the care of the MHC, in violation of the Americans with Disability Act ("ADA") and the 8th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. (Id.) Specifically, Bostic alleges that Biggs told Bostic that he would be given a "mental health assessment recommendation treatment plan" so that, once he was released, "everything would be in place, such as community housing, community case management services, community counseling services and community substance abuse treatment program services." (Docket No. 1-1 at p. 1.) Plaintiff further alleges that Biggs thereafter intentionally failed and refused to assist him or support him and that the DCSO has failed to correct this problem. (Id. at p. 1-2.) Bostic also asserts that MHC is liable for Biggs's acts and omissions. (Id.) The Complaint further alleges that, on December 19, 2013, Dawson sent Bostic a letter stating that she was not going to "help, assist or support" him in obtaining mental health services. (Id. at p. 3.) Finally, Bostic alleges that, on January 15, 2014, Ms. Amber came to see Bostic and told him that she was going to help him and would return but that she never came back. (Id.) Bostic claims that the defendants' failure to arrange mental health services has caused him "emotional, mental, physical pain and suffering." (Id. at pp. 1-6.)

MHC removed the action to this court on April 25, 2014. (Docket No. 1.) The court assigned this matter to the Magistrate Judge for all pretrial matters. (Docket No. 15.) On August 18, 2014, defendants DCSO and Dawson filed a Motion for Frivolity Review and to Stay the Filing of Responsive Pleadings and Suspend All Other Deadlines ("Motion for Frivolity Review"). (Docket No. 19.) In the Motion for Frivolity Review, the DCSO and Dawson asked the court to review Bostic's claims for frivolity pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995, 42 U.S.C. § 1997e et seq. ("PLRA"), and to dismiss any claims that fail to state a cognizable claim for relief. (Id. at p.p. 1-2.) The Motion for Frivolity Review requested, inter alia, determinations as to (1) whether the DCSO was "an entity capable of being sued" for constitutional violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and (2) if so, whether the Complaint states a valid constitutional claim. (Id. at p. 2.)

Bostic filed a Response in opposition to the Motion for Frivolity Review, in which he reiterated the allegations of the Complaint. (Docket No. 21.) Bostic concurrently filed a Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint, in which he requested permission to add "other facts." (Docket No. 22.) No response to his motion was filed. Bostic also concurrently filed a one-sentence "Motion to Dismiss Defendants Ms. Amber and DCSO, " which contained no explanation. (Docket No. 23.) No response was filed to this motion either.

I. The First R&R and Objections

On January 20, 2015, the Magistrate Judge issued the First R&R, which addressed the Motion to Dismiss Defendants Ms. Amber and the DCSO. (Docket No. 25.) Because Bostic had made this filing before any opposing party had served an answer or a motion for summary judgment, the Magistrate Judge (1) construed the Motion as a notice of dismissal of the two defendants under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(1)(A), and (2) found that Bostic should be permitted to dismiss his complaint against Ms. Amber and the DCSO pursuant to Rule 41(a)(1). (Id. at p. 1.)

On February 2, 2015, Bostic filed Objections to the First R&R. (Docket No. 28.) Despite the earlier one-sentence filing concerning dismissing the DCSO from this action, the Objections contain six single-lined pages of pointed argument concerning the importance of keeping the DCSO in the case. Specifically, Bostic contends that the DCSO is deliberately (1) refusing to give him copies of medical records that are necessary to secure appropriate treatment and support services and (2) keeping incorrect medical information in the DCSO's systems to his detriment. (Id. at p. 2.) Bostic claims that he was informed by a drug court official that he was not accepted into certain programs due to the specific actions of the DCSO. (Id. at pp. 2-3.) The remainder of the Objections consists of a reiteration of Bostic's basic allegations that he has not been provided with certain community-based mental health services as promised. (Id. at 3-7.) The Objections state that Bostic has "been threatened, put at serious physical harm, willful abuse, neglect, exploitation, physical abuse, gross negligence, in violation of state and federal law, " but they do not provide any further specific details. (Id. at 6.)

II. The Second R&R and Objections

On February 9, 2015, the Magistrate Judge issued the Second R&R, to address the Motion for Frivolity Review under the PLRA. (Docket No. 29.) While the Motion for Frivolity Review was filed by the DCSO and Dawson, the Magistrate Judge, sua sponte, undertook the review as to Bostic's claims against all defendants. The Magistrate Judge explained that an action in which a prisoner plaintiff challenges conditions of his confinement is subject to an initial review under 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(1), which provides, in pertinent part, that the court shall, on its own motion or on the motion of any party, dismiss any action brought with respect to prison conditions under Section 1983 or any other federal law if the court is satisfied that the action is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. (Id. at p. 2.) The Magistrate Judge noted that the Sixth ...


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