United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Columbia Division
WILLIAM J. HAYNES JR., United States District Judge.
Joshua Neal Sharp, an inmate at the Maury County Jail in
Columbia, Tennessee, filed this pro se action under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 against the Defendants: Debra Wagonshutz, Maury
County Jail, Maury County Jail Medical Staff, Bucky Rowland,
Tracie Carter, and Maury County Jail nurses named Amy and
Cassie, last names unknown. (Docket Entry No. 1). Plaintiff
asserts claims for deliberate indifference to his serious
medical needs. Before the Court is Plaintiffs application to
proceed in forma pauperis. (Docket Entry No. 2).
Plaintiffs complaint (Docket Entry No. 1) is also before the
Court for an initial review pursuant to the Prison Litigation
Reform Act ("PLRA"), 28 U.S.C. §§
1915(e)(2) and 1915A, and 42 U.S.C. § 1997e.
to his complaint, in June 2016, Plaintiff twice requested
mental health attention but was told both times that he was
"put on the list" to be seen. (Docket Entry No. 1,
Complaint, at 7). Plaintiff, however, did not receive any
medical attention. Id. On July 2, 2016, Plaintiff
alleges that he attempted suicide by swallowing a razor
blade. Id. Plaintiff alleges that he was taken to an
emergency room outside the hospital, and underwent surgery to
remove the razor blade. Id. Plaintiff alleges that
upon regaining consciousness he was returned to Maury County
Jail and placed in an observation cell where he remained for
27 days without receiving any mental health treatment.
Id. On July 27, 2016, Plaintiff alleges that he was
returned to maximum custody. Id. As of August 18,
2016, Plaintiff alleges that despite submitting multiple
requests and grievances, Plaintiff had still not received any
mental health treatment. Id. at 7-8.
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), the Court must conduct an
initial review of any complaint filed in forma
pauperis, and dismiss the complaint if the complaint is
facially frivolous or malicious, if it fails to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted, or if it seeks monetary
relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. In
reviewing the complaint to determine whether it states a
plausible claim, "a district court must (1) view the
complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and
(2) take all well-pleaded factual allegations as true."
Tackett v. M & G Polymers, USA, LLC. 561 F.3d
478, 488 (6th Cir. 2009) (citing Gunasekera v.
Irwin. 551 F.3d 461, 466 (6th Cir. 2009)). A pro se
pleading must be liberally construed and "held to less
stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers." Erickson v. Pardus. 551 U.S. 89, 94
(2007) (citing Estelle v. Gamble. 429 U.S. 97, 106
state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Plaintiff
"must set forth facts that, when construed favorably,
establish (1) the deprivation of a right secured by the
Constitution or laws of the United States (2) caused by a
person acting under the color of state law." Burley
v. Gagacki, 729 F.3d 610, 619 (6th Cir. 2013).
Defendant Mauiy County Jail, a j ail is not a
"person" subj ect to an action under §1983.
See Watson v. Gill. 40 F.App'x 88, 89 (6th Cir.
2002); Travis v. Clinton Cntv. Jail. No.
1:10-cv-1276, 2011 WL 447000, at *2 (W.D. Mich. Feb. 4, 2011)
("The jail is a building, not an entity capable of being
sued in its own right."). As to Defendants Rowland and
Wagonschutz, Plaintiff does not allege their personal
involvement in his lack of mental health treatment at the
jail. Supervisory capacity does not make a defendant liable
for an employee's actions under §1983. Polk
County v. Dodson, 454 U.S. 312, 325 (1981) (requiring
personal involvement in violation for liability under §
1983). The Sixth Circuit has explained that liability under
§ 1983 "must be based on more than respondeat
superior, or the right to control employees. Thus, a
supervisory official's failure to supervise, control or
train the offending individual is not actionable unless the
supervisor 'either encouraged the specific incident of
misconduct or in some other way directly participated in
it.'" Shehee v. Luttrell 199 F.3d 295, 300
(6th Cir. 1999) (quoting Havs v. Jefferson County,
Kv.. 668 F.2d 869, 874 (6th Cir. 1982)). Plaintiff has
not alleged such participation by Rowland or Wagonschutz and
therefore fails to state a claim against them.
a pretrial detainee, has the right under the Fourteenth
Amendment to adequate medical care. Miller v. Calhoun
County. 408 F.3d 803, 812 (6th Cir. 2005). Deliberate
indifference to a prisoner's serious medical needs
"constitutes the 'unnecessary and wanton infliction
of pain'" to violate the Eighth
Amendment. Estelle. 429 U.S. at 104 (quoting
Gregg v. Georgia. 428 U.S. 153, 173 (1976)).
"An inmate's 'psychological needs may constitute
serious medical needs, especially when they result in
suicidal tendencies.'" Grabowv, Cnty. of
Macomb, 580 F.App'x 300, 307 (6th Cir. 2014)
(quoting Comstock v. McCrarv. 273 F.3d 693, 703 (6th
Cir. 2001)). A claim for failure to address a serious medical
needs has objective and subjective requirements. McCarthy
v. Place. 313 F.App'x 810, 813 (6th Cir. 2008)
(citing Farmer v. Brennan. 511 U.S. 825, 833
(1994)). Here, Plaintiffs allegations about his mental
condition are sufficient to satisfy the objective element of
a serious medical condition.
the subjective component, deliberate indifference
"entails something more than mere negligence, " but
can be "satisfied by something less than acts or
omissions for the very purpose of causing harm or with
knowledge that harm will result." Farmer, 511
U.S. at 835. This standard requires proof that the defendant
knew that the inmate faced a substantial risk of serious harm
and disregarded that risk by failing to take reasonable
measures to abate it; "the official must both be aware
of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a
substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he must also
draw the inference." Id. at 834, 837.
Plaintiffs allegations of his multiple written and verbal
requests for mental health attention, and his actual suicide
attempt requiring surgery and hospitalization are sufficient
to satisfy the subj ective element of his claim. The Court
concludes that Plaintiff has therefore stated a colorable
claim for deliberate indifference against the named medical
staff: Tracie Carter, Nurse Amy, and Nurse Cassie.
appropriate Order is filed herewith.
The Supreme Court's recent decision
that pretrial detainees have a lower burden than convicted
prisoners in excessive force cases, Kingsley v.
Hendrickson, 135 S.Ct. 2466, 2472-73 (2015), has not
been held to apply to deliberate indifference cases. But
see Johnson v. Clafton, No. 13-14922, 2015 WL 5729080,
at *4 (E.D. Mich. Sept. 30, 2015) (collecting cases and
stating that "[a]fter Kingsley, it is unclear
whether courts should continue to use the Eighth
Amendment's deliberate-indifference standard ...