United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Columbia Division
MICHAEL D. ROBINSON, Plaintiff,
SEAN BRANTLEY, et al, Defendants.
William J. Haynes, Jr. Senior United States District Judge
Michael D. Robinson, an inmate at South Central Correctional
Facility ("SCCF") in Clifton, Tennessee, filed
this; pro se action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
against Defendants: Sean Brantley, Kelly Garska, Corrections
Corporation of America ("CCA"), Warden Cherry
Lindamood, and Jason Woodall for alleged violations of
Plaintiff s civil rights. (Docket Entry No. 1). Plaintiff
seeks compensatory and punitive damages, reprimands of the
Defendants, letters of apology, and termination of the Warden
and Defendants Brantley and Garska. Id. at 20-22.
to his complaint, on June 22, 2016, Defendant Sean Brantley,
an SCCF corrections officer, physically assaulted Plaintiff
by throwing Plaintiff, who was handcuffed, against a wall
outside of Plaintiff s cell and then shoving Plaintiff onto
the floor of Plaintiff s cell, causing Plaintiffs elbow and
wrist to bleed. (Docket Entry No. 1 at 7, 9-10). Plaintiff
also alleges that the assault exacerbated a pre-existing
injury to his stomach from a stabbing and that as a result he
suffered "such great pain, [he] had to [lie] in bed the
remainder of the next 2 days." Id. at 7, 10.
Plaintiff alleges that Defendant corrections officer Kelly
Garska slammed the cell door in his face and denied Plaintiff
any medical attention for his pain and injuries for two days
following the assault. Mat 7, 9-10, 13-14.
further alleges that Defendants Lindamood, CCA, and Woodall
failed to respond to Plaintiffs grievances or in the way
Plaintiff desired. Id. at 8.
s complaint is 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. Under the PLRA, courts are
required to screen complaints filed by prisoners and dismiss
those complaints that are frivolous, malicious, or fail to
state claims upon which relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915 A(b).
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 those statutes
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).
[ 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, 561F.3d 478, 488 (6th Cir. 2009)
(citing Gunasekera v. Irwin, 551 F.3d 461, 466 (6th
Cir. 2009) (citations omitted)). Pro se pleadings
are to be held to a less stringent standard than formal
pleadings drafted by lawyers, Haines v. Werner, 404
U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972); Jourdan v. Jabe, 951
F.2dl08, 110 (6th Cir. 1991).
state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege
plausible facts of a deprivation of a j i
right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United
States by a person acting under color of state law. Tahfs
v. Proctor, 316 F.3d 584, 590 (6th Cir.
2003); 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
claims against CCA, Lindamood and Woodall are premised on
Defendants' response, or lack of response, to Plaintiffs
grievances and/or complaints. A plaintiff cannot base a
§ 1983 claim on allegations that an institution's
grievance procedure was inadequate and/or unresponsive
because there is not an inherent constitutional right to an
effective jail grievance procedure. Antonelli v.
Sheahan, 81 F.3d 1422, 1430 (7th Cir. 1996);
Adams v. Rice, 40 F.3d 72, 75 (4th Cir.
1994); Flick v. Alba, 932 F.2d 728, 729
(8th Cir. 1991). "The mere denial of a
prisoner's grievance states no claim of constitutional
dimension." Alder v. Corr. Med. Servs., 73
F.App'x 839, 841 (6th Cir. 2003); Tee v. Mich. Parole
Bd.. 104 F.App'x 490, 493 (6th Cir.2004)
("Section 1983 liability may not be imposed simply
because a defendant denied an administrative grievance or
failed to act based upon information contained in a
grievance."); Simpson v. Overton, 79
F.App'x 117, 120 (6th Cir.2003) ("[T]he denial of an
appeal cannot in itself constitute sufficient personal
involvement to state a claim for a constitutional
a prisoner does not have a constitutional right to an
effective or responsive grievance procedure, Plaintiffs
claims based on any Defendant's failure to respond to
Plaintiffs grievances do not state a claim upon which relief
can be granted. These claims against CCA, Lindamood and
Woodall should be dismissed.
Plaintiffs claim for denial of medical care, the Eighth
Amendment "imposes duties on [prison] officials, who
must provide humane conditions of confinement; prison
officials must ensure that inmates receive adequate food,
clothing, shelter, and medical care, and must 'take
reasonable measures to guarantee the safety of the
inmates.'" Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825,
832 (1994)(collecting cases); Grubbs v. Bradly 552
F.Supp.1052, 1119-1124 (M.D.Tenn. 1982). The failure to
provide such necessities is a violation of an inmate's
right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment.
Bellamy v. Bradley, 729 F.2d 416 (6th
Cir. 1984). Thus, the Court concludes that Plaintiffs
complaint states a colorable Eighth Amendment claim based on
the allegation that Defendant Garska refused to permit any
medical treatment for Plaintiffs pain and injuries he
allegedly sustained as a result of the June 22, 2016
incident. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. This claim against
Defendant Garska in her individual capacity shall proceed for
further factual development.
the complaint, Plaintiff appears to be a prisoner, not a
pre-trial detainee, at the time of the alleged assault by
Defendants Brantley and Garska. The legal status of an
alleged victim of excessive force is significant because the
conduct of the offending officer must be analyzed under the
standard appropriate to the applicable constitutional
provision. See Coleyv. Lucas County, Ohio, 799 F.3d
530, 538 (6th Cir. 2015) ("The Supreme Court
has recently clarified... that when assessing pretrial
detainees' excessive force claims we must inquire into
whether the plaintiff shows 'that the force purposefully
or knowingly used against him was objectively unreasonable.
'")(quoting Kingsley v. Hendrickson,
__U.S.__, __135 S.Ct. 2466, 2473 (2015)).
the Eighth Amendment that applies to convicted prisoners, an
officer's conduct will be found to amount to cruel and
unusual punishment "when the 'offending conduct
reflects an unnecessary and wanton infliction of
pain.'" Cordell v. McKinney, 759 F.3d 573,
580 (6th Cir. 2014)(quoting Williams v.
Curtin, 631 F.3d 380, 383 (6th Cir. 2011)).
An Eighth Amendment excessive force claim has both a
subjective and objective component. Griffin v.
Hardrick, 604 F.3d 949, 953-54 (6th Cir. 2010). For the
subjective component to be met, the issue is
'"whether force was applied in a good faith effort
to maintain or restore discipline or maliciously and
sadistically for the very purpose of causing harm.'"
Williams v. Curtin, 631 F.3d 380, 383 (6th Cir.
2011) (quoting Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 6
(1992)); see also Wilkins v. Gaddy, 559 U.S. 34, 37
(2010). Considerations relevant to this inquiry is
'"the need for the application of force, the
relationship between the need and the amount of force that
was used, and the extent of injury inflicted.'"
Williams, 631 F.3d at 383 (quoting Whitley v.
Albers, 475 U.S. 312, 321 (1986)). Courts may also
consider "such factors as the extent of the threat to
the safety of staff and inmates, as reasonably perceived by
the responsible officials on the basis of the facts known to
them, and any efforts made to temper the severity of a
forceful response." Whitley, 475 U.S. at 321.
"The absence of serious injury is ... relevant to the
Eighth Amendment inquiry, but does not end it."
Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 7(1992).
objective component, the Court considers whether the pain
inflicted was "sufficiently serious."
Williams, 631 F.3d at 383 (citing Wilson v.
Setter,501 U.S. 294, 298 (1991)). For the objective
component, the force must be to maliciously and sadistically
cause harm regardless if significant injury is evident.
Williams, 631 F.3d at 383 (citing Hudson,
503 U.S. at 9); see also Wilkins, 559 U.S. at 37.
"While the extent of a prisoner's injury may help
determine the amount of force used by the prison official, it
is not dispositive of ...