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Matthews v. Terpta

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

January 18, 2017

GEORGE MATTHEWS, Plaintiff,
v.
DR. [F/N/U] TERPTA et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          WAVERLY D. CRENSHAW, JR., UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff George Matthews is a state prisoner incarcerated at the Trousdale Turner Correctional Center (“TTCC”) in Hartsville, Tennessee, although the events about which he complains took place while he was incarcerated at the Bledsoe County Correctional Complex (“BCCX”). Before the court is Plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. No. 3.) In addition, Plaintiff has filed a complaint for civil rights violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and for violation of various state laws against Defendants Dr. [F/N/U] Terpta, a physician; Dr. [F/N/U] Daniels, a dentist; Health Administrator John Doe and Nurse Jane Doe, which 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.

         I. Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a), a prisoner bringing a civil action may be permitted to file suit without prepaying the filing fee of $350 required by 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a). Because Plaintiff properly submitted an in forma pauperis affidavit, and because it appears from his submissions that he lacks sufficient financial resources from which to pay the full filing fee in advance, the application (Doc. No. 3) will be granted.

         Nevertheless, under § 1915(b), Plaintiff remains responsible for paying the full filing fee. The obligation to pay the fee accrues at the time the case is filed, but the PLRA provides prisoner-plaintiffs' the opportunity to make a “down payment” of a partial filing fee and to pay the remainder in installments. Accordingly, Plaintiff will be assessed the full $350 filing fee, to be paid as directed in the order accompanying this memorandum opinion.

         I. Standard of Review

         To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the violation of a right secured by the federal Constitution or laws and must show that the deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Dominguez v. Corr. Med. Servs., 555 F.3d 543, 549 (6th Cir. 2009). 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).

         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 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).

         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) (citations omitted)). 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 (1976)). “Pro se litigants, however, are not exempt from the requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Wells v. Brown, 891 F.2d 591, 594 (6th Cir. 1989). The Court is not required to create a claim for the plaintiff. Clark v. Nat'l Travelers Life Ins. Co., 518 F.2d 1167, 1169 (6th Cir. 1975); see also Brown v. Matauszak, 415 F. App'x 608, 613 (6th Cir. 2011) (“[A] court cannot create a claim which [a plaintiff] has not spelled out in his pleading”) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted); Payne v. Sec'y of Treas., 73 F. App'x 836, 837 (6th Cir. 2003) (affirming sua sponte dismissal of complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2) and stating, “[n]either this court nor the district court is required to create Payne's claim for her”). To demand otherwise would require the “courts to explore exhaustively all potential claims of a pro se plaintiff, [and] would also transform the district court from its legitimate advisory role to the improper role of an advocate seeking out the strongest arguments and most successful strategies for a party.” Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985).

         II. Factual Allegations

         Plaintiff alleges that on August 26, 2015 at approximately 6:20 p.m., he was playing basketball and accidentally got hit in the face by another player's elbow. Later that same day, his face began to swell, so he applied ice. By the 12:30 am on the 27th, Plaintiff began bleeding profusely out of the left side of his nose. Plaintiff saw the nurse, [1] who gave him two Tylenol and sent him back to his housing unit.

         The following morning, after reporting for work in the kitchen, Plaintiff went to see Dr. Terpta. Dr. Terpta took x-rays and told plaintiff there were no broken bones. He advised plaintiff to stay off the basketball court, gave him four Tylenol and sent him back to work. Plaintiff alleges that he was in severe pain and that his nose would frequently bleed profusely. For the next three days plaintiff went to sick call.

         On August 30, 2015, Plaintiff saw a different doctor who took another set of x-rays and, after examining the x-rays, ordered that Plaintiff be taken to the hospital as soon as possible.

         On September 1, 2015, Plaintiff was transported to Nashville General Hospital. When he arrived there no one knew anything about why Plaintiff had been transported to the hospital. The transportation officer called BCCX and, thereafter, Plaintiff was taken to oral surgery where he was treated by Dr. Daniels, who pulled two of his teeth from the left side of his mouth. After surgery, Plaintiff was transported to the special needs facility with no pain medication. The next morning he was transported back to BCCX. From September 1, 2015, the date of his surgery, to September 3, 2015, the Plaintiff was not given any pain medication.

         After the tooth extraction surgery, Plaintiff continued to have pain and bleeding from his nose. Plaintiff submitted more sick call requests and sought pain medication. ...


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