United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
A. VARLAN, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Court screened this pro se pretrial detainee's civil
rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and found that
all claims, with one exception, failed to state a claim for
relief [Doc. 3]. The excepted claim asserted due process
violations and involved allegations that Plaintiff had been
charged falsely with a disciplinary offense, had been denied
witnesses at his disciplinary hearing, and had been placed in
punitive segregation for thirty days. In the screening order,
the Court noted that the claim was deficient in certain
respects and invited Plaintiff to correct those deficiencies
by amending his claim.
before the Court is Plaintiff's amended complaint, in
which he maintains that Defendant Hams issued him a false
disciplinary report, based on hearsay, stating that Plaintiff
flooded his cell. Plaintiff further maintains that Defendant
Chapman did not allow Plaintiff to call certain witnesses or
require their presence at the disciplinary hearing. Plaintiff
identifies one witness as an individual named “Johnson,
” whose supposed testimony at the hearing allegedly
would have exonerated Plaintiff from the false charge. The
second witness was Officer Harris, the reporting officer, who
supposedly indicated to Plaintiff that she did not report
“such a thing, ” and the third proposed witness
was Defendant Hams.
these officers been present at the hearing and offered
testimony, so Plaintiff maintains, Plaintiff would have been
able to confront and cross-examine them. Additionally,
Plaintiff maintains that, as a pretrial detainee, he cannot
be punished and that he was punished by means of the thirty
(30) days of punitive segregation he received as result of
the disciplinary hearing on the false charge. The above
events and conduct, so Plaintiff insists, violates his right
to due process of law.
point in the proceedings, and though Plaintiff did not set
forth the date of these incidents as he was advised to do,
the Court cannot say that Plaintiff's amended claim fails
to state an arguable constitutional claim. “Pretrial
detainees, unlike convicts, have a liberty interest in
avoiding punishment-an interest that derives from the
Constitution itself.” Surprenant v. Rivas, 424
F.3d 5, 17 (1st Cir. 2005); see Jacoby v. Baldwin
Cnty., 835 F.3d 1338, 1349-59 (11th Cir. 2016) (finding
that a pretrial detainee is entitled to the procedural
protections enunciated in Wolff v. McDonnell, 418
U.S. 539 (1974), which include an opportunity to call
witnesses and offer evidence); Mitchell v. Dupnik,
75 F.3d 517, 523-25 (9th Cir. 1996) (same). Accordingly, this
claim will be permitted to proceed to service.
also moves the Court to alter or amend its screening order
with respect to his claims for deliberate indifference or for
denial of medical attention against Defendants Unit Manager
Moon, Classification Case Manager Jackson, Case Manager
Santiago, Case Manager Vanhooser, and Mental Health Counselor
Mavden [Doc. 5]. Plaintiff suggests that these claims should
advance because, from September 2015 to December 2015, he
repeatedly requested medical attention from these Defendants
for Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (“PTSD”), that
they refused to get him any kind of medical treatment, and
that the medical attention that he received did not cure the
symptoms he was experiencing [Id. at 1].
screening order, the Court noted that Plaintiff presented no
evidence of the requisite mental state of deliberate
indifference in connection with his medical claims, that he
had been administered medications to treat his symptoms, and
that his claims sounded in medical negligence, which is not a
constitutional wrong [Doc. 3 p. 6]. The Court did not invite
him to amend this claim, finding that absent a showing of
deliberate indifference he failed to state a claim.
in his motion to alter or amend causes the Court to reach a
different conclusion with respect to Plaintiff's medical
claims against these Defendants. It remains that Plaintiff
has not alleged any facts suggesting deliberate indifference,
as the Supreme Court has defined the state-of-mind element of
such a claim. See Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825,
837 (1994) (finding that deliberate indifference is evidenced
where prison officials subjectively are aware of facts from
which they could infer that a prisoner faces a significant
risk of serious harm and where they actually draw that
inference). And it likewise remains that Plaintiff has not
detailed the role each of these five Defendants played in
making any decision with respect to his medical care for
PTSD. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 676 (2009)
(finding that “a plaintiff must plead that each
Government-official defendant, through the official's own
individual actions, has violated the Constitution”).
to the extent that Plaintiff's claim constitutes an
attempt to impose supervisory liability on these Defendants
for a medical provider's alleged wrongdoing, § 1983
liability cannot be predicated on a theory of supervisory
liability. Id. at 676 (“[O]ur precedents
establish . . . that Government officials may not be held
liable for the unconstitutional conduct of their subordinates
under a theory of respondeat superior.”); see also
Taylor v. Mich. Dep't of Corr., 69 F.3d 76, 80-81
(6th Cir. 1995). In addition, Plaintiff's assertions that
he requested but did not obtain medical care from these
Defendants does not save his claim because the law is settled
that a supervisor cannot be held liable for a mere failure to
act. Greene v. Barber, 310 F.3d 889, 899 (6th Cir.
2002) (“Supervisory liability under § 1983 does
not attach when it is premised on a mere failure to act; it
‘must be based on active unconstitutional
behavior.'”) (quoting Bass v. Robinson,
167 F.3d 1041, 1048 (6th Cir. 1999)). Furthermore, “if
any claim of medical indifference . . . is to succeed, it
must be brought against the individual directly responsible
for [Plaintiff's] medical care.” Kulow v.
Nix, 28 F.3d 855, 859 (8th Cir. 1994) (quoting Brown
v. Wallace, 957 F.2d 564, 566 (8th Cir. 1992)).
Plaintiff's motion to alter or amend is DENIED [Doc. 5],
and only the allegations involving Plaintiff's
disciplinary hearing will proceed to service.
the Clerk is DIRECTED to send Plaintiff two service packets
for Defendants Chapman and Hams. Each packet contains a blank
summons and USM 285 form. Plaintiff is ORDERED to complete
the service packets and to return them to the Clerk's
office within twenty-one (21) days of the date on
this Order. Plaintiff is forewarned that failure to return
the completed service packets within the time required could
jeopardize his prosecution of this action.
the completed service packets are received, the summonses
will be signed and sealed by the Clerk and forwarded to the
U.S. Marshal for service upon Defendants. Defendants are
ORDERED to respond to the complaint in the manner and within
the time required by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
is ORDERED to inform the Court of any address change within
fourteen (14) days following such change.
See E.D. Tenn. L.R. 83.13. Plaintiff is further
cautioned that his failure to do so will result in a
dismissal of this action for failure to prosecute.
the exception of Plaintiff's claim of due process
violations in connection with his disciplinary offense,
disciplinary hearing, and resulting segregation, all
remaining claims are DISMISSED from this action for failure
to state a claim. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6). In ...