United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
Honorable Aleta A. Trauger, District Judge.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
BARBARA D. HOLMES United States Magistrate Judge.
Order entered June 16, 2016 (Docket Entry No. 5), this
prisoner civil rights action was referred to the Magistrate
Judge for pretrial proceedings under 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1)(A) and (B) and Rule 72(b) of the Federal Rules of
before the Court are the motion to dismiss (Docket Entry No.
20) filed by Defendant Southern Health Partners, Inc., and
the motion for summary judgment (Docket Entry No. 37) filed
by Defendants David Darnell, Rondia Felts, and Jerome Holt.
For the reasons set out below, the undersigned Magistrate
Judge respectfully recommends that the motions be GRANTED and
this action be DISMISSED.
Kelly (“Plaintiff”) filed this lawsuit pro
se on April 25, 2016, in the Chancery Court for Davidson
County, Tennessee. On June 15, 2016, Southern Health
Partners, Inc. (“SHP”), one of the defendants,
removed the lawsuit to this Court under 28 U.S.C. §
1441, asserting that Plaintiff raises a federal question.
filed his lawsuit while an inmate in the Dickson County Jail
in Charlotte, Tennessee, where he appears to still be
confined. He alleges that his medical needs have not been
properly treated at the Jail in violation of both his federal
constitutional rights and state law. See Complaint
(Docket Entry No. 1-1). Specifically, he alleges that, during
the time period of September 29, 2015, to October 1, 2015 he
received inadequate treatment from the medical staff for a
painful bump and swelling on his chin and that he was not
transported to a hospital or given pain medication after he
became dizzy, fell, and hit his head. See Complaint
at 3, and Amended Complaint (Docket Entry No. 16). He also
attaches to his Complaint grievance forms from the Jail that
pertain to alleged inadequate treatment for two hernias he
complained about in October 2014. See Complaint at
the Court's review of the complaint under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A and 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c), the Court
dismissed claims against Dickson County Sheriff Jeff Bledsoe
and Dickson County Mayor Bob Rial but permitted the action to
proceed against SHP and Jail employees Sgt. David Darnell
(“Darnell”), Cpt. Rondia Felts
(“Felts”),  Chief Jerome Holt (“Holt”).
See Order entered September 12, 2016 (Docket Entry
No. 32). Defendants Darnell, Felts, and Holt filed a joint
answer, see Docket Entry No. 17, and the Court
entered a scheduling order providing deadlines for pretrial
activity in the action. See Docket Entry No. 23. In
response to a directive from the Court, Plaintiff filed
additional factual allegations expounding upon the
allegations set out in his pleadings. See Response
to Order (Docket Entry No. 35).
SHP moves to dismiss the claims against it under Rule
12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. SHP, which
has contracted to provide medical services to inmates at the
Jail, argues that Plaintiff's pleadings fail to support a
claim under Section 1983 because there are no factual
allegations showing that a policy or custom of SHP was the
cause of any of the alleged inadequate health care about
which Plaintiff complains. See Memorandum in Support
(Docket Entry No. 21). SHP further argues that, to the extent
that Plaintiff's pleadings can be construed to allege a
state law claim for medical malpractice, he has not shown his
compliance with the mandatory procedural requirements of the
Tennessee Health Care Liability Act. Id.
response, Plaintiff asserts that the Jail officials have a
duty to provide him with adequate medical care, and he argues
the merits of his claims that he was denied adequate medical
care, contending that he has met both the standards for a
constitutional claim and a negligence claim. See
Response (Docket Entry No. 31). He further contends that
Defendant SHP “failed to oversee the people who caused
the wrong, such as by hiring unqualified people Nurse Kim and
Nurse Carla or failing to adequately train the staff.”
Id. at 7.
SHP replies that nothing contained in Plaintiff's
response shows that he has a claim that withstands the motion
to dismiss. See Docket Entry No. 36. SHP further
argues that Plaintiff's response actually shows that his
claim against SHP is based upon a theory of respondeat
superior liability for the conduct of SHP's
employees, which is a theory that does not support a
constitutional claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Darnell, Felts, and Holt (hereafter referred to collectively
as “Defendants”) seek summary judgment under Rule
56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. They contend that
the undisputed facts show that the medical issues presented
by Plaintiff to the staff at the Jail amounted to relatively
minor medical issues, for which Plaintiff was nonetheless
provided with appropriate care, and that there is no evidence
supporting a claim that any Defendant acted with deliberate
indifference to Plaintiff's serious medical needs.
See Memorandum in Support (Docket Entry No. 38) at
5-11 and 12-15. Defendants further raise the defense of
qualified immunity to any damage liability. Id. at
15-18. To the extent that Defendants have been sued in their
official capacities, they argue that Plaintiff has not set
forth any evidence supporting such a claim, which is
essentially a municipal liability claim against the Dickson
County municipal government. Id. at 11-12.
Defendants support their motion with a Statement of
Undisputed Material Facts (Docket Entry No. 39) and with the
affidavits of Defendant Darnell (Docket Entry No. 40-1),
Defendant Felts (Docket Entry No. 40-2), Nurse Kim Judy
(Docket Entry No. 40-3), and Deputy Jacob Dotson (Docket
Entry No. 40-4).
Plaintiff's response to the motion for summary judgment
was not timely filed, the Court shall nonetheless consider
In his response, Plaintiff disputes Defendants'
contention that his medical needs were not serious, asserting
that his face was extremely swollen, that he was in pain, and
that his dizziness caused him to fall and still persists.
See Docket Entry No. 45. He argues that he should
have been taken to the hospital for an examination after his
fall to ensure that he did not suffer other injuries.
Id. He also asserts that Defendants' supporting
affidavits are made in bad faith because of this lawsuit and
because Defendants refuse to admit their wrongdoing.
Id. at 4. Plaintiff contends that Defendant Felts