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Mhoon v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville & Davidson County

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

February 3, 2017

EDGAR MHOON, Plaintiff,
v.
METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT OF NASHVILLE & DAVIDSON COUNTY, TENNESSEE, INDIVIDUALLY AND D/B/A DAVIDSON COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE, SHERIFF AARON HALL, Individually and in his official capacity, CHIEF TONY M. WILKES, Individually and in his official capacity, PATRICK VONGSAMPHANH, Y FIDDLER, KYLE KORT, GREGORY WILLIAMSON, DAVID JONES, RICHARD MIDDLETON, CAYLAN HAWKINS, MICHAEL MCCOY, KEVIN COLE, And JOHN DOES 1 - 8, individually and in their official capacity, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM

          KEVIN H SHARP UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending before the Court in this civil rights lawsuit are Motions to Dismiss filed by three of the individual Defendants. One, filed by Defendant Richard Middleton (Docket No. 82), seeks dismissal on the merits and will be denied. The other two, filed by Defendants Kevin Cole (Docket No. 90) and Michael McCoy (Docket No. 92), seek dismissal on statute of limitations grounds and will be granted.

         I. Background

         In order to place the present arguments in context, only a bit of background is necessary. Drawn from the now-controlling 100-page, 730-paragraph Second Amended Complaint, the relevant factual allegations are as follows.

         Plaintiff was arrested on April 29, 2015, and booked into the Davidson County Male Correctional Development Center (“CDC”) as a pretrial detainee. On August 8, 2015, he was in the common area of the C-pod at CDC having a discussion with his bunkmate about the law.

         Plaintiff asked correctional officer Patrick Vongsamphanh, a Defendant herein, to change the television channel. Apparently disagreeing with what Plaintiff was telling his cell mate, Defendant Vongsamphanh confronted Plaintiff and tried to grab him in an effort to take him to a holding cell. Plaintiff demurred, backed up, sat down in a chair, and asked to speak to the Lieutenant on duty.

         Having none of it, Defendant Vongsamphanh radioed for back up (i.e. called a “Code Red”), yanked Plaintiff out of the chair, and twisted his arm behind his back. Defendant Vongsamphanh then attempted a double-leg takedown, picked Plaintiff up, and slammed him head first into the floor. While Plaintiff was prone, Defendant Vongsamphanh kneed him in the back and handcuffed his hands behind his back.

         The head slam caused Plaintiff to temporarily lose consciousness. When he awoke, Plaintiff was groaning and said that he could not move his extremities. His breathing was labored, he was not moving, and he was lying in a pool of blood.

         Several correctional officers, including Casey Fiddler, David Jones and Gregory Williamson, all Defendants herein, responded to the “Code Red.” Despite seeing Plaintiff's condition and hearing his complaints, those Defendants forced Plaintiff to stand and allowed him to collapse to the floor when his legs gave out. Defendants Fiddler and Jones then dragged Plaintiff into the hallway and pinned him up against the wall.

         Apparently, a nurse also responded to the back-up call, as did Defendant Middleton, who rolled Plaintiff over so that the nurse could finish her examination. When the nurse ordered that Plaintiff be transported to the hospital, Defendants Williamson and Jones, under the supervision and direction of Defendant Kevin Cole, forcibly changed Plaintiff's clothing and placed him in a squad car.

         Defendant Michael McCoy shackled Plaintiff's hands and feet and drove him to Nashville General Hospital. Because Plaintiff was unable to use his arms or legs, Defendant McCoy pulled him out of the car and dragged him into the hospital.

         At the hospital, Plaintiff was stabilized and an ambulance was called to transport him to the Vanderbilt University Medical Center for more emergent care. Plaintiff was placed on a backboard, and a cervical collar was fitted around his neck. Ambulance attendants reported that Plaintiff did not move his arms or legs during the trip to Vanderbilt.

         Once at Vanderbilt, Plaintiff was intubated, a tracheotomy tube was inserted, and he was placed on mechanical ventilation for respiratory failure. Physicians ordered a series of tests and procedures, including a CT scan of the head, cervical spine, chest, abdomen and pelvis, and X-rays of the chest and pelvis. These tests indicated neurologic deficits and a cervical spine injury.

         The day after the incident, Plaintiff underwent an emergency C3-C6 laminectomy and spinal fusion at Vanderbilt. He remained on mechanical ventilation for respiratory failure.

         At some point, he was transferred from Vanderbilt to the Lois M. DeBerry Special Needs Facility, a Tennessee Department of Corrections facility. On November 25, 2015 Plaintiff was transferred to the Spinal Cord Injury Center at the Veteran's Affairs Medical Center (“VA Medical Center”) in Memphis, Tennessee for more aggressive rehabilitation. After a stint in a private rehabilitation facility where Plaintiff's condition deteriorated, he was returned to the VA Medical Center and remains there today.

         Plaintiff claims that as a result of the incident at the CDC he suffered paralysis, chronic neck pain, severe spasticity, insomnia, and tingling in both upper extremities. Suit was filed in this Court on July 8, 2016. The Second Amended Complaint filed some 4½ months later brings a number of federal and state claims against a dozen named Defendants and eight “John Doe” Defendants.

         II. Defendant Middleton's Motion to Dismiss (Docket No. 82)

         Plaintiff sues Defendant Middleton under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for excessive force and deliberate indifference to a serious medical need in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. He also sues that Defendant for assault and ...


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