United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Greeneville
GREER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
civil matter is before the Court on the motion to dismiss by
defendant Georgia Crowell [Doc. 24]. Plaintiff has not filed
a response in opposition to dismissal and the time for doing
so has now passed. E.D. Tenn. L.R. 7.1, 7.2. For the reasons
that follow, the Court will grant defendant's motion to
Factual Background 
April 4, 2013, plaintiff was transported from the Northeast
Correctional Complex (“Northeast”) to the
emergency room at Johnson City Medical Center after
complaining of poor vision in his left eye [Doc. 1 p. 4].
There, he was seen by the emergency room physician, who
diagnosed him with a “slightly detached retina in the
left eye” and recommended follow up with an
ophthalmologist [Id.; Doc. 29 at 1]. The next day,
plaintiff was taken to Johnson City Eye Clinic, where he was
seen by Peter Lumpkin, D.O. [Doc. 29 p. 2]. Dr. Lumpkin noted
a history of retinal detachment, confirmed that
plaintiff's left retina had detached, and recommended
that he be referred to a retinal specialist [Id. at.
2-4]. Following his appointment with Dr. Lumpkin, plaintiff
was transported back to Northeast, where he was offered
infirmary observation until his appointment with a retinal
specialist could be secured [Id. at 5]. Plaintiff
1, 2013, plaintiff was sent to the Tennessee Department of
Correction's special needs facility in Nashville,
Tennessee [Doc. 1 p. 4]. The next day, he was transported to
Nashville General Hospital at Meharry (“Meharry”)
for treatment with a retinal specialist [Id.; Doc.
29 p. 6]. There, the retinal specialist examined
plaintiff's left eye and concluded that surgery was not
warranted due to plaintiff's long-standing history of
retinal detachment and the poor likelihood of restoring his
vision [Doc. 1 p. 4; Doc. 29 p. 6]. The retinal specialist
also discovered “an atrophic hole” near the
retina of plaintiff's right eye [Id. at 6]. In a
preliminary report, the specialist explains that
“[g]iven [plaintiff's] history of retinal
detachment in the left eye . . . [she] recommended laser
treatment of the right eye, which was performed today to
surround the retinal hole” [Id.]. The
preliminary report further stated that plaintiff “can
follow up at the Nashville general eye clinic . . . again on
09/05/2013 at 9:00” [Id.]. This preliminary
report was submitted to Northeast's medical unit, and a
follow up appointment was scheduled [Id. at p. 7].
after his return to Northeast, plaintiff filed an inmate
grievance in which he characterized the “requested
solution” as being “‘immediate'
undelayed [sic] medical attention that has already been
diagnosed by a physician needing surgery in my left
eye” [Doc. 1-1 p. 1]. Similarly, he stated in the body
of his grievance that “[he] filed this grievance hoping
that reconsideration would be made concerning [his]
‘left eye' that surgery would done to restore my
sight in my left eye in which eye specialist gave diagnosis
about [sic]” [Doc. 1-1 p. 3]. Defendant-the health
administrator at Northeast and individual tasked with
responding to the grievance-explained to plaintiff that she
had reviewed his medical records, including the report from
Meharry [Doc. 25-2]. Based on the medical providers'
statements in those records, it was clear that “surgery
is not warranted for the left eye” and that “Mr.
Walker underwent laser surgery on his right eye on [May 17,
2013] for a retinal hole at Nashville General Eye
Clinic” [Id.]. A staff physician with
Northeast reviewed the patient's record and agreed that
“surgery is not war[ra]nted on his left eye at this
with the request made by the eye specialist at Meharry, the
Tennessee Department of Corrections (TDOC) arranged for
plaintiff to be sent back to the special needs facility in
Nashville for a follow-up appointment “regarding laser
eye surgery” [Doc. 29 p. 7]. On August 30, 2013,
however, plaintiff refused a transfer for further treatment
[Id.]. Meanwhile, plaintiff's grievance
continued through the appeals channels in accordance with
TDOC's policies and was subsequently denied by the Deputy
Commissioner of Operations on or about July 25, 2013.
Plaintiff later filed suit on July 7, 2014, alleging that he
had been denied laser treatment on the “retina[l]
hole” in his “right eye” [Doc. 1 pp. 4-5];
plaintiff makes no mention of his left eye in the § 1983
March 10, 2015, it was discovered that despite what was
written in the Plaintiff's medical record at Meharry, he
did not receive laser treatment on his right eye on May 17,
2013 [Compare Doc. 29 at 6, with Doc. 29 at
8]. Instead, an amended record from Meharry revealed that
plaintiff was to return in one month for laser treatment
[Id.]. Upon learning of the discrepancy, another
appointment was arranged [Id. at 9]. On May 7, 2015,
the Plaintiff was transferred to Meharry's eye
clinic-where he received treatment from Talmage Broadbent,
M.D. [Id. at 10-14]. In this visit, plaintiff
reported to Dr. Broadbent that “at one point, he was
told he needed some laser done in the right eye. But he
states that though his medical record indicates that he had
that procedure done, that he has not had any laser in that
eye” [Doc. 29 p. 10]. Although Dr. Broadbent's
evaluation of plaintiff's right eye confirmed the
presence of an atrophic retinal hole, he recommended close
observation and a follow-up appointment [Doc. 29 p. 11]. He
did not recommend surgery.
filed the current § 1983 action in the United States
District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee on July
7, 2014, asserting an Eighth Amendment deliberate
indifference claim against defendant in both her individual
and official capacities based upon the medical treatment that
he received as an inmate at Northeast [Doc. 1]. He seeks
compensatory damages for the alleged injuries in the amount
of $750, 000 [Id.]. Defendant now moves the Court to
dismiss the complaint against her for failure to exhaust
administrative remedies or state a claim [Doc. 24].
Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) sets out a liberal standard,
Smith v. City of Salem, 378 F.3d 566, 576 n.1 (6th
Cir. 2004), requiring only “‘a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief, ' in order to ‘give the [opposing party]
fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon
which it rests, '” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v.
Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). Detailed factual
allegations are not required, but a party's
“obligation to provide the ‘grounds' of his
‘entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels
and conclusions.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
“[A] formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action will not do, ” neither will “‘naked
assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further factual
enhancement[, ]'” nor “an unadorned,
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557).
faced with a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, courts must construe the
complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff,
accept all factual allegations as true, draw all reasonable
inferences in favor of the plaintiff, and determine whether
the complaint contains “enough facts to state a claim
to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570; Directv, Inc. v.
Treesh, 487 F.3d 471, 476 (6th Cir. 2007) (citation
omitted). “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.” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 678. “Determining whether a complaint states a
plausible claim for relief will [ultimately] . . . be a
context-specific task that requires th[is Court] to draw on
its judicial experience and common sense.” Id.
se litigants “are held to less stringent
[pleading] standards than . . . lawyers in the sense that a
pro se complaint will be liberally construed in
determining whether it fails to state a claim upon which
relief could be granted.” Jourdan v. Jabe, 951
F.2d 108, 110 (6th Cir. 1991) (citing Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)); see also Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). Yet, this Court's
“lenient treatment generally accorded to pro
se litigants has limits.” Pilgrim v.
Littlefield, 92 F.3d 413, 416 (6th Cir. 1996).
“Neither [this] Court nor other courts . . . have been
willing to abrogate basic pleading essentials in pro
se suits.” Wells v. Brown, 891 F.2d 591,
594 (6th Cir. 1989). For instance, federal pleading standards
do not permit pro se litigants to proceed on
pleadings that are not readily comprehensible. Cf. Becker
v. Ohio State Legal Servs. Ass'n, 19 F. App'x
321, 322 (6th Cir. 2001) (upholding a dismissal of a pro
se complaint containing “vague and conclusory
allegations unsupported by material facts.”).