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Dunn v. Holloway

United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Western Division

March 13, 2017

JOSHUA DUNN, Plaintiff,
v.
JAMES HOLLOWAY, ET AL., Defendants.

          ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT, CERTIFYING AN APPEAL WOULD NOT BE TAKEN IN GOOD FAITH AND NOTIFYING PLAINTIFF OF APPELLATE FILING FEE

          JAMES D. TODD UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On May 8, 2015, Plaintiff Joshua Dunn (“Dunn”), an inmate at the West Tennessee State Penitentiary (“WTSP”) in Henning, Tennessee, filed a pro se complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 along with a declaration in support of indigency. (ECF Nos. 1 & 2). After Dunn filed the necessary documentation, the Court issued an order on June 5, 2015, granting leave to proceed in forma pauperis and assessing the civil filing fee pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(a)-(b). (ECF No. 6.) The Clerk shall record the Defendants as former WTSP Warden James Holloway; WTSP Classification Coordinator Denys Yeager; WTSP Correctional Officer James Sonderman; WTSP Unit Manger Sharon Rose; and Robert Henry, WTSP Warden over Program Operations.

         I. The Complaint

         The complaint alleges that Dunn was transferred to WTSP on October 14, 2014 to take part in the security management unit program (“SMU”). (ECF No. 1 at 3.) According to Dunn, the purpose of the SMU program is to, “establish separate restricted population housing units that support the management and rehabilitation of close, medium and minimum restricted inmates with those documented disruptive behavior and/or those inmates that reliable intelligence indicates are actively involved in S.T.G. [Security Threat Group] activity within the Tennessee Department of Correction.” (Id.) On December 1, 2014, Defendant Rose received a note from an unknown person threatening Dunn's life. (Id.) Consequently, on December 3, 2014, Dunn was moved to Unit 1 for his safety. (Id. at 4) Several weeks later, on or about January 23, 2015, Dunn was moved to Unit 5, “reason unknown.” (Id.)

         On January 25, 2015, Dunn began receiving threats from other gang members in the same pod with him. (Id.) On January 27, 2015, Dunn's mother began receiving messages threatening Dunn; some of the messages also identified his children by name. (Id.) That same day, Dunn wrote Defendant Sonderman requesting protective custody because his life was in danger and enclosed the threatening notes he had received. (Id.) However, nothing was done. The next day, January 28, 2015, Dunn alleges that he could not take the threats to his life and family any more and decided to end it himself. He was placed on suicide observation under the care of Dr. McSpadden, who is not a party to this complaint. (Id. at 5.) Dunn does not allege that he actually attempted suicide at that time. Dunn states that Dr. McSpadden sent emails to Defendants Holloway and Henry about Dunn's safety, but no action was taken. (Id.)

         On February 11, 2015, after he had been on mental health observation for two weeks, Dunn was sent back to Unit 5 “per [Defendant] Rose all defendants refused to place [Dunn] in protective custody and would not move him from Unit 5.” (Id.) Dunn began receiving threats from other inmates regarding his food as well as threats of assault. (Id.) As a result, he alleges he could not eat. (Id.) Two days later, on February 13, 2015, Dunn alleges he cut his arm because he could no longer take the threats; therefore, he was placed back on suicide watch until February 23, 2015. (Id. at 6.) Dunn contends that he wrote many letters to various Defendants named in this complaint, but nothing was done. (Id.)

         On February 12, 2015, Dunn wrote an emergency grievance about his need for protective custody, but the only response was from Defendant Yeager, who stated that Dunn could not be placed in protective custody. (Id.) No further investigation was conducted. (Id.) Dunn seeks compensatory and punitive damages. (Id. at 9.)

         II. Analysis

         The Court is required to screen prisoner complaints and to dismiss any complaint, or any portion thereof, if the complaint-

(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or
(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b); see also 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         In assessing whether the complaint in this case states a claim on which relief may be granted, the court applies the standards under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), as stated in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-79 (2009), and in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-57 (2007). Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010). “Accepting all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true, the Court ‘consider[s] the factual allegations in [the] complaint to determine if they plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief.'” Williams v. Curtin, 631 F.3d 380, 383 (6th Cir. 2011) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 681) (alteration in original). “[P]leadings that . . . are no more than conclusions . . . are not entitled to the assumption of truth. While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679; see also Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 n.3 (“Rule 8(a)(2) still requires a ‘showing, ' rather than a blanket assertion, of entitlement to relief. Without some factual allegation in the complaint, it is hard to see how a claimant could satisfy the requirement of providing not only ‘fair notice' of the nature of the claim, but also ‘grounds' on which the claim rests.”).

         “A complaint can be frivolous either factually or legally. Any complaint that is legally frivolous would ipso facto fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Hill, 630 F.3d at 470 ...


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