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Douglas v. Beasley

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

March 16, 2017




         On February 7, 2014, Plaintiff Jeffrey G. Douglas (“Douglas”), who is currently an inmate at the Northwest Correctional Complex (“NWCX”) in Tiptonville, Tennessee, filed a pro se complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, accompanied by a motion to proceed in forma pauperis. (ECF Nos. 1 & 2.) On February 10, 2014, this Court ordered Douglas to comply with 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(a)(1)-(2) or pay the civil fling fee. (ECF No. 3.) On March 28, 2014, Douglas filed a second motion to proceed in forma pauperis. (ECF No. 4.) In an order issued March 31, 2014, the Court granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis and assessed the civil filing fee pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(a)-(b). (ECF No. 5) On February 17, 2016, Douglas filed a motion to remove defendants Deborah Beasley and the Lake County Sheriff (ECF No. 75), which the Court granted (ECF No. 87 at 4). Therefore, the Clerk shall record the Defendants as the Tennessee Department of Correction (“TDOC”) and Lori E. Avery.

         I. The Complaint

         Douglas's docket includes over eighty different entries. Many of these additional entries consist of documents clearly intended to be used as evidence for the case or providing Douglas's opinion about the complaint without adding additional factual allegations. Additionally, Douglas adds and removes defendants through various filings. The court will best summarize Douglas's claims to comport with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) and include only those claims against the remaining Defendants.

         Douglas alleges that since being transferred to NWCX he has experienced resistance with the “Legal Aid[e]s” assigned to the library. (ECF No. 1 at 1.) After a legal aide misled Douglas into filing the wrong form and thereby causing a petition to be dismissed, Douglas began preparing his work pro se. (Id. at 1-2.) In mid-2013, Defendant Avery became the correction officer (“C/O”) at the library, working Sundays, Mondays, and half-day Tuesdays. (Id.) Douglas asserts there was an altercation with Avery “in which [he] exnored”[1] (id. at 3); however, Douglas began avoiding the library on days Defendant Avery worked in order to stop the altercations (id.). Douglas contends that on December 29, 2013, after two inmates spoke with him briefly, Defendant Avery told both the other inmates and Douglas that they could not speak with Douglas because he was not a legal aide. (Id.) Douglas finished his legal research, returned to his assigned guild, and contacted internal affairs, who did not respond until Douglas contacted them a second time around January 9, 2014. (Id.) On January 21, 2014, upon returning to the library, Douglas was again approached by another inmate and was again talked to by Defendant Avery who intimated to Douglas that he needed to leave. (Id. at 4.)

         On January 22, 2014, Douglas prepared an affidavit calling for the arrest of Avery for harassment and intimidation under Tennessee law, which was mailed to the Lake County Sheriff's Office and to Defendant Avery on the following day. (ECF No. 1 at 4-5.) On February 3, 2014, Douglas was told to pack his bags and was moved to segregation. (Id.) Douglas contends this was due to a disciplinary report (see ECF No. 7) made by Avery accusing Douglas of attempting to intimidate an employee. (Id. at 5.) Douglas avers that Defendant Avery was retaliating against him because he filed a complaint against her with the Lake County Sheriff's Office. (Id.; see also ECF No. 5-4.)

         Douglas believes that Defendant Avery, Officer J. Avery, and a third individual named Avery at the Lake Sheriff's Office are related, thus causing bias or conflict towards Douglas in this matter. (Id. at 6.)

         Douglas contends that Defendant Avery may be discriminating based on color and holding individuals to different standards to perform or be permitted to attend the library and that Defendant Avery is depriving him of his rights by not allowing him to speak to another person in the library. (Id. at 7.)

         Douglas alleges that on June 17, 2014, he completed four inmate request forms requesting emergency contact with counsel. (ECF No. 29.) As of June 24, 2014, he had not received a response. (Id.)

         Douglas alleges that on March 4, 2014, he went to the library for a job slip, but Defendant Avery denied him access because they had not called “school.”[2] (ECF No. 8 at 2.) He states that per an unsigned notice, inmates were not allowed to come to the library until they called school. (Id.) Douglas contends that Defendant Avery is using different standards for access to the library and continues to retaliate against him for filing the complaint. (Id.) Douglas similarly alleges[3] that on June 30, 2014, Defendant Avery refused him access to the law library and refused to allow him to copy the TDOC policy.[4] (ECF No. 32 at 2.)

         Douglas additionally alleges that around February 2014, Defendant Avery “solicited” him by stating, “If you give me 25 green Dots a month, no one will bother you.” (ECF No. 31 at 2.) Douglas explains that he learned that green dots meant money and that Defendant Avery was allegedly seeking $25 a month for protection from other inmates and staff. (Id. at 2-3.)

         Douglas contends that on November 9, 2015, two outgoing mail envelopes marked “Legal Mail” were returned to Douglas for insufficient postage and both envelopes were opened without Douglas's consent. (ECF No. 66 at 2-3.) Douglas contends that NWCX mail staff is ignoring his mail and have violated federal regulations by opening mail not addressed to them. (Id. at 3-4.) Douglas alleges a similar incident on November 17, 2015, where NWCX mail staff opened legal mail without Douglas's consent. (ECF No. 67.)

         In a “medical affidavit” Douglas seeks the arrest of Amanda Collins, Tommy Hamilton, Michael Parris and Mrs. Springer, employees at NWCX who are not parties to this complaint, for attempted murder for deliberately denying Douglas medical treatment for Douglas's diagnosed kidney failure. (ECF No. 69.)

         Douglas further alleges that on May 25, 2016, Ruth Long and an unidentified Pro-Social Counselor threatened his person with a Class A write-up and reclassification if Douglas refused to take a class he did not ask to take. (ECF No. 79 at 1.) On May 24, 2016, Douglas submitted a sick call for medical stress relief due to the aforementioned threat and bullying. (Id.)

         Douglas alleged that after being threatened and bullied by Long and the Pro-Social Counselor, he was forced into a “Pro-Social” program on May 31, 2016. ECF No. 80 at 1.) Since then, Douglas has requested to see the doctor several times, but has been refused; however, he saw Nurse Amanda Collins on June 2 and June 6, 2016. (Id.) On June 16, 2016, Douglas fell from the top bunk; after which correctional officer Forrest contacted the clinic. (Id.) Douglas relied on medical calling him to be examined, but by 6:00pm, he had not been seen. (Id.) Douglas tried to request an appointment on June 16th but was refused; therefore, Douglas went to sick call on June 17, 2016, and had to pay $3.00. (Id.) The nurse determined Douglas had not broken any bones and placed Douglas on the list to see a doctor, but as of the time of the filing, Douglas had yet to see a doctor. (Id.) Similarly on June 22 and June 24, Douglas placed sick call requests, paid $3.00, was seen by a nurse, but was refused the right to see a doctor. (Id. at 2.) Douglas has filed two grievances due to the denial to see a doctor. (Id.)

         Douglas contends the people in the “Pro Social” program lose their right to go to the library except for Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. (Id.) Douglas also alleges that he is being denied the right to get an education because there are restrictions in the library accommodations as well as the aforementioned restrictions on the days he may go to the library. (Id. at 3.) Douglas finds that the “Pro Social” program is interfering with his health and is trying to brainwash him into believing he has done something wrong and has no social skills even though at the time of his arrest, Douglas had worked for others, had no criminal record, and held both a valid handgun and commercial driver's license. (Id. at 4.) Douglas contends that he was wrongfully placed in the “Pro Social” program as retaliation. (Id.)

         Douglas also alleges that he was denied due process at a disciplinary board hearing where he refused to sign a “rigged” guilty plea and where he was only allowed two witnesses. (ECF No. 81 at 1.) Douglas also reiterates that inmates continue to have difficulty getting library passes. (Id. at 3-4.)

         Douglas seeks the production of documents as well as $25, 000 in punitive damages. (ECF No. 1 at 8; see also ECF 81 at 4.)

         II. Analysis

         A. Screening and Standard

         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 ...

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