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Glover v. Corrections Corporation of America

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

March 16, 2017

ERIC D. GLOVER, Plaintiff,



         On April 14, 2016, Plaintiff Eric D. Glover (“Glover”), who is currently incarcerated at the Hardeman County Correctional Facility (“HCCF”) in Whiteville, 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.) 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 May 3, 2016, Glover filed an amended complaint intended to supplement rather than supersede the original complaint. (ECF No. 7.) On June 8, 2016, Glover filed a motion to file a second amended complaint. (ECF No. 13.) Because that amended complaint details a separate incident, at a separate time, against different defendants from the original complaint, the motion to file an amended complaint is DENIED pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) because the claim would not be properly joined.[1] On September 2, 2016, Glover filed a second motion to file an amended complaint identifying the “John Doe” intake doctor named as a Defendant in the original complaint as Dr. Bernard Dietz. (ECF No. 16.) That second motion to file an amended complaint is GRANTED. The Clerk shall record the Defendants as Corrections Corporation of America (“CCA”), HCCF Warden Grady Perry, HCCF Nurse Practitioner Ollie Herron, Health Services Administrator (“HAS”) Alicia Cox, HSA J. Miller, and Intake Physician Bernard Dietz.[2] The Defendants are sued in their individual and official capacities.

         I. The Amended Complaint

         Glover alleges that he arrived at HCCF from Bledsoe County Correctional Complex (“BCCX”) on July 7, 2014, after receiving his initial administrative and medical classification. (ECF No. 7 at 3, ¶ 1.) Glover alleges he has had a medical designation of Class B since 2007, [3] stating that he has been diagnosed with several ailments including: spinal stenosis, post-traumatic stress disorder, high level anxiety depression, scar tissue in left and right groin area due to hernia surgeries, a history of hematoma in the middle of his head, and several fractures in his right hand causing his right hand to be permanently deformed. ( 4, ¶¶ 7-10.)

         Glover contends that when Defendant Dietz[4] was giving him a medical re-classification from BCCX, Glover tried to explain to Defendant Dietz that BCCX made a mistake with his original medical classification, but he did not press the issue at that time because he knew he was going to be at BCCX for a limited time and because he had been assigned a bottom bunk while at BCCX. (Id. at 4, ¶¶ 11-12.) Defendant Dietz allegedly only checked for hernia scars but did no other examination and “basically ignored” Glover's Tennessee Department of Correction (“TDOC”) medical files, resulting in Defendant Dietz classifying Glover as Class A, clean bill of health. (Id. at 4, ¶¶ 13-14.) Glover contends this designation led to Glover being assigned to a top bunk in May 2015 and that he later fell out of the bunk on June 24, 2015. (Id. at 5, ¶ 15.)

         In the spring of 2015, Defendant Perry locked down the facility and ordered all plastic chairs removed from cells, including the Mental Health Unit, G-Unit. (Id. at 5, ¶ 16.) Glover contends the removal of chairs was done not as a security precaution but rather to cause unnecessary hardship on inmates, like himself, who have a medical need for the chairs. (Id.) Glover contends that most of the inmates in the G Unit are heavily medicated and use the chairs to navigate up and down the top bunks because there are no ladders attached to the bunks and the majority of the bunks are installed improperly. (Id. at 5, ¶ 17.) Glover contends that he, as well as other inmates with back and spinal issues, uses the chairs to give back support, and that because he is only five feet tall, without the chair he is forced to jump off the top bunk causing immediate pain to his spine, back and groin areas. (Id. at 5, ¶¶ 17 & 18.) Glover alleges that the top bunk is four to five feet off the ground. (Id. at 5, ¶ 19.) Further, he contends the bunk is in need of replacement because it is installed backwards and bent down towards the floor, which causes the mattress to slide off without any means of stopping it. (Id. at 5, ¶¶ 19-& 20; see also ECF No. 7-3, Ex. W.)

         Glover alleges that he was told that a work order was put in to replace the bunk, but it remains broken. (Id. at 6, ¶ 21.) Further, Glover alleges that during the lockdown there was sufficient time to assess, at an individual level, which inmates needed to have the chairs due to age and/or medical need, and that grievances to that effect received a response from the warden stating that he was not giving chairs back to inmates. (Id. at 6, ¶¶ 22-23.) Glover contends that the continuous deprivation of chairs was a “blatant, reckless disregard, for the safety of inmates and their serious medical needs.” ( 6, ¶ 24.)

         Glover alleges that he was injured on June 24, 2015, when he fell off the top bunk in G-B 103. (Id. at 6, ¶ 26.) Glover contends that he began to slide off the bunk, but did not realize how quickly he was falling due to the medication he was on and, without a chair, he could not catch himself or grab onto the lip of the bunk because it was installed backwards. (Id. at 6, ¶¶ 26-28.) Glover crashed into the steel shelves and the concrete floor, resulting in a cut in the back of his head and temporarily being knocked out. (Id. at 6, ¶¶ 29-30.) Glover was taken to medical where he was seen by Defendant Herron, who gave Glover a quick exam, cleaned the cut on his head, rubbed the bottom of his feet, and asked Glover if he was okay. (Id. at 7, ¶¶ 31 & 32.) Although Glover responded that he was okay, he contends that Defendant Herron, as a trained nurse, should have known that his response was due to a possible concussion or the effects of his previous medication and should have disregarded his response and provided him with a more thorough exam instead of rushing him out of medical, which he claims is the common practice at HCCF. (Id. at 7, ¶¶ 31-34.) Glover contends he was not treated with human decency or dignity as he was made to walk over 100 yards back to his cell pod without any shoes or socks, risking MRSA or staph infection. (Id. at 7. ¶ 35.)

         After a few hours, Glover became “physically aware of the extent of his injuries” and returned to medical on emergency sick call where he saw Defendant Herron, but he was not given additional treatment or examination even though his neck and back were throbbing with pain and the right side of his face was swollen. (Id. at 7-8, ¶¶ 36-41.) Glover contends he filed a grievance for lack of medical care against Defendant Herron, to which the Grievance Board responded that “‘he should be re-evaluated for his head injuries;'” however, Defendant Perry responded that Glover needed to submit a sick call request even though Glover already had done so after his original emergency sick call. (Id. at 8, ¶¶ 41-43, see also Ex G.) Glover appealed the grievance, but the TDOC Commissioner's Office agreed with Defendant Perry. Glover contends that was not surprising due to the medical committee being made up of private, for-profit companies. (Id. at 8, ¶ 44.) Glover alleges that he had already submitted several sick calls, but was refused re-examination, even to confirm his spinal stenosis and was told that he had already been examined in May of 2014, which resulted in his continued assignment to a top bunk. (Id. at 9, ¶¶ 45-46.) Glover contends that over the next seven months he put in sick call requests, a number of which were not responded to at all, and requests to the HSA, which were ignored. (Id. at 9, ¶¶ 51-53.) Glover alleges that because his physical injury was so bad, he failed to complete the last month of a three-month business course which would have taken two months off his eight-year sentence, was barely able to eat causing him to lose twenty-five to thirty pounds, and that his anxiety medication has increased. (Id. at 9, ¶¶ 53-57.)

         Glover states that he has tried to open a line of medical correspondence with Defendant Miller, but he has not heard back from her. (Id. at 10, ¶ 59.) Glover believes that if the Court does not step in, he will suffer irreparable harm or even death. (Id. at 10, ¶ 60.) As of March 10, 2016, Glover alleges that he has still not seen a medical physician after his injury from June 24, 2015 because the cost of properly diagnosing him would come at the expense of CCA and HCCF. (Id. at 11, ¶ 66.) Glover further alleges that CCA has, by policy and custom, endorsed the deliberate indifference committed by employees of HCCF, has failed to allocate funds to properly equip and train its medical staff, and has failed to establish and maintain consistent oversight of HCCF. (Id. at 11, ¶¶ 69-71.) Glover alleges that Defendant Cox failed to provide oversight of her staff at HCCF. (Id. at 13, ¶ 78.)

         Glover seeks a preliminary injunction ordering CCA to transfer him to Baptist East Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, for a full examination and prohibiting any retaliation for this complaint, and ordering CCA to return the plastic chairs. Glover also seeks both compensatory and punitive damages. (Id. at 13-14, ¶¶ 81-86.)

         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 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 standards under Federal Rule 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 (citing Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325, 328-29 (1989)).

Whether a complaint is factually frivolous under §§ 1915A(b)(1) and 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) is a separate issue from whether it fails to state a claim for relief. Statutes allowing a complaint to be dismissed as frivolous give “judges not only the authority to dismiss a claim based on an indisputably meritless legal theory, but also the unusual power to pierce the veil of the complaint's factual allegations and dismiss those claims whose factual contentions are clearly baseless.” Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327, 109 S.Ct. 1827 (interpreting 28 U.S.C. § 1915). Unlike a dismissal for failure to state a claim, where a judge must accept all factual allegations as true, Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949-50, a judge does not ...

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