United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
ROLAND DAVIS, No. 516656, Plaintiff,
OFFICER SAMANTHA HILL, et al., Defendants.
A. TRAUGER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
February 21, 2017, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report and
Recommendation (R&R) (Docket No. 64) as to the
defendants' motion to dismiss (Docket No. 29),
recommending that the motion be granted, all other pending
motions be denied as moot, and this action be dismissed.
Pending before the court are Objections to the R&R timely
filed by the plaintiff. (Docket No. 66). The court finds that
the plaintiff's Objections lack merit and will be
overruled, as explained below.
pro se, in forma pauperis prisoner civil rights
case, the original complaint alleged violations of the
plaintiff's First and Eighth Amendment rights arising out
of an incident of inmate violence at the Hill Detention
Center in Nashville, Tennessee. (Docket No. 1). After
conducting the required screening under the Prison Litigation
Reform Act, the court dismissed the plaintiff's complaint
because the plaintiff had sued all defendants in their
official capacities only. (Docket Nos. 3 and 4).
Subsequently, the plaintiff filed a motion for
reconsideration (Docket No. 7), which the court construed as
a motion to amend the complaint. (Docket No. 9). The court
then granted the motion to amend, permitting the plaintiff to
include individual capacity claims against all named
defendants and the action to proceed. (Id.) This
case was referred to the Magistrate Judge to recommend ruling
on any dispositive motion. (Docket No. 9).
defendants filed a motion to dismiss on April 11, 2016,
contending that the complaint fails to state claims upon
which relief can be granted as to all defendants and, in any
event, that the defendants are entitled to qualified
immunity. (Docket No. 29). The plaintiff responded in
opposition to the motion. (Docket No. 37). The plaintiff also
filed a motion seeking camera footage of the inmate assault
at issue. (Docket No. 43).
Report and Recommendation
February 21, 2017, the Magistrate Judge issued an R&R
(Docket No. 64) as to the defendants' motion to dismiss
(Docket No. 29), recommending that the motion be granted,
that all other pending motions be denied as moot, and this
action be dismissed.
Magistrate Judges noted that the plaintiff's primary
claim is that Defendant Hill violated the plaintiff's
Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual
punishment by her “failure to be at her assigned post
at the time of the incident which prevented her from acting
as quickly as possible to stop several known gang members
from jumping” on the plaintiff and injuring him.
(Docket No. 1 at p. 4). The Magistrate Judge further noted
that the plaintiff claims his First Amendment right to access
the courts was violated “by various administrative Hill
Detention Center personnel” who acted in concert to
deny the plaintiff access to a copy of the grievance by which
he exhausted this claim “which hinder[ed] his filing
this petition in federal court for lack of exhaustion of
remedies.” (Id. at p. 10).
the plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claim against defendant
Hill, the Magistrate Judge first assumed that, for purposes
of the R&R, an attack by “known gang members”
is sufficiently serious to meet the Eighth Amendment's
objective requirement. (Docket No. 64 at p. 5). After
considering the complaint's allegations and the video
footage of the incident, the Magistrate Judge found that the
plaintiff had not established that the defendant Hill acted
with deliberate indifference to the plaintiff's health or
safety. The Magistrate Judge pointed out that the complaint
contained no allegations regarding Hill's state of mind
or awareness of a risk of serious harm to the plaintiff.
(Id.) The Magistrate Judge found that the
plaintiff's perceived inconsistency between Hill's
statement regarding the events and Defendant Denton's
description of the altercation did not provide a basis from
which to conclude that Hill knew of a threat to the
plaintiff's safety and acted with deliberate indifference
to it. (Id. at p. 6). The Magistrate Judge
specifically noted that negligence is insufficient to
establish a § 1983 claim. (Id.) Thus, the
Magistrate Judge recommended that this claim be dismissed for
failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
(Id. at p. 7).
the plaintiff's First Amendment claim against
“Various Administrative Hill Detention Center
Personnel, ” the Magistrate Judge first pointed out
that the plaintiff does not identify against which
individuals he made this claim. (Id.) Even assuming
that the plaintiff made this allegations against all
remaining defendants, the Magistrate Judge concluded that the
plaintiff's claim fails because he had not alleged any
harm resulting from the defendants' actions; the
plaintiff filed a timely lawsuit, to which no one had raised
a failure to exhaust administrative remedies affirmative
defense. (Id.) The Magistrate Judge found this
conclusion to be true whether the plaintiff's claim was
construed as one of retaliation for filing a grievance
regarding his attack or as a denial of his the
plaintiff's right to access the courts. (Id.)
Consequently, the Magistrate Judge recommended that this
claim be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted. (Id. at p. 8).
footnote, the Magistrate Judge noted that the plaintiff also
had filed a document asserting that officers had taken his
certified mail against his will and charged him with a false
disciplinary action in retaliation for his naming Chief Brown
and Lieutenant Denton as defendants to this action.
(Id. at p. 8 n.3)(citing Docket No. 36). The
Magistrate Judge determined, however, that because the
alleged retaliator is “Officer Jeremy Goins” who
is not a defendant to this action, and the plaintiff had not
amended his complaint to include these allegations, there was
no recourse sought by the plaintiff in this action as to this
allegation. (Id.) In addition, the Magistrate Judge
reasoned that, while the plaintiff attempted to implicate
defendant Brown for his failure to take action against
Officer Goins when Davis advised him of Goins's actions,
the plaintiff had not alleged that Brown authorized,
approved, or knowingly acquiesced in Goins's conduct so
as to establish supervisory liability for the alleged
Standard of Review
Magistrate Judge's R&R concerns a dispositive
pretrial matter. Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b),
the district court must review any portion of the R&R to
which a specific objection is made under the de novo
standard. Id.; 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C);
United States v. Curtis, 237 F.3d 598, 603
(6th Cir. 2001).