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Newberry v. Melton

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

April 4, 2017




         Pending before the Court is a Report and Recommendation (“R & R”) of the Magistrate Judge, (Docket No. 83), recommending that the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants W.B. Melton (“Melton”), Shannon Harvey (“Harvey”), and Rodney Phillips (“Phillips”) be denied in part and granted in part. Specifically, the Magistrate Judge recommends that their Motion for Summary Judgment be granted as to the claims against them in their official capacities, but denied as to the claims against them in their individual capacities. (Docket No. 83 at 26-27). Melton, Harvey, and Phillips filed objections to the R & R. (Docket No. 85). Plaintiff Jack Newberry (“Newberry”) filed a Response to the Objections. (Docket No. 87). Having undertaken de novo review of the matter in accordance with Rule 72 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Court finds that the R & R is correct and properly applies the governing law.


         Newberry is incarcerated in Overton County Jail and suffers from epilepsy. In his complaint, Newberry alleges violations of his constitutional rights in connection with the treatment-or lack of treatment-of his epilepsy. This Motion for Summary Judgment was filed by three of the defendants: Melton, former Sheriff of Overton County; Harvey, an employee of the Overton County Sheriff's Department; and Phillips, another employee of the Overton County Sheriff's Department. Generally, Newberry alleges that these three defendants:

were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs by, inter alia, (1) not providing him with his anti-seizure medication for the first month of his incarceration; (2) not providing him with his oral potassium supplement pills; (3) not providing any assistance or stabilization for him during his seizures; (4) not providing first aid or other medical attention to Plaintiff's gashes, scrapes, bruising, black eyes, concussion, strained ligaments, and other injuries incurred during his seizures; and (5) not sending Plaintiff for examination by a physician who could ascertain why his seizures were increasing in frequency, intensity, and duration, in violation of his Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

(Docket No. 83 at 2) (citing Docket No. 26).

         Newberry claims these allegations amount to violations of his Fourth and Eighth Amendment rights by way of the Fourteenth Amendment. (Docket No. 26).


         Summary judgment is proper if “there is no genuine issue as to any material fact [such that] the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). But “summary judgment will not lie if the . . . evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). In considering a motion for summary judgment, the court must construe the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). The movant therefore has the burden of establishing that there is no genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986); Barnhart v. Pickrel, Schaeffer & Ebeling Co., 12 F.3d 1382, 1388-89 (6th Cir. 1993). But the non-moving party “may not rely merely on allegations or denials in its own pleading.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(2). See Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324; Searcy v. City of Dayton, 38 F.3d 282, 286 (6th Cir. 1994). The non-moving party must present “significant probative evidence” to show that there is more than “some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Moore v. Philip Morris Co., 8 F.3d 335, 339-40 (6th Cir. 1993).


         I. Initial Matters

         A. Fourth Amendment Claims

         The Fourth Amendment protects “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” U.S. Const. amend. IV. Although Newberry claims violations of his Fourth Amendment right “against unreasonable seizure, ” the Court cannot discern from Newberry's Complaint where the unreasonable seizure allegedly exists. (Docket No. 26 at 9). Newberry also does not discuss his Fourth Amendment claims in his Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. (Docket No. 61). Furthermore, “[t]he Fourth Amendment's prohibition against unreasonable seizures of the person applies to excessive-force claims that arise in the context of an arrest or investigatory stop of a free citizen, while the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment applies to excessive-force claims brought by convicted criminals serving their sentences.” Aldini v. Johnson, 609 F.3d 858, 864 (6th Cir. 2010) (internal quotations and citations omitted). Because (1) Newberry has not met his initial pleading requirements to sufficiently allege violations of his Fourth Amendment rights and (2) the Eighth Amendment is the more appropriate amendment under which to analyze Newberry's deliberate indifference claims that occurred while he was incarcerated, the Court will dismiss Newberry's Fourth Amendment claims.

         B. Claims Against Melton, Harvey, and Phillips in ...

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