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Suell v. Shelby County

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

June 6, 2017

ERVIN SUELL, Plaintiff,
SHELBY COUNTY, Defendants.



         On July 20, 2016, Plaintiff Ervin Suell (“Suell”), a pre-trial detainee at the Shelby County Criminal Justice Center (“Jail”), in Memphis, 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 July 21, 2016, the Court issued an order 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. 4). The Clerk shall record the Defendants as Shelby County[1] and Nurse First Name Unknown Watsone.


         Suell alleges that upon his incarceration at the Shelby County Jail, his prescription for glaucoma and eye pressure was abruptly stopped. (Compl. at 2, ECF No. 1.) Suell further contends that following Suell's brain surgery, his doctor faxed all the documents pertaining to Suell's condition to the jail. However, the medical staff at the jail is administering medicine to Suell, which causes Suell to suffer severe tension headaches, as well as Tylenol for pain but without providing Suell with information on possible side-effects of the medicine. (Id.) Suell elaborates that he had brain surgery in February 2014 to correct severe hemorrhaging and was prescribed “cobigan and lumigan” to reduce eye pressure from his degenerative eye disease, glaucoma. (Id. at 2.) According to Suell, medical staff abruptly stopped his prescribed medication without explanation and began to issue him “timolol, bridine, and laptatnol citrate” instead. (Id.) Suell alleges that the new medication administered by the medical staff has caused his eye conditions to deteriorate, causing him excruciating pain from eye pressure and a subsequent migrain, and left him incapacitated. (Id. at 3.)

         In his Affidavit of Complaint, Suell alleges that on March 16, 2016, when he was being evaluated for blood pressure spikes, the nurse swore at Suell stating he made her sick and that while he thought he knew his rights, he did not know “shit.” (Affidavit of Compl. at 1, ECF No. 1-1.) Suell contends that the statement, which was witnessed by Officer Bryant (who is not a party to this action) was cruel and caused him mental anguish and emotional distress. (Id. at 1-2.) Suell seeks to have his proper medication as well as compensatory and punitive damages. (Compl at 3, ECF No. 1.)


         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 standards under Fed.R.Civ.P. 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), are applied. 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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