United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Western Division
ORDER ADOPTING THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND
RECOMMENDATION FOR PARTIAL DISMISSAL
T. FOWLKES, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is the Defendants Fayette County, Tennessee and
Sheriff Bobby Riles' Partial Motion to Dismiss that was
filed on March 14, 2017. (ECF No. 26). All pretrial matters
have been referred to the United States Magistrate Judge for
report and recommendation or determination pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915 (e)(2)(B) and W. D. Tenn. LR 4.1(b)(2).
(Admin. Order 2013-05). On May 12, 2017, the Magistrate Judge
issued a report and recommendation on the Defendant's
Partial Motion to Dismiss. (ECF No. 32). On May 23, 2017,
Plaintiff filed timely objections to the report and
recommendation to which the Defendants filed an opposing
response on May 30, 2017. (ECF Nos. 34 & 40).
United States District Judge may refer certain dispositive
pretrial motions to a United States Magistrate Judge for
submission of proposed findings of fact and conclusions of
law, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and (C);
Brown v. Wesley Quaker Maid, Inc., 771 F.2d 952, 957
(6th Cir. 1985). While most actions by a Magistrate Judge are
reviewed for clear error, dispositive recommendations to the
District Court Judge are reviewed de novo.
Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 141-42 (1985).
District Court Judge shall make a de novo
determination of those portions of the report or specified
proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is
made. Although, the District Judge may accept, reject, or
modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations
made by the Magistrate Judge, the judge may also receive
further evidence or recommit the matter to the Magistrate
Judge with instructions. Also, de novo review is not
required when the objections to the report and recommendation
are frivolous, conclusive or general. See 28 U.S.C. §636
(b)(1)(B) and (C); Fed. Rule Civ. P. 72(b); Baker v.
Peterson, 67 Fed. App'x 308, 311 (6th Cir. 2003);
Mira v. Marshall, 806 F.2d 636, 637 (6th Cir. 1986).
Magistrate Judge has issued two reports and recommendations
in this case thus far. The initial report and recommendation
included an extensive summary of the factual history of this
case. (ECF No. 12). The last report and recommendation
provides a succinct description of the remaining claims in
this matter along with an updated procedural history. (ECF
No. 32, p. 2). Plaintiff has submitted objections that do not
challenge any of the proposed findings of fact within the
report and recommendation. Therefore, the Court adopts the
Magistrate Judge's proposed findings of fact.
to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), the Defendants assert that the
official capacity claims against Sheriff Riles should be
dismissed as redundant, due to claims against Fayette County.
Matthews v. Jones, 35 F.3d 1046, 1049 (6th Cir.
1994). The Defendants also argue that the individual capacity
claim against Sheriff Riles for failure to provide medical
treatment as required under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 should be
dismissed. The Defendants assert that Plaintiff failed to
plead with particularity acts that show deliberate
indifference rising to criminal recklessness. (ECF No. 26-1,
pp. 3-7). Brooks v. Celeste, 39 F.3d 125 (6th Cir.
noting that pro se complaints are construed more
liberally than pleadings drafted by lawyers, the Magistrate
Judge recommended that the Court grant the Defendant's
Partial Motion to Dismiss all claims against Sheriff Riles in
both his individual and official capacities. The Magistrate
Judge concluded that Plaintiff's § 1983 claim
against Sheriff Riles in his official capacity should be
dismissed because a § 1983 claim against a government
official is tantamount to an action against a governmental
entity or in this case, Fayette County. (ECF No. 32, pp.
6-7). See Monell v. Department of Social Services of City
of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 690, n. 54 (1978)
(Normally, a suit under § 1983 should be brought against
either the local public official in his individual capacity
and the local government which employs him); Leach v.
Shelby County Sheriff, 891 F.2d 1241, 1244-45 (6th Cir.
1989); and Foster v. Michigan, 573 F.Appx. 377, 390
(6th Cir. 2014). Plaintiff's objections only generally
refer to her claim against Sheriff Riles in his official
capacity by describing the County's motion to dismiss
this claim as “twisted statements.” Plaintiff has
failed to provide any legal support or specific objections to
the Magistrate Judge's report and recommendation on this
issue. Therefore, the Court overrules Plaintiff's
objection and adopts the Magistrate Judge's
recommendation to dismiss claims against Sheriff Riles in his
reference to Plaintiff's individual capacity claim
against Sheriff Riles for deliberate indifference to her
serious medical needs, the Magistrate Judge clarified that in
order to sustain this claim, a plaintiff must establish that
the prison official intentionally denied or delayed access to
medical care for a serious need under both an objective and
subjective component. Blackmore v. Kalamazoo County,
390 F.3d 890, 895 (6th Cir. 2004)(quoting Farmer v.
Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994)). The Magistrate Judge
determined that Plaintiff has satisfied the objective
component. (ECF No. 32, pp. 7-8). In the complaint, Plaintiff
sufficiently alleges serious medical conditions of atrial
fibrillation, thyroid cancer, high blood pressure, and eye
surgery on the day prior to her detention at the Fayette
County jail. She also alleged that during her incarceration,
she was denied the daily prescribed medications for these
conditions. (ECF No. 1, pp. 13-14, 16-17). Accordingly, the
Court agrees with the Magistrate Judge's finding that
Plaintiff has satisfied the objective component of a
deliberate indifference to serious medical needs claim.
in order to establish a viable claim for deliberate
indifference to serious medical needs, a plaintiff must also
satisfy the subjective component of this claim. This
requirement is met when the prison official: 1) knows and
disregards an excessive risk to inmate health and safety; and
2) is aware of facts from which an inference may be drawn
that a substantial risk of serious harm exists.
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837.
Thomas' assertions in her response to the partial motion
to dismiss, the Magistrate Judge determined that she had
failed to allege in her complaint that Sheriff Riles knew any
facts pertaining to her medical condition, participated in
detaining and imprisoning her or personally took an active
role in denying her medical treatment. The Magistrate Judge
also concluded there were no facts showing that Sheriff Riles
was even present at the Fayette County jail while Thomas was
incarcerated. (ECF No. 32, p. 9). The Magistrate Judge noted
that only one paragraph in Count VII of the complaint
referred to Sheriff Riles other than the general allegations
regarding his role as policy maker for the County. The
Magistrate Judge concluded that Plaintiff's factual
assertions that Sheriff Riles should have known his
employees' misconduct are insufficient to support a claim
of subjective indifference to the Plaintiff's serious
medical needs. Combs v. Wilkinson, 315 F.3d 548, 558
(6th Cir. 2002) (ECF No. 1, p. 19 & ECF No. 32, pp.
objects to the Magistrate Judge's findings that she
failed to allege that Sheriff Riles: 1) was present at the
jail at any time during her incarceration; 2) participated in
the alleged events at the jail; 3) engaged in any affirmative
acts related to Plaintiff's alleged lack of medical
treatment; or 4) had any knowledge of or any role in
providing or denying treatment to Plaintiff. (ECF No. 34, pp.
3-4). The Defendants respond that Plaintiff merely ...