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Wilson v. Lawson

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Greeneville

June 22, 2017

JASON K. WILSON, Plaintiff,
v.
RONNIE LAWSON, BUTCH GALLION, TONY ALLEN, JOHN DOE, and JANE DOE, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          J. RONNIE GREER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Acting pro se, Jason K. Wilson, (“Plaintiff”), brings this civil rights action for injunctive and monetary relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that he was denied medical and dental treatment at the Hawkins County Detention Center (“HCDC”) [Doc. 1]. Defendants are Ronnie Lawson, Butch Gallion, Tony Allen, John Doe, and Jane Doe. Defendant Lawson is sued only in his official capacity, Defendant Gallion is sued in both his official and individual capacities, and the other Defendants are presumed to have been sued in their official capacities, under governing Sixth Circuit case law.[1] Plaintiff was assessed the civil filing fee before the case was transferred to this Court by the Middle District of Tennessee [Doc. 3]. Thus, the Court now must perform the required statutory screening test.

         I. SCREENING THE COMPLAINT

         Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), district courts must screen prisoner complaints and sua sponte dismiss any claims that are frivolous or malicious, fail to state a claim for relief, or are against a defendant who is immune. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915(A); McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 608 (6th Cir. 1997) (“A district court is required to screen all civil cases brought by prisoners, regardless of whether the inmate paid the full filing fee, is a pauper, is pro se, or is represented by counsel as the statute does not differentiate between various civil actions brought by prisoners. “), overruled on other grounds by Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199 (2007); Benson v. O'Brian, 179 F.3d 1014 (6th Cir. 1999). The dismissal standard articulated by the Supreme Court in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), and Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 554 (2007), “governs dismissals for failure state a claim under [28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A] because the relevant statutory language tracks the language in Rule 12(b)(6).” Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010).

         Thus, to survive an initial review under the PLRA, a complaint “must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). The reviewing court must determine not whether the plaintiff will ultimately prevail, but whether the facts permit the court to infer “more than the mere possibility of misconduct, ” which is “a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Id. at 679.

         As noted, Plaintiff brings his claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 [Doc. 1]. In order to succeed on a § 1983 claim, a plaintiff must establish that he was deprived of a federal right by a person acting under color of state law. Dominguez v. Corr. Med. Svcs., 555 F.3d 543, 549 (6th Cir. 2009); see also Braley v. City of Pontiac, 906 F.2d 220, 223 (6th Cir. 1990) (stating that “[s]ection 1983 does not itself create any constitutional rights; it creates a right of action for the vindication of constitutional guarantees found elsewhere”).

         II. BACKGROUND

         In the pleading, Plaintiff alleges two claims: (1) that Defendant Butch Gallion told him that “there was nothing they could do” for a cyst that “arrived on” Plaintiff's left shoulder on or about August 29, 2013, and (2) that the HCDC medical staff said, on or about September 10, 2013, that “there was nothing they could do” about Plaintiff's deteriorating teeth, including four broken teeth, until Plaintiff “started loosing [sic] weight” [Doc. 1 at 5]. Plaintiff asks for an award of damages in the sum of $100, 000 and to have Defendants pay to have the cyst removed, to fix his teeth, and for his “other set of dentures” [Id. at 6].

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Injunctive Relief

         When a prisoner seeks injunctive relief in a prison-conditions claim arising under § 1983, those claims are rendered moot when the prisoner is no longer confined at the institution wherein those alleged conditions exist. See, e.g., Corsetti v. Tessmer, 41 F. App'x 753, 755 (6th Cir. 2002) (citing Preiser v. Newkirk, 422 U.S. 395, 402-03 (1975) and Kensu v. Haigh, 87 F.3d 172, 175 (6th Cir. 1996)); Dellis v. Corr. Corp. of Am., 257 F.3d 508, 510 n.1 (6th Cir. 2001) (citing Kensu, 87 F.3d at 175). The Court's research reveals that, since filing his complaint, Plaintiff has been released from incarceration at the HCDC and is now on parole. Available at https://apps.tn.gov/foil-app/results.jsp (last visited June 20, 2017).

         Because Plaintiff is no longer incarcerated at HCDC and because he sought injunctive relief for the alleged wrongful conditions at that facility, his claim for an injunction is now moot and subject to summary dismissal.

         B. Monetary Relief [2]

         Both of Plaintiff's claims for damages arise under the Eighth Amendment, which protects prisoners from the infliction of “unnecessary and wanton pain and suffering.” Whitley v. Albers, 475 U.S. 312, 319 (1986). “[D]eliberate indifference to the serious medical needs of prisoners constitutes the ‘unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain, '” which violates the Eighth Amendment. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976). An Eighth Amendment claim is composed of two parts: (1) an objective component, which requires a plaintiff to show a “sufficiently serious” deprivation, and (2) a subjective ...


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