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Rogers v. Holloway

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

July 20, 2017

DANNY E. ROGERS, Plaintiff,
JAMES M. HOLLOWAY, et al., Defendants.



         On February 8, 2016, Plaintiff Danny E. Rogers, an inmate at the South Central Correctional Facility (“SCCF”) in Clifton, Tennessee, filed pro se a Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 accompanied by a motion to proceed in forma pauperis. Rogers's Complaint contains allegations against defendants at the West Tennessee State Penitentiary (“WTSP”) in Henning, Tennessee. On May 12, 2016, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee granted Rogers leave to proceed in forma pauperis, assessed the civil filing fee pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(a)-(b), and transferred this matter to this Court for all further proceedings. The Clerk shall record the defendants as Former Warden James M. Holloway (“Holloway”), Assistant Warden of Security Stanley Dickerson (“Dickerson”), Lieutenant Scott Wilson (“Wilson”), and Correction Officer (“C/O”) First Name Unknown (“FNU”) Scrubs (“Scrubs”).[2] All defendants are sued in their individual and official capacities.


         Rogers alleges that on July 24, 2015, he was assigned to Unit 10, Bravo Pod, where Scrubs was the assigned pod officer and Wilson was the unit manager. Rogers alleges Scrubs had the responsibility of opening and closing the Bravo Pod front door, allowing inmates to enter and leave the pod. Scrubs was also responsible for monitoring color coded wrist bands which identified each inmate's assigned housing unit and pod.

         On this date, an inspection of uniforms and cells was conducted by Wilson. During inspection, inmates were required to stand with their hands down at their sides and their cell doors open. Rogers alleges that at the end of the inspection, three known gang members assaulted him. (Id.) Two of the assailants wore white bands identifying them as being housed in Bravo Pod, while the third wore a green band identifying his pod assignment as Alpha Pod. (Id.) The inmate from Alpha Pod held Rogers while the other inmates stabbed him in the left shoulder and lower back, puncturing Roger's lung. (Id.) The Complaint alleges that Scrubs stood and watched the incident for ten to fifteen seconds before pushing the emergency panic button, and that he also failed to use his can of mace to break up the assault. (Id.) WTSP medical staff examined Rogers's injuries to determine the seriousness of his wounds and transferred Rogers to the nearest hospital for treatment for his collapsed lung. (Id. at 7.)

         Based on these factual allegations, Rogers contends that Scrubs and Wilson failed to monitor the inmates' identification bands and thereby failed to prevent the assault. (Id.) According to Rogers, each defendant knew WTSP was a violent and dangerous institution with a history of inmates assaulting staff and other inmates, and that inmates housed in Unit 10 Alpha Pod and Bravo Pod were the most problematic. (Id. at 8.) Rogers further alleges that Defendants Holloway and Dickerson put Unit 10 under “strict control movement” for purposes of control and monitoring. However, Holloway and Dickerson made the decision to remove from the unit officers who had received specialized strike force training. Rogers contends this decision caused the problems in Unit 10 to reoccur. (Id.) Rogers additionally alleges that he filed a grievance on January 16, 2015, detailing problems with gang members in the penitentiary and that Dickerson was aware of this issue. (Id. at 9, see also Grievance No. 10078, ECF No. 1-3 at 3-5.) On February 3, 2015, Rogers also wrote a letter to Holloway about officials allowing inmates to be in housing units to which they were not assigned. (Id., see also ECF No. 1-4.) Rogers seeks compensatory and punitive damages against each Defendant (Id. at 10.)


         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 Court applies the pleading standards under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), announced in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-79 (2009) and Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-57 (2007). 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.”).

         “Pro se complaints are to be held ‘to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, ' and should therefore be liberally construed.” Williams, 631 F.3d at 383 (quoting Martin v. Overton, 391 F.3d 710, 712 (6th Cir. 2004)). Pro se litigants and prisoners are not exempt from the requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Wells v. Brown, 891 F.2d 591, 594 (6th Cir. 1989); see also Brown v. Matauszak, 415 F. App'x 608, 612-13 (6th Cir. 2011) (affirming dismissal of pro se complaint for failure to comply with “unique pleading requirements” and stating “a court cannot ‘create a claim which [a plaintiff] has not spelled out in his pleading'”); Young Bok ...

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