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Williams v. Doyle

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

September 13, 2017

TRAVIS WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
CPL. ASHLEY DOYLE, CPL. C. JONES, CO THEUS, WARDEN JAMES HOLLOWAY, AWS WARDEN FITZ, WILLIAM BRYANT, CAPT. JEFFREY MIDDLETON, COMM'R DERRICK SCHOFIELD, LT. THOMAS SHELL, and SUE ANN BREWER, Defendants.

          ORDER DISMISSING CLAIMS, CERTIFYING APPEAL WOULD NOT BE TAKEN IN GOOD FAITH, AND NOTIFYING PLAINTIFF OF APPELLATE FILING FEE

          S. THOMAS ANDERSON CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On June 13, 2016, Plaintiff Travis Williams, an inmate at the West Tennessee State Penitentiary (“WTSP”) in Henning, Tennessee, filed pro se a Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, accompanied by a motion to proceed in forma pauperis. On June 14, 2016, the Court granted Williams leave to proceed in forma pauperis and assessed the civil filing fee pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(a)-(b). The Clerk shall record the defendants as Cpl. Ashley Doyle, Cpl. C. Jones, WTSP Officer First Name Unknown (“FNU”) Theus, Former WTSP Warden James Holloway, WTSP Assistant Warden FNU Fitz, WTSP Unit Manager William Bryant, WTSP Chief of Security Jeffrey Middleton, Former Tennessee Department of Correction (“TDOC) Commissioner Derrick Schofield, WTSP Lieutenant Thomas Shell, and Acting Grievance Chairperson Sue Ann Brewer.

         BACKGROUND

         Williams alleges that on January 8, 2016, he was housed in administrative segregation in unit 3-A-35 at WTSP. (Compl. at 2.) During shower call Defendants Doyle, Jones, and Theus were escorting inmates to and from the showers in handcuffs per TDOC Policy. (Id.) Defendant Doyle handcuffed Williams's cell mate and escorted him to the shower, and then Defendant Jones and Theus handcuffed Williams. (Id. at 2-3, see also Grievance # 2016-83/T-298854, ECF No 1-1.) Williams asked if he was being escorted to the showers. Defendant Jones and Theus told him to go ahead to the showers unescorted. (Id. at 3.). Williams contends that as he approached the showers, Defendant Doyle pointed him towards a particular shower. As Williams approached the shower, an inmate who was not handcuffed came out of the shower with an “icepick type” of weapon. (Id.)

         Williams started running to get to safety, but the inmate caught up with him and started stabbing him repeatedly while Williams was “screaming for his life.” Id.) Williams alleges that Defendants Jones, Doyle, and Theus stood by the shower and did nothing to assist Williams, including not using mace, which they are required to carry at all times. (Id.) Williams further contends that Defendants did not immediately call a code for other officers and staff members to come to his rescue, and the inmate did not stop stabbing him until he heard other officers coming through the door. (Id. at 4.) At this time, Defendants Jones, Doyle and Theus decided to run towards Williams, “pretending they (were) trying to assist [him].” (Id.)

         Williams alleges that Defendants Holloway, Fitz, Bryant, Middleton, and Schofield failed to make sure staff members followed policy and procedure to make sure that every inmate is searched for contraband before being escorted to the shower. (Id. at 4 & 5.) Williams contends that Defendant Shell did not investigate or charge the other inmate with assault as “policy requires of any act of violence against any inmates.” (Id.) Williams alleges that Defendant Brewer waited until Williams was transferred to another facility to conduct a hearing on his grievance preventing Williams from confronting Defendants. William seeks compensatory and punitive damages against Defendants jointly and severally. (Id. at 7-8.)

         SCREENING STANDARD

         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 Song v. Gipson, 423 F. App'x 506, 510 (6th Cir. 2011) (“[W]e decline to affirmatively require courts to ferret out the strongest cause of action on behalf of pro se litigants.”).

         I. Section 1983

         Williams filed his Complaint on the official form for actions under 42 U.S.C. ...


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