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Partin v. Parris

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

September 21, 2017




         On June 24, 2016, Plaintiff Courtney Partin, who is currently incarcerated at Northwest Correctional Complex (NWCX) in Tiptonville, Tennessee, filed a pro se complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (ECF No. 1.) In response to the Court's deficiency order (ECF No. 3), Partin filed a motion to proceed in forma pauperis on July 5, 2016 (ECF No. 4). The Court subsequently granted 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 dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim. (ECF No. 5 at 1-7.) However, the Court also granted leave to file an amended complaint without thirty days. (Id. at 7-8.) Partin filed a timely amended complaint on August 4, 2016. (ECF No. 10.) Pursuant to the amended complaint, the Clerk is DIRECTED to record the Defendants as NWCX Warden Michael Parris; NWCX Corrections Officer Joseph Woodard; NWCX Security Threat Group (STG) Coordinator First Name Unknown (FNU) Rogers; NWCX Internal Affairs Officer David Ables; Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) Commissioner Tony Parker; NWCX Incident Commander Elizabeth Warden; NWCX Disciplinary Board Officer Sergeant FNU Cagle; and Dr. FNU Tucker.[1] Other than the State of Tennessee, the Defendants are sued only in their individual capacities. (ECF No. 10 at 2, 4.)

         I. The Amended Complaint

         Partin alleges that at about 5:30 p.m. on June 14, 2016, he was in the “care, custody, and control” of Defendant Parris at the NWCX when there was a lockdown and search by “Strike Force One” in Unit 12. Defendant Parris was present at the time. (ECF No. 10 at 5.) Forty inmates were taken to the bottom floor, where Partin and fellow inmate James Couley were taken out of line from the others and placed against the wall. (Id.) Partin and Couley were told to get on their knees, but Partin's knees began hurting and he began shaking so much that he asked to be allowed to sit another way. (Id.) Defendant Woodard was “talking bad” to Partin and tried to throw him, causing Partin to go to his knees with his hands behind his back. (Id.) Six to ten unknown officers then attacked Partin by tackling, punching, kicking and scratching him, squeezing his genitals, tasering him, stomping on his foot, twisting his leg, and putting a knee on his head as he lay on the floor. (Id. at 5-6; see also Exs. 1-3 & 11-18, ECF Nos. 10-1 to 10-3 & 10-13 to 10-20.) The officers “lunged” Partin into the shower and one of them dropped all his weight on Partin, causing an open wound over Partin's right eye from hitting the shower drain. (ECF No. 10 at 6.)

         Defendant Rogers was standing at the shower door when Partin turned around, and he removed Partin from the shower and replaced the zip ties around Partin's wrists, which were causing Partin's arms to swell, with handcuffs. (Id.) Partin contends that as a result of the assault he suffers from a permanent visible scar to his face, pain in his right knee, and sharp pain in both elbows when pressure is applied. His right hand is numb. Additionally, Partin's left knee, right foot, and shin were bleeding from the assault; he had taser marks on his back and right leg, a mark on his left jaw, a cut on his face, and bruising on both sides of his face, chest, elbows, shoulders, and legs. (Id. at 6-7.)

         Defendant Rogers and two other officers escorted Partin to medical services at about 6:00 p.m. (Id. at 7.) Partin contends he was in a lot of pain and that he asked Defendant Tucker to stitch up his head; however, he alleges that he was denied treatment and taken to Unit 4 segregation while still bleeding and with bare feet, wearing boxers and a t-shirt. (Id.) Partin was charged with the disciplinary infraction of defiance (Ex. 1, ECF No. 10-1) and contends he was held in segregation for 21 days without a hearing on that charge; he was then released from segregation. (ECF No. 10 at 7.)

         Partin further alleges that on June 15, 2016, Royce York, who is not a party to this complaint, sent Partin to have drug test. (Id.; see also Ex. 4(A) & 4(B), ECF Nos. 10-4 & 10-5) Partin informed Officer York that he needed to go to medical because he has a documented disability in that he cannot urinate every two hours. (ECF No. 10 at 7.) However, Partin was charged with a disciplinary infraction for refusing a drug test and was found guilty by Defendant Cagle on June 20, 2016, despite Cagle's prior knowledge of Partin's condition. (Id. at 8; see also Exs. 4-10, ECF Nos. 10-4 to 10-12.) Partin contends that, pursuant to TDOC policy, he should have been permitted to have an alternative form of drug testing, such as a blood test. (ECF No.10 at 8; see also Ex. 19 at 2, ECF No. 10-21.)

         On June 16, 2016, after seeing Nurse Zackery in the medical department, Partin asked for an Investigative Report of Injury but was told no report existed. (ECF No. 10 at 8-9.) Partin states that also on June 16, 2016, he asked Defendant Ables, who allegedly was at the clinic two days earlier when Partin was taken to medical after the incident, for an investigation and for medical treatment. (Id. at 9.) However, Defendant Ables later informed Partin that he did not have responsibility for the incident. (Id.)

         On June 21, 2016, Partin states that he saw Nurses David and Brenda, who made a note of his wounds. (Id.) He contends that although he had been requesting medical treatment since the incident on June 14, 2016, he did not receive any treatment until he was given Naproxen for pain on July 3, 2016. (Id. at 8.) On July 8, 2016, Partin was taken to the STG office, where pictures were made of his wrist, head and face. (Id. at 9.) He saw Defendant Tucker on July 14, 2016, and reported the pain in his elbows, right knee and hands, but Defendant Tucker told him that the pain and hand numbness would go away. (Id.) On July 20, 2016, Defendant Rogers allegedly told Partin that he would find out what was being done, including finding out why medical had not been treating him. (Id. at 9-10.)

         Partin filed a grievance with Captain Perkins on June 17, 2016, that was returned as inappropriate, but Partin mailed a copy of the denied grievance to Defendant Parker on July 7, 2016. (Id. at 10; see also Ex. 12, ECF No. 10-14.) Partin's lawyer then sent a letter to Defendant Parris regarding the June 14, 2016 incident, asking for information about the incident and photographs of Partin's injuries. (ECF No. 10 at 10; see also Ex. 2, ECF No. 10-2.) Partin alleges that he has not been able to work since the aforementioned incident and that he is suffering in pain, needs treatment, and is in fear for his physical safety. (ECF No. 10 at 10.)

         Partin filed another brief amendment to the complaint on September 14, 2016, in which he alleges that on August 31, 2016, he was seen by optometrist Dr. Tom Manning. (ECF No. 12.) Dr. Manning allegedly informed Partin that his right eye was damaged in the June 14, 2016, incident and that he needed a specialist. (Id.) It appears that Dr. Manning also prescribed eye drops, which Partin received on September 7, 2016. (Id.)

         Partin contends the actions of the Defendants violated his right to due process under the Fourteenth Amendment and amounted to cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment. (Id. at 10-13.) He also asserts claims of negligence and assault and battery. (Id. at 11.) Partin seeks both compensatory and punitive damages. (Id. at 3.)

         II. Analysis

         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). “[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. In addition, although the court ‚Äúprimarily ...

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