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Olmstead v. Fentress County

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Northeastern Division

September 21, 2017

FENTRESS COUNTY, TN, et al., Defendants.

          Crenshaw, Chief Judge.



         Plaintiff Phillip David Olmstead, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, has filed a motion to amend his complaint (Doc. No. 50), to which Defendants Fentress County, Tennessee; Sheriff Charles “Chucky” Cravens; Administrator Candy Norman; Sue Cravens; Dwain Matthews; Lance Stephens; and Gary Stockton[1] (collectively, the County Defendants) have responded in opposition (Doc. No. 60). Olmstead has replied in support of his motion. (Doc. No. 72.) For the reasons stated below, Olmstead's Motion to Amend (Doc. No. 50) is GRANTED.

         I. Background

         Olmstead filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action on June 23, 2016, against Defendants Fentress County, Tennessee; “Nurse Tony (“L/N/U”); Fentress County Sheriff Chucky Cravens; Administrator Candy Norman; Correctional Officer “Sue”; Correctional Officer Ginger Goodpastor; and Correctional Officer John Does 1-4. (Doc. No. 1.) Olmstead alleges that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs by failing to provide him with prescribed medication for hypertension during his incarceration at the Fentress County Justice Center (FCJC) and ignoring his repeated request for medical attention when his blood pressure became extremely elevated, resulting in permanent impairment of his vision. (Id. at PageID# 1-3, ¶¶ 1, 8-9, 12, 15.)

         A. Procedural History

         On July 11, 2016, the Clerk of Court issued summonses to John Doe 3 (Lance Stephens); John Doe 4 (Gary Stockton); Fentress County, “C/O Mayor Ryan Smith”; “Nurse Tony (last name unknown)”; Charles Cravens; Candy Norman; “C/O Sue (last name unknown)”; “John Doe 2 aka C/O Dewayne (Last name unknown)”; and Ginger Goodpastor. (Doc. No. 9.) Stephens, Stockton, Charles Cravens, Norman, Sue Cravens, and Dwain Matthews filed an answer on August 22, 2016. (Doc. No. 21.) The Court determined that Mayor Smith was improperly named as a representative of Fentress County and granted his motion to dismiss. (Doc. No. 145.) The Court then ordered the reissuance of process to Fentress County, which answered on October 28, 2016. (Doc. Nos. 41, 42.) The Court also ordered that the Clerk reissue process to Defendant Anthony Martin, who, after the Court ordered his employer to provide a current service address, was served on April 11, 2017, and filed an answer on the same date. (Doc. Nos. 127-28, 136.)

         On October 11, 2016, Olmstead moved for leave “to amend the complaint correcting names and dates” based on discovery. (Doc. No. 50, PageID# 180.) The County Defendants oppose Olmstead's motion on grounds that his proposed amendments are futile because they are time-barred. (Doc. No. 60, PageID# 228.)

         B. The Allegations of Olmstead's Original Complaint

         In his original complaint, Olmstead states that he notified FCJC booking officers when he arrived at the jail that he took medicine for his high blood pressure. (Id. at PageID# 2, ¶ 9.) Although Olmstead had received his blood pressure medication when incarcerated in Fentress County on other occasions, he states that he did not receive his medication at FCJC for “several weeks.” (Id. at PageID# 3, ¶¶ 11-12.) When Olmstead signed up for sick calls in to inquire about his medication, he was told by Nurse Tony that they could not verify the prescriptions for his daily medications and would give him Clonadine instead. (Id. at ¶ 14.) Olmstead states that Clonadine is “a fast-acting medicine for emergency use; it is not intended for daily use.” (Id. at ¶ 17.)

         Sometime thereafter, Olmstead awoke with “a severe headache, blurred vision, dizziness, and trouble standing, ” which he attributed to his high blood pressure. (Id. at ¶ 18.) Olmstead advised FCJC officers that he needed medical attention throughout the day. (Id. at PageID# 3-4, ¶¶ 19, 21.) He did not receive medical attention in response to these requests. (Id. at PageID# 3- 4, ¶¶ 20, 22, 23, 24, 29.) Olmstead states that, by 6:00 p.m., he could no longer see or walk. (Id. at PageID# 5, ¶ 36.) Olmstead's cellmate began kicking the cell door and repeatedly pressing the call button for help. (Id. at PageID# 4-5, ¶¶ 25, 37.) When an officer checked Olmstead's blood pressure, it was 250/180. (Id. at PageID# 5, ¶ 38.) He was taken to the emergency room and treated. (Id. at ¶ 39.) Olmstead states that he regained full use of his left eye but, due to nerve damage, now has only 10% vision in his right eye, which he expects to deteriorate until “he is 100% blind in that eye.” (Id. at PageID# 6, ¶¶ 43, 45.) He states that “[t]his nerve damage was caused by the delay in treating [his] high blood pressure.” (Id. at ¶ 46.)

         II. Legal Standard

         A court reviews a motion for leave to amend a pleading under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(2), which provides that a court “should freely give leave” to amend “when justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). This “mandate is to be heeded” and is based upon the premise that, “[i]f the underlying facts or circumstances relied upon by a plaintiff may be a proper subject of relief, he ought to be afforded an opportunity to test his claim on the merits.” Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962). This deferential standard also provides the court discretion to deny leave to amend “based on undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive or futility of amendment.” Pedreira v. Ky. Baptist Homes for Children, 579 F.3d 722, 729 (6th Cir. 2009) (citation omitted); Foman, 371 U.S. at 182.

         Amendment is futile when the proposed amendment would not survive a motion to dismiss. Rose v. Hartford Underwriters Ins. Co., 203 F.3d 417, 420-21 (6th Cir. 2000). To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint need not contain “detailed factual allegations” but must include more than “labels and conclusions.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). “[A] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).

         “The plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability requirement, ' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). A plaintiff must plead more than “labels and conclusions, ” “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action, ” or “naked assertions devoid of further factual enhancement.” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557). “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. Finally, “[a] document filed pro se is to be liberally construed, and a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007).

         III. ...

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