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Tolbert v. State

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

September 28, 2017

WILLIE TOLBERT, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE OF TENNESSEE; NATTELY VOSS, Medical Director; DENISE CLENNA, Nurse; TONY PARKER, Commissioner; SHAWN PHILIPS, MCCX Warden; C/O FNU GLOVER C/O FNU BEEVIS; WILLIAM REBURN, III; JONATHAN LEBO, WTSP Warden; SHARON ROSE; JONATHAN BARTLETT, Sergeant; DWIGHT WELCH; WARREN JENNINGS; Inmate; A.T.W. FNU FINCH; FNU BINCKLEY, Counselor; TOM KESSLER, M.D.; CAPTAIN FNU CHARLES; LISA BROOKS; AND CASSANDRA HANNAH Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING PENDING MOTIONS, DISMISSING CLAIMS, AND GRANTING LEAVE TO AMEND

          S. THOMAS ANDERSON CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On February 27, 2017, Plaintiff Willie Tolbert, 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. The Court granted Tolbert leave to proceed in forma pauperis and assessed the civil filing fee pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(a)-(b). (ECF No. 7.) The Clerk shall record the Defendants in this case as the Tennessee Department of Correction (“TDOC”); Nattely Voss, Medical Director; Denise Clenna, Nurse; Tony Parker, TDOC Commissioner; Shawn Phillips, Morgan County Correctional Complex (“MCCX”) Warden; C/O First Name Unknown (“FNU”) Glover; C/O FNU Beevis; Williams Reburn, III; Jonathan Lebo, WTSP Warden; Sharon Rose; Jonathan Bartlett, Sergeant; Dwight Welch; Warren Jennings, Inmate; A.T.W.[1] FNU Finch; FNU Binckley, Counselor; Tom Kessler, M.D.; Captain FNU Charles; Lisa Brooks; and Cassandra Hannah. Defendants are sued in their individual capacities except for Defendants Glover, Beevis, and Reburn who are sued in their official capacities only.

         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 Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) pleadings standards 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). The Court accepts the Complaint's “well-pleaded” factual allegations as true and then determines whether the allegations “plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief.'” Williams v. Curtin, 631 F.3d 380, 383 (6th Cir. 2011) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 681). Conclusory allegations “are not entitled to the assumption of truth, ” and legal conclusions “must be supported by factual allegations.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. Ultimately, a complaint need only contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Rule 8(a)(2) nevertheless requires factual allegations to make a “showing, rather than a blanket assertion, of entitlement to relief.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 n.3.

         “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)). Even so, 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). And district courts are not required “to ferret out the strongest cause of action on behalf of pro se litigants.” Young Bok Song v. Gipson, 423 F.App'x 506, 510 (6th Cir. 2011). In the final analysis, a court “cannot create a claim which [a plaintiff] has not spelled out in his pleading.” Brown v. Matauszak, 415 F.App'x 608, 612-13 (6th Cir. 2011).

         Tolbert filed his Complaint on the official form for actions under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Section 1983 provides as follows:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress . . . .

         To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two elements: (1) a deprivation of rights secured by the “Constitution and laws” of the United States (2) committed by a defendant acting under color of state law. Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 150 (1970).

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 18(a), “[a] party asserting a claim . . . may join, as independent or alternative claims, as many claims as it has against an opposing party.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 18(a). Rule 20(a)(2) provides that persons may be joined in one action as defendants if:

(A) any right to relief is asserted against them jointly, severally, or in the alternative with respect to or arising out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series ...

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