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Taylor v. Jones

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

October 6, 2017

MARKUS JONES, ET AL., Defendants.



         On August 5, 2016, Plaintiff Caleb Anderson Taylor, an inmate at the Northwest Correctional Complex (“NWCX”) in Tiptonville, Tennessee, filed pro se a Complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 accompanied by a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. On August 10, 2016, the Court granted Taylor 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). Taylor's claims arise from his imprisonment at West Tennessee State Penitentiary (“WTSP”) in Henning, Tennessee, making venue proper in this District. The Clerk shall record Defendants in this case as WTSP Officer Markus Jones, WTSP Sergeant Billy Washington, and the Tennessee Department of Correction (“TDOC”).


         Taylor alleges that on September 11, 2015, he was in protective custody at WTSP and housed in a cell without working cameras. (Compl. at 3.) In response to some unspecified form of mistreatment or conflict, Taylor decided to pack up his property and advised Officer Matthew Smith, who is not a party to this action, that he was refusing his cell assignment pursuant to TDOC policy. (Id.) Officer Smith called Defendants Jones and Washington and requested that they remove Taylor to segregation. (Id.) Taylor alleges that when Jones and Washington arrived, Taylor insisted on exercising his right to refuse his cell assignment. (Id.) Jones responded by telling Taylor that Taylor could either go back to his assigned cell or Jones would use force to return Taylor to his cell. (Id.) Jones proceeded to put Taylor back in his cell forcibly. (Id.)

         After Jones returned Taylor to the cell, Taylor kicked the cell sink off the wall and broke the cell window. (Id.) Jones and Washington were called away in the mean time to handle a fight between other inmates. (Id. at 4.) When Jones and Washington returned to Taylor's cell, they told Taylor to sit at his desk and then opened the door to the cell. (Id.) Jones and Washington then commanded Taylor to get up. (Id.) Taylor slowly stood up and raised his hands with both palms up to indicate to Jones and Washington that he did not have a weapon. (Id.) When Taylor told Jones and Washington that he did not want any problems, Jones allegedly responded, “Shut the fuck up and put your hands behind your back.” (Id.)

         Taylor then moved one of his hands behind his back at which point Jones and Washington rushed toward Taylor, grabbed Taylor's other arm, and slammed Taylor's head into the wall several times while stating, “Did we not tell you to shut the fuck up and chill out?” (Id.) Taylor further alleges that he moved his free hand to shield his head as both Jones and Washington slammed his head into the desk. (Id.) According to the Complaint, Jones pulled Taylor's arm over his head in such a way that Jones fractured Taylor's humerus. (Id., see also Clinical Restrictions, ECF No. 1-3 at 3.) Taylor claims that he required surgery to correct the fracture but had his request for treatment at the Lois M. DeBerry Special Needs Facility denied. (Id. at 4-5, see also Inmate Inquiry dated Mar. 7, 2016, ECF No. 1-2 at 4 & Grievance No. 2016-4, ECF NO. 1-4 at 19-24.)

         Taylor alleges that he attempted to file grievances against Jones and Washington but was unable to file them for some unexplained reason. (Id. at 5.) Taylor states that he has suffered from mental health issues all his life. (Id.) Taylor is suing Jones and Washington for violations of his mental health rights and assault on a mentally ill inmate. (Id.) Taylor seeks compensatory damages or, in the alternative, a reduction of his sentence. (Id. at 6.)


         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 ...

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