United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
JEFFERY S FRENSLEY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Introduction and Background
matter is before the Court upon Defendants' Motion for
Summary Judgment. Docket No. 132. Along with that Motion,
Defendants have contemporaneously filed a supporting
Memorandum of Law (Docket No. 133), a Statement of Undisputed
Material Facts (Docket No. 140), and the Affidavits of
Deborah Tomlin (Docket No. 134), Derrick Schofield (Docket
No. 135), Stevenson Nixon (Docket No. 136), Tony Parker
(Docket No. 137), Marcia Campey (Docket No. 138), and
Patricia Crockett (Docket No. 139).
has filed a Response to the instant Motion, which
specifically states that it is a Response to Defendants'
Motion for Summary Judgment, supporting Memorandum of Law,
and Affidavits, but which also contains handwritten responses
to Defendants' Statement of Undisputed Material Facts.
See Docket No. 144.
an inmate of the Tennessee Department of Correction
(“TDOC”), filed his pro se, in forma pauperis,
Verified Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
alleging that Defendants violated his Eighth Amendment rights
when they failed to place a statewide
“incompatible” designation on him, which in turn
resulted in him being assaulted. Docket No. 1. Plaintiff sues
Defendants in their official capacities, and seeks: (1) a
designation of “incompatible” in the TDOC
computer system; (2) an Order that he be housed at the
DeBerry Special Needs Facility for the remainder of his
sentence; (3) to be taken to “outside medical” to
“check & clear” him from the assault; (4) to
receive physical therapy; (5) $3, 000, 000.00 in compensatory
damages from TDOC; and (6) an immediate release from prison.
filed the instant Motion for Summary Judgment and supporting
materials arguing that they are entitled to a judgment as a
matter of law because: (1) Plaintiff's claims against
Defendants Schofield and Parker are based upon respondeat
superior, which does not provide a basis for the imposition
of liability under §1983 absent allegations that they
personally authorized, approved, or knowingly acquiesced to
the allegedly unconstitutional conduct; (2) Defendant
Schofield did not receive a copy of the hearing transcript
referenced in Plaintiff's Complaint and therefore did not
have notice of any threats to Plaintiff's safety; (3)
Plaintiff's allegations that Defendants should have
placed a statewide incompatible designation in his record is
conclusory and fails to allege any unconstitutional acts on
the part of them; (4) because Defendants did not know of a
substantial risk to Plaintiff's safety, they can not be
said to have disregarded that risk, such that they cannot be
held liable for such an Eighth Amendment claim; (5) none of
these Defendants had any knowledge whatsoever about
Plaintiff's alleged injuries, such that they cannot be
held liable for denying him medical care for those alleged
injuries; and (6) there is no evidence in the record that
Plaintiff suffered actual injury, and if he did, any such
injury would be de minimis, such that under 42 U.S.C. §
1997e(e) Plaintiff would be unable to establish sufficient
physical injury. Docket Nos. 132-40. Defendants further argue
that this action must be dismissed because they are entitled
to qualified immunity and because the Eleventh Amendment bars
monetary claims against them in their official capacities, as
they are not “persons” as defined in § 1983.
in his Response, argues that, “at the end of the day,
my entire last 3 - 1983 complaints have been regarding the
corruptness of the Tenn. Department of Corrections. And their
department repeatedly, not only put my life and safety in
danger. But numerous other inmates life and safety in danger
in the custody of the T.D.O.C. across the state which is why
I refuse to just lay down, give up and die.” Docket No.
144, p. 3. Plaintiff further argues that Defendants
“were all at fault for me being assaulted on 1-22-15
one way or another.” Id. at 4. Plaintiff
maintains that he repeatedly asked for an incompatible
designation but his requests were ignored. Id.,
passim. Addressing the issue of his injuries,
Plaintiff asserts, “Between all the times that I had
been assaulted at South Central, C.B.C.X., ‘while in
Davidson County Criminal Court' I suffered several
permentaly [sic] physically and mentaly
[sic] injuries. Still right to this day. I suffer
from seriouse [sic] physical challenges and also
seriouse [sic] mental challenges mainly
‘P.S.D' [sic] which makes me very extra
paranoid. Every [sic] since my assaults at S.C.C.F.
and C.B.C.X.” Id. at 5. Plaintiff argues that
Defendants should be held “accountable for their
actions” and should be made to “protect my life
and safety while in their custody. Just as if I was their on
[sic] son or daughter.” Id.
reasons set forth below, the undersigned finds that no
genuine issues of material fact exist and that Defendants are
entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. Accordingly, the
undersigned recommends that Defendants' Motion for
Summary Judgment (Docket No. 132) be GRANTED.
Allegations Against These Defendants in Plaintiff's
TDOC policies and guidelines, “the proper thing to
do” would have been for Defendants to place a statewide
TDOC incompatible designation on Plaintiff regarding every
inmate who was known to be a danger to Plaintiff, but
Defendants did not do so, instead refusing Plaintiff's
incompatible request. Docket No. 1, p. 4-5.
Nixon verbally responded to one of Plaintiff's grievances
and threatened to take away his recently-granted
classification override. Id. at 6.
Affidavit of Deborah Tomlin
times relevant to the instant action Deborah Tomlin was
employed as an Institutional Investigator at the Charles Bass
Correctional Complex in Nashville, Tennessee. Docket No. 134,
¶ 2. Investigator Tomlin had spoken with Plaintiff on
several occasions and recalls him from memory. Id.,
¶ 3. When Plaintiff was transferred to the Charles Bass
Correctional Complex, Investigator Tomlin had no knowledge of
any other lawsuits Plaintiff had filed, his background, or
the basis for his transfer to Charles Bass, as such
information is not typically shared with her. Id.,
Tomlin never attended any hearings related to any other
lawsuit concerning Plaintiff, nor was she provided with any
documentation or transcripts related to any other case.
Id., ¶ 5. Investigator Tomlin did not receive
any other information that would suggest that there was a
risk to Plaintiff's safety. Id.
Tomlin has no specific knowledge about the alleged assault on
Plaintiff at the Davidson County Courthouse on January 22,
2015; it was not brought to her attention at the time it
occurred, nor was she asked to conduct an investigation into
the alleged assault. Id., ¶ 6.
first time that Investigator Tomlin heard that Plaintiff
wanted incompatibles put in place on his institutional record
was on March 19, 2015, when she receiving an email from
Plaintiff's counselor (Tom Rushing), saying that he
needed to speak with her. Id., ¶ 7.
Investigator Tomlin received another email on the same day
with information on the inmates for whom Plaintiff was
requesting to be indicated as incompatible. Id.,
¶ 8. The inmates for whom Plaintiff requested to be
indicated as incompatible on March 19, 2015 were Edwin
Santiago, Jr., James Shields III, Audarious Watts, Ladarius
Craig, Elbert Gleaves, and Christopher Young. Id.,
¶ 9. When Investigator Tomlin received Tom Rushing's
emails on March 19, 2015, she immediately started an
investigation into the incompatible request and, on April 1,
2015, she entered the requested inmates' names into TOMIS
as being incompatible with Plaintiff. Id., ¶
10. At the time of Investigator Tomlin's Affidavit, those
inmates remained listed as being incompatible with Plaintiff.
Id. Investigator Tomlin's understanding was that
in anticipation of Charles Bass Correctional Complex May 2015
closure, Plaintiff approached his counselor to make sure that
when he was assigned to a new prison, he did not get assigned
to one where these particular inmates were being housed.
Id., ¶ 11. Prior to March 19, 2015, neither
Plaintiff nor anyone else had given Investigator Tomlin any
reason to believe that there was a threat to Plaintiff's
safety, or that incompatibles needed to be placed on his
institutional record. Id., ¶ 12.
Tomlin is certain that Plaintiff never personally told her
that he feared any other inmate or that he wanted an
incompatible designation put in place between he and another
inmate. Id., ¶ 13. If an inmate claims that he
is in fear for his life or that his safety is at risk, he is
segregated while the incompatible investigation is conducted.
Id., ¶ 16.
March 19, 2015, none of the inmates were housed with
Plaintiff at Charles Bass so there was no immediate threat to
his safety. Id., ¶ 14. Prior to March 19, 2015,
Investigator Tomlin had no reason to designate Plaintiff as
incompatible with any other inmate, and she could not have
done so without having evidence that such a designation was
necessary. Id., ¶ 15.
Tomlin has no knowledge of Plaintiff's alleged injuries,
nor has she ever been in a position to offer Plaintiff
medical care. Id., ¶ 17.
Affidavit of ...