United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Winchester
L. COLLIER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Plaintiff's pro se amended
complaint for violation of civil rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 [Doc. 4]. On October 18, 2017, the Court screened
the original complaint and found that “Plaintiff's
complaint does not name a proper defendant and as such does
not appear to state any claims for relief that would survive
the screening requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 1915”
[Doc. 3 p. 5]. However, the Court granted Plaintiff leave to
file an amended complaint in accordance with LaFountain
v. Harry, 716 F.3d 944, 951 (6th Cir. 2013) (holding
that “a district court can allow a plaintiff to amend
his complaint even when the complaint is subject to dismissal
under the PLRA”) [Id.].
amended complaint must also be screened to determine whether
it states a claim entitling Plaintiff to relief or is
frivolous or malicious or seeks monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2) and § 1915A. If the amended pleading does not
state a claim, is frivolous or malicious, or seeks monetary
relief from a defendant who enjoys immunity, the entire suit
must be dismissed. For the reasons discussed below, this
action will proceed only as to Plaintiff's Eighth
Amendment claims against Defendants Lohey and Edwards.
amended complaint, Plaintiff brings suit against Defendants
Austin Swing, Tim Lohey and Tonya Edwards [Doc. 4 p. 1].
Plaintiff asserts that he has not received proper medical
care, leading to severe pain and suffering in his knee
[Id. at 4-6].
alleges that on June 30, 2017, he injured his knee while
climbing into the top bunk of the bed in his cell
[Id. at 4]. On July 1, 2017, he was examined by a
nurse at the Bedford County Jail, who scheduled Plaintiff a
visit with Doctor Matthews, a doctor at the Bedford County
Jail, for July 13, 2017 [Id.]. When he met with the
doctor, Plaintiff claims that Doctor Matthews told him that
he had a torn meniscus in his knee and would notify Defendant
Lohey immediately of Plaintiff's need for surgery
[Id.]. Additionally, Plaintiff claims that Doctor
Matthews documented the need for surgery in Plaintiff's
file, and told a nurse to ensure that Plaintiff would be
placed in a bottom bunk [Id.].
then claims that he contacted Defendant Lohey, head jail
administrator at the Bedford County Jail, several times to
try and arrange a doctor's visit and a move to a lower
bunk [Id. at 5]. Plaintiff alleges that on August
17, 2017, Defendant Lohey wrote that nothing was written
regarding Plaintiff being scheduled for surgery, that he did
not qualify for a furlough, and directed Plaintiff to talk to
his attorney [Id.]. Plaintiff's attorney later
informed him that he had spoken with Defendant Andrews, head
nurse at the Bedford County Jail, who stated that Plaintiff
did not need emergency surgery [Id.].
Andrews claimed that Defendant Lohey was responsible for
releasing Plaintiff for surgery, while Defendant Lohey told
Plaintiff that it was not his decision [Id. at 6].
When Plaintiff questioned Defendant Andrews, she stated
Plaintiff's family would have to schedule a doctor's
visit outside of the jail [Id.]. After
Plaintiff's sister scheduled a doctor's visit and
informed jail officials on September 27, 2017, Plaintiff
claims that he spoke to “the nurse, ” who claimed
that she knew nothing about the scheduled visit
[Id.]. Plaintiff's sister then contacted Bedford
County Jail officials again on October 18, 2017, and spoke to
“the nurse” about Plaintiff's scheduled
doctor's visit [Id.]. However, Plaintiff claims
that he has yet to be taken to his scheduled doctor's
visits [Id.]. Plaintiff also brings suit against
Defendant Swing, Sheriff of Bedford County, in his role as
“overseer” of the jail, claiming that
Plaintiff's sister contacted Defendant Swing about the
lack of medical care [Id.]. Ultimately, Plaintiff
claims that he has not yet received surgery, and requests
monetary damages for his pain and suffering [Id. at
the PLRA, district courts must screen prisoner complaints and
sua sponte dismiss those that are frivolous or
malicious, fail to state a claim for relief, or are against a
defendant who is immune. See Benson v. O'Brian,
179 F.3d 1014, 1015-16 (6th Cir. 1999) (“Congress
directed the federal courts to review or ‘screen'
certain complaints sua sponte and to dismiss those
that failed to state a claim upon which relief could be
granted [or] . . . sought monetary relief from a defendant
immune from such relief.”). The dismissal standard
articulated by the Supreme Court in Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009) and in Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 554 (2007) “governs dismissals
for failure state a claim under [28 U.S.C. §§
1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A] because the relevant statutory
language tracks the language in Rule 12(b)(6).”
Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir.
2010). Thus, to survive an initial review under the PLRA, a
complaint “must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). However,
pro se pleadings filed in civil rights cases must be
liberally construed and held to a less stringent standard
than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972).
state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the plaintiff must
establish that he was deprived of a federal right by a person
acting under color of state law. Black v. Barberton
Citizens Hosp., 134 F.3d 1265, 1267 (6th Cir. 1998);
O'Brien v. City of Grand Rapids, 23 F.3d 990,
995 (6th Cir. 1994); Russo v. City of Cincinnati,
953 F.2d 1036, 1042 (6th Cir. 1992); see also Braley v.
City of Pontiac, 906 F.2d 220, 223 (6th Cir. 1990)
("Section 1983 does not itself create any constitutional
rights; it creates a right of action for the vindication of
constitutional guarantees found elsewhere."). In other
words, the plaintiff must plead facts sufficient to show: (1)
the deprivation of a right, privilege, or immunity secured to
him by the United States Constitution or other federal law;
and (2) that the individual responsible for such deprivation
was acting under color of state law. Gregory v. Shelby
Cty., 220 F.3d 433, 441 (6th Cir. 2000).
Official Capacity Claims
has filed suit against Defendants Austin Swing, Bedford
County Sheriff, Tim Lohey, Bedford County Jail administrator,
and Tonya Edwards, head nurse at the Bedford County Jail. The
Sixth Circuit has made clear that a suit brought against a
public, government official will not be construed as seeking
damages against a defendant in his individual capacity unless
the claim for individual liability is clearly and
definitively set forth in the pleading. Perlfrey v.
Chambers, 43 F.3d 1034, 1038 (6th Cir. 1995);
Thiokol Corp. v. Dep't of Treasury, 987 F.2d
376, 383 (6th Cir. 1993). Generally, absent any indication a
defendant is being sued in his individual capacity, courts
must assume the defendant is being sued only in his official
capacity as an employee of the ...