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Kuot v. Corrections Corporation of America

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

December 28, 2017

GAI KUOT, #507979, Plaintiff,
v.
CORRECTIONS CORPORATION OF AMERICA, et al., Defendants.

          Judge, Crenshaw

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          JEFFERY S. FRENSLEY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. Introduction and Background

         This matter is before the Court upon two Motions to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint: the first, filed by Defendants Schofield, [1] Woodall, [2] Parker, and Foster (collectively referred to as “TDOC Defendants”) (Docket No. 139); and the second, filed by Defendants Lindamood, Buttram, Dodd, McClain, Inman, [3] Coble, Hacker, Corrections Corporation of America (“CCA”), Medlin, Hininger, Chapman, and Killingsworth (collectively referred to as “CoreCivic Defendants”[4]) (Docket No. 142). Each Motion is accompanied by a supporting Memorandum of Law. Docket Nos. 140, 143.

         Plaintiff has filed a “Motion in Opposition to Defendant's [sic] TDOC et al” which states that it is in opposition to Docket No. 66.[5] See Docket No. 144. Plaintiff's “Motion in Opposition” also states that Plaintiff has “simultaneously filed a Memorandum of Law in Support of the instant Motion, ” which is apparently referring to Docket Nos. 145 and 146, both of which appear to be Plaintiff's response opposing the CoreCivic Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Docket No. 142). Although somewhat unclear, the undersigned will construe Plaintiff's submissions (Docket Nos. 144, 145, 146) to be responses in opposition to both the TDOC Defendants' and CoreCivic Defendants' Motions to Dismiss now before the Court.

         Plaintiff, pro se and in forma pauperis, filed his 137 page Amended Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Tenn. Code Ann. § 28-3-104, alleging 128 federal claims and 29 state law claims. Docket No. 138. Plaintiff generally avers that Defendants have violated his Eighth Amendment rights and have additionally violated numerous state tort laws. Id. Plaintiff summarizes the allegations of his 137 page Amended Complaint as follows: “Stripped to it's bare essential elements, [] Plaintiff's complaint alleges that: ‘ ...... Between November 2012 - June 2016 Defendant Core Civic has implemented and enforced de facto policies which have created dangerous and uncontrolled conditions of confinement wherein Plaintiff was violently assaulted and seriously injured multiple times . . . .” Docket Nos. 145, 146.

         Plaintiff sues CCA (now CoreCivic), CCA President Damon Hininger, CCA Regional Director Jason Medlin, Former South Central Corrections Facility (“SCCF”) Warden Arvil Butch Chapman, SCCF Warden “Cheryl” Lindamood, [6] Former SCCF Zone 2 Unit Manager Benjamin Killingsworth, SCCF Zone 2 Unit Manager Katherine Buttram, SCCF Associate Warden Daniel Dodd, Former SCCF Deputy Warden Dan Deavers “and his estate”, SCCF Chief of Security Christopher McClain, Former SCCF Zone 2 Unit Manager and “current” SCCF Assistant Chief of Security Mark Hacker, Former TDOC Commissioner Derrick Shofield, Former TDOC Deputy Commissioner Jason Woodall, [7] Former Assistant TDOC Commissioner and “current” TDOC Commissioner Tony Parker, TDOC Liasion Joel Foster, TDOC Contract Monitor Bryant Williams, SCCF Nurse “f/n/u” Rashti, SCCF Jane Doe Nurses 1 and 2, SCCF Physician and acting Health Administrator Robert Coble, and “John Doe Medical Health Services, ” employer of Dr. Coble, in their official and individual capacities. Id.

         Plaintiff seeks the following relief: (1) “Immediately arrange for SCO (seniors) assigned as Zone Seniors to be able to make the necessary cell change/cell assignments when Plaintiff and other similarly situated inmates are in a situation wherein they are assigned to cells with inmates that engage in STG activity”; (2) “Immediately arrange for the rigid and consistent enforcement of procedures and policies which will ensure that the Plaintiff and all other likewise situated inmates are protected against Cruel and Unusual Punishment by offering zero tolerance for STG activity, proper segregation of inmates who engage in STG activity, and zero inter mixing policy of confirmed, suspected STG affiliated inmates and those inmates who are not”; (3) “Refrain from destroying any recorded video evidence of the pervasive STG activity in the Housing units”; (4) $100, 000 in compensatory damages from each Defendant individually; (5) $250, 000 in punitive damages from each Defendant individually; and (6) “any other relief as it may appear [he] is entitled to.” Id.

         TDOC Defendants filed the instant Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint and supporting Memorandum on February 13, 2017, arguing that Plaintiff's Amended Complaint should be dismissed because it is untimely, fails to comply with the pleading requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 8, and fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Docket Nos. 139, 140. Specifically, TDOC Defendants argue that Plaintiff's Amended Complaint is untimely because, on January 3, 2017, this Court ordered Plaintiff to file his Amended Complaint within 20 days, but, although Plaintiff signed the Certificate of Service on January 23, 2017, the postage stamp reflects that it was not mailed until February 2, 2017, after the passage of 20 days, such that it was not timely filed. Docket No. 140, p. 2, fn. 2. TDOC Defendants further argue that Plaintiff has failed to comply with this Court's Order (Docket No. 128) and with Fed.R.Civ.P. 8, both of which require Plaintiff to provide a short statement of facts for his claims as to each Defendant, because Plaintiff's Amended Complaint is 137 pages consists generally of the same lengthy allegations as were in his initial Complaint such that Defendants are unable to clearly identify and properly respond to Plaintiff's claims. Id. at 2. TDOC Defendants additionally argue that many of Plaintiff's allegations appear to be outside the one year statute of limitations such that they are time-barred and should be dismissed. Id.

         TDOC Defendants also argue that Plaintiff's claims against them should be dismissed because his Amended Complaint fails to state a claim against them for which relief can be granted because: (1) state officials are not persons subject to suit under §1983; (2) Defendant Schofield is no longer TDOC Commissioner; (3) the State, its agencies, and its officers sued in their official capacities have immunity under the Eleventh Amendment; (4) Plaintiff has failed to allege direct participation or personal involvement so as to be able to sustain his individual capacity claims against them; and (5) Plaintiff's requests for injunctive relief are not proper. Id. at 2-9.

         Plaintiff responds that his Amended Complaint contains 128 individual federal constitutional claims and 29 state law claims that are “coherently organized in a way that allows each one to be either admitted or denied.” Docket Nos. 144, 145. Plaintiff continues, “there are a total of 157 different claims, supported by 96 pages of factual averments contained in numbered paragraphs 29 through 463, ” and “a total of 334 numbered paragraphs (i.e. ¶¶'s 29 though 463), that contain the actual pertinent facts to support these 157 different U.S. Constitutional and State tort claims.” Docket No. 145, p. 1-2. Plaintiff notes that the “statistics of the ratio of the numbered paragraphs to claims and other relevant statistics clearly show that the complaint properly comply's [sic] with the requirements of Fed. R. Civ. Proc., Rule 8(a), ” because “the amended complaint is worded/structured in such a way that results in a ratio of 3 (three) individual claims for every (one) page of factual averments, ” and he argues, “if succinctly listing the factual basis of three different claims on a single double spaced sheet isn't concise, then Plaintiff doesn't know what is.” Id. at 2 (emphasis original). Plaintiff continues, “the amended complaint is worded/structured in such a way that results in a ratio of only 2 numbered paragraphs per individual claim, ” and “if succinctly listing 2 numbered paragraphs is [sic] support of a single claim isn't concise,, [sic] then Plaintiff doesn't know what is.Id. at 2-3 (emphasis original). Plaintiff asserts that the multiple numbered paragraphs in his Amended Complaint are necessary under the heightened plausibility standards contained in Iqbal, but he maintains that his claims are “simple, concise, and direct” and he notes that there are, on average, only 3 numbered averments listed in support of each claim. Id. at 3-4. Plaintiff argues that if Defendants wanted a more specific explanation of each factual allegation, then they should have moved for a more definite statement. Id. at 4.

         Plaintiff further responds that Defendants “can't have it both way's [sic]; they can't argue one [sic] the one hand, that Plaintiff's allegations are ‘speculative' and ‘conclusory'; - and then on the other hand argue that the complaint is too ‘verbose' and ‘prolix' because Plaintiff has provided copious specific well plead facts in multiple numbered paragraphed averments in the complaint in order to put those allegations in context and bolster their plausibility, ” as required under Iqbal. Id. at 5. Plaintiff asserts that his statements are affirmative statements of fact, not conclusions, and that as such, they are entitled to an “assumption of truth.” Id. at 5-13.

         CoreCivic Defendants filed the instant Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint and supporting Memorandum on February 27, 2017, arguing that Plaintiff's Amended Complaint should be dismissed because it fails to comply with the Court's Order directing Plaintiff to file his “superceding amended complaint with a short statement of the facts for his claims as to each defendant” (Docket No. 128) and the pleading requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 8, and further fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Docket Nos. 142, 143. Specifically, CoreCivic Defendants argue, “Rather than comply with the Court's explicit directions and despite being given a second bite of the apple with notice of the failures of his first Complaint, the Plaintiff filed his Amended Complaint which, once again, is in clear violation of Rules 8 and 12 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.” Docket No. 143, p. 2. CoreCivic Defendants continue, “In fact, other than now claiming that the relevant timeline dates [are] from November of 2012 through the present; rather than November of 2012 through October of 2015, and minor reorganizations of his paragraphs, and the naming of the parties, for the most part, the Plaintiff's Amended Complaint mirrors his original Complaint and is in clear violation of this Court's orders. Therefore, the Court should dismiss this action.” Id. at 3.

         CoreCivic Defendants additionally argue that Plaintiff's Amended Complaint fails to state a claim against them for which relief can be granted because: (1) some of Plaintiff's claims are time-barred; (2) Plaintiff's official capacity claims against the individual Defendants are redundant because CCA is also a named Defendant in this matter and the individual Defendants stand in the shoes of CCA for purposes of official capacity liability under §1983; (3) Plaintiff's claims against CCA itself fail because Plaintiff's allegations concerning the existence of an official CCA policy, practice, or custom that caused him constitutional injury are conclusory and insufficient to state a claim against CCA under §1983; (4) Plaintiff's claims against Defendant Hininger are conclusory and fail to allege that Defendant Hininger had any personal involvement in any of the alleged constitutional deprivations, and §1983 does not permit the imposition of liability based upon respondeat superior; (5) Hank Inman is not a named Defendant in this action but Plaintiff attempts to assert a claim against him; however, Plaintiff's Amended Complaint does not contain sufficient factual allegations against Mr. Inman to state a claim against him; (6) “due to the incoherent, rambling, prolix nature of the Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, it is nearly impossible to decipher the specific factual allegations against each of the remaining CCA Defendants to determine whether the Plaintiff has alleged sufficient facts to demonstrate that each of them acted with deliberate indifference towards him. Because Plaintiff has failed to allege specific facts, rather than legal conclusions, to demonstrate that each of the CCA Defendants acted with deliberate indifference, his Amended Complaint fails to demonstrate that his claims are plausible”; and (7) Plaintiff's Amended Complaint fails to allege any other conditions of confinement claims; he has failed to allege in anything more than a conclusory manner that any of the CoreCivic Defendants acted with deliberate indifference to his health or safety and he has failed to allege that he suffered any injury as a result of his conditions of confinement. Id. at 5-15.

         CoreCivic Defendants further contend that the allegations of Plaintiff's Amended Complaint do not sufficiently state failure to train and/or insufficient staffing claims because they are conclusory and fail to allege facts tying the purported inadequate training and/or staffing to his alleged constitutional deprivation. Id. at 15-16. As for Plaintiff's denial of medical care claims, Plaintiff's Amended Complaint fails to sufficiently allege that Defendant Coble violated Plaintiff's constitutional rights, as several of Plaintiff's factual allegations against Defendant Coble were actually admissions by Plaintiff that Defendant Coble provided him with medical care. Id. at 16-17. Finally, CoreCivic Defendants maintain that this Court should decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff's state law claims or dismiss all of Plaintiff's state law claims for failing to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, for being time barred, and for being conclusory. Id. at 17-23.

         Plaintiff responds that the CoreCivic Defendants have denied his allegations, thereby demonstrating that his allegations, “by definition, ” are “organized enough to be either admitted or denied.” Docket No. 146. Plaintiff continues, “[D]efendants can't deny the truth of the factual averments in their foot notes, while being heard to complain that they can't understand any of these very same facts well enough to deny or admit their truthfulness in a responsive pleading.” Id. at 2 (emphasis original). Plaintiff reiterates his assertions that the Amended Complaint contains 128 individual federal constitutional claims and 29 state claims that are supported by 96 pages of factual averments set out in 334 numbered paragraphs (paragraphs 29 through 463), and that each numbered paragraph contains pertinent facts that are worded in such a way as to allow Defendants to either admit or deny their truthfulness. Id. at 3. Plaintiff argues that the Amended Complaint is structured in such a way that it averages 2 to 3 numbered paragraphs per individual claim, resulting in a ratio of 3 individual claims per page, with there being an average of 1.33 pages of pages of averments per each individually named Defendant. Id. at 3-5. Plaintiff argues that the factual allegations in support of his claims are “simple, concise, and direct, ” and that, if Defendants wanted a more specific explanation of each factual allegation, then they should have moved for a more definite statement. Id. at 5.

         Plaintiff again responds that Defendants “can't have it both way's [sic]; they can't argue one [sic] the one hand, that Plaintiff's allegations are ‘speculative' and ‘conclusory'; - and then on the other hand argue that the complaint is too ‘verbose' and ‘prolix' because Plaintiff has provided copious specific well plead facts in multiple numbered paragraphed averments in the complaint in order to put those allegations in context and bolster their plausibility, ” as required under Iqbal. Id. at 6-7. Plaintiff asserts that his statements are affirmative statements of fact, not conclusions, and that as such, they are entitled to an “assumption of truth.” Id. at 10-14.

         For the reasons set forth below, the undersigned finds that Plaintiff's Amended Complaint fails to comply with the pleading requirements set forth in this Court's Order (Docket No. 128) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 8. The undersigned further finds that the allegations of Plaintiff's Amended Complaint are conclusory and fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) against either the TDOC Defendants or the CoreCivic Defendants. The undersigned therefore recommends that Defendants' Motions to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (Docket Nos. 139, 142) be GRANTED, and that this Court decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff's state law claims.

         II. Facts

         After noting that Plaintiff's original 145 page Complaint was “rambling, repetitive, and far-reaching, ” Judge Sharp, in his Memorandum Opinion issued March 22, 2016, thoroughly summarized the allegations of Plaintiff's Complaint. See Docket No. 7. Plaintiff's 137 page Amended Complaint essentially mirrors his original Complaint, and remains “rambling, repetitive, and far-reaching.” Compare Docket No. 1 with Docket No. 138. Because Plaintiff's Amended Complaint generally reiterates the allegations of his original Complaint, and because Judge Sharp thoroughly summarized the allegations of Plaintiff's original Complaint, the undersigned incorporates by reference the factual summary set forth by Judge Sharp in his March 22, 2016 Memorandum Opinion and will not specifically restate the entirety of those allegations herein. Where relevant or necessary for a thorough legal analysis, or where the factual allegations of Plaintiff's Amended Complaint may differ from those of his original Complaint, the undersigned will include and discuss those allegations in the analysis below.

         III. Law and Analysis

         A. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a) and (d)

         Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a) and (d) set forth the requirements for a pleading that states a claim for relief as follows:

(a) Claim for Relief. A pleading that states a claim for relief must contain:
(1) a short and plain statement of the grounds for the court's jurisdiction, unless the court already has jurisdiction and the claim needs no new ...

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