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Bonds v. Lindamood

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

January 16, 2018


          TO Honorable Waverly D. Crenshaw, Jr., Chief District Judge


          BARBARA D. HOLMES United States Magistrate Judge

         By Order entered December 6, 2016 (Docket Entry No. 8), this pro se prisoner civil rights action was referred to the Magistrate Judge for pretrial proceedings under 28 U.S.C. §§ 636(b)(1)(A) and (B), Rule 72(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and the Local Rules of Court.

         Pending before the Court are a motion to dismiss filed by Defendant Robert Turman (Docket Entry No. 88) and a motion for summary judgment filed by Defendants Cherry Lindamood, Brandon Bowers, Rhonda Staggs, Doreen Trafton, Brenda Pevahouse, Eric Bryant, Sean Brantley, Robert Wesson, Hank Inman, Christopher Martinez, and Jesse James (Docket Entry No. 91). Plaintiff has responded in opposition to both motions. For the reasons set out below, the undersigned Magistrate Judge respectfully recommends that the motions be granted and this action be dismissed.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Antonio Bonds (“Plaintiff') is an inmate of the Tennessee Department of Correction (“TDOC”) currently confined at the Northwest Correctional Complex in Tiptonville, Tennessee. He filed this lawsuit pro se and in forma pauperis on October 13, 2016, against several prison officials seeking relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against them in their individual and official capacities. Plaintiff alleges that his constitutional rights were violated during his prior confinement at the South Central Correctional Facility (“SCCF”) in Clifton, Tennessee. Specifically, his lawsuit centers around events that occurred over the span of approximately seven days in May 2016 when he was held in administrative segregation at the SCCF.

         On the afternoon of Tuesday, May 10, 2016, Plaintiff was placed in administrative segregation pending investigation based on a report issued that day by Hank Inman (“Inman”), the SCCF Security Threat Group Coordinator. Inman suspected Plaintiff of being involved in security threat group activity. In accordance with TDOC policy, Plaintiff was held in segregation for seven days until the evening of Tuesday, May 17, 2016, when he was released back to the general population. Although Plaintiff was released from administrative segregation, he was charged by Inman with the disciplinary offense of participation in security threat group activity. However, the charge was dismissed prior to a disciplinary hearing.

         Plaintiff alleges that his constitutional rights were violated in several ways during his stay in administrative segregation. First, he asserts that the living conditions were so bad that they amounted to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment. See Complaint (Docket Entry No. 1), at 8-9, ¶ D. He alleges that his cell had no emergency call button, was filthy and reeked of the smell of urine and body wastes from the prior occupants, and that the toilet in the cell had a ring of feces in it. Id. He asserts that he had difficulty obtaining toilet tissue, that it took five days for him to obtain cleaning supplies, and that he did not have his bed linens, shower shoes, reading materials, religious items, blood pressure medications, and legal papers for two days because of delays in obtaining personal property from his prior housing unit.[1] Id. at 8-9, ¶¶ D and G. He further contends that a policy directive from Assistant Warden Eric Bryant (“Bryant”) requires that the shoes of inmates entering administrative segregation be confiscated, forcing him to walk around in his socks for two days until his shower shoes were given to him. Id. at 9, ¶ C. He asserts that he was not permitted to take a shower or have outside recreation during his seven day stay in administrative segregation and that the lights in the segregation pods are on 24 hours a day. Id. at ¶ J. Plaintiff implicates TDOC official Robert Turman (“Turman”) and SCCF officers Doreen Trafton (“Trafton”), Ronda Staggs (“Staggs”), Brandon Bowers (“Bowers”), Jessie James (“James”), Christopher Martinez (“Martinez”), David Moore (“Moore”), Robert Wesson (“Wesson”), and Sean Brantly (“Brantley) in these events. Plaintiff further alleges that he was not placed in a cell that had a toilet when he initially entered the administrative segregation unit and that he had to urinate in a cup in the cell and on the cell floor because Moore, Wesson, and Martinez ignored his request to use the restroom. Id. at 9, ¶ I.

         Plaintiff also alleges that his First Amendment and Due Process rights were violated. He asserts that he is a Muslim and that his right to practice his religion was infringed upon because, despite his complaints to Trafton and Brantley, he had to wait two days to receive his Qur'an after he was transferred to administrative segregation. Id. at 9, ¶ F. Plaintiff asserts that he was denied due process by Inman and SCCF Disciplinary Board Chairperson Brenda Pevahouse (“Pevahouse”) because his placement in administrative segregation at the direction of Inman was undeserved and because his request for a disciplinary hearing was not granted by Pevahouse. Id. at 9, ¶¶ A and B. Plaintiff alleges that his right to be free from retaliation was violated by Trafton and Bowers because Trafton ignored his requests for a grievance form and Bowers cursed at him and threatened to not feed him lunch if he continued to ask Bowers about the whereabouts of a grievance form. Id. at 9, ¶ E. Finally, Plaintiff alleges that he wrote to Warden Cherry Lindamood (“Lindamood”) about his placement in administrative segregation and about the conditions in the unit but that she failed to respond to his letter. Id. at 6, ¶ 1.

         After the Court's initial review of the lawsuit pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A, [2] Defendants Turman and Defendants Lindamood, Bowers, Staggs, Trafton, Pevahouse, Bryant, Brantley, Wesson, Inman, Martinez, and James (“SCCF Defendants”) were served with process[3] and pretrial proceedings have occurred pursuant to a scheduling order. See Docket Entry No. 48. In addition to the two pending dispositive motions filed by Defendants, Plaintiff has filed a motion to amend his complaint, seeking to add additional claims and add defendants in place of “John Doe” defendants that were named in his original complaint. See Docket Entry No. 94. The merits of the motion to amend are addressed in this Report and Recommendation.


         Defendant Turman seeks dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, arguing that Plaintiff's allegations are not sufficient to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 upon which relief can be granted against him. Specifically, Turman argues that the only factual allegations Plaintiff makes against him is that Plaintiff made a verbal complaint to Turman, who is the TDOC liason at the SCCF, on the morning of May 17, 2016, about Defendant Bowers not providing showers to inmates in administrative segregation and that Turman stated “you are to get showers Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.” See Complaint at 16 and 17, ¶¶ 62-64. Turman argues that these allegations do not show that Turman had any role in denying Plaintiff showers or that Turman took or failed to take any action regarding Plaintiff that would support a claim of liability against Turman for denying Plaintiff's constitutional rights. Plaintiff responds by asserting that Defendant Turman was made aware of the lack of shower issue and yet took no action to ensure that Plaintiff was provided with a shower. See Plaintiff's Response (Docket Entry No. 96). Plaintiff argues that these facts are sufficient to show that Turman disregarded an excessive risk to Plaintiff's health because of the lack of showers and took part, implicitly authorized, and knowingly acquiesced in the conduct of Bowers. Id. at 2, ¶ 3.

         Defendant Turman's motion to dismiss should be granted. Personal liability under Section 1983 must be based upon facts showing that a defendant had some actual role in causing the constitutional violation at issue. See Bellamy v. Bradley, 729 F.2d 416, 421 (6th Cir. 1984). Plaintiff must establish a “causal connection between the misconduct complained of and the official sued.” Dunn v. State of Tennessee, 697 F.2d 121, 128 (6th Cir. 1982). There are no allegations that Turman was involved in deciding whether Plaintiff was given a shower during the seven days that he was in administrative segregation. Further, Plaintiff's complaint to Turman, on the last day that Plaintiff was held in administrative segregation, about not receiving showers during the prior week and the fact that Turman did not take steps to immediately ensure that Plaintiff received a shower is simply an insufficient basis to show active participation in or authorization of the conduct of the officers who actually managed the segregation unit. Mere allegations that a supervisory official failed to intervene upon receiving an inmate's complaint are generally not sufficient to support a constitutional claim. See Grinter v. Knight, 532 F.3d 567, 576 (6th Cir. 2008); Shehee v. Luttrell, 199 F.3d 295, 300 (6th Cir. 1999).

         Even when the Court accepts as true the allegations made against Turman and construes Plaintiff's complaint liberally in favor of the pro se Plaintiff, as is required for review of the Rule 12(b)(6) motion, see Kottmyer v. Maas, 436 F.3d 684 (6th Cir. 2006); Boswell v. Mayer, 169 F.3d 384, 387 (6th Cir. 1999); Morgan v. Church's Fried Chicken, 829 F.2d 10, 11-12 (6th Cir. 1987), Plaintiff's Complaint fails to set out factual allegations that would support a claim of individual liability against Turman under Section 1983. Given the lack of a plausible claim against Turman, his dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is warranted. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)).

         III. MOTION FOR ...

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