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Miller v. Klyce

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

February 22, 2018

TROY KLYCE, ET AL., Defendants.



         On June 1, 2017, Plaintiff Jody Wayne Miller, an inmate at the Morgan County Correctional Complex in Wartburg, Tennessee, filed a pro se complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and a motion seeking leave to proceed in forma pauperis in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. (ECF Nos. 1 & 2.) On June 22, 2017, U.S. District Judge Waverly D. Crenshaw, Jr. granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis, assessed the civil filing fee pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)-(b), and transferred the case to this district where venue is proper. (ECF No. 4.) The Clerk shall record the Defendants as Crockett County; Crockett County Sheriff Troy Klyce; and Candice Haynes, who is identified as the former Chief Jailer at the Crockett County Jail (Jail).[1]

         Miller alleges in the complaint that he was arrested on June 15, 2016, and taken to the Jail. (ECF No. 1 at 4.) A week prior to his arrest, Miller had been injured in an accident in which he suffered a broken collar bone as well as other, less serious, injuries. (Id.) He alleges that upon his arrival at the Jail, he told Defendant Haynes that he had an appointment to have surgery at a local hospital. (Id.) However, Haynes allegedly told Miller they did not take people to the hospital from the Jail because there were not have enough employees to do so. (Id. at 5.) When Miller told Haynes that his collar bone was broken and he was in a lot of pain, she allegedly told him that was not her concern. (Id.) Although Miller told Haynes he had been prescribed medication for the pain, he was not given that medication. (Id.)

         Miller further alleges that an unidentified nurse, who worked at the Jail only once a week, refused his request for assistance in getting to the hospital for surgery, refused to provide him with his prescribed pain medication, and refused to adequately examine his injury. (Id. at 5-6.) Although she ultimately provided him with two Ibuprofen daily, Miller alleges it had no effect on his pain. (Id. at 6.)

         Miller asserts that when he received no help from Defendant Haynes or the nurse, he sent a note to Sheriff Klyce but received no reply. (Id.) Miller then filed two grievances seeking medical help and transportation to the hospital for surgery. (Id.) He alleges the only response to the grievances was from Defendant Haynes, who told him that he had better stop trying to cause trouble for the Jail. (Id. at 7.) Miller also states that he also received no response to a letter he sent to the County Executive of Crockett County. (Id. at 7-8.)

         Miller alleges he remained in the Jail for two months without treatment, during which his collar bone healed crooked, twisting his shoulder into an awkward position and continuing to cause him pain. (Id. at 7.) He states that after he was transferred into the custody of the Tennessee Department of Correction, his collar bone had to be re-broken and surgery done to repair it. (Id.) Miller asserts that he still has some pain because the bone will never be perfectly aligned due to the delay in treatment at the Jail. (Id.)

         Miller seeks both compensatory and punitive damages.

         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 standards under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), as stated in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-79 (2009), and in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-57 (2007), are applied. Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010). “Accepting all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true, the Court ‘consider[s] the factual allegations in [the] complaint to determine if they plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief.'” Williams v. Curtin, 631 F.3d 380, 383 (6th Cir. 2011) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 681). “[P]leadings that . . . are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth. While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679; see also Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 n.3 (“Rule 8(a)(2) still requires a ‘showing, ' rather than a blanket assertion, of entitlement to relief. Without some factual allegation in the complaint, it is hard to see how a claimant could satisfy the requirement of providing not only ‘fair notice' of the nature of the claim, but also ‘grounds' on which the claim rests.”).

         “A complaint can be frivolous either factually or legally.” Hill, 630 F.3d at 470 (citing Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989)). “Any complaint that is legally frivolous would ipso facto fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Id. (citing Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 328-29).

Whether a complaint is factually frivolous under ยงยง 1915A(b)(1) and 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) is a separate issue from whether it fails to state a claim for relief. Statutes allowing a complaint to be dismissed as frivolous give judges not only the authority to dismiss a claim based on an indisputably meritless legal theory, but also the unusual power to pierce the veil of the complaint's factual allegations and dismiss those claims whose factual contentions are clearly baseless. Unlike a dismissal for failure to state a claim, where a judge must accept all factual allegations as true, a judge ...

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