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Watkins v. Lindamood

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

February 22, 2018

WARDEN CHERRY LINDAMOOD, et al., Defendants.

          Crenshaw Chief Judge.



         Plaintiff Larry Watkins has filed an unopposed motion entitled “Motion to Present Facts of Civil Rights Violations by Lindermoot, Woodall, Letney, Hacker, Casteel, Pevahouse.” (Doc. No. 24, PageID# 116-19.) He seeks the Court's leave to supplement his complaint with the allegations presented in which he “re-names defendant Lindermood after the Court dismissed Lindermood previously and also names a new Defendant Woodall, Deputy [Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC)] Commissioner for violation of plaintiff's USCA Rights.” (Id. at PageID# 120.) The motion focuses on a disciplinary charge Watkins received on September 22, 2016, related to possession of a cellphone and the subsequent disciplinary hearing regarding that charge.

         This “Motion to Present Facts of Civil Rights Violations” was subsequently re-filed verbatim by Watkins (Doc. No. 57), but with an addendum which noted as follows:

Also since the write up on 9-22-16 I've been falsely written up 3 more times, had witness[es] and got the disciplinary thrown out. Also on 8-26-17 my cellmate had something blocking the window[;] they charge both of us in the cell but my cellmate took the charge. It [is] the same thing that happen[ed] ¶ 9-22-16 my cellmate had a phone but just one of us in the cell got charge[d]. Policy [was] not follow[ed]. . . .

(Id. at PageID# 412.) Defendants Letney, Hacker, Casteel, and Pevahouse opposed the second filing of this motion, arguing that the relief Watkins seeks would be improper or futile. (Doc. No. 59.)

         The Court construes these filings as motions to amend or supplement the complaint. For the following reasons, the motions (Doc. Nos. 24 and 57) are DENIED.

         I. Background

         Watkins filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action on October 26, 2016, against Defendants Warden Cheryl “Linda Mood”; C/O Letney; “D-Board Hearing” Officer Brenda Pevahouse; Sgt. Hacker; Unit Manager Casteel; and Asst. Warden Eric Bryant. (Doc. No. 1, PageID# 1, 4.) Watkins, who is African American, alleges that Defendants discriminated against him during his incarceration at South Central Correctional Facility (SCCF) on the basis of his race when they disciplined him for possession of a cell phone, but did not discipline his cellmate, who is of a different race. (Doc. No. 1, PageID# 4-5.)

         A. The Allegations of Watkins's Complaint

         In his complaint, Watkins states that, on September 22, 2016, Defendant Letney called him a “monkey.” (Doc. No. 1, PageID# 4.) When Watkins asked Letney for a grievance to report this, Letney responded, “ain't none.” (Id.) Later that day, Letney “came around to [Watkins's] cell at the Annex at S.C.C.F., ” where Watkins's “cellmate had a phone showing it to [him].” (Id.) Watkins told his cellmate, inmate Lyles, “to get the phone out [of] the cell.” (Id.) Letney was “in the [cell's] window looking” and “[h]e busted into the cell saying give it to me.” (Id.) Watkins said, “I have nothing.” (Id.) Letney “kept looking and located [the phone] on i/m Lyles['s] shelf.” (Id.) Letney then “got on his walkie talkie” and “called Sgt. Hacker.” (Id.) Watkins told them, “I have nothing.” (Id. at PageID# 4-5.) Hacker handcuffed Watkins and took him to the front office; then, joined by a counselor with a video camera, Hacker took Watkins to the clinic. (Id. at PageID# 5.)

         According to Watkins, “[p]olicy states [that] any such item found in a cell or room is presumed to be in the possession of all occupants of that housing space.” (Id.) Nonetheless, “Lyles did not get charge[d], and Defendants instead charged Watkins, “the black man, ” because of the earlier incident with Letney. (Id.) Watkins further alleges that “the same day[, ] two black inmates got charge[d] with the same” possession of contraband, and “they brought both to the compound.” (Id.)

         During the subsequent disciplinary board hearing regarding the cellphone charge, Letney was asked where he observed the phone and replied that it was “in [Watkins's] hand.” Letney also stated that Watkins put the phone in the “back pocket of [his] TDOC . . . blues.” (Id.) Watkins responded that Letney was lying, saying “I had on greys[, ] get the video camera.” (Id.) The disciplinary board hearing officer Brenda Pevahouse told Watkins that the “tapes were recorded over” and that not giving Watkins the tapes was not a violation of due process (Id.)

         Watkins also alleges that Correctional Corporation of America, the former operator of SCCF, “has no control, ” resulting in inmates “killing each other, gang members jumping on racial [and] smart mouth guards.” (Id.) If the gang members “fight each other, ” they “go to segregation for 3 days[, ] then they are back together sticking [and] killing at CCA.” (Id.) He contends that CCA “steal[s] money from [the] federal gov[ernment]” by “taking money for federal project that they do not do.” (Id.) He also states that “they [are] paying Board of Parole” and that “[t]hey hire straight off the streets[, ] no experience here, ” with “[g]uards bring[ing in] drugs [and] contraband.” (Id.) In a letter ...

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