United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Eastern Division
ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO AMEND, PARTIALLY DISMISSING
COMPLAINT, DENYING MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY INJUNCTIVE RELIEF,
AND DIRECTING THAT PROCESS BE ISSUED AND SERVED.
D. TODD UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
pro se Plaintiff, Omowale Ashanti Shabazz a/k/a Fred
Dean, an inmate at the Northwest Correctional Complex (NWCX)
in Tiptonville, Tennessee, filed this action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983 on March 20, 2017. (ECF No. 1.) After he
was directed to file a properly supported in forma
pauperis affidavit and a copy of his inmate trust
account statement (ECF No. 3), Shabazz elected to pay the
$400 filing fee. On September 29, 2017, Plaintiff moved to
file an amended complaint. (ECF No. 5.) That motion is
GRANTED. As the amended complaint appears intended to
supersede the original complaint, the amended complaint will
now be the operative pleading in the case. (ECF No. 5-1.) The
Court shall record the Defendants as Centurion, a private
health care provider for the Tennessee Department of
Correction (TDOC); TDOC Commissioner Tony Parker; TDOC
Medical Director Kenneth Williams, M.D.; TDOC Associate
Medical Director Kenneth L. Wiley, M.D.; NWCX Warden Michael
Parris; and NWCX Medical Director Cortez Tucker.
Court is required to screen prisoner complaints and to
dismiss any complaint, or any portion thereof, if the
(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
28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b); see also 28 U.S.C. §
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.”).
alleges that during his time as an inmate in the custody of
the TDOC he has been and is being “consistently and
systematically” denied adequate medical treatment for
his Hepatitis B and C. In essence, he alleges the Defendants
knowingly adopted and continue to follow constitutionally
inadequate policies and procedures for diagnosing and
treating prisoners with Hepatitis B and C. Those
unconstitutional policies and procedures allegedly use
outdated standards of medical care with the primary goal of
reducing costs, which has resulted in an almost total denial
of treatment for prisoners such as Shabazz who have Hepatitis
B and C. Shabazz alleges the Defendants have, therefore,
demonstrated deliberate indifference to his serious medical
needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
Court finds the allegations in the amended complaint are
sufficient to state an Eighth Amendment claim for denial of
adequate medical care. See Farmer v. Brennan, 511
U.S. 825, 834 (1994); Blackmore v. Kalamazoo Cnty.,
390 F.3d 890, 895 (6th Cir. 2004); see also Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97 (1976).
seeks declarative and injunctive relief as well as
compensatory and punitive damages. With regard to the claims
for money damages, process will be issued for Defendant
Centurion and for the TDOC and NWCX Defendants in their
individual capacities. However, to the extent that Plaintiff
seeks money damages from any of the TDOC or NWCX Defendants
in their official capacities, the claims must be treated as
claims against the State of Tennessee. Will v. Mich.
Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989). As
such, those damages claims are barred by the Eleventh
Amendment, see Lewis v. Clarke, 137 S.Ct. 1285,
1290-91 (2017) (official capacity suits may be barred by
sovereign immunity), because Tennessee has not waived its
sovereign immunity. See Tenn. Code Ann. §
20-13-102. The official capacity claims for money damages
will, therefore, be dismissed.
generally permissible for a § 1983 plaintiff to sue
state employees in their official capacities for declaratory
and prospective injunctive relief to remedy an ongoing
violation of federal law. See Pennhurst State Sch. &
Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 102-03 (1984) (citing
Ex parte Young, 209 U.S. 123, 159-60 (1908));
see also Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 167 n. 14
(1985). In this case, however, the Court finds that
Plaintiff's claims for equitable relief are duplicative
of and subsumed by a prior class action suit that is
currently pending in the U.S. District Court for the Middle
District of Tennessee.
class action complaint in Graham, et al. v. Parker, et
al., No. 3:16-cv-01954 (M.D. Tenn.), was filed on July
25, 2016, several months before Plaintiff filed this action.
The allegations and issues raised in that action are largely
identical to those raised by Plaintiff in his original and
amended complaints. Indeed, many of the factual allegations
in both the original and amended complaints in this case were
taken verbatim from the complaint in Graham.
Compare No. 17-1051 (W.D. Tenn) (Am. Compl., ECF No.
5-1 at 6-7, ¶¶ 22-28), with No. 16-01954
(M.D. Tenn.) (Compl., ECF No. 1 at 3-5, ¶¶ 10-16);
compare No. 17-1051 (Am. Compl., ECF No. 5-1 at
11-13, ¶¶ 54-59), with No. 16-01954
(Compl., ECF No. 1 at 5-7, ¶¶ 17-21). In addition,
the declaratory and injunctive relief sought in
Plaintiff's amended complaint is essentially the same as
that sought in Graham. Compare No. 17-1051
(ECF No. 5-1 at 21-22, ¶¶ A-C), with No.
16-01954 (ECF No. 1 at 12-13, ¶¶ 2-4).
4, 2017, U.S. Chief District Judge Waverly D. Crenshaw, Jr.,
issued an order granting the Plaintiffs' motion for class
certification in Graham. No. 16-01954 (ECF No. 33.)
Judge Crenshaw defined the class as:
All persons currently incarcerated in any facility under the
supervision or control of the Tennessee Department of
Corrections or persons incarcerated in a public or privately
owned facility for whom the Tennessee Department of
Corrections has ultimate responsibility for their medical
care and who have at least 90 days or more remaining to serve
on their sentences and are either currently diagnosed with
Hepatitis C infection or are ...