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Haithcote v. Woodard

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

March 22, 2018

JEFF W. HAITHCOTE, Plaintiff,
v.
TDOC DEPUTY COMMISSIONER WOODARD, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          WAVERLY D. CRENSHAW, JR. CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Jeff W. Haithcote, a state inmate confined at the Lois M. DeBerry Special Needs Facility in Nashville, Tennessee, filed this pro se civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. No. 1.) Plaintiff has also filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis (Doc. No. 2) and a motion to appoint counsel (Doc. No. 3).

         I. Application to Proceed as a Pauper

         A prisoner bringing a civil action may be permitted to file suit without prepaying the filing fee. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). Because it appears from Plaintiff's in forma pauperis application that he lacks sufficient financial resources from which to pay the full filing fee in advance, Plaintiff's application (Doc. No. 2) will be granted. Plaintiff nonetheless remains responsible for paying the full filing fee. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). Plaintiff will therefore be assessed the full $350.00 filing fee, to be paid as directed in the accompanying Order.

         II. Initial Review

         The Court is required to conduct an initial review and dismiss the complaint if it is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A, 1915(e)(2)(B); 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(1). The Court must construe a pro se plaintiff's complaint liberally, United States v. Smotherman, 838 F.3d 736 (6th Cir. 2016) (citing Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)), and accept the plaintiff's factual allegations as true unless they are entirely without credibility. See Thomas v. Eby, 481 F.3d 434, 437 (6th Cir. 2007) (citing Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 33 (1992)).

         A. Factual Allegations

         On December 13 and 14, 2016, while confined at the Bedford County Jail (“BCJ”) in Shelbyville, Tennessee, Plaintiff was referred to Moccasin Bend Mental Health Institute (“MBMHI”) in Chattanooga, Tennessee. (Doc. No. 1 at 13.) MBMHI staff prescribed Plaintiff Zoloft and diagnosed him with a drug disorder, anti-social disorder, depression disorder, and suicidal ideation. (Id.) Bedford County Sheriff Austin Swing, BCJ Administrator Mary West, and BCJ Captain of Operations Tim Lokey were allegedly aware of Plaintiff's visit to MBMHI. (Id.)

         In early 2017, Plaintiff filled out a sick call request at BCJ stating that he was still experiencing serious depression and needed his medication adjusted. (Id. at 14.) Plaintiff told a nurse he was having suicidal thoughts, and the nurse made an appointment for Plaintiff to see a doctor the next day. (Id.) Plaintiff returned to general population in contravention of policy requiring him to be placed in observatory isolation. (Id.) Plaintiff did not see a doctor the next day, and BCJ Nurse Becky later informed him that a doctor visit was unnecessary because she had doubled his medication. (Id.)

         On January 18, 2017, Plaintiff had an adverse reaction to his medication in the form of an “anxiety attack of sorts.” (Id.) After Plaintiff overcame the adverse reaction, another BCJ inmate tackled Plaintiff. (Id. at 10, 14.) Plaintiff did not provoke the attack. (Id.)

         Following the attack, Plaintiff laid on the ground and told BCJ Correctional Officers Jordon, Cooper, and Crow “at least 3 times” that the attack had broken his hip. (Id. at 10.) Jordon, Cooper, and Crow nonetheless placed Plaintiff in handcuffs, forced him to walk “approximately 70-75 feet” to the booking area, and strapped him into a restraint chair. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that he “felt [his leg] completely break right before” being strapped into the restraint chair. (Id. at 10-11.) Plaintiff was then taken to Bedford County Hospital, where Plaintiff received x-ray scans that reflected his “upper right femur bone was completely broken.” (Id. at 11.) Plaintiff has not moved without the aid of a wheelchair or walker since the attack. (Id. at 12, 17.)

         On the evening of January 19, 2017, Dr. Peterson performed surgery on Plaintiff at Bedford County Hospital, inserting an “8 to 10 inch rod” in Plaintiff's upper right leg. (Id. at 11.) Dr. Peterson did not treat Plaintiff's “busted right knee.” (Id.) On January 22, 2017, Plaintiff returned to the Bedford County Jail and informed BCJ security and medical staff that he was experiencing “extreme pain, ” bruising, and swelling in his right knee. (Id.) The condition of Plaintiff's right knee worsened overnight. (Id.) Another inmate helped Plaintiff prepare sick call requests, grievances, and requests for “furlough status” in an effort to get Plaintiff medical attention. (Id.) Plaintiff sent these requests to Sheriff Swing, BCJ Administrator West, and BCJ Captain of Operations Lokey. (Id.) Lokey denied these requests. (Id.)

         At some point after Lokey denied the requests, Plaintiff received an x-ray scan of his right knee. (Id.) Plaintiff did not receive any further treatment at Bedford County Jail, and he was transferred to DeBerry Special Needs Facility (“DSNF”) on safekeeping status within the following week. (Id.)

         From February 2, 2017 to March 2, 2017, Plaintiff “complained about” his right knee at DSNF. (Id.) On March 2, 2017, Plaintiff attended a scheduled visit to receive an x-ray scan of his right upper femur. (Id.) An x-ray technician named Wayne felt “pieces of broken bone protruding from the back and side, ” and then took an x-ray scan of Plaintiff's right knee. (Id.) DSNF medical staff prescribed Plaintiff a wheelchair, walker, and ibuprofen. (Id. at 12, 17.) Dr. Nwozo, a bone specialist, reviewed Plaintiff's x-ray and recommended Plaintiff undergo surgery to remove bone fragments ...


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