Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Turner v. Smith

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

March 28, 2018

JOSHUA B. TURNER, # 551-643 Plaintiff,
v.
WILLIAM E. SMITH # 651-930 Plaintiff,
v.
PRISONER TRANSPORT SERVICE OF AM., et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

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

         Joshua B. Turner, an inmate of the North East Arkansas Community Correction in Lake City, Arkansas, and William E. Smith, an inmate of the Chillicothe Correctional Institution in Chillicothe, Ohio, bring this pro se, in forma pauperis action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against “Prisoner Transport Service of Am.” (PTS), “U.S. Correction Prisoner Trans. Srv., ” drivers N. Carlson and f/n/u Vaughn, and four as-yet identified John and Jane Doe drivers, alleging that these Defendants violated the Plaintiffs' civil rights while transporting them from North Carolina to several other states. (Doc. No. 1).

         The Plaintiffs' claims are before the Court at this time for an initial review pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A.

         I. PLRA Screening Standard

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), the court must dismiss any portion of a civil complaint filed in forma pauperis that fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, is frivolous, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. Section 1915A similarly requires initial review of any “complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity, ” id. § 1915A(a), and summary dismissal of the complaint on the same grounds as those articulated in § 1915(e)(2)(B). Id. § 1915A(b).

         The Sixth Circuit has confirmed that the dismissal standard articulated by the Supreme Court in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), and Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), “governs dismissals for failure to state a claim under those statutes because the relevant statutory language tracks the language in Rule 12(b)(6).” Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010). Thus, to survive scrutiny on initial review, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “[A] district court must (1) view the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and (2) take all well-pleaded factual allegations as true.” Tackett v. M & G Polymers, USA, LLC, 561F.3d 478, 488 (6th Cir. 2009) (citing Gunasekera v. Irwin, 551 F.3d 461, 466 (6th Cir. 2009) (citations omitted)).

         Although pro se pleadings are to be held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972); Jourdan v. Jabe, 951 F.2d 108, 110 (6th Cir. 1991), the courts' “duty to be ‘less stringent' with pro se complaints does not require us to conjure up [unpleaded] allegations.” McDonald v. Hall, 610 F.2d 16, 19 (1st Cir. 1979) (citation omitted).

         II. Section 1983 Standard

         The Plaintiffs bring their claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Title 42 U.S.C. § 1983 creates a cause of action against any person who, acting under color of state law, abridges “rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws . . . .” To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege and show two elements: (1) that he was deprived of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States; and (2) that the deprivation was caused by a person acting under color of state law. Tahfs v. Proctor, 316 F.3d 584, 590 (6th Cir. 2003); 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

         III. Alleged Facts

         The complaint alleges that, in May of 2017, the Plaintiffs were extradited from North Carolina to Ohio and Arkansas. They were transported in a conversion van operated by U.S. Correction acting as an affiliate agent of PTS. According to the complaint, the Plaintiffs were subjected to unconstitutional conditions of confinement during the ten-day journey. For example, the complaint alleges that the van did not have seat belts, interior lights, an emergency exit, or a fire extinguisher; the drivers consistently drove recklessly including smoking and texting while driving at high rates of speed in excess of posted speed limits; the van drivers would not stop even when the Plaintiffs and other inmate passengers vomited and needed to clean up; the van drivers gave Gatorade jugs and trash bags to the Plaintiffs to use as urinals in the van instead of providing adequate restroom breaks; and the passenger inmates had to ride for days surrounded by vomit and urine.

         The complaint further alleges that the van was involved in a near accident in or near Atlanta, Georgia, when Defendant Carlson was texting and speeding while driving through a construction zone and suddenly braked to avoid hitting another vehicle. The sudden braking caused the Plaintiffs to slam against one another and into a metal wall located at the rear compartment of the van, injuring Turner's foot and Smith's neck and left shoulder.

         The Plaintiffs sought medical attention for their injuries, and Carlson “did not respond to [their] pleas for help, and when [the plaintiffs] got up from the floor, she accelerated and threw us all back towards the rear cage doors and [the plaintiffs] all got tangled up again . . . .” (Doc. No. 1 at 10). The Plaintiffs' requests for medical attention were otherwise ignored. Vaughn had to assist Turner on and off the van due to his injured foot. The Plaintiffs asked for grievance forms regarding the incident and their untreated injuries, but the drivers told the Plaintiffs: “we don't have those.” (Id. at 11). On May 7, 2017, the drivers left the Plaintiffs at the Nelson County Jail for three and half hours. The Plaintiffs requested medical attention, but the jail's nurse already had left for the day, so the Plaintiffs were held in the jail's library until the van returned at 9:30 p.m.

         Next, the drivers headed to a Kentucky prison where the Plaintiffs “were told not to ask for medical care there[;] you won't get any.” (Id. at 13). The Plaintiffs next arrived at “the Hub, ” a county jail with holding pods for PTS prisoners. Upon arrival, the intake officer gave the Plaintiffs forms for requesting medical attention and grievance forms. Two days later, on May 9, 2017, a female doctor “made a visional minimum inspection” of the Plaintiffs' injuries and said she would order x-rays “if P.T.S. would pay for ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.