United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee
BENJAMIN T. WALLIS, Plaintiff,
CORRECTION CORPORATION OF AMERICA, CORRECT CARE SOLUTIONS, HAMILTON COUNTY, and CHRISTOPHER HOWARD, Defendants.
A. VARLAN, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Benjamin T. Wallis, has filed a filed a civil rights
complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 [Doc. 1-1].
Plaintiff's case was originally filed in the Hamilton
County Circuit Court as Civil Action Number 17C401, and was
removed to this Court by Defendants on April 24, 2017 [Doc.
1]. Presently before the Court are the motion to dismiss, or
in the alternative, motion for summary judgment filed by
Defendant Correct Care Solutions (“CCS”) [Doc.
6], and the motion for summary judgment filed by Defendants
Correction Corporation of America (“CCA”) and
Christopher Howard [Doc. 17]. For the reasons discussed
below, Plaintiff's complaint will be
DISMISSED sua sponte, and the
motion to dismiss, or in the alternative, motion for summary
judgment filed by Defendant CCS [Doc. 6], and the motion for
summary judgment filed by Defendants CCA and Howard [Doc. 17]
will be DENIED as moot.
filed this complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the
Hamilton County Circuit Court on March 16, 2017, for alleged
violations of his civil rights occurring during his
confinement at the Silverdale Detention Facility
(“Silverdale”) [Doc. 1-1 p. 2]. Plaintiff claims
that the Defendants acted in deliberate indifference under
the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution,
violated the Tennessee Constitution, and that Defendants were
negligent to his health and safety [Id. at 2-15].
Initially, Plaintiff claims that on March 30, 2016, he was
attacked by several gang members after arriving at Silverdale
[Id. at 2]. Plaintiff alleges that he informed
“Mr. Moon and Mrs. Allen” that he was in need of
medical attention, but that they failed to provide him with
medical care [Id.]. Further, Plaintiff claims that
from March 31 to April 1, 2016, he continued to suffer
extreme pain, and repeatedly became unconscious from his
injuries [Id.]. However, Plaintiff alleges that he
was unable to receive medical care because Defendant CCA
failed to “hire enough staff to properly run the
facility” [Id.]. Plaintiff claims that he
repeatedly informed CCA and CCS officials of his injuries,
but failed to receive medical care [Id. at 3].
on April 2, 2016, Plaintiff claims that he lost consciousness
and fell down a flight of stairs, suffering severe injuries
[Id. at 4]. After his fall, Plaintiff alleges that
he was assaulted by medical officials who neglected his
health and safety [Id. at 5]. Ultimately, Plaintiff
claims that he was paralyzed from the neck down for several
days due to the failure of CCA and CCS staff to provide
proper medical care [Id.]. Further, Plaintiff claims
that CCA and CCS officials assaulted him when they
transported him to Erlanger Medical Center for further
treatment when security and medical officials threw Plaintiff
out of his medically necessary wheelchair [Id. at
claims that Defendants failed to properly train or supervise
security and medical personnel, which resulted in
Plaintiff's injuries [Id. at 10-14].
Additionally, Plaintiff claims that Defendants were
responsible for the inhumane conditions in which he was
incarcerated, as several employees threatened and assaulted
Plaintiff [Id.]. Lastly, Plaintiff alleges that
Defendants acted in deliberate indifference to his health and
safety because they knew that he was receiving improper
medical care [Id.].
the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”),
district courts must screen prisoner complaints and sua
sponte dismiss those that are frivolous or malicious,
fail to state a claim for relief, or are against a defendant
who is immune. See Benson v. O'Brian, 179 F.3d
1014, 1015-16 (6th Cir. 1999) (“Congress directed the
federal courts to review or ‘screen' certain
complaints sua sponte and to dismiss those that
failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted
[or] . . . sought monetary relief from a defendant immune
from such relief.”). The dismissal standard articulated
by the Supreme Court in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662 (2009), and in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544 (2007), “governs dismissals for failure to
state a claim under [28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and
1915A] 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).
to survive an initial review under the PLRA, 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). However,
“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, 561 F.3d 478, 488 (6th Cir. 2009)
(citing Gunasekera v. Irwin, 551 F.3d 461, 466 (6th
Cir. 2009) (citations omitted)).
state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must
establish that they were deprived of a federal right by a
person acting under color of state law. Black v.
Barberton Citizens Hospital, 134 F.3d 1265, 1267 (6th
Cir. 1998); O'Brien v. City of Grand Rapids, 23
F.3d 990, 995 (6th Cir. 1994); Russo v. City of
Cincinnati, 953 F.2d 1036, 1042 (6th Cir. 1992); see
also Braley v. City of Pontiac, 906 F.2d 220, 223 (6th
Cir. 1990) (“Section 1983 does not itself create any
constitutional rights; it creates a right of action for the
vindication of constitutional guarantees found
elsewhere.”). In other words, Plaintiff must plead
facts sufficient to show: (1) the deprivation of a right,
privilege, or immunity secured to her by the United States
Constitution or other federal law; and (2) that the
individual responsible for such deprivation was acting under
color of state law. Gregory v. Shelby Cty., 220 F.3d
433, 441 (6th Cir. 2000).
Plaintiff previously filed a civil rights complaint in this
Court raising essentially the same claims raised in this
case, concerning conduct occurring over the same period of
time, and brought against the same Defendants in the current
case. See Wallis v. Correction Corp. of America, et.
al, No. 1:17-cv-61. That matter remains pending before
between federal district courts, . . . though no precise rule
has evolved, the general principle is to avoid duplicative
litigation.” Colorado River Water Conservation
Dist. v. United States, 424 U.S. 800, 817 (1976).
“Generally, a suit is duplicative if the claims,
parties, and available relief do not significantly differ
between the two actions.” Serlin v. Aruthus
Anderson & Co., 3 F.3d 221, 223 (7th Cir. 1993).
Faced with a duplicative suit, such as this one, a federal
court may exercise its discretion to stay or dismiss the suit
before it, allow both federal cases to proceed, or enjoin the
parties from proceeding in the other suit. See Smith v.
SEC, 129 F.3d 356, 361 (6th Cir. 1997).
respect to duplicative suits, the Sixth Circuit has stated
“[S]imple dismissal of the second suit is [a] common
disposition because plaintiffs have no right to maintain two
actions on the same subject in the same court, against the
same defendant at the same time.” Curtis v.
Citibank, N.A., 226 F.3d 133, 138-39 (2d Cir. 2000);
see also Missouri v. Prudential Health Care Plan,
Inc., 259 F.3d 949, 953-54 (8th Cir. 2001) (joining