United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee
JOHN E. TAYLOR, Plaintiff,
UNIT MANAGER BUDDY DAVIS, CCO SAMANTHA WALKER, and SGT. NICOLE BROOKS, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
A. VARLAN, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is Plaintiff's pro se complaint for violation
of civil rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 [Doc. 1].
For the reasons discussed below, this action will proceed as
to Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claims against Defendants
Davis, Walker, and Brooks.
currently in custody at the Morgan County Correctional
Complex (“MCCX”), filed this complaint under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 on February 12, 2018, in the United States
District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee [Doc. 1].
On March 20, 2018, the Middle District transferred
Plaintiff's case to the “United States District
Court of the Eastern District of Tennessee, Northern Division
at Knoxville” [Doc. 5 p. 3]. Prior to transfer, the
Middle District granted Plaintiff's request to proceed
in forma pauperis, but did not screen the complaint
pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act
(“PLRA”) [Doc. 5]. On April 17, 2018, the Court
granted Plaintiff's motion in opposition to the transfer
[Doc. 8], and transferred his case to the Winchester Division
of this District [Doc. 9].
complaint alleges violations of his civil rights during his
confinement at the Bledsoe County Correctional Complex
(“BCCX”) [Doc. 1 p. 3]. Plaintiff brings suit
against three BCCX staff members in their individual
capacities-Defendants Davis, Walker, and Brooks
[Id.]. Plaintiff alleges that on August 18, 2017, he
was assigned to a cell on the second floor at BCCX
[Id. at 3]. Plaintiff then informed CCO Walker and
Unit Manager Davis that he has suffered seizures in the past,
and requested to be placed on the first floor [Id.
at 4]. Defendants Walker and Davis refused to move Plaintiff,
despite Plaintiff's request that they call the clinic to
confirm his request [Id.]. Plaintiff then asked
Sergeant Brooks for help, but Defendant Brooks also refused
to move Plaintiff's assignment [Id.].
on August 19, 2017, Plaintiff claims that he “went head
first down 15 steps . . . [and] was rushed from the pod to
the ER” [Id.]. Further, Plaintiff alleges that
“[w]hen [he tried] to see medical after the accident,
[he] was never seen” [Id.]. Plaintiff claims
that Defendants Davis, Walker, and Brooks'
“fail[ure] to provide [him] a cell assignment
consistent with [his] severe medical condition . . . which
they were, or should have been aware [of]” resulted in
his fall and severe injuries [Id.]. Further,
Plaintiff claims that Defendants “were clearly aware
that [he] was already having to utilize a cane due to a
[prior] severe leg injury” [Id.]. As a result
of the fall, Plaintiff alleges that he has suffered severe
pain to his head and legs, as well as a back injury which
causes him to be confined to a wheel chair [Id.].
the 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).
Deliberate Indifference Claims
claims that Defendants Davis, Walker, and Brooks disregarded
his need for a different housing assignment are properly
brought under the Eighth Amendment. See Robbins v.
Black, 351 Fed.Appx. 58, 61 (6th Cir. 2009) (assessing
claims of failure to make a medically appropriate bunk
assignment under the Eighth Amendment). A prison
authority's deliberate indifference to an inmate's
serious medical needs violates the Eighth Amendment.
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104-05 (1976). An
Eighth Amendment claim is composed of two parts: an objective
component, which requires a plaintiff to show a
“sufficiently serious” deprivation, and a
subjective component, which requires him to show
“deliberate indifference.” Farmer v.
Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994). The objective
component requires an inmate to establish that he is
suffering from a sufficiently serious medical need, such that
“he is incarcerated under conditions posing a
substantial risk of serious harm.” Id. at 834.
The subjective component requires an inmate to show a prison
official possessed a culpable state of mind-one of
“deliberate indifference.” Id.
“Put simply, ‘deliberate indifference' to a
substantial risk of serious harm to a prisoner is the
equivalent of recklessly disregarding that risk.”
Johnson v. Karnes, 398 F.3d 868, 875 (6th Cir. 2005)
(quoting Farmer, 511 U.S. at 836).
alleges that Defendants Davis, Walker, and Brooks were all
aware of his serious medical need for a room assignment on
the first floor, due to Plaintiff's risk of seizures and
walking with a cane, and then disregarded that risk [Doc. 1
p. 4]. Further, Plaintiff claims that his injuries occurred
because of the Defendants' failure to ensure that he was
placed in a room on the first floor [Id.].
Therefore, the Court finds that Plaintiff has stated a
non-frivolous Eighth Amendment claim against Defendants
Davis, Walker, and Brooks. See, e.g., Gore v.
Core Civic Inc., No. 3:17-01082, 2017 WL 3454402, at *4
(M.D. Tenn. Aug. 11, 2017) ...