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Christy v. Lindamood

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

April 23, 2018

JAMEY RAY CHRISTY, # 225457, Plaintiff,
v.
CHERRY LINDAMOOD, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

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

         Jamey Ray Christy, an inmate of the Trousdale Turner Correctional Complex in Hartsville, Tennessee, filed this pro se, in forma pauperis action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against South Central Correctional Facility (SCCF) Warden Cherry Lindamood, SCCF Assistant Warden Eric Bryant, SCCF Associate Warden of Operations Danny Dodd, SCCF Chief of Security Ryan Deatherage, SCCF Chief of Unit Management Shane McClain, SCCF Unit Manager Danny Casteel, SCCF Case Manager Jesse James, SCCF Sergeant f/n/u Brantley, SCCF Sergeant f/n/u Bryte, SCCF psychiatrist f/n/u Steadman, SCCF Captain Matthew Villanueva, Core Civic, and the as-yet identified Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Core Civic, alleging violations of the Plaintiff's constitutional and civil rights. (Doc. No. 1).

         The complaint is before the Court 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

         Plaintiff brings his complaint 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, on August 14, 2017, while an inmate of the SCCF in Clifton, Tennessee, the Plaintiff fell “due to Core Civic's negligence in keeping the pod Gemini B clean and safe during a lockdown.” (Doc. No. 1 at 15). There were no yellow “wet floor” caution signs warning inmates of standing grease and water on the floor. The Plaintiff sustained injuries during the fall and received medical treatment. He was prescribed Tylenol, Ibuprofen, x-rays, and therapy. The complaint alleges that the Plaintiff only received Tylenol for three months and a wrist x-ray. He believes that he should receive an x-ray of his back and neck and the prescribed therapy. In December 2017, the doctor reordered x-rays and therapy for the Plaintiff, but “Core Civic in Nashville” denied the request. (Id.) The complaint alleges that the Plaintiff still suffers from pain and numbness on his left side. He has lost use of two fingers and his thumb on his left hand. His teeth were also damaged in the fall. (Id. at 15-16).

         On January 8, 2018, the Plaintiff was told by Unit Manager Casteel and Case Manager James that the Plaintiff would be transferring to another facility soon. The Plaintiff, who was in protective custody at SCCF, told Casteel and James that he could not be moved to general population at another facility because his life would be endangered. The Plaintiff gave Casteel and James a list of incompatible inmates at the facilities where he might be transferred. (Doc. No. 1 at 4). They told the Plaintiff that he would be transferred “even if it meant pepper-spraying” him. (Id.)

         The Plaintiff filed an emergency grievance regarding his potential transfer on January 10, 2018, and the grievance was deemed “inappropriate” by grievance coordinator Sergeant Staggs and returned “torn, defaced, and missing the goldenrod copy” which prevented the Plaintiff from being able to appeal. (Id. at 5). The Plaintiff sent a copy of his grievance to “the Commissioner's Designee-TDOC Turman” and Roberts in Internal Affairs and did not hear back from either of them. (Id.)

         The Plaintiff received notification on January 11, 2018, that he was being transferred to the Hardeman County Correctional Facility (HCCF) in Whiteville, Tennessee. He was “put into such distress that [his] only option was to take a lot of different pills . . . .” (Id.) The Plaintiff was transported to the Wayne County Medical Center for drug overdose and attempted suicide. After receiving treatment, the Plaintiff was returned to SCCF where Dr. Steadman, the prison psychiatrist, failed to keep the Plaintiff for observation; instead, she called the transit van back to pick the Plaintiff up for transfer to HCCF, telling the Plaintiff that he was “alright and was just trying to accomplish a goal.” (Id. at 6). The Plaintiff believes that Dr. Steadman failed to observe and treat the Plaintiff in retaliation for his suicide attempt and temporary thwarting of the transfer to HCCF.

         Upon arrival at HCCF, the Plaintiff spoke with the facility's medical and mental health staff, and HCCF officials called the SCCF transit van back. The Plaintiff was returned to SCCF, where Captain Villanueva wrote the Plaintiff up for “Defiance, ” a Class B write-up, for his earlier suicide attempt. The Plaintiff was placed in isolated segregation and protective custody where he remains for twenty-three hours daily. His cell is wet with broken glass on the floor and a loose window; there are also live electrical wires exposed. The Plaintiff was not permitted to wear shoes in his cell. He asked for sandals so that he would not have to walk on the broken glass and wet floor, and an unidentified corrections officer told the Plaintiff “no, [he] should of not pulled [his] stunt the night before and made them do 2 hours worth of paperwork-referring to [the Plaintiff's] attempted suicide.” (Id. at 7). The Plaintiff was in his cell for two hours without his shoes.

         On January 12, 2018, the Plaintiff was permitted a shower, but the shower stall was broken and had “about 3 inches of sewage water backed up in it.” (Id.) When an unidentified corrections officer and Sergeant Bryte came to get the Plaintiff, he was having problems “cuffing up” due to the standing water and his disability, which the complaint describes as narcolepsy, “a neurological disorder.” (Id. at 7-8). The Plaintiff has LAN - Limited Activity Notice from the medical staff stating that he cannot stand for over fifteen minutes and needs a shower chair. The officers left the Plaintiff standing in the water alone for thirty minutes and told the Plaintiff that, if he didn't like it, he should have stayed at HCCF. (Id.)

         The Plaintiff continues to be housed in the same cell. He asked Case Manager James, Sergeant Brantley, and Sergeant Bryte for a new cell due to the conditions of his confinement in the cell but they have not responded to his requests. (Id. at 8). The Plaintiff's cell has no working electrical outlets. The Plaintiff has a CPAP breathing machine prescribed by a doctor for his narcolepsy. According to the complaint, the CPAP machine prevents the Plaintiff from “stopping breathing during sleep, this reduces stress on [his] heart and damage, reduces risk of stroke and damage to [the Plantiff's] brain, reduces high blood pressure and risk to my heart and circulatory system, helps reduce risk of possible death and permanent physical injury.” (Id. at 12). The Plaintiff has asked James, Brantley, and Bryte to move the Plaintiff to a cell with electricity or to fix the electricity in the Plaintiff's current cell so that he can use his CPAP machine. The Plaintiff's requests have been ignored. (Id.)

         While an inmate in protective custody segregation at SCCF, the Plaintiff, who is a Christian, was not allowed to gather in small groups for religious services and practice. (Id. at 13). Outside Christian leaders were not allowed access to protective custody inmates to hold services with inmates individually or in small groups, although prison policy permits such gatherings.

         IV. Analysis

         A. Section 1983 official capacity claims for ...


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