United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Eastern Division
ORDER PARTIALLY DISMISSING COMPLAINT AND DIRECTING
THAT PROCESS BE ISSUED AND SERVED ON DEFENDANT DIETZ
DANIEL BREEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
September 14, 2016, the pro se Plaintiff, John Keith
Lawrence, who at the time of filing was incarcerated at the
Hardeman County Correctional Facility (“HCCF”) in
Whiteville, Tennessee, initiated this action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983 on behalf of himself and his fellow
prisoners at HCCF against Defendants, Corrections Corporation
of America ("CCA"), Warden Grady Perry, Tennessee
Department of Correction ("TDOC") Contract Manager
Donnell Peterson, Assistant Warden for Operations Byron
Ponds, Health Administrator Borden, Dr. Dietz, and Grievance
Sergeant L. Brown. (Docket Entry ("D.E.") 1). He
also moved for leave to proceed in forma pauperis
("IFP") (D.E. 2), for certification of a class
(D.E. 3), and for appointment of counsel (D.E. 4). IFP status
was granted in an order entered October 17, 2016. (D.E. 8.)
On September 21, 2017, the Court denied Plaintiff's
motions for class certification and appointment of counsel.
(D.E. 10.) The complaint is now before the Court for
to addressing the merits of Plaintiff's claims, however,
the Court notes that CCA, according to its website, is now
known as CoreCivic. See www.corecivic.com. The Clerk
of Court is DIRECTED to update the docket to
reflect the name change.
avers that, during a medical evaluation on October 26, 2015,
at the Bledsoe County Correctional Complex in Pikeville,
Tennessee, the TDOC intake and classification center, he
advised the physician that he suffered from chronic back
problems dating back to at least 2011. The doctor prescribed
medication for pain and inflammation and instructed Plaintiff
to obtain further testing and treatment for the condition,
which was degenerative, from medical staff at his destination
facility. He specifically informed Lawrence that diagnostic
imaging would be necessary for proper treatment.
after his transfer to HCCF in April 2016, the inmate was
examined by Dr. Dietz, who told him they did "not treat
back pain here, " refused to conduct any diagnostic
imaging testing, and authorized a one-time-only thirty-day
refill of his pain and anti-inflammatory medication. After
his prescription ran out, Lawrence began signing up for the
prison's sick call. His sick call appointments were
conducted by nurses who, on six occasions prior to mid-August
2016, referred him to the facility's physician. During
this period, he was assigned to a top bunk, which
necessitated that he climb up onto and jump down from the
bunk, aggravating his back condition each time he did so.
Assignment to a bottom bunk required physician approval.
alleges that the doctor refused to see him. On June 29, 2016,
he filed a grievance concerning his inability to obtain
medical care for his back and, on July 20, 2016, wrote to
HCCF's grievance board requesting a status report on his
complaint. Neither missive was met with a response. On July
24, 2016, he collapsed after leaping from the top bunk.
Plaintiff maintains that he composed a letter on August 10,
2016, relative to his grievance, sending duplicates to,
according to copies of United States Postal Service certified
mail return receipts, Warden Perry; the director of
operations of the Nashville, Tennessee, offices of CoreCivic;
and the commissioner of TDOC.
are required to screen prisoner complaints and dismiss a
complaint, or any portion thereof, that “is frivolous,
malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b); see also
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). To assess whether the
complaint states a claim on which relief may be granted, the
Court applies the pleadings standards under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) announced in Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), and Bell Atlantic Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007). Hill v.
Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010). "To
survive scrutiny under [§§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and
1915A(b)], a complaint must contain sufficient factual
matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face." Walton v. Gray, 695
Fed.Appx. 144, 145 (6th Cir. 2017) (per curiam) (quoting
Hill, 630 F.3d at 471) (internal quotation marks
omitted). "Pro se complaints are to be held to
less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers, and should therefore be liberally construed."
Williams v. Curtin, 631 F.3d 380, 383 (6th Cir.
2011) (internal quotation marks omitted). That said, courts
have not "been willing to abrogate basic pleading
essentials in pro se suits." Wells v.
Brown, 891 F.2d 591, 594 (6th Cir. 1989); see also
Young Bok Song v. Gipson, 423 Fed.Appx. 506, 510 (6th
Cir. 2011) (“declin[ing] to affirmatively require
courts to ferret out the strongest cause of action on behalf
of pro se litigants”).
CLAIMS AND ANALYSIS
1983 provides in pertinent part as follows:
Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance,
regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or
the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be
subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person
within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any
rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution
and laws, shall be liable to the ...