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Colbert v. Lindamoon

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

May 29, 2018

CASEY LEON COLBERT, Plaintiff,
v.
CHERRY LINDAMOOD, [1] et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

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

         Casey Leon Colbert, an inmate currently confined at the Northeast Correctional Complex in Mountain City, Tennessee, filed this pro se civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, naming as defendants Cherry Lindamood, CoreCivic/South Central Correctional Facility, Michael R. Neilson, Gregory Keeton, Wanda Spears, Hank Inman, Tyler Barnett, Lieutenant Winston [F/N/U], Tony Parker, Robert Turman, and the Tennessee Department of Corrections (“TDOC”). Plaintiff also refers to Case Manager Bennett [F/N/U] and Correctional Officer Durham [F/N/U] as defendants in the body of the complaint. Plaintiff also filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis (Doc. No. 2) and a Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order (Doc. No. 3).

         I. Application to Proceed as a Pauper

         The Court may authorize a prisoner to file a civil suit without prepaying the filing fee. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). Because it appears from Plaintiff's in forma pauperis application that he lacks sufficient financial resources from which to pay the full filing fee in advance, Plaintiff's application (Doc. No. 2) will be granted. Plaintiff nonetheless remains responsible for paying the $350.00 filing fee, so the fee will be assessed as directed in the accompanying Order. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1).

         II. Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order

         At the time Plaintiff filed this action, he was confined at the South Central Correctional Facility (“SCCF”) in Clifton, Tennessee. (Doc. No. 1 at 2.) His Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order requests immediate transfer from SCCF to another facility. (Doc. No. 3 at 1, 3.) Since filing this motion, Plaintiff has been transferred to the Northeast Correctional Complex in Mountain City, Tennessee. (Doc. Nos. 5-6.) Thus, Plaintiff has received the requested relief. Moreover, “[a] prisoner's request for injunctive relief is moot upon his transfer to a different facility.” Newell v. Ford, No. 16-6449, 2016 WL 9737926, at *1 (6th Cir. Oct. 31, 2016) (citing Kensu v. Haigh, 87 F.3d 172, 175 (6th Cir. 1996)). Accordingly, Plaintiff's Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order (Doc. No. 3) will be denied as moot.

         III. Initial Review

         The Court is required to conduct an initial review and dismiss the complaint if it is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A, 1915(e)(2)(B); 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(1). The Court must construe a pro se complaint liberally, United States v. Smotherman, 838 F.3d 736 (6th Cir. 2016) (citing Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)), and accept the plaintiff's factual allegations as true unless they are entirely without credibility. See Thomas v. Eby, 481 F.3d 434, 437 (6th Cir. 2007) (citing Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 33 (1992)).

         A. Factual Allegations

         Plaintiff alleges that in November 2017, while assigned to C-A pod cell 202, he requested reassignment to a different pod from Sergeant Westerman and Case Manager Bennett. (Doc. No. 1 at 5.) Plaintiff told them that the Crips gang was extorting money from him, that he expected to be assaulted if he missed a payment, and that he did not have the money to pay. (Id.) Defendant Bennett told Plaintiff that his request would likely be denied because segregation was overcrowded, and because Plaintiff ran afoul of the SCCF administration's policy to deny a cell change request if an inmate received a write-up in the six months preceding the request. (Id. at 6.) Bennett sent Plaintiff back to the same cell. (Id.) In December 2017, members of the Crips assaulted Plaintiff, and threatened to assault Plaintiff and his brother if he told anyone. (Id.) Plaintiff did not report the assault at the time. (Id.)

         After the December 2017 assault, Plaintiff requested to see a dentist because his bottom right teeth were so loose that he had difficulty chewing. (Id.) Plaintiff informed a nurse that he had been assaulted, and the nurse referred Plaintiff to the dentist. (Id.) A dentist named Dr. Brewster examined Plaintiff a “couple weeks later, ” informed Plaintiff that he may have a broken jaw, pulled one of Plaintiff's bottom teeth, and prescribed ibuprofen and penicillin. (Id.)

         Within a week, Plaintiff experienced seizures. (Id.) Emergency medical services transported Plaintiff to the Waynesboro hospital, where Plaintiff underwent several tests. (Id.) A doctor determined that Plaintiff had a fractured jaw and a healed fracture on his top left jaw line. (Id. at 6-7.) Plaintiff told the doctor he sustained these injuries from gang assaults at SCCF. (Id. at 7.) The doctor transferred Plaintiff to Vanderbilt Medical Center, and a Vanderbilt doctor concurred with the referring doctor's diagnoses. (Id.) The doctor placed Plaintiff on a liquid diet, prescribed him ibuprofen, scheduled surgery on his jaw, and told him to avoid fighting. (Id.) Prison staff transported Plaintiff back to SCCF, and Plaintiff spent several days in medical, during which Plaintiff received the prescribed treatment. (Id.) Plaintiff then returned to C-A pod cell 202. (Id.)

         In January 2018, Hank Inman, the Security Threat Group Coordinator at SCCF, placed Plaintiff in segregation because Inman suspected that Plaintiff was in the Bloods gang. (Id.) Plaintiff was also taken to segregation for possession of a weapon and refusing a drug test. (Id. at 8.) Plaintiff later told Inman in a medical examination room that he had been found with a weapon because the Bloods gang was attempting to rob and assault him. (Id. at 7-8.) Plaintiff also told Inman that the Bloods were pressuring him to bring contraband into SCCF, but that Plaintiff could not do so. (Id.) Geneva Roberts, a member of SCCF Internal Affairs staff, was present for this conversation. (Id. at 8.) Plaintiff was then released from segregation and placed in A-B pod cell 226. (Id.) Later, after an incident caused SCCF to go on lockdown, Defendant Inman called Plaintiff to his office because Inman was interviewing all members of the Bloods gang. (Id.) Plaintiff told Inman that he was not affiliated with the Bloods, and Inman said he would ask the warden and internal affairs to transfer Plaintiff “ASAP.” (Id.)

         On March 7, 2018, Plaintiff requested reassignment from Sergeant Rich because he was having gang problems in A-B pod. (Id.) CO Jackson took Plaintiff and fellow inmate Richard Hopkins to E-B pod cell 103. (Id.) On March 8, Plaintiff smoked marijuana and drank alcohol that Hopkins gave him. (Id.) Plaintiff told CO Walls that Hopkins had drugged him. (Id.) Plaintiff requested medical attention, and told Sergeant Rich that Hopkins was conspiring with other inmates to rob and assault him. (Id. at 9.) SCCF mental health staff arrived, and Plaintiff denied being suicidal or hearing voices. (Id.) Plaintiff was taken to medical cell 65. (Id.)

         On March 9, 2018, Lieutenant Winston and CO Neilson told Plaintiff to move to C-A pod cell 101. (Id. at 9, 23.) Plaintiff told them he had been assaulted in C-A pod, and asked to speak to the person who ordered his relocation. (Id. at 9.) Plaintiff also told this to an individual he believed to be CO Mills, but turned out to be SCCF Captain Gregory Keeton. (Id.) Neilson told Plaintiff he did not have a choice, and Winston told Plaintiff he would be moved to another pod “after count clear[ed].” (Id. at 10.) Plaintiff went to C-A pod cell 101 that afternoon, and members of the Crips gang told Plaintiff they would assault him if stayed in C-A pod. (Id.) Plaintiff relayed this threat to Michelle Wells, an SCCF case manager. (Id.) Wells and an unnamed Sergeant questioned Plaintiff in another area, and told Plaintiff he would be moved to segregation “after count.” (Id.) Plaintiff returned to the cell, count cleared, and SCCF staff did not come to retrieve Plaintiff. (Id.) Plaintiff then went to the chow hall to request reassignment from a member of prison staff, and Neilson and Winston told Plaintiff they did not believe he was in danger. (Id. at 11, 23.) Plaintiff threw a food tray on the floor in an unsuccessful attempt to be placed in segregation. (Id. at 11.)

         Plaintiff then went to “pill call, ” and two white gang members from the E-B pod attacked him. (Id.) Plaintiff returned to the C-A pod, where gang members forced Plaintiff to fight CO Patrick Montague. (Id. at 11, 23.) Plaintiff told Montague to “hit the man-down code and call [for] backup.” (Id. at 11.) Upon hearing Plaintiff tell Montague this, a member of the Crips attacked Plaintiff, and other gang members assaulted Plaintiff and carried him to the front of the pod. (Id.) Plaintiff was badly bleeding from a cut over his eye. (Id.) SCCF staff members took Plaintiff to medical, and Plaintiff told them that his life was in danger. (Id.) Heather Banks, a member of the SCCF medical staff, examined Plaintiff and stitched the cut over his eye. (Id.) Captain Whitehead questioned Plaintiff and ordered SCCF staff to photograph Plaintiff and escort him to segregation in H-C pod cell 213. (Id.) Plaintiff gave an “emergency grievance” related to this incident to SCCF staff member Mark E. Bowers to take to a captain. (Id.) The captain determined that the grievance was not an emergency and forwarded it to Brenda Pevahouse. (Id.) According to Plaintiff, he was the only inmate segregated or charged because of this incident. (Id.)

         On March 16, 2018, as Plaintiff was receiving a food tray, another inmate told him to check the tray “for hair on it.” (Id. at 12.) Defendant Tyler Barnett said “shut up don't tell him that” to the other inmate. (Id.) Plaintiff ate the food, and was found on the floor regurgitating. (Id.) Barnett called for assistance and helped take Plaintiff to medical on a stretcher. (Id.) Plaintiff reported “sharp pains in his stomach and throat, ” and believed that “someone put something in his food to harm him.” (Id.) Plaintiff requested that Barnett complete a witness statement form, and Barnett agreed to do so. (Id.) Plaintiff explained to Captain Ward and Chief Deathrage that the Crips gang had assaulted and extorted money from him, and that “someone put something in his food.” (Id.) Plaintiff requested to speak to internal affairs and STG Coordinator Inman, but they had left for the weekend. (Id.) Emergency medical services then ...


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