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Watison v. Smith

United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Western Division

June 19, 2018

RAYMOND E. WATISON, Plaintiff,
v.
SGT. FNU SMITH, C/O FNU NEWTON, MS. FNU SHELTON, C/O M. JONES, C/O FNU BRATCHER, C/O FNU BAGGINS, and MS. FNU BARNETT, Defendants.

          ORDER DISMISSING CLAIMS AGAINST DEFENDANTS NEWTON, SHELTON, JONES, BRATCHER, BAGGINS, AND BARNETT ORDER DIRECTING THAT PROCESS BE ISSUED AND SERVED ON DEFENDANT SMITH

          S. THOMAS ANDERSON CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On November 17, 2016, Plaintiff Raymond E. Watison (“Watison”), who at the time of filing was a pre-trial detainee at the Shelby County Criminal Justice Center in Memphis, Tennessee, filed pro se a Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 accompanied by a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (ECF Nos. 1 & 2.) The Court granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis and assessed the civil filing fee pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(a)-(b). (ECF No. 4.). For purposes of screening, the Clerk is directed to record the Defendants as Sergeant (“Sgt.”) First Name Unknown (“FNU”) Smith, Correctional Officer (“C/O”) FNU Newton, Ms. FNU Shelton, C/O M. Jones, C/O FNU Bratcher, C/O FNU Baggins, and Ms. FNU Barnett.

         BACKGROUND

         In Count 1 of the Complaint, Watison alleges on August 16, 2016, he was engaged in an altercation with another inmate in the other inmate's cell. (Compl. at 2, ECF No. 1.) C/O Baggins ordered both men to stop fighting, and Watison and the other inmate complied. (Id.) Watison alleges that when he left the cell, Sgt. Smith put his arm around Watison's neck and choked Watison repeatedly. (Id. at 2-3.) Watison told Sgt. Smith that he was choking him. (Id. at 3.) Sgt. Smith continued to drag and choke Watison until Watison began to lose his breath and black out. (Id.) Watison alleges that when he came to, Sgt. Smith slammed Watison's head on the floor. (Id.) Sgt. Smith then placed his knee at the back and center of Watison's neck and attempted to break Watison's hand while placing handcuffs on him, and then pushed his knee up and down on Watison's neck and back. (Id.) After Watison began yelling and other inmates started to attack Sgt. Smith, Sgt. Smith escorted Watison to the hallway, slammed his head on the wall, and stated to Watison that he “should of choked you to death, bitch.” (Id.) Watison contends that because of injuries sustained during the incident, he has problems breathing and swallowing and difficulty sleeping based on death threats allegedly made by Sgt. Smith. (Id.)

         In Count 2 of the Complaint, Watison alleges that on June 26, 2016, he requested an inmate grievance form from C/O Jones who became aggressive and used profane language towards Watison. (Id.) Watison asked to speak with Sgt. Johnson, who is not a party to this action. (Id. at 4.) C/O Jones again used profanity and told Watison Sgt. Johnson did not care about his grievance. (Id.) Watison filed a grievance against C/O Jones over the incident. (Id.) Watison alleges that on July 6, 2016, C/O Jones retaliated against him by filing a false incident report. (Id.) As a result, Watison was sent to solitary confinement for 30 days and had his security level raised. (Id.) Watison was not allowed to contact his attorney during this time. (Id.)

         In Count 3 of the Complaint, Watison alleges that while he was in solitary confinement, C/O Baggins took his property. (Id.) On September 11, 2016, C/O Chandler, who is not a party to this action, returned most of Watison's property; however Watison noticed some items were missing. (Id.) C/O Chandler advised Watison to file a grievance. (Id.)

         In Count 4 of the Complaint, Watison alleges that he was found guilty in a disciplinary hearing conducted by C/O Shelton, C/O Newton, C/O Bratcher, Ms. Barnett, and an unknown officer for striking inmate Marquise Cole. (Id. at 4-5.) Watison received 30 days of solitary confinement. (Id.) Watison admits that he was previously in an altercation with another inmate, Chester Jones. (Id. at 4.) However, it was, in fact, inmate Jones and not Watison who was in a verbal altercation with inmate Cole. (Id.) Watison's appeal of the decision was denied by Defendants Barnett and Bratcher. (Id. at 5.) Watison argues that being placed in solitary confinement under inhumane conditions where he could not clean his cell and being denied access to his attorney amounts to cruel and unusual punishment. (Id.)

         Watison now seeks compensatory, punitive, nominal, and monetary damages as well as a restraining order against Sgt. Smith. (Id. at 6.)

         SCREENING STANDARD

         The Court is required to screen prisoner complaints and to dismiss any complaint, or any portion thereof, if the complaint-

(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or
(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b); see also 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         In assessing whether the Complaint in this case states a claim on which relief may be granted, the Court applies the standards for pleadings under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) announced in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-79 (2009) and Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-57 (2007). Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010). “Accepting all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true, the Court ‘consider[s] the factual allegations in [the] complaint to determine if they plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief.'” Williams v. Curtin, 631 F.3d 380, 383 (6th Cir. 2011) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 681) (alteration in original). “[P]leadings that . . . are no more than conclusions . . . are not entitled to the assumption of truth. While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679; see also Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 n.3 (“Rule 8(a)(2) still requires a ‘showing, ' rather than a blanket ...


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