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Smith v. Southern Health Partners

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

May 6, 2019

YAMEGO SMITH, Plaintiff
v.
SOUTHERN HEALTH PARTNERS, et al., Defendants

          ALETA A. TRAUGER, JUDGE

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          JOE B. BROWN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Presently pending in this matter are a motion for summary judgment (Docket Entry 30) of the defendant Dr. Kenneth Mathews (Mathews) and Southern Health Partners, Inc. (SHP), on the grounds that the plaintiff cannot establish that Mathews or SHP were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs; and a motion to dismiss of the defendant Officer Ariel Carrillo (Carrillo), on the grounds that the plaintiff's claim of excessive force against Carrillo is barred by Tennessee's one year statute of limitations. The plaintiff failed to file a response to either motion.

         The Magistrate Judge RECOMMENDS that both motions be GRANTED and the plaintiff's claims be DISMISSED with prejudice. The Magistrate Judge further RECOMMENDS that any appeal from such a dismissal not be certified in good faith pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1915(a)(3).

         BACKGROUND

         The District Court reviewed the plaintiff's complaint (Docket Entry 12). The first part of the complaint alleges that on April 29, 2015, Officer Carrillo of the Lebanon Police Department tackled the plaintiff and violently twisted his arm behind his back and handcuffed him. As a result, the plaintiff heard a loud snapping sound and the officer stated to the plaintiff, “You can't outrun me, n-----.” The plaintiff was transported by ambulance to a hospital where he was diagnosed with cuts, abrasions, and a dislocated shoulder. He was sedated and woke up with his arm and shoulder in a brace. The plaintiff was given pain medication, told to follow up on treatment, and released. He alleges that he was on the street for approximately two months, healing with the brace and taking his medications.

         On June 26, 2017, the plaintiff was a passenger in a vehicle that was stopped by the police. The plaintiff was arrested for a violation of probation and for failure to pay child support. He was taken to the Wilson County Jail. The plaintiff alleges that he notified the jail of his dislocated shoulder. When he complained to the female Commissioner at the jail intake, the plaintiff was told to fill out a sick-call request. He alleges that his request not to be placed on a top bunk was ignored. The plaintiff alleges that the Wilson County Jail doctor (Mathews) told him that his injury was costly and that there was nothing he could do besides prescribe pain medications. The plaintiff was given the same response by the nursing staff and Dr. Mathews for the next eleven months. The plaintiff alleges that he filed numerous grievances but was given no relief. He alleges that he continued to experience pain and that his shoulder healed in the wrong location and position, and that he could not raise his arm enough to wash under it or to apply deodorant.

         The plaintiff also made complaints against his state court public defenders.

         The plaintiff alleges that on January 21, 2018, he was in a fight with another inmate. He alleges that Officer Neely slammed him to the ground and handcuffed him, and that an unknown officer grabbed his leg and slammed his foot into the ground, causing a toe to break. The plaintiff also alleges that when he was placed in segregation following the fight, some of his documents, including legal material, were improperly held.

         On review, the District Judge dismissed the claims against the jail and the court appointed attorneys (Docket Entry 12). The District Judge did find that the plaintiff had stated a potential 1983 claim against Officer Carrillo under both the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. The District Judge also found that the plaintiff had sufficiently alleged a complaint against Dr. Mathews, and because he alleged that Dr. Mathews' action was a result of a policy or custom of Southern Health Partners (SHP), he also stated a claim for deliberate indifference against SHP. The District Judge dismissed all other claims, leaving for further proceedings the plaintiff's excessive force claims against Officer Corrillo and his Eighth Amendment claims against Dr. Mathews and SHP for deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs.

         After some delay in securing service of process on the three remaining defendants, a scheduling order was entered in this matter on September 17, 2018 (Docket Entry 28). The plaintiff was advised that he could take discovery and how to do it. The plaintiff was specifically advised of the time frame for responding to dispositive motions and advised in bold print that if dispositive motions were filed before the deadline, the deadlines for filing responses and replies would be advanced accordingly.

         On September 21, 2018, Dr. Mathews and SHP filed their motion for summary judgment, supported by a memorandum of law, a declaration by Dr. Mathews, and a statement of uncontested facts (Docket Entry 30). On October 1, 2018, the plaintiff filed a letter advising the court that he had been released from custody and requested some additional time to respond to the motion for summary judgment and to secure the services of an attorney (Docket Entry 31). Based on his letter, which the Court treated as a motion for additional time, the plaintiff was given until December 17, 2018, to respond to the pending motion for summary judgment, and was cautioned that failure to respond to the motion before the deadline could result in the dismissal of his case (Docket Entry 34). The plaintiff was further advised that if he secured the services of an attorney, the attorney could request additional time. He was also advised that discovery had not closed and he could continue to seek discovery.

         Service was finally obtained on Officer Carrillo on October 26, 2018 (Docket Entry 38), and he promptly filed a motion to dismiss (Docket Entry 42), supported by a memorandum of law. Subsequently, the plaintiff filed a copy of an indictment returned against him for resisting arrest and obstructing Officer Carrillo from affecting his arrest by use of force against the officer (Docket Entry 44, Page ID 200). Contained with this filing by the plaintiff is an incident report concerning the matter (Docket Entry 44, Page ID 205-208). It appears from this pleading that the criminal case was subsequently dismissed as part of a plea of guilty to an unrelated charge (Docket Entry 44, Page ID 209).

         In a statement accompanying this indictment and incident report (Docket Entry 45), the plaintiff questions the factual basis of the indictment and incident report. He contends that he has four or five witnesses that would testify that Officer Carrillo detained him in with excessive force and that the ...


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