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Moss v. Perry

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

May 29, 2019

GRADY PERRY, ET AL., Defendants.



         On April 23, 2018, Plaintiff Zakkawanda Moss, who is presently incarcerated at the Morgan County Correctional Complex in Wartburg, Tennessee, filed a pro se complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (ECF Nos. 1.) Moss's complaint addresses events that allegedly occurred while Moss previously was confined at the Hardeman County Correctional Facility (HCCF) in Whiteville, Tennessee. (Id. at PageID 3.) After Moss complied with the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(a)-(b), the Court issued an order on May 4, 2018, granting leave to proceed in forma pauperis and assessing the civil filing fee pursuant to the PLRA. (ECF No. 5). The Clerk shall record the Defendants as Grady Perry, the former Warden of the HCCF; B. Ponds, Chief of Security; C. Patton; D. Yeager, TDOC Liaison; D. Robertson, Unit Manager; N. Martin, Corrections Officer (C/O); Kelsey Gates, Internal Affairs; and Lieutenant First Name Unknown (FNU) Topper.

         Moss alleges that on March 22, 2018, Defendant Gates “detained” him and four other inmates in a cell to videotape them answering questions about an alleged fight. (ECF No. 1 at PageID 5.) Inmate D. Prescott said that he had been assaulted, and the inmates were subsequently arrested and placed into segregation. (Id.) About a week later, Moss received a disciplinary write-up for fighting with Prescott, and C/O Martin and a sergeant arrived to move him to a different cell where Prescott was located. (Id. at PageID 5-6.) When Moss arrived there, C/O Martin removed Moss's handcuffs, and he and Prescott began to fight. (Id. at PageID 6.) Moss alleges he injured his hand in the fight, after which he and Prescott were “sprayed with mase [sic] and taken to medical.” (Id.)

         Moss requested treatment for his injured hand, and eventually a nurse came to examine his hands and noted they were swollen. (Id.) Unnamed officers later allegedly complained that inmates “were turning in paperwork” and stated that they “would like to see to it that that shit stopped.” (Id.) After hearing those comments, Moss refused to go with officers who arrived at his cell to take him to medical. (Id.) Moss later complained to Chief Ponds about his disciplinary report for his fight with Prescott. (Id.) Chief Ponds said he would “make it go away.” (Id. at PageID 7.)

         At a hearing on the disciplinary report, the hearing officer (who Moss has not named as a Defendant) asked Moss if he wanted to waive his right to call witnesses, to which Moss replied “No.” (Id.) The hearing officer did not allow into evidence a statement by Prescott about who he was fighting but marked on a sheet that Moss both did and did not waive his right to call witnesses. (Id.) The hearing officer did allow into evidence Defendant Robertson's statement that she did not see a fight but saw camera footage showing Prescott and Moss entering a cell together and presumed they were fighting. (Id.) Robertson also testified that she did not know whether Moss or Prescott was in a gang. (Id. at PageID 8.) Moss alleges that he was found guilty of fighting as a result of Robertson's testimony. (Id. at PageID 7-8.) Moss alleges that Liaison Yeager “was present” at the hearing and allegedly failed to note that Moss and Prescott were incompatible to be housed together. (Id. at PageID 8-9.)

         After the hearing, Moss was released from segregation and placed in D-pod. (Id. at PageID 8.) Prescott, who was housed in a neighboring cell, allegedly threatened Moss to leave D-pod. (Id.) Moss alleges that, “shortly after” the exchange, he and Prescott “both stabbed one another.” (Id.) Lieutenant Topper later informed Moss that Chief Ponds was able to “pull some strings” and have Moss's disciplinary report dismissed. (Id.) Topper also told Moss that his shoes had been thrown away after he and Prescott stabbed one another but allegedly refused to fill out paperwork to allow Moss to obtain a new pair. (Id. at PageID 9.)

         Moss seeks removal of the write-ups from his disciplinary file, an order that HCCF “put in place something to keep things like this from happening, ” and unspecified financial compensation. (Id. at PageID 5.)

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 standards under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), as stated in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-79 (2009), and in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-57 (2007), are applied. Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010). The Court accepts the complaint's “well-pleaded” factual allegations as true and then determines whether the allegations “plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief.'” Williams v. Curtin, 631 F.3d 380, 383 (6th Cir. 2011) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 681). Conclusory allegations “are not entitled to the assumption of truth, ” and legal conclusions “must be supported by factual allegations.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. Although a complaint need only contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), Rule 8 nevertheless requires factual allegations to make a “‘showing,' rather than a blanket assertion, of entitlement to relief.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 n.3.

         “Pro se complaints are to be held ‘to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers,' and should therefore be liberally construed.” Williams, 631 F.3d at 383 (quoting Martin v. Overton, 391 F.3d 710, 712 (6th Cir. 2004)). Pro se litigants, however, are not exempt from the requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Wells v. Brown, 891 F.2d 591, 594 (6th Cir. 1989); see also Brown v. Matauszak, 415 Fed.Appx. 608, 612, 613 (6th Cir. Jan. 31, 2011) (affirming dismissal of pro se complaint for failure to comply with “unique pleading requirements” and stating “a court cannot ...

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