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Walton v. Doaks-Robertson

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

May 31, 2019

JEFFREY WALTON, Plaintiff,
v.
NURSE PRACTIONER DOAKS-ROBERTSON, ET AL., Defendants.

          ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT, CERTIFYING AN APPEAL WOULD NOT BE TAKEN IN GOOD FAITH AND NOTIFYING PLAINTIFF OF APPELLATE FILING FEE

          JAMES D. TODD UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         On September 12, 2018, Plaintiff Jeffrey Walton, who is incarcerated at the Whiteville Correctional Facility (WCF) in Whiteville, Tennessee, filed a pro se complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and a motion to proceed in forma pauperis. (ECF Nos. 1 & 2.) The Court issued an order the same day, granting leave to proceed in forma pauperis and assessing the civil filing fee pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(a)-(b). (ECF No. 4.) The Clerk shall record the Defendants as Nurse Practitioner First Name Unknown (FNU) Doaks-Robertson (Nurse Robertson); Jeaneatte Joy; Nurse FNU McCalvin; Grievance Chairman FNU Jones; Assistant Warden FNU Walker; WCF Warden Arvil Chapman; David Sexton, Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) Assistant Commissioner of Prisons; and Tony Parker, TDOC Commissioner.

         Walton alleges that he has preexisting, permanent injuries that make walking difficult. (ECF No. 1-1 at PageID 11, 13.) Because of his injuries, he was granted various medical restrictions which included an assignment to bottom tier, bottom bunk housing at WCF. (Id. at PageID 11, 15.) Walton alleges that on April 17, 2017, Defendant Nurse Robertson intentionally removed all of Walton's medical restrictions, except for the bottom bunk assignment, because Walton had filed grievances against her in February and April 2013. (Id. at PageID 8-9.) Walton, however, did not learn that his medical restrictions had been removed until December 6, 2017, when he received a copy of his health assessment and was assigned to an upper-tier cell accessible only by climbing steps. (Id. at PageID 9.)[1]

         Walton alleges that, after filing his grievances in 2013, Nurse Robertson “started to display an overall demeanor of hatred, resentfulness, and vengence [sic] towards” Walton. (Id. at PageID 10.) He alleges that Nurse Robertson's demeanor deterred him from filing further grievances because he was afraid she would make decisions that “could lead to substantial permanent serious bodily injury.” (Id.) Walton did not file any more grievances against Nurse Robertson until December 25, 2017, after he learned his medical restrictions had been removed. (Id. at PageID 14.) Since then, Walton alleges Nurse Robertson has acted “even more hateful and resentful” towards him and has “fabricated and falsified medical records relating to Plaintiff.” (Id.) Walton alleges that his pain has worsened from having to use the steps to access the upper tier for about three months “from 12-6-17 to around 2-3-18.” (Id. at PageID 12, 14, 37.) In February 2018, Walton was reassigned to the bottom tier, but he alleges he has not further grieved Nurse Robertson because he is afraid he will be “placed back on the top tier.” (Id. at PageID 37-38.)

         Walton alleges that Defendant Joy conspired with Nurse Robertson to remove his medical restrictions when Joy approved Robertson's allegedly fabricated health assessment of Walton. (Id. at PageID 19-20.) Walton alleges that, because Joy approved Robertson's falsified assessment, Walton was given the top bunk housing assignment. (Id. at PageID 20.) Walton also alleges that Joy intentionally forced Walton to engage in rehabilitative exercises despite knowing his injuries would not improve and would instead worsen from the movement. (Id. at PageID 21.)

         Walton alleges that he saw Defendant Nurse McCalvin several times while trying to reinstate his medical restrictions. (Id. at PageID 22.) He alleges McCalvin made him complete needless paperwork to obtain his medical records from outside agencies to prove his disability, even though paperwork attesting as much was already in his prison medical records; however, McCalvin allegedly never sent out the paperwork to actually obtain the records. (Id. at PageID 22-23.) Walton alleges McCalvin was acting to further the conspiracy with Robertson and Joy to deprive Walton of bottom tier, bottom bunk housing and worsen his injuries. (Id. at PageID 23.)

         Walton further alleges that Grievance Chairman Jones denied Walton full access to the grievance procedures at WCF by deeming Walton's grievances “inappropriate.” (Id. at PageID 25.) Walton alleges that Jones retaliated against him for grieving Nurse Robertson, and in furtherance of the alleged conspiracy with the other Defendants, by denying Walton a hearing for his grievance and “fabricating the appeal process.” (Id. at PageID 26-28.)

         Walton alleges that Warden Chapman wrongly agreed with Defendant Joy that Walton's grievance was inappropriate under TDOC policy. (Id. at PageID 29.) Walton asserts that Warden Chapman therefore wrongly denied Walton a grievance hearing and must have been conspiring with the other Defendants. (Id. at PageID 29-30.) Walton accuses Warden Chapman, Assistant Warden Walker, and Assistant Commissioner Sexton of “rubber stamping” his grievances and asserts that they should have conducted their own investigations. (Id. at PageID 31-32, 36.) Walton also alleges that Commissioner Parker failed to answer his grievances and that, because Parker did not sign the grievance, “the entire grievance was never properly processed.” (Id. at PageID 33.)

         Walton seeks $750, 000 each in punitive and compensatory damages. (ECF No. 1 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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