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Walker v. Chapman

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

May 31, 2019

DAVID WALKER, Plaintiff,
ARVIL CHAPMAN, ET AL., Defendants.



         On December 10, 2018, Plaintiff David Walker, who is incarcerated at the Trousdale Turner Correctional Center (TTCC) in Hartsville, Tennessee, filed a pro se complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and an application to proceed in forma pauperis in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. (ECF Nos. 1 & 2.) The complaint addresses events that allegedly occurred during Walker's incarceration at the Whiteville Correctional Facility (WCF) in Whiteville, Tennessee. (ECF No. 1 at PageID 2.) On December 21, 2018, Chief Judge Waverly D. Crenshaw, Jr., granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis, assessed the civil filing fee pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(a)-(b), and transferred the case to this Court. (ECF No. 4.) The Clerk shall record the Defendants as WCF Warden Arvil Chapman; C. Bernard, WCF Officer in Charge (OIC); Ellery Grier, WCF Internal Affairs Officer; Lieutenant First Name Unknown (FNU) Neadham; A. Walker, WCF Program Warden; FNU Walton, WCF Chief Security Officer; and Joy Trouder, WCF Classification Coordinator.

         Walker alleges that on September 7, 2018, he and his cellmate, T. Brown, were awoken by three officers, strip-searched, and taken from their cell while the officers searched it. (ECF No. 1 at PageID 8.) After the officers found nothing, Walker and Brown returned to the cell and went back to sleep. (Id.) When Walker awoke later that morning, he noticed that every cell door in the pod except his was open, and other inmates told him that a sign posted on his door read “DO NOT OPEN AT ALL!” (Id. (emphasis in original).) Defendant Grier later informed Walker that his cell was on lockdown because an officer was “caught bringing drugs in to the facility” allegedly for Walker, Brown, and inmate D. Santiago. (Id. at PageID 8-9.) Grier questioned Brown about the incident, and Brown allegedly told Grier and Defendant Bernard that everything belonged to Brown and that Walker was uninvolved. (Id. at PageID 9.) Grier allegedly told Walker she would move him to another cell and that Brown would receive the charges. (Id.) Officers drug-tested Walker, who tested negative, and Santiago, who tested positive, but left Walker locked in his cell. (Id.)

         Two days later, on September 9, 2018, Walker remained locked in his cell, but a sergeant removed the sign and told Walker the WCF computers did not show Walker as having a cell restriction. (Id.) The next day, Defendant Bernard removed Walker from a program class and took him to a room with Brown and Santiago. (Id.) Bernard ordered Grier to “lock [Brown's] ass up” for admitting to owning the drugs found earlier. (Id.) Walker alleges that Bernard ordered Grier to leave her office so he and an unnamed “accompli[ce]” could “interrogate” Walker. (Id.) When Grier refused, Bernard alleged yelled, “Fuck it then! . . . Lock them all up until I say otherwise!” (Id.) Walker returned to class believing “everything was fine.” (Id.)

         Walker alleges that, four days later, on September 14, 2018, he was taken from class and escorted by Defendant Neadham and Defendant Walker first to the medical department, because of previous surgery on his leg, then to segregation. (Id. at PageID 9-10.) Walker asked why he was being taken to segregation, and Neadham told him Defendant Bernard had ordered it. (Id. at PageID 10.) Walker allegedly was locked in the segregation's showers for four hours, getting wet from the water dripping where other inmates had showered earlier and “complaining about my leg.” (Id.) On September 18, 2018, Walker received a pending investigation disciplinary report written by Neadham. (Id.; see also Id. at PageID 23-25.) Two days later, Defendants Bernard and Grier visited Walker in his cell and recorded him answering questions about the officer who had brought drugs into the facility for Brown. (Id. at PageID 10.) Walker protested his innocence, but Bernard insisted that Walker knew who else may have been involved. (Id. at PageID 10-11.) Bernard allegedly threatened to write false disciplinary charges against Walker that would force him to be housed in segregation and strip him of his good-time credits and “to do all I can to make your life pure hell.” (Id. at PageID 11.)

         On September 21, 2018, Walker received two disciplinary infractions prepared by Defendant Grier ordering Walker into segregation. (Id.; see also Id. at PageID 18-22.) Walker remained in segregation for seven days, during which he received no personal hygiene items. (Id. at PageID 11.) On October 2, 2018, as Defendants Walker and Walton were inspecting the segregation unit, Plaintiff Walker told Walton that his placement in segregation violated prison policy. (Id.) Walton allegedly agreed but told him it was “out of my hands, I can't help you.” (Id.) Defendant Walker also agreed that Plaintiff Walker should have received 24 hours' notice and assured him she would have a disciplinary board member come by. (Id. at PageID 12.) An inmate advisor came by the next day and told Walker that Brown and Santiago would accept the disciplinary charges so that Walker could be released from segregation. (Id.) Walker, however, was not released from segregation, and a sergeant informed him that the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation was looking into the matter, causing the delay. (Id. at PageID 12, 14.) On October 4, 2018, Walker was transferred from the WCF to the TTCC without seeing a classification coordinator (Defendant Trouder) or being given a reason for the transfer. (Id. at PageID 14.)

         Walker asserts claims under the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments against the Defendants.[1] (Id. at PageID 13-15.) Walker sues the Defendants in their official and individual capacities. (Id. at PageID 2-3.) He seeks declaratory relief, both compensatory and punitive damages against each Defendant, and costs of his suit. (Id. at PageID 15.)

         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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