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Turner v. Franks

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

June 5, 2019

NICHOLE TURNER, Plaintiff,
v.
AMY FRANKS, ET AL., Defendants.

          ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT, DENYING MOTION FOR DISCOVERY (ECF NO. 7), CERTIFYING AN APPEAL WOULD NOT BE TAKEN IN GOOD FAITH AND DENYING LEAVE TO APPEAL IN FORMA PAUPERIS

          JAMES D. TODD UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         On August 17, 2018, Plaintiff Nichole Turner, who is currently incarcerated at the Obion County Jail in Union City, 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 complaint concerns his previous confinement at the Madison County Criminal Justice Complex (CJC) in Jackson, Tennessee. The Court issued an order on August 22, 2018, 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.) Turner sues Amy Franks, a Nurse Practitioner at the CJC, and Quality Health Care.

         Turner alleges that he has put in several sick-call requests with Nurse Franks about pain in his left hand and a bump on his neck. (ECF No. 1 at PageID 2.) Franks allegedly examined Turner only once and did not give him pain medication. (Id.) Turner alleges that Franks cancelled his request for a second opinion by a different nurse practitioner or doctor. (Id.) Turner lists twelve different dates on which he requested, but was denied, a medical visit. (Id. at PageID 3.) Turner did, however, receive an x-ray in May 2018.[1] (Id.) He also alleges that his requests to view his medical records were denied. (Id.) Turner seeks $20 million in compensatory damages. (Id. at PageID 4.)

         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 ‘create a claim which [a plaintiff] has not spelled out in his pleading'” (quoting Clark v. Nat'l Travelers Life Ins. Co., 518 F.2d 1167, 1169 (6th Cir. 1975))).

         Turner filed his complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which provides:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress . . . .

         To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two elements: (1) a deprivation of rights secured by the “Constitution and laws” of the United States (2) committed by a defendant acting under color of state law. Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 150 (1970).

         From Turner's complaint, it appears that Quality Health Care is a private company providing medical services for prisoners at the CJC and Nurse Franks's employer. “A private corporation that performs the traditional state function of operating a prison acts under color of state law for purposes of § 1983.” Thomas v. Coble, 55 Fed.Appx. 748, 748 (6th Cir. 2003) (citing Street v. Corr. Corp. of Am., 102 F.3d 810, 814 (6th Cir. 1996)). The Sixth Circuit has applied the standards for assessing municipal liability to claims against private corporations that operate prisons or provide medical care or food services to prisoners. Id. at 748-49; Street, 102 F.3d at 817-18; Johnson v. Corr. Corp. of Am., 26 Fed.Appx. 386, 388 (6th Cir. 2001); see also Eads v. State of Tenn., No. 1:18-cv-00042, 2018 WL 4283030, at *9 (M.D. Tenn. Sept. 7, 2018). To prevail on a § 1983 claim against Quality Health Care, therefore, Turner “must show that a policy or well-settled custom of the company was the ‘moving force' behind the alleged deprivation” o f his righ t s . Braswell v. Corr. Corp. of Am., 419 Fed.Appx. 622, 627 (6th Cir. 2011).

         Turner has not alleged that a policy or custom of Quality Health Care was the “moving force” behind the alleged violation of his constitutional rights. In fact, he states no allegations at all against Quality Health Care and directs his allegations only at ...


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