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Thomas v. Buck

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee

June 11, 2019




         This is a pro se prisoner's civil rights action filed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Now before the Court are Plaintiff's motion for depositions by written questions [Doc. 49] and motions for discovery from third parties [Docs. 50 and 51], Defendants' motion for summary judgment [Doc. 53] and motion for protective order [Doc. 56], and Plaintiff's motion to amend/revise his complaint and to compel discovery [Doc. 60]. The Court will address these motions in turn.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The Court previously summarized the allegations of Plaintiff's complaint as follows:

In his Complaint, Plaintiff names as Defendants “Timothy Hewitt, Public Defender, ” “University of Tennessee Hospital” (hereinafter “UT Hospital”), and several alleged employees of UT Hospital: “Sonny Booth, dispatch” “Christopher Buck, security” “f/n/u D. Moore, security” and “Chuck Bush, EDT.” Plaintiff alleges that, on October 24, 2015, he received information that his girlfriend, Alice Adams, had been in a car accident. He went to UT Hospital, where he found Adams in a hallway; she informed him of her injuries, and he “began to try to inquire into why Adams was not being treated.” While talking to Adams, Plaintiff “noticed bruises all over Adams's neck and began examining [her] body for other injuries.” Plaintiff was able to speak with a nurse at 10:30 in the morning, who stated that Adams was “ready for discharge.” Plaintiff became “concerned about Adams['] well-being and insinuated” that they should leave to go to another hospital; he also “requested a nurse to speak to her supervisor.”
Buck then approached, stating “you need to calm down, ” and then “grabbed [Plaintiff] by the arm and forcefully escorted him” to another room “to seclude him from other pedestrians that were present.” Plaintiff complied with Buck's request that he put his hands on the wall, and Buck then advised Plaintiff that he was “under arrest for assaulting a female patient by strangulation.” Plaintiff pleaded with Buck to “speak with Alice and review the video footage” and stated that there had been “a misunderstanding.” Buck then “grabbed [Plaintiff's] right arm and jammed it up into his body while he ran [Plaintiff's] head into the wall.” Plaintiff fell to his knees, realized that his nose was bleeding, and asked Buck “to please stop hitting him.” Buck used his knee to hit Plaintiff in the head once more.
Plaintiff “managed to pull himself off of the floor and attempt to escape.” Before he reached the exit doors, he was tasered by Moore, then again by Buck, then once again by Moore. Buck tackled Plaintiff while he was on his knees and held him to the floor while Moore “continued to energize and deploy his taser.” Buck handcuffed Plaintiff, and told him: “[you're] lucky we didn't let the K9 loose on you, because this is personal that wasn't an option.”
Adams yelled at Buck and Moore that Plaintiff “didn't do anything” and asked them not to hurt him. After Adams was placed into a closet in the hallway, Buck placed Plaintiff on the hallways floor and “began kicking [him] in the face”; Bush “came and assisted by holding [Plaintiff to the floor], ” while Adams continued to “frantically plead[]” for Plaintiff's safety from the confines of the closet. Defendants stopped the assault only when Plaintiff “began choking on his own blood, ” at which point, he was escorted to a holding “cell.”
When questioned by the police, Buck stated that Plaintiff “had assaulted him and other security officers after he strangled [Adams] on a stretcher in the hallway”; the other officers involved gave similar accounts of the incident. Plaintiff maintains that these accounts were “fabricated, ” noting that Adams “continuously denied” that Plaintiff strangled her and refused to sign a statement written by Buck regarding the incident.
Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff was examined by a doctor, who determined that his injuries-including a wounded lip, bruising, four broken teeth, and fractures of the jaw, nose, and various facial bones-were “caused by blunt force trauma.” After he was treated for his injuries, Plaintiff was taken to Knox County Jail, where he was “booked on charges ranging from aggravated assault on public officials [to] strangulation of Alice Adams.”
Defendant Hewitt was appointed to represent Plaintiff with respect to these charges. Plaintiff maintains that Hewitt did not adequately represent him, because he failed to fully investigate the incident or procure useful discovery materials, and because he “ratified . . . coercive tactics” used to induce Plaintiff's guilty plea, despite the fact that he was aware that the charges against Plaintiff were based on false statements.

[Doc. 15 p. 3-15 (internal footnotes and citations omitted)]. The Court screened the complaint and allowed only Plaintiff's claims for excessive force and state law claims for aggravated assault against Defendants Buck, Moore, and Bush to proceed in this action, though it noted that the excessive force claims may be barred by the Supreme Court's decision in Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-87 (1994) [Doc. 15 p. 10-12 & n.7, 16-18, 20].


         In his motion to amend his complaint and to compel discovery, Plaintiff requests to amend his complaint “and state a claim [upon] which relief can be granted” based on his assertion that he “has stated his claim where [D]efendants do not understand” and also to compel Defendants to respond to discovery requests [Doc. 60 p. 1]. In their response in opposition to this motion, Defendants assert that Plaintiff's motions for discovery were not timely, that Plaintiff did not include an amended complaint with this motion in violation of this Court's local rule, and that any amendment to the complaint would be futile because ...

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