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Walton v. Tennessee Department of Correction

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

June 17, 2019




         On March 16, 2017, Plaintiff Octavious Walton, who is presently incarcerated at the Morgan County Correctional Complex (MCCX) in Wartburg, 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 Walton's previous incarceration at the West Tennessee State Penitentiary (WTSP) in Henning, Tennessee. (ECF No. 1 at PageID 4.) The Court granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis and assessed the civil filing fee pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(a)-(b). (ECF No. 6.) Walton also filed motions for leave to file an amended complaint and to compel discovery. (ECF Nos. 3 & 4.) The Court denied both of those motions without prejudice. (ECF Nos. 9 & 10.)

         On January 22, 2019, Walton sent two letters to the Court seeking to add additional claims to this lawsuit. (ECF Nos. 13 & 14.) The claims relate to his present confinement at the MCCX and are against Defendants who work there. These additional claims are completely unrelated to Walton's claims concerning his incarceration at WTSP and seek relief against entirely unrelated Defendants. Joinder therefore is inappropriate under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 20. Moreover, the claims against the MCCX Defendants have no connection to this district. The MCCX is located in Wartburg, Tennessee, in Morgan County. Morgan County is part of the Northern Division of the Eastern District of Tennessee. 28 U.S.C. § 123(a)(1). To the extent Walton's letters seek to amend his complaint and add these claims to the present lawsuit, the request is DENIED. If Walton wishes to seek redress against these Defendants, he must properly file his claims in the correct district.

         The Clerk shall record the Defendants as the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC); James Daniel, Staff Sergeant; Corrections Officer (C/O) First Name Unknown (FNU) Parker, “Max Staff”; Sharon Rose, Unit Manager; WTSP Warden Jonathan Lebo; TDOC Commissioner Tony Parker; Sergeant FNU Bartlett; FNU Fitz, ATW Warden; and Lieutenant Jeremy Rogers.[1]

         Walton's complaint contains several hard-to-follow claims against the Defendants regarding his time in Maximum Security Housing Unit 6 at the WTSP. (ECF No. 1 at PageID 2.) Walton first alleges that on August 30, 2016, Defendant Daniel broke Walton's television and removed all of Walton's personal property from his cell without giving a reason.[2] (Id. at PageID 6.) When Walton asked why he was taking Walton's property, Daniel allegedly replied, “Because you keep disrespecting my officers.” (Id.) The incident allegedly occurred in front of Defendant Rose's office, but she refused to discuss the incident with Walton. (Id.) Walton told Daniel he was going to kill himself, but Daniel refused to allow Walton to see mental health services. (Id.)

         Because he had threatened suicide, Walton eventually was sent to a “dry cell” for a few days before returning to his cell. (ECF No. 1-4 at PageID 38.) Back in his cell, Walton requested the return of his property, and Defendant Rose said it would be returned by September 5, 2016. (Id.) Instead, on September 5, Defendants Daniel and Bartlett removed Walton from his cell, handcuffed him, took him to an old supply room, forced him to undress to his boxers, and “started jumping on” Walton. (Id.) Walton alleges the Defendants believed Walton was hiding a cell phone, but in fact he had a radio. (Id.) Once the Defendants realized the electronic device was a radio, they told Walton to get dressed and returned him to his cell. (Id.)

         On September 11 or 12, 2016, Walton asked his counselor to order the return of his property. (Id.) Walton's property eventually was returned but, Walton alleges, it was covered in urine. (Id.) Walton told Defendant Bartlett about the urine, and Bartlett said he would tell Defendant Rose and have the property replaced. (Id. at PageID 39-40.) When Walton did not receive a new television, he repeatedly wrote to Rose, who told Walton he had numerous write-ups because Walton “cannot keep your hands off of yourself.” (Id. at PageID 40.) Rose told Walton he would get a new television when Walton's behavior changed. (Id. at PageID 40-41.) Walton laments the grievances he has had to file against Rose and the appeal process he has had to follow to get a new television. (Id. at PageID 41-42.)

         Walton alleges Defendant Rose approached him at his cell and threatened to “put a broom in your anus if you don't stop exposing yourself to my C/O [guards].” (Id. at PageID 43.) Walton attempted to report this statement to the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) hotline but received no response. (Id.) He also received no response to letters he sent to Defendants Lebo and Tony Parker about the incident. (Id.) Walton alleges that on another occasion, on December 22, 2016, Defendant Rose hit him in the hand with a broom. (Id. at PageID 48-49.) Walton appears to allege Rose acted in response to a disciplinary report against him for sexual misconduct, which Walton contested. (Id.)

         Walton claims that on February 2, 2017, Defendant Fitz ordered various C/O's, including Defendant C/O Parker, to assault Walton. (Id. at PageID 44.) Walton alleges Fitz made the order at least once while standing in front of Walton's cell and another time while Walton was handcuffed. (Id.) Walton states the order was in retaliation for Walton spitting on Defendant Daniel. (Id. at PageID 45.)

         Walton alleges that on February 20 and 22, 2017, Defendants C/O Parker and Daniel gave him a food tray without any food. (Id. at PageID 46.) Walton also states that from March 3 through 6, 2017, unspecified C/O's forced Walton to sleep without a bed mat or a bed sheet. (Id. at PageID 47.)

         Walton also alleges generally that inmates in Unit 6 have been denied an effective grievance system. (ECF No. 1-1 at PageID 9.) He blames Defendants Fitz, Lebo, and Tony Parker for the alleged inadequacies and claims Defendant Rose has been negligent in her handling of grievances. (Id.)

         Walton sues Defendants Daniel, C/O Parker, and Bartlett in their official capacities and sues Defendants Rose, Lebo, Tony Parker, Fitz, and Rogers in their individual capacities. (ECF No. 1 at PageID 4-5.) Walton seeks damages and relocation from the supermax facility to a facility with a special-needs specialist on staff. (Id. at PageID 8.)

         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 ...

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