United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee
JEFFREY B. TRUSTY, Plaintiff,
CENTURION HEALTH SERVICES, et al., Defendants.
S. MATTICE, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
an inmate in the custody of the Tennessee Department of
Corrections (“TDOC”) proceeding pro se, has filed
a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against
Centurion Health Services, Tony Parker, David Sexton, Kevin
Hampton, Darren Settles, Katie Campbell, and John and Jane
Doe [Doc. 1]. This matter is before the Court for screening
pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act
(“PLRA”) and consideration of the various motions
filed by the parties.
the PLRA, district courts must screen prisoner complaints and
shall, at any time, sua sponte dismiss any claims
that are frivolous or malicious, fail to state a claim for
relief, or are against a defendant who is immune. See,
e.g., 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A;
Benson v. O'Brian, 179 F.3d 1014 (6th Cir.
1999). The dismissal standard articulated by the Supreme
Court in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009) and
in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544
(2007) “governs dismissals for failure state a claim
under [28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A]
because the relevant statutory language tracks the language
in Rule 12(b)(6).” Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d
468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010). Thus, to survive an initial
review under the PLRA, a complaint “must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state
a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly,
550 U.S. at 570). Courts liberally construe pro se pleadings
filed in civil rights cases and hold them to a less stringent
standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Haines
v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972).
order to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a
plaintiff must establish that he was deprived of a federal
right by a person acting under color of state law. Braley
v. City of Pontiac, 906 F.2d 220, 223 (6th Cir. 1990)
(stating that “Section 1983 . . . creates a right of
action for the vindication of constitutional guarantees found
elsewhere”). “Absent either element, a section
1983 claim will not lie.” Christy v. Randlett,
932 F.2d 502, 504 (6th Cir. 1991).
ALLEGATIONS OF THE COMPLAINT
is an inmate in the custody of TDOC who is housed at the
Bledsoe County Correctional Complex (“BCCX”). On
February 9, 2018, Plaintiff was transferred to the Deberry
Special Needs Facility (“DSNF”) for an
appointment and remained there until February 16, 2018, when
he was returned to BCCX [Doc. 1 p. 5-6]. On February 19,
2018, at a post-visit consultation, Plaintiff advised his
health care provider to cancel his follow-up special needs
appointment with DSNF [Id. at 5].
claims that in the early morning hours of July 20, 2018, two
officers came to his cell and advised him to pack his
property for transport (presumably) to DSNF [Id. at
5]. Plaintiff contends that when he told the officers that
his appointment at DSNF was cancelled, the officers took him
to the health care clinic to sign refusal of treatment forms
[Id.]. Plaintiff declined to sign the refusal forms,
as health care services failed to follow TDOC policy
requiring personnel to review scheduled transfers with the
inmate in advance [Id.]. Plaintiff asserts that
because this policy of advance review was not followed, he
was wrongfully charged with a $10.00 medical co-pay for
refusing the transport [Id.].
claims that Centurion Health Services deliberately fails to
follow TDOC policies in order to increase profit, in
violation of his due process rights [Id. at 7].
Named as Defendants in this action are Centurion Health
Services (“Centurion”), the TDOC contract health
care provider; Tony Parker, TDOC Commissioner; David
Sexton, Assistant Commissioner; Kevin Hampton,
Warden at BCCX; Darren Settles, Regional Warden; Katie
Campbell, Health Administrator; and John and Jane Doe,
well-settled that an inmate has a due process interest in his
prison trust fund account. See, e.g., Hampton v.
Hobbs, 106 F.3d 1281, 1287 (6th Cir. 1997). However, an
inmate is not “deprived of his property by virtue of
deductions from his prison trust account for court costs and
medical co-payments.” Gallagher v. Lane, No.
03-2263, 75 Fed.Appx. 440, 441-42 (6th Cir. Sept. 13, 2003);
see also Bailey v. Carter, 15 Fed.Appx. 245 (6th
Cir. 2001) (holding policy requirement payment for medical
services, where funds are available, does not violate an
inmate's constitutional rights). Plaintiff does not
allege that any named Defendant requested his follow-up
examination or approved his transfer. The evidence before the
Court is that Plaintiff refused medical services after
officials and health care providers scheduled an examination
and arranged transport. The minimal co-pay required to deter
such conduct is not unconstitutional, and such a policy does
not impose an atypical and significant hardship in relation
to the ordinary incidents of prison life. See Sandin v.
Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 484 (1995).
from the question of the policy itself, Plaintiff
additionally claims that Defendants' failure to follow
TDOC policy (by failing to hold pre-transport review) has
denied him his constitutional rights. However, he has not
demonstrated that Tennessee's post-deprivation procedures
are inadequate for redressing the wrong as is necessary to
sustain his § 1983 claim. See Vicory v. Walton,
721 F.2d 1062, 1063 (6th Cir. 1983); see also Hudson v.
Palmer, 468 U.S. 517 (1984) and Parratt v.
Taylor, 451 U.S. 527 (1981). Plaintiff maintains that he
has utilized TDOC's grievance process, and that is the
only remedy of which he is aware. However, Tennessee law
provides for the recovery of personal property. See
McQuiston v. Ward, 2001 WL 839037 * 1 (Tenn. Ct. App.
July 25, 2001) (citing to Tenn. Code. Ann. § 29-30-101
and § 29-30-201). Plaintiff has not shown that these
remedies are inadequate, and therefore, he has not stated a
claim that would entitle him to relief under § 1983.
See Bailey, 15 Fed.Appx. at 251 (observing that even
if due process deprivation was shown through co-pay charge,
“the inmates failed to allege that the post-deprivation
procedure is inadequate”). Accordingly, this action
must be dismissed.
light of Plaintiff's inability to sustain a § 1983
claim against any named Defendant, Plaintiff's motions
(1) requesting the service of summons on Defendants
Centurion, Tony Parker, and Katie Campbell [Doc. 11], and (2)
and declaration for entry of default [Doc. 22] will be
DENIED. As TDOC is not a party to this
action, Torrey E. Samson's motion to withdraw as counsel
for TDOC [Doc. 14] will be GRANTED, and she