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Jackson v. Correct Care Solutions

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

August 12, 2019

JOHN ERIS JACKSON II, Plaintiff,
v.
CORRECT CARE SOLUTIONS, ET AL., Defendants.

          ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT AND GRANTING LEAVE TO AMEND

          JAMES D. TODD UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On October 19, 2018, Plaintiff John Eris Jackson II, a pretrial detainee at the Shelby County Criminal Justice Center (Jail) in Memphis, 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 Court issued an order on November 7, 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.) The Clerk shall record the Defendants as Correct Care Solutions (CCS), the Shelby County Sheriff's Department, and Dr. Oscar Webb.

         Jackson alleges that he has been denied medication to treat his Hepatitis C, which was prescribed to him by his doctor at “the Hepatitis C Clinic that I go to at Adult Special Care Center.” (ECF No. 1 at PageID 2.) He alleges he has been “told by them there that Oscar Webb [at] this Jail that the insurance carrier will not pay fo r the meds.” (Id.) Jackson lists CCS as the insurance carrier for the Jail and “for its inmates housed there.” (Id.) He alleges that when he is sent for tests, Defendant Webb “is on the order as if he himself prescribed the test procedure, ” when the Hepatitis C Clinic in fact prescribes the tests. (Id.) Jackson seeks “to rec[ei]ve the ‘Accepted Standard Quality of Care' by having my Insurance Carriers pay for my Hepatitis C treatment.” (Id. at PageID 3.) He alleges that without treatment, he continues to suffer liver damage and that he has advanced fibrosis which is worsening. (Id.)

         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))).

         Jackson 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).

         Jackson has identified CCS as the insurance carrier for inmates at the Jail. However, CCS is not an insurer but a private company that contracts to provide medical care for inmates in correctional facilities, [1] including the Shelby County Jail. See Gladney v. Shelby Cnty., No. 13-2668-JDT-TMP, 2014 WL 4660784, at *3 (W.D. Tenn. Sept. 17, 2014); Chambers v. Correct Care Sol., No. 3:15-CV-01021, 2015 WL 5673007, at *4 (M.D. Tenn. Sept. 25, 2015). “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 CCS, Jackson “must show that a policy or well-settled custom of the company was the ‘moving force' behind the alleged deprivation” of his rights. Braswell v. Corr. Corp. of Am., 419 Fed.Appx. 622, 627 (6th Cir. 2011).

         Jackson alleges that he has been told the insurance carrier at the Jail will not pay for his Hepatitis C medication and treatment. It is not clear from the complaint whether Jackson intends to sue CCS, which he has misidentified as an insurer, or whether he intends to sue a different entity, which Jackson has not named in the complaint, that actually provides insurance for inmate medical care at the ...


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