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Taylor v. Employees At Sumner Co. Jail

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

October 2, 2019

CALEB A. TAYLOR, Plaintiff,
v.
EMPLOYEES AT SUMNER CO. JAIL, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ELI RICHARDSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Caleb Taylor, an inmate at the Sumner County Jail in Gallatin, Tennessee, filed this pro se civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Doc. No. 1) and two applications to proceed in this Court without prepaying fees and costs (Doc. Nos. 2 and 3).

         I. Applications to Proceed as a Pauper

          The Court may authorize a prisoner to file a civil suit without prepaying the filing fee. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). Plaintiff submitted both a short form (Doc. No. 2) and a long form (Doc. No. 3) application to proceed in forma pauperis. The short form application is accompanied by a copy of Plaintiff's trust account statement. (Doc. No. 2 at 3-9.) Plaintiff also submitted a “Certificate of Prisoner Institutional/Trust Fund Account Activity, ” apparently signed by the custodian of his account. (Doc. No. 1 at 47.) Because Plaintiff's applications reflect that he cannot pay the full filing fee in advance, the applications (Doc. Nos. 2 and 3) will be granted. The $350.00 filing fee will be assessed as directed in the accompanying Order. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1).

         II. Initial Review

         Under the screening requirements of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), the Court must conduct an initial review and dismiss the complaint if it is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. The Court must also construe a pro se complaint liberally, United States v. Smotherman, 838 F.3d 736, 739 (6th Cir. 2016) (citing Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)), and accept factual allegations as true unless they are entirely without credibility. See Thomas v. Eby, 481 F.3d 434, 437 (6th Cir. 2007) (citing Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 33 (1992)).

         A. Factual Allegations

         Plaintiff lists thirty-three defendants at the beginning of the complaint (Doc. No. 1 at 1-7) and refers to one additional entity-Southern Health Partners-as a defendant in the body of the complaint (id. at 29). The spelling of several defendant's names and titles is inconsistent throughout the complaint. To maintain clarity, the Court will spell each defendant's name exactly as it first appears in the complaint but spell each defendant's title using the common English spelling. The Court has grouped similar defendants together as follows.

         Plaintiff names four entities as defendants: Employee's at Sumner Co. Jail, Sumner County Law District, Sumner County Jail, and Sumner County General Sessions Court. (Id. at 1, 6.) He names ten individual defendants who, based on the allegations in the complaint and their titles, serve in a supervisory capacity at the Sumner County Jail: Sheriff Sonny Weatherford, Administrator Sonya Troutt, Captain Doug Canner, Internal Affairs Officer Keith Bean, Lieutenant Lesiley Bean, Lieutenant Jack Babbit, Sergeant Heather Driver, Sergeant Coldwell, Sergeant Cockerin, and Sergeant Desk. (Id. at 4-6.) Plaintiff also sues a Specialist named Pettey. (Id. at 3.) Plaintiff next names ten officers: Chanler, Blake, Hopper, Keane Glover, Petterson, Innitelly, Josha Holland, Christpher Greenhodge, Jason Gegory, and Julis Edwards. (Id. at 2-5.) Finally, Plaintiff names nine defendants allegedly involved in medical care at the Sumner County Jail: Southern Health Partners, Dr. Matthew, Head Nurse Shearal, Head Nurse Sharon, and Nurses Erica Lee, Bree, Jenniffer, Angel, and Kaylie. (Id. at 4, 7, 29.)

         The complaint's statement of facts includes handwritten allegations on an “Inmate Statement Form” (id. at 9) and twenty-six attached pages (id. at 10-35). Most pages are redundant because Plaintiff repeats a set of underlying allegations, either verbatim or nearly verbatim, before changing the defendant to whom they apply. (Id. at 12, 15, 18, 21, 24 (applying repeated allegations to Defendants Babbit, Glover, Greenhodge, Edwards, and Gegory, respectively); id. at 25, 26, 27, 28 (applying repeated allegations to Defendants Troutt, Canner, Keith Bean, and Weatherford, respectively); id. at 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 (applying repeated allegations to Defendants Shearal, Bree, Sharon, Erica Lee, Angel, and Jenniffer, respectively). The style of punctuation, grammar, and spelling also make the complaint somewhat difficult to comprehend. Nonetheless, drawing the necessary reasonable inferences and accepting any specific factual allegations as true, the Court has established the following summary of events for the purpose of conducting an initial review.

         1. September 2018 Incident

         Plaintiff alleges that, at 11:30 a.m. on September 11, 2018, he was given a one-hour recreation while lunch was being served. (Doc. No. 1 at 10.) During that time, another inmate gave his lunch tray to Plaintiff, and Plaintiff ate that tray at a table while Officer Julis Edwards distributed trays to other inmates at their cells. (Id.) Edwards did not stop when he got to Plaintiff's cell, so Plaintiff told Edwards that he did not give Plaintiff a tray. (Id.) A standoff ensured.

         Officer Edwards responded that Plaintiff already received his tray. (Id.) Plaintiff explained that another inmate gave him that try, and he did not receive his own tray. (Id.) Edwards refused to give Plaintiff a tray and told him to “lock down.” (Id.) Plaintiff said he would not lock down until he got his own lunch tray, and Edwards again refused to give him one. (Id.) Plaintiff said he was “not locking down.” (Id.) Edwards called for assistance. (Id.)

         Four jail officials arrived minutes later-Officer Jason Gegory, Officer Keane Glover, Officer Christpher Greenhodge, and Lieutenant Jack Babbit. (Id.) Plaintiff tried to explain his side of the standoff, and someone told him to “shut the f*** up” and go to his cell. (Id.) Plaintiff responded that he would not go to his cell until he got his lunch tray. (Id.) Someone threatened to spray Plaintiff with “P2 freeze pepper spray” if he did not “lock down.” (Id.) Plaintiff said “f*** yall” and turned to walk away. (Id.)

         Someone sprayed Plaintiff with pepper spray, but the spray did not affect him. (Id.) Officer Gegory grabbed Plaintiff, and Plaintiff alleges he was not being aggressive because he “threw [his] hands up while [his] back was fac[]ing” Gegory. (Id. at 11.) Someone “body slam[m]ed” Plaintiff onto the concrete floor, breaking Plaintiff's shoulder. (Id.) The five jail officials-Edwards, Gegory, Glover, Greenhodge, and Babbitt-then “jerked” Plaintiff's arm behind his back and handcuffed him. (Id.) The five officials dragged and threw Plaintiff out of the pod door and into a restraint chair. (Id.) Plaintiff told Officer Gegory that he needed to see medical because his shoulder was broken. (Id.) Gegory told “the officer in the tower” to call and inform medical that Plaintiff required treatment, but Plaintiff did not receive treatment at that time. (Id.)

         Eventually, Plaintiff was in so much pain that he started yelling and cursing, at which point Officer Greenhodge tried to put Plaintiff back in his cell. (Id.) Plaintiff told Greenhodge that he would not return to his cell until he received medical treatment. (Id.) Greenhodge then grabbed Plaintiff's broken shoulder. (Id.) Plaintiff “quickly swung from” Greenhodge's grasp to avoid further injury to his shoulder. (Id. at 11-12.) Greenhodge then “body slam[m]ed” Plaintiff's shoulder onto the concrete floor, adding a broken collarbone (id. at 12) and arm (id. at 25) to Plaintiff's already-broken shoulder. Officer Greenhodge then jerked Plaintiff's arm behind his back, causing Plaintiff's shoulder to pop three times, before handcuffing him. (Id. at 13.)

         Officer Greenhodge ultimately made Plaintiff wait for medical treatment “over six hours.” (Id. 11-12.) After he got to medical, Plaintiff underwent an x-ray that confirmed his broken shoulder and collarbone. (Id. at 12.) According to Plaintiff, however, medical staff refused to x-ray his broken right arm (id. at 25), despite Plaintiff requesting it “several times” (id. at 29).

         2. Medical Care Following ...


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