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Careathers v. Tennessee Department of Correction

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

October 10, 2019




         On February 2, 2018, Plaintiff Grady Joe Careathers, who at the time was incarcerated at the Trousdale Turner Correctional Center (TTCC) in Hartsville, Tennessee,[1] 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 addresses events that occurred at the Whiteville Correctional Facility (WCF) in Whiteville, Tennessee. (ECF No. 1 at PageID 1.) The Court issued an order on February 9, 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 the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC); Lieutenant John Pinner; Sergeant First Name Unknown (FNU) Bonner; Sergeant Vivian Oliver, Grievance Board Chairperson; Nurse FNU Hopkins; Captain FNU Sanders; CoreCivic; Damon Hininger, President and CEO of CoreCivic; the Town of Whiteville and Hardeman County;[2] and Centurion Medical Liability.

         Careathers alleges that on May 13, 2017, he was screened by the WCF medical department before being taken to the Segregation Unit. (ECF No. 1 at PageID 2.) Careathers was cleared by medical to be escorted to Segregation by Lt. Pinner and Sgt. Oliver, but while they still were in the medical waiting room, he and Sgt. Oliver “exchanged verbal-words.” (Id.) This allegedly prompted Lt. Pinner to pick up the handcuffed Careathers and slam or throw him to the floor. (Id.) Careathers alleges his right foot became tangled with his other leg as he fell, and he broke his ankle. (Id.) He alleges that Capt. Sanders, Sgt. Oliver, and Sgt. Bonner watched the altercation take place but refused to take action or order it to stop. (Id. at PageID 2-3.) According to Careathers, Sanders previously had “made an inappropriate statement” that he would “teach plaintiff to keep his mouth shut and not curse his female staff.” (Id. at PageID 3.)

         Sanders and Pinner helped Careathers get to his feet and took him to the nurse's station, where Nurse Hopkins examined Careathers. (Id. at PageID 2.) Nurse Hopkins wrapped Careathers's ankle, gave him ibuprofen and an ice pack, and ordered an X-ray. (Id.) Careathers was taken to a medical holding cell, where Sgt. Bonner told him he would not receive any X-rays and was being transferred to segregation pending the outcome of a disciplinary hearing. (Id.) Careathers eventually did receive an X-ray about one month later. (Id.)

         In July 2017, Careathers was taken to a hospital, where he was informed he would need physical therapy and that his ankle would have to be “re-broken to grow back correctly.” (Id. at PageID 3.) Sometime in mid-July 2017, Careathers was transferred to the TTCC. (Id.) In September 2017, a doctor at TTCC ordered that Careathers see a “Tissue Specialist” for his ankle, and in October 2017 he received a medical boot for his ankle. (Id.)

         Careathers sues the Defendants in their individual and official capacities. (Id. at PageID 2.) He seeks at least $200, 000 in compensatory and punitive damages from each Defendant.[3] (Id.) He also seeks an injunction ordering the Defendants to provide “adequate medical care” and send inmates to outside medical appointments, “stop the excessive force against inmate's [sic], ” and “stop covering-up inmate's [sic] being assaulted by staff.” (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))).

         Careathers 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 ...

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