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Simpkins v. Roberson

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

October 22, 2019




         On May 13, 2019, Plaintiff Tironne Simpkins, who currently is incarcerated at the South Central Correctional Center in Clifton, 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 addresses events that allegedly occurred while Simpkins was incarcerated at the Whiteville Correctional Facility (WCF) in Whiteville, Tennessee. (ECF No. 1 at PageID 4.) The Court issued an order on May 14, 2019, 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 WCF Nurse Practitioner First Name Unknown (FNU) Roberson and WCF Doctor FNU Deitz.

         Simpkins alleges that since 2015, he has experienced severe pain in his neck and back and requested treatment while at the WCF. (ECF No. 1 at PageID 5.) He alleges that he was given ibuprofen for about a year and x-rayed on January 18, 2018. (Id.)

         On June 29, 2018, Nurse Practitioner (NP) Roberson examined Simpkins, but both Roberson and Dietz refused to give Simpkins the results of his January 18, 2018, x-ray and allegedly did not treat his pain. (Id.) Simpkins alleges that Roberson and Dietz continued to refuse him treatment up to the date he filed his complaint. (Id.) In the meantime, the pain detrimentally affected his “ability to work, walk, climb up and down steps to get to his housing assignment on the top tier, sleep, exercise, take showers, and perform other daily activities.” (Id.)

         On August 2, 2018, Simpkins filled out another sick-call request, but Roberson and Dietz allegedly ignored it. (Id. at PageID 6.) About a week later, he requested an extra mattress and a bottom bunk and a chair to step up and down from his bunk. (Id.) He alleges that the WCF Medical Department, “by and through” Roberson and Dietz, denied his requests. (Id.) As of the date the complaint was filed, the defendants allegedly had refused to see Simpkins for chronic care visits or provide him any treatment whatsoever. (Id.) He also alleges that his grievances went unanswered. (Id.) He asserts that the WCF Medical Department retaliated against him by ignoring his sick-call requests and grievances. (Id. at PageID 7.)

         Simpkins seeks compensatory and punitive damages. (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 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))).

         Simpkins 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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