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King v. CoreCivic

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

October 22, 2019

CORECIVIC, Defendant.



         On September 10, 2019, Plaintiff William Carter King, who is incarcerated at the Hardeman County Correctional Facility (HCCF) in Whiteville, Tennessee, filed a document that he labeled a “Complaint/Request for TRO/Emergency Injunction/Appoint Counsel or Guardian Ad [Litem]Application to Proceed in For-ma Pauper.” (ECF No. 1.) Because King did not also file an application to proceed in forma pauperis and a copy of his trust account statement for the preceding six months, the Court ordered him to do so within thirty days. (ECF No. 3.) On October 3, 2019, King filed the necessary financial paperwork, and this Court issued an order 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. 6.) King sues CoreCivic, a private company that maintains the HCCF and other facilities.

         King alleges that he suffers from mental health issues, has been placed on suicide watch six times while at HCCF, and has been transferred to a hospital for treatment four times. (ECF No. 1 at PageID 1.) He alleges that in November 2018, he sent a complaint and an application to proceed in forma pauperis to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee in Nashville, but the documents never arrived. (Id.) On August 11, 2019, he told HCCF officials that he was feeling suicidal and asked for medical help. (Id.) He alleges that an unnamed sergeant told him “to do what I felt like [I] needed to do” but never contacted mental health services or had King placed on suicide watch. (Id. at PageID 1-2.)

         King states that on the same day he swallowed eleven blood thinner pills and nine razors and cut his arm in an attempt to bleed out. (Id. at PageID 2.) He was taken for medical attention, where Nurse Hardin (who is not named as a defendant) stopped the bleeding and asked him why he was attempting suicide. (Id.) King alleges that he told Hardin about an incident that occurred on March 17, 2018, while he was an inmate at the Trousdale Turner Correctional Complex (TTCC), which incident also was the subject of a Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) report.[1] (Id.) He also told Hardin about an unnamed doctor that had seen him for a chronic care visit in November 2016. (Id.) According to King, the doctor told King he was concerned about King's “possible exposure to harmful even deadly toxins” causing scarring and possible nerve damage. (Id.) The doctor allegedly told King that he might end up in a wheelchair or die because of his mystery condition. (Id.) Before King could be further evaluated, however, that doctor stopped working at the TTCC. (Id.) King was scheduled for another chronic care visit in February 2017 but was never taken for the appointment. (Id.) He filed a grievance about the missed visit. (Id.) King told Hardin that no one cared about the March 17, 2018, incident or his medical health, and he “would rather just kill myself and stop the torture.” (Id.)

         Hardin looked at King's medical files and allegedly told King, “I'm not big into conspiracy theories but something is defiantly [sic] wrong with your files” and that documents were missing in a manner suggesting someone had intentionally removed them. (Id. at PageID 3.) Hardin told King that his file contained nothing about the statements made by the doctor at TTCC or the PREA report.

         King further alleges that on September 6, 2019, while Hardin was changing a dressing on his leg, King asked what he should do about the missing medical files. (Id.) King told Hardin he was “very afraid that I would end up killing myself over everything and no one helping me and making matters worse . . . someone had removed orders and doctors notes from my file.” (Id.) Hardin told King to contact an attorney or have his family contact one and made him promise not to hurt himself. (Id.) King recounts additional incidents between October 2018 and April 2019 where his previous attorney made appointments to visit with him via video conference, but CoreCivic officials allegedly denied the visits. (Id.) King alleges that he fired the attorney because of the missed visits, represented himself at trial, and pleaded guilty to the maximum sentence in his criminal matter without attempting to negotiate a plea agreement. (Id.)

         King seeks a TRO or an injunction ordering prison officials to contact the Tennessee Health Department regarding his concern that he has been exposed to toxins and to order that he be evaluated. (Id.) He also seeks counsel and/or a guardian ad litem to find the missing documents from his medical file and the results of the March 17, 2018, PREA report. (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))).

         King labels his filing as both a complaint and a request for a TRO or emergency injunction. He asks the Court to take immediate action to order him an evaluation and ...

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