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Seiber v. Dillon

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville

December 4, 2019

DR. CASEY DILLON, et al., Defendants.


          Clifton L. Corker, United States District Judge

         Plaintiff, a prisoner proceeding pro se, has filed an amended complaint for violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 that is before the Court for screening pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”) [Doc. 8].


         Plaintiff, an inmate housed at the Anderson County Detention Facility, was shot approximately 10 days before his arrest on December 8, 2018 [Doc. 8 p. 2-3]. In January 2019, a doctor at U.T. Medical Center ordered Plaintiff to undergo physical therapy three times per week for four weeks [Id. at 3-4]. Benchmark Therapy, where Plaintiff was receiving physical therapy, determined that Plaintiff's therapy need to be extended [Id. at 4]. However, the therapy was stopped “because of a much[-]needed surgery on March 1, 2019” that was performed at U.T. Medical Center [Id.]. Plaintiff was cleared to return to physical therapy on March 13, 2019, and he was scheduled a surgical follow-up appointment in eight weeks [Id.].

         Plaintiff maintains that his physical therapy was not reinstated, and that he was not transported to his follow-up appointment due to the actions of Deputy Amber Allen and Dr. Casey Dillon [Id.]. Specifically, he claims that Deputy Amber Allen told him that he was taken off lockdown so that he could exercise (presumably in lieu of the physical therapy), and that staff had spoken to U.T. Medical who advised that Plaintiff could be cared for at the Anderson County Detention Facility [Id.]. Plaintiff claims that no medical staff evaluated him to make a reasonable assessment as to whether he needed physical therapy or a follow-up, however [Id.]. He claims that the facility's physician, Dr. Casey Dillon, stopped his follow-ups, discontinued his physical therapy, and denied him Tylenol, which he had been prescribed [Id. at 8, 11].

         Plaintiff also asserts that he fell in September 2019, and that a mobile x-ray was ordered [Id.]. Plaintiff was sent to Oakridge Orthopedics and was seen by a physician who ordered a follow-up in two weeks [Id.]. Plaintiff claims, however, that he was not transported for the follow-up [Id.]. As a result, Plaintiff claims, he has endured needless pain and suffering [Id. at 5].


         Under the PLRA, district courts must screen prisoner complaints and sua sponte dismiss any claims that are frivolous or malicious, fail to state a claim for relief, or are against a defendant who is immune. See, e.g., 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A; Benson v. O'Brian, 179 F.3d 1014 (6th Cir. 1999). The dismissal standard articulated by the Supreme Court in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009) and in Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007) “governs dismissals for failure state a claim under [28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A] because the relevant statutory language tracks the language in Rule 12(b)(6).” Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010). Thus, to survive an initial review under the PLRA, a complaint “must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).

         Courts liberally construe pro se pleadings filed in civil rights cases and hold them to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). Allegations that give rise to a mere possibility that a plaintiff might later establish undisclosed facts supporting recovery are not well-pled and do not state a plausible claim, however. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 570. Further, formulaic and conclusory recitations of the elements of a claim which are not supported by specific facts are insufficient to state a plausible claim for relief. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 681 (2009).

         In order to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must establish that he was deprived of a federal right by a person acting under color of state law. Braley v. City of Pontiac, 906 F.2d 220, 223 (6th Cir. 1990) (stating that “Section 1983 does not itself create any constitutional rights; it creates a right of action for the vindication of constitutional guarantees found elsewhere”). For the reasons stated herein, Plaintiff has failed to do so.

         III. ANALYSIS

         In his amended complaint, Plaintiff asserts that Nurse Norwood is responsible for the alleged constitutional violations, because, as head nurse, she should have evaluated Plaintiff and not permitted other medical personnel to stop his appointments [Doc. 8 p. 11]. However, Plaintiff's complaint concedes that the nurses are not responsible for ordering or halting any treatment, the facility's medical doctor is. [See, generally, Doc. 8]. Additionally, Plaintiff's complaint contains no facts from which the Court could infer that Nurse Norwood is personally responsible for any of the constitutional violations alleged, and therefore, he has failed to state a claim against her. See Frazier v. Michigan, 41 Fed.Appx. 762, 764 (6th Cir. 2002) (providing that “a complaint must allege that the defendants were personally involved in the alleged deprivation of federal rights” to state a claim upon which relief may be granted). Moreover, Plaintiff cannot seek to impose liability on Nurse Norwood as “head nurse, ” as a court may not impose liability under § 1983 based a theory of respondeat superior. Shehee v. Luttrell, 199 F.3d 295, 300 (6th Cir. 1999). We do not normally override a party's concession

         Therefore, Defendant Nurse Norwood will be DISMISSED.

         Plaintiff asserts that Defendants S. Yowell, J. Maples (also listed on the docket as “Lt. Maples”), M. Fenton, R. Parker, and Russell Barker were all “active participants” who are “directly and vicariously” liable for the alleged violations of his constitutional rights [Doc. 8 p. 8]. However, Plaintiff's allegations are conclusory. He has alleged no facts from which the Court could infer that any of these Defendants had any personal involvement in the wrongdoing alleged. Rather, Plaintiff seeks to impose liability on these Defendants based on their status as ...

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