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Casteel v. Alexander

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

December 6, 2019




         On October 7, 2019, Plaintiff Travis Earl Casteel, who is incarcerated at the Hardin County Correctional Facility (HCCF) in Savannah, 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 Court issued an order on October 9, 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 Hardin County Sheriff Johnny Alexander, HCCF Administrator Tracy White, Nurse Amanda Moore, and Nurse Practitioner Nathan Kersey.

         Casteel alleges that he has seen the nurse for medical treatment at the HCCF only once in three months. (ECF No. 1 at PageID 3.) He asserts that Sheriff Alexander “should know the well b[e]ing or medical conditions of the (HCCF) inmates.” (Id.) Casteel also alleges that Administrator White is aware of Casteel's medical conditions but has had “no possible involvement” except to tell Casteel not to threaten the medical staff. (Id. at PageID 3-4.) He further alleges that Nurse Moore saw him for his lone nurse visit, though he has “sent her sick call after sick call” about his medical conditions. (Id. at PageID 4.) He asserts that Moore knows about his medical conditions “but will not relate to” them. (Id.) Casteel also alleges that Nurse Practitioner Kersey sent him home for his medical condition on October 5, 2018, but will not examine him further to determine if he “should still be out for my medical condition, so I can get it took care of.” (Id.) Casteel alleges that HCCF will not pay for his medical bills, even though his medical issue stems from an incident that he does not describe but alleges occurred at HCCF on July 18, 2019. (Id.)

         Casteel in passing also alleges that the HCCF is “pushing a relig[ion] on me I do not bel[ie]ve in, ” does not provide newspapers or television access, and has no law library. (Id.) He alleges that HCCF does not provide razors for shaving and provides only clippers for use by all inmates even though, he alleges, “Hep[atitis] C is being passed around.” (Id.)

         Casteel seeks payment of his medical bills, monetary damages, and payment of dental work “that they do not do at the (HCCF) for state inma[tes].” (Id. at PageID 5.)

         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))).

         Casteel 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 injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress . . . .

         To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two elements: (1) a deprivation of rights secured by the “Constitution and laws” of the United States (2) committed by a defendant acting under color of state ...

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