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Little v. Perry

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

January 2, 2020

GRADY PERRY, ET AL., Defendants.



         On August 28, 2019, Plaintiff Jereme Little, who is incarcerated at the West Tennessee State Penitentiary (WTSP) in Henning, Tennessee, filed a pro se complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (ECF No. 1.) Because Little had not signed his complaint, the Court ordered him to do so and to file the required documents to comply with 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(a)(1)-(2) or pay the full filing fee. (ECF No. 3.) Little complied with the order and filed a signed complaint and a motion to proceed in forma pauperis. (ECF Nos. 4 & 5.) The Court issued an order on October 2, 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. 7.) Little also filed an amended complaint, (ECF No. 6), which supersedes the original and is before the Court for screening. He sues Grady Perry, former Warden of the Hardeman County Correctional Facility (HCCF), [1] in his official capacity. Little also seeks to sue an unknown, “Jane Doe” counselor and an unknown, “Jane Doe” officer.

         Little alleges in the amended complaint that during a previous incarceration at the WTSP, he and his family filed numerous grievances and letters to the Human Rights Department in Nashville, Tennessee, regarding his safety. (ECF No. 6 at PageID 26.) He alleges that someone attempted to kill him in November 2015, and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation falsely labeled him a gang member. (Id.) That incorrect label has allegedly made him “a target throughout” the Tennessee Department of Correction. (Id.)

         In April 2018, Little was transferred to the HCCF, where he was interviewed about any potential gang affiliation. (Id.) Little told the HCCF staff that he was not in a gang and never had been. (Id.) A week later, a unit manager Little refers to as “Goldie” allegedly told another inmate that Little was in a gang, and the inmate told the entire pod about Little's false affiliation. (Id.) Little alleges that this “placed [him] in [a volatile] position throughout the whole prison.” (Id.)

         Little was later moved to another pod for good behavior. (Id.) While there, however, the Jane Doe counselor told him members of the Crips gang wanted him moved because they believed he belonged to a rival gang. (Id.) Little denied any gang affiliation but stated he was willing to move to avoid a potential problem. (Id. at PageID 26-27.) Although a counselor from another pod agreed to allow Little to transfer to his pod, the move never happened. (Id. at PageID 27.)

         Little alleges that, about a week later, he was ambushed by gang members, beaten, and stabbed fifteen times. (Id.) Another inmate helping him clean up the blood also was attacked and stabbed by the gang members. (Id.) Little pressed the panic button in the cell, but the Jane Doe officer on duty did not answer or send help, though Little alleges she was working in the observation booth at the time. (Id.) Officers eventually came to take Little for medical attention, and he alleges that he was “chained up and flown by Medical helicopter to Regional One Tra[u]ma Center in Memphis.” (Id.) Hospital staff allegedly had to use bolt cutters to remove the handcuffs and chains from Little because staff from the HCCF did not bring a key to his restraints. (Id. at PageID 27-28.) Little alleges that he required staples and stitches to close the wounds on his head and face. (Id. at PageID 28.)

         When he was returned to the HCCF, Little alleges he was placed in segregation lockdown in the same unit with the inmates who attacked him and that he was punished the same as those inmates. (Id.) He alleges that Warden Perry acknowledged that Little had not done anything wrong and was not in trouble. (Id.) Little was transferred to the SCCF about a month later. (Id.)

         Little seeks monetary damages, an injunction ordering his probation reinstated, and appointment of an attorney. (Id. at PageID 30.)

         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 ...

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