Finney v. Howard et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER denying 5 Plaintiff's motion to alter or amend, and only the allegations involving Plaintiff's disciplinary hearing will proceed to service. The Clerk is DIRECTED to send Plaintiff two service packet s for Defendants Chapman and Hams. Plaintiff is ORDERED to complete the service packets and to return them to the Clerk's office within twenty-one (21) days of the date on this Order. With the exception of Plaintiff's claim of due process v iolations in connection with his disciplinary offense, disciplinary hearing, and resulting segregation, all remaining claims are DISMISSED from this action for failure to state a claim. In addition, all Defendants, with the exception of Defendants Chapman and Hams, are DISMISSED. Signed by Chief District Judge Thomas A Varlan on January 23, 2017. c/m (AYB)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE
CHARLES LATWAIN FINNEY,
CHRISTOPHER HOWARD, Warden;
CLARENCE POTTS, Assistant Warden;
FREDERICK HACKETT, H.S.A.; HAMS,
F/N/U MOON, Unit Manager;
F/N/U JACKSON, Case Manager;
F/N/U SANTIAGO, Case Manager;
F/N/U VANHOOSER, Case Manager;
F/N/U HAMS; F/N/U MAVDEN,
Mental Health Counselor; and CCA,
in their individual and official capacities,
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
The Court screened this pro se pretrial detainee’s civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. §
1983 and found that all claims, with one exception, failed to state a claim for relief [Doc. 3]. The
excepted claim asserted due process violations and involved allegations that Plaintiff had been
charged falsely with a disciplinary offense, had been denied witnesses at his disciplinary hearing,
and had been placed in punitive segregation for thirty days. In the screening order, the Court
noted that the claim was deficient in certain respects and invited Plaintiff to correct those
deficiencies by amending his claim.
Now before the Court is Plaintiff’s amended complaint, in which he maintains that
Defendant Hams issued him a false disciplinary report, based on hearsay, stating that Plaintiff
flooded his cell. Plaintiff further maintains that Defendant Chapman did not allow Plaintiff to
call certain witnesses or require their presence at the disciplinary hearing. Plaintiff identifies one
witness as an individual named “Johnson,” whose supposed testimony at the hearing allegedly
would have exonerated Plaintiff from the false charge. The second witness was Officer Harris,
the reporting officer, who supposedly indicated to Plaintiff that she did not report “such a thing,”
and the third proposed witness was Defendant Hams.
Had these officers been present at the hearing and offered testimony, so Plaintiff
maintains, Plaintiff would have been able to confront and cross-examine them. Additionally,
Plaintiff maintains that, as a pretrial detainee, he cannot be punished and that he was punished by
means of the thirty (30) days of punitive segregation he received as result of the disciplinary
hearing on the false charge. The above events and conduct, so Plaintiff insists, violates his right
to due process of law.
At this point in the proceedings, and though Plaintiff did not set forth the date of these
incidents as he was advised to do, the Court cannot say that Plaintiff’s amended claim fails to
state an arguable constitutional claim. “Pretrial detainees, unlike convicts, have a liberty interest
in avoiding punishment—an interest that derives from the Constitution itself.” Surprenant v.
Rivas, 424 F.3d 5, 17 (1st Cir. 2005); see Jacoby v. Baldwin Cnty., 835 F.3d 1338, 1349–59
(11th Cir. 2016) (finding that a pretrial detainee is entitled to the procedural protections
enunciated in Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539 (1974), which include an opportunity to call
witnesses and offer evidence); Mitchell v. Dupnik, 75 F.3d 517, 523–25 (9th Cir. 1996) (same).
Accordingly, this claim will be permitted to proceed to service.
Plaintiff also moves the Court to alter or amend its screening order with respect to his
claims for deliberate indifference or for denial of medical attention against Defendants Unit
Manager Moon, Classification Case Manager Jackson, Case Manager Santiago, Case Manager
Vanhooser, and Mental Health Counselor Mavden [Doc. 5]. Plaintiff suggests that these claims
should advance because, from September 2015 to December 2015, he repeatedly requested
medical attention from these Defendants for Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (“PTSD”), that
they refused to get him any kind of medical treatment, and that the medical attention that he
received did not cure the symptoms he was experiencing [Id. at 1].
In the screening order, the Court noted that Plaintiff presented no evidence of the
requisite mental state of deliberate indifference in connection with his medical claims, that he
had been administered medications to treat his symptoms, and that his claims sounded in medical
negligence, which is not a constitutional wrong [Doc. 3 p. 6]. The Court did not invite him to
amend this claim, finding that absent a showing of deliberate indifference he failed to state a
Nothing in his motion to alter or amend causes the Court to reach a different conclusion
with respect to Plaintiff’s medical claims against these Defendants. It remains that Plaintiff has
not alleged any facts suggesting deliberate indifference, as the Supreme Court has defined the
state-of-mind element of such a claim. See Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 837 (1994)
(finding that deliberate indifference is evidenced where prison officials subjectively are aware of
facts from which they could infer that a prisoner faces a significant risk of serious harm and
where they actually draw that inference). And it likewise remains that Plaintiff has not detailed
the role each of these five Defendants played in making any decision with respect to his medical
care for PTSD. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 676 (2009) (finding that “a plaintiff must plead
that each Government-official defendant, through the official’s own individual actions, has
violated the Constitution”).
Finally, to the extent that Plaintiff’s claim constitutes an attempt to impose supervisory
liability on these Defendants for a medical provider’s alleged wrongdoing, § 1983 liability
cannot be predicated on a theory of supervisory liability. Id. at 676 (“[O]ur precedents establish .
. . that Government officials may not be held liable for the unconstitutional conduct of their
subordinates under a theory of respondeat superior.”); see also Taylor v. Mich. Dep’t of Corr., 69
F.3d 76, 80–81 (6th Cir. 1995). In addition, Plaintiff’s assertions that he requested but did not
obtain medical care from these Defendants does not save his claim because the law is settled that
a supervisor cannot be held liable for a mere failure to act. Greene v. Barber, 310 F.3d 889, 899
(6th Cir. 2002) (“Supervisory liability under § 1983 does not attach when it is premised on a
mere failure to act; it ‘must be based on active unconstitutional behavior.’”) (quoting Bass v.
Robinson, 167 F.3d 1041, 1048 (6th Cir. 1999)).
Furthermore, “if any claim of medical
indifference . . . is to succeed, it must be brought against the individual directly responsible for
[Plaintiff’s] medical care.” Kulow v. Nix, 28 F.3d 855, 859 (8th Cir. 1994) (quoting Brown v.
Wallace, 957 F.2d 564, 566 (8th Cir. 1992)).
Therefore, Plaintiff’s motion to alter or amend is DENIED [Doc. 5], and only the
allegations involving Plaintiff’s disciplinary hearing will proceed to service.
Accordingly, the Clerk is DIRECTED to send Plaintiff two service packets for
Defendants Chapman and Hams. Each packet contains a blank summons and USM 285 form.
Plaintiff is ORDERED to complete the service packets and to return them to the Clerk’s office
within twenty-one (21) days of the date on this Order. Plaintiff is forewarned that failure to
return the completed service packets within the time required could jeopardize his prosecution of
When the completed service packets are received, the summonses will be signed and
sealed by the Clerk and forwarded to the U.S. Marshal for service upon Defendants. Defendants
are ORDERED to respond to the complaint in the manner and within the time required by the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Plaintiff is ORDERED to inform the Court of any address change within fourteen (14)
days following such change. See E.D. Tenn. L.R. 83.13. Plaintiff is further cautioned that his
failure to do so will result in a dismissal of this action for failure to prosecute.
With the exception of Plaintiff’s claim of due process violations in connection with his
disciplinary offense, disciplinary hearing, and resulting segregation, all remaining claims are
DISMISSED from this action for failure to state a claim. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); Fed. R. Civ.
P. 12(b)(6). In addition, all Defendants, with the exception of Defendants Chapman and Hams,
IT IS SO ORDERED.
s/ Thomas A. Varlan
CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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