Lindsey v. Corizion Medical Staff et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis will be GRANTED. Plaintiff will be ASSESSED the civil filing fee of $350.00. Corizion Medical Staff and Bledsoe County Correction Complex Secur ity are DISMISSED as defendants in this action. Plaintiff's allegations cannot proceed against Russell Melton, Tina Heard, Johnathan Holland and William Lewis in their official capacities and are DISMISSED. Signed by District Judge Curtis L Collier on 11/7/2017. (AML, ) Copy of M/O mailed to Inmate Account Custodian and emailed to Court Financial Deputy. Copy of M/O mailed to Plaintiff, along with four (4) service packets to be filled out and returned.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE
JAKEIL D. LINDSEY,
CORIZION MEDICAL STAFF, BLEDSOE
COUNTY CORRECTION COMPLEX
SECURITY, RUSSELL MELTON, TINA
HEARD, JOHNATHAN HOLLAND, and
Jakeil D. Lindsey (“Plaintiff”), a pro se prisoner, brings this civil rights complaint for
damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 [Doc. 2] and a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis
[Doc. 1]. Plaintiff names as defendants the correctional facility’s medical staff and security,
along with Russell Melton, Tina Heard, Johnathan Holland, and William Lewis, in their
individual and official capacities (collectively “Defendants”). Plaintiff alleges Defendants were
deliberately indifferent to his serious medical condition, resulting in injuries to his head and
mouth [Doc. 2 p. 5].
For the following reasons, Plaintiff’s motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc.
1] will be GRANTED, and his complaint will advance, in part.
THE FILING FEE
It appears from the application to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. 1] that Plaintiff lacks
sufficient financial resources to pay the filing fee. Accordingly, Plaintiff’s motion for leave to
proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. 1] will be GRANTED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915.
Because Plaintiff is an inmate in the Northwest Correction Complex (“NCCX”), he will
be ASSESSED the civil filing fee of $350.00. The custodian of Plaintiff’s inmate trust account
at NCCX will be DIRECTED to submit to the Clerk of Court, as an initial partial payment,
twenty percent (20%) of the greater of either the average monthly deposits or the average
monthly balance in the account for the six (6) months immediately preceding the filing of the
complaint. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1).
After full payment of the initial partial filing fee, the custodian shall submit twenty
percent (20%) of Plaintiff’s preceding monthly income credited to the account, but only when
the amount in the account exceeds ten dollars ($10), until the full $350 fee has been paid to the
Clerk of Court. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2); McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 607 (6th Cir.
1997), overruled on other grounds by Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199 (2007). Payments should be
mailed to: Clerk’s Office, USDC; 220 West Depot Street, Suite 200; Greeneville, TN 37743.
The Clerk of Court will be DIRECTED to send a copy of this Order to the custodian of
inmate accounts at NCCX to ensure compliance with these fee-assessment procedures. The
Clerk will also be DIRECTED to forward a copy of the Order to the Court’s financial deputy.
The accompanying Order shall become a part of Plaintiff’s prison file and follow him if he is
transferred to another institution. Plaintiff will be ORDERED to notify the Court of any change
of address if he is transferred to another institution and to provide the prison officials at any new
institution with a copy of the Order.
Plaintiff claims to suffer from grand mal seizures and epileptic attacks [Doc. 2 p. 3]. He
contends that Defendants showed indifference to his serious medical conditions by failing to
provide adequate medical care after he suffered from multiple seizures while incarcerated at the
Bledsoe County Correctional Complex. Plaintiff suffered from seizures on February 25, 2017,
March 1, 2017, March 6, 2017, March 8, 2017, March 28, 2017, April 6, 2017, May 2, 2017, and
May 7, 2017, but was ignored by Defendants each time [Id.]. Plaintiff states that Defendants
believe he faked his seizures, and consequently, placed him into segregation for “creating a
Plaintiff further alleges that he was discriminated against because of his race [Id. at 6].
He complains that Defendants Melton and Heard opine that, “all [b]lack inmates [are] faking
seizures to come to medical department clinic to harass the young white female nurses” [Id].
Prior to his stay at the Bledsoe County Correctional Complex, Plaintiff wore a protective
helmet issued by the Rutherford County Jail Medical Staff due to the potential danger to
Plaintiff’s head during a seizure [Id at 5].
However, upon admittance to Bledsoe County
Correctional Complex, the Corizion Medical Staff confiscated his helmet [Id.]. Because Plaintiff
does not have his helmet anymore, he has suffered head injuries from falling during seizures
Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), a court is required to screen civil complaints brought by
prisoners proceeding in forma pauperis and to dismiss an action at any time the court determines
that it is frivolous or fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. In performing this
task, the Court bears in mind the rule that pro se pleadings filed in civil rights cases are to be
charitably construed and to be held to a less exacting standard than attorney-prepared complaints.
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); see also Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)
(explaining that a pro se pleading “is to be liberally construed” and “held to less stringent
standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers”) (citing Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106
Still, the pleadings must be sufficient “to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face,” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A claim is not plausible unless the
“[f]actual allegations [are] enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level,” id. at
555, and permit a court “to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The standard articulated in
Twombly and Iqbal “governs dismissals for failure to state a claim under [§§ 1915A(b)(1) and
1915(e)(2)(B)(ii)] 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).
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. Black v. Barberton
Citizens Hosp., 134 F.3d 1265, 1267 (6th Cir. 1998); see also 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”). In other words, the plaintiff must plead facts sufficient to show: (1) the deprivation
of a right, privilege, or immunity secured to him by the United States Constitution or other
federal law; and (2) that the individual responsible for such deprivation was acting under color of
state law. Gregory v. Shelby Cty., 220 F.3d 433, 441 (6th Cir. 2000).
Plaintiff named Corizion Medical Staff and Bledsoe County Correction Complex
Security as defendants in this action. However, these defendants are non-suable entities because
they are not “persons” who can be sued under § 1983. Monell v. Dep’t of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S.
658, 688-90 (1978) (finding that only “bodies politic” are “persons” who can be sued under 42
U.S.C § 1983.). Applying Monell, the Sixth Circuit and district courts in this district have held
that medical departments of a jail and a prison are not entities that can be sued under § 1983. See
Hix v. Tenn. Dept. of Corrs., 196 Fed. Appx. 350, 355 (6th Cir. 2006) (“[W]e conclude that the
defendant medical departments are not “persons” under § 1983.”); Horton v. Hamblen Cty. Jail
Med. Staff, No. 2:07-CV-01, 2007 WL 172523, at *1 (E.D. Tenn. Jan. 18, 2007) (finding that the
jail medical staff is a non-suable entity under § 1983”); Sullivan v. Hamilton Cty. Jail Staff, No.
1:05-CV-320, 2006 WL 1582418, at *3 n.1 (E.D. Tenn. June 5, 2006) (noting that the jail’s
medical staff is a subdivision of the sheriff’s department and not a legal entity subject to suit)
(citing to Fischer v. Cahill, 474 F.2d 991, 992 (3rd Cir. 1973) for its holding that a state prison
medical department is not a “person” under § 1983). Similarly, this Court holds the same to be
true for security staff. Thus, Corizion Medical Staff and Bledsoe County Correction Complex
Security will be DISMISSED as defendants from this action.
OFFICIAL CAPACITY CLAIMS
Remaining Defendants Russell Melton, Tina Heard, Johnathan Holland, and William
Lewis are all sued in both their individual and official capacities. The distinction between a suit
against defendants in their official capacities and in their individual capacities is significant
because an action against a defendant in his official capacity proceeds as though a plaintiff has
sued the governmental entity the defendant represents. See Alkire v. Irving, 330 F.3d 802, 810
(6th Cir. 2003). The governmental entity Defendants represent is Bledsoe County, Tennessee. A
governmental entity, like Bledsoe County, can only be liable where a plaintiff shows that its
policy, practice, or custom has caused him to sustain a constitutional injury. Monell, 436 U.S. at
691. Put simply, to state a § 1983 claim against Bledsoe County, Plaintiff must: (1) identify the
policy, (2) connect the policy to Bledsoe County itself; and (3) demonstrate that his injury was
incurred because of the execution of that policy. Garner v. Memphis Police Dep’t, 8 F.3d 358,
364 (6th Cir. 1993). Here, Plaintiff did not identify a policy to deprive inmates of medical care
nor did he allege the existence of such a policy, much less did he connect that policy to Bledsoe
County or show that the policy caused his injury.
Because Plaintiff has not stated a claim against Defendants in their official capacities, all
such claims fall short and will be DISMISSED.
INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY CLAIMS
Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Russell Melton, Tina Heard, Johnathan Holland, and
William Lewis, in their individual capacities, acted with deliberate indifference to his serious
medical needs and retaliated against Plaintiff based on their belief that he was faking his seizures
to get attention. The Court does not find that these allegations are frivolous or malicious and
cannot say that they do not state a claim which would entitle Plaintiff to relief under § 1983.
Thus, the allegations of deliberate indifference and retaliation may advance as against Russell
Melton, Tina Heard, Johnathan Holland, and William Lewis in their individual capacities.
Plaintiff’s application to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. 1] is GRANTED.
Nonetheless, he will be ASSESSED the filing fee of three hundred and fifty dollars ($350), and
shall follow the procedures as outlined in this memorandum and order.
Based on the foregoing, the Court finds that the Corizion Medical Staff and Bledsoe
County Correction Complex Security are not “persons” who can be sued under 42 U.S.C § 1983
and thus are DISMISSED as defendants from this action. Further, Plaintiff’s allegations cannot
proceed against Russell Melton, Tina Heard, Johnathan Holland, and William Lewis in their
official capacities and are DISMISSED. However, at this point in the proceedings, Plaintiff’s
allegations of deliberate indifference and retaliation against Russell Melton, Tina Heard,
Johnathan Holland, and William Lewis in their individual capacities are not frivolous or
malicious, and the Court cannot say that they do not state a claim which would entitle Plaintiff to
relief under § 1983.
The Clerk is DIRECTED to send Plaintiff service packets (a blank summons and USM
285 form) for defendants Russell Melton, Tina Heard, Johnathan Holland, and William Lewis.
Plaintiff is ORDERED to complete the service packets and return them to the Clerk’s Office
within twenty (20) days of the date of this Order. At that time, the summons will be signed and
sealed by the Clerk and forwarded to the U.S. Marshal for service. Fed. R. Civ. P. 4. Plaintiff is
forewarned that failure to return the completed service packet within the time required could
jeopardize his prosecution of this action.
Defendants Russell Melton, Tina Heard, Johnathan Holland, and William Lewis SHALL
answer or otherwise respond to the complaint within twenty (20) days from the date of service.
Also, Plaintiff SHALL promptly notify the Court of any address changes and is
ADVISED that his failure so to do, within fourteen (14) days of any such change, will result in
the dismissal of this lawsuit for failure to prosecute under Rule 41(b) of the Federal Rules of
AN APPROPRIATE ORDER WILL ENTER.
CURTIS L. COLLIER
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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