Jones v. Centurion et al
MEMORANDUM AND OPINION: The Court GRANTS Plaintiffs motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis 1 ; DENIES AS PREMATURE the motions filed by Defendants Teles, Butler, Wheeler, and Centurion [Docs. 10, 14, 16]; GRANTS Plaintiffs m otion to voluntarily dismiss Butler and Wheeler from thisaction 18 ; DENIES Plaintiffs construed motion to amend his Complaint 6 ; DENIES AS MOOT Plaintiffs motion to dismiss Andrews and Sator from thisaction 19 ; DENIES Plaintiffs construed motio n to supplement his Complaint 7 ; DISMISSES this action for failure to state a claim upon which relief may begranted under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and1915(A); and CERTIFIES that any appeal from this act ion would not be taken in good faith and would be totally frivolous.Signed by District Judge Pamela L Reeves on 8/21/17. (c/m to Tommy Earl Jones, Warden of Northeast Correctional Complex, the Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Correction, and the Attorney General for the State of Tennessee)(ABF)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE
TOMMY EARL JONES,
CENTURION, et al.,
On June 13, 2016, Plaintiff Tommy Earl Jones, a pro se prisoner, initiated this civil rights
action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 [Doc. 2]. Now before the Court are Plaintiff’s motion for
leave to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. 1], two motions to voluntarily dismiss particular
defendants and proposed defendants [Docs. 18, 19], and two supplemental briefs [Docs. 6, 7],
which the Court construes, respectively, as a motion to amend pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 15(a) and a motion to supplement pursuant to Rule 15(d). Also before the Court are a
motion for summary judgment filed by Defendant Sonia Teles [Doc. 10], and a motion to dismiss
and motion for leave to file documents under seal filed by Defendants Curry Butler, Steven
Wheeler, and Centurion [Docs. 14, 16].
For the reasons set forth herein, the Court will GRANT Plaintiff’s motion for leave to
proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. 1], DENY AS PREMATURE the motions filed by Defendants
Teles, Butler, Wheeler, and Centurion [Docs. 10, 14, 16], GRANT Plaintiff’s motion to
voluntarily dismiss Butler and Wheeler [Doc. 18], DENY Plaintiff’s construed motion to amend
his Complaint [Doc. 6], DENY AS MOOT Plaintiff’s motion to dismiss Andrews and Sator from
this action [Doc. 19], and DENY Plaintiff’s construed motion to supplement his Complaint [Doc.
7]. Finally, the Court will DISMISS this action for failure to state a claim upon which relief may
be granted under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915(A).1
MOTION FOR LEAVE TO PROCEED IFP
Plaintiff has moved for leave to proceed in forma pauperis in his instant suit [Doc. 1].
Pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996 (“PLRA”), a prisoner may not bring a civil
action in forma pauperis:
if the prisoner has, on 3 or more prior occasions, while incarcerated or detained in
any facility, brought an action . . . that was dismissed on the grounds that it is
frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted,
unless the prisoner is under imminent danger of serious physical injury.
28 U.S.C. § 1915(g).
Prior to filing the instant lawsuit, Plaintiff has filed at least three civil rights actions that
were dismissed on the grounds set forth in § 1915(g). See Jones v. Raye, Case No. 3:12-cv-1230,
Doc. 8 (M.D. Tenn. Nov. 27, 2012) (dismissed for failure to state a claim); Jones v. Sator, Case
No. 3:12-cv-519, Doc. 4 (M.D. Tenn. May 30, 2012) (dismissed for failure to state a claim); Jones
v. Wall, Case No. 3:09-cv-1037, Doc. 4 (M.D. Tenn. Nov. 3, 2009) (dismissed for failure to state
a claim). Accordingly, Plaintiff has accumulated “three strikes” under § 1915(g), and he may not
proceed in forma pauperis in the instant action unless he can establish that he is in “imminent
danger of serious physical injury.”
A plaintiff asserting that he qualifies for the imminent danger exception must allege a threat
or prison condition that is “real and proximate,” and the danger of serious physical injury from
The Court notes that, on June 2, 2017, Plaintiff was ordered to show cause as to why this
action should not be consolidated with another civil action that Plaintiff is currently litigating in
this district [Doc. 21], and Plaintiff opposed consolidation in his response [Doc. 22]. Because the
Court has now found that the instant action must be dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, the
Court finds no reason to further address the issue of consolidation.
that threat or condition “must exist at the time the complaint is filed[.]”2 Vandiver v. Prison Health
Servs, Inc., 727 F.3d 580, 585 (6th Cir. 2013). The allegations in the complaint “must be sufficient
to allow a court to draw reasonable inferences that the danger exists.” Id.
The Sixth Circuit has specifically addressed the applicability of the imminent danger
exception to a plaintiff alleging a danger of serious harm due to failure to treat a chronic illness:
“[A] plaintiff who alleges a danger of serious harm due to a failure
to treat a chronic illness or condition satisfies the imminent-danger
exception under § 1915(g), as incremental harm that culminates in a
serious physical injury may present a danger equal to harm that
results from an injury that occurs all at once. We reject the notion
that the inclusion of the word “imminent” in § 1915(g) allows us to
grant IFP status only after a plaintiff's condition has deteriorated
such that the next instance of maltreatment would result in a serious
physical injury. Imposing such a restriction would ignore the
progressive and worsening nature of injuries often associated with
chronic illness and would result in unnecessary suffering by those
afflicted with these conditions. We thus believe that for the purposes
of § 1915(g), an individual afflicted with a chronic illness that left
untreated would result in serious injury faces imminent danger when
the illness is left untreated.
Id. at 587.
In two other cases, district courts have allowed this Plaintiff’s claims to proceed based on
the imminent danger exception to the three-strike rule. See Jones v. Clement, Case No. 3:16-cv257-PLR-CCS, Doc. 24 (E.D. Tenn. Feb. 22, 2017); Jones v. Benitez, Case No. 2:15-cv-2082,
Doc. 5 (W.D. Tenn. June 24, 2015). Specifically, this Court previously found that Plaintiff had
“sufficiently alleged that he faced an imminent danger of serious physical injury” due to
The imminent danger exception “is essentially a pleading requirement subject to the
ordinary principles of notice pleading.” Vandiver, 727 F.3d at 585 (quoting Vandiver v. Vasbinder,
416 F. App’x 560, 562 (6th Cir. 2011)). Thus, a pro se plaintiff “need only to assert allegations
of imminent danger; he need not affirmatively prove those allegations at this stage of litigation.”
Id. at 585 (quoting Taylor v. First Med. Mgmt., 508 F. App’x 488, 492 (6th Cir. 2012)) (emphasis
allegations that he was inadequately treated for pain related to his Crohn’s disease, a chronic
illness. See Jones v. Clement, Case No. 3:16-cv-257-PLR-CCS, Doc. 24. Because this case also
involves allegations related to Plaintiff’s treatment for Crohn’s disease (or lack thereof), the Court
again must find that Plaintiff has sufficiently alleged that he faced imminent danger of serious
physical injury from his mistreatment and unaddressed pain at the time he filed the instant
Complaint. Plaintiff has thus demonstrated that he is entitled to exemption from the three-strike
rule in this case.
It appears from the motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis that Plaintiff lacks
sufficient financial resources to pay the $350.00 filing fee. Accordingly, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915, Plaintiff’s motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. 1] will be GRANTED.
Because Plaintiff is an inmate at the Northeast Correctional Complex, he is herewith
ASSESSED the civil filing fee of $350.00. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1)(A) and (B), the
custodian of Plaintiff’s inmate trust account at the institution where he now resides is directed to
submit to the Clerk, U.S. District Court, 800 Market Street, Knoxville, Tennessee, 37902, as an
initial partial payment, whichever is greater of:
twenty percent (20%) of the average monthly deposits to Plaintiff’s inmate trust
twenty percent (20%) of the average monthly balance in Plaintiff’s inmate trust
account for the six-month period preceding the filing of the complaint.
Thereafter, the custodian shall submit twenty percent (20%) of Plaintiff’s preceding
monthly income (or income credited to Plaintiff’s trust account for the preceding month), but only
when such monthly income exceeds ten dollars ($10.00), until the full filing fee of three hundred
fifty dollars ($350.00) as authorized under 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a) has been paid to the Clerk. See 28
U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2).
The Clerk is DIRECTED to send a copy of this Memorandum and Order to the Warden
of Northeast Correctional Complex, the Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of
Correction, and the Attorney General for the State of Tennessee to ensure that the custodian of
Plaintiff’s inmate trust account complies with that portion of the Prison Litigation Reform Act
relating to payment of the filing fee. The Clerk is further DIRECTED to forward a copy of this
Memorandum and Order to the Court’s financial deputy.
PLAINTIFF’S ORIGINAL COMPLAINT
In his initial Complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Plaintiff raises numerous claims against
Defendant Centurion, a medical provider contracted by the state of Tennessee to provide medical
care to inmates at Northeast Correctional Complex (“NECX”), as well as three Centurion
employees in both their individual and official capacities: Sonia Teles, an administrative assistant;
Curry Butler, a case manager; and Steven H. Wheeler, the managing chief executive officer [Doc.
2 at 1-5, 9]. Plaintiff generally alleges that he has Crohn’s disease and anemia and that medical
providers employed by Centurion to perform medical services at NECX have denied him
appropriate medical care – that is, pain treatment, nutrition, and examination – for these conditions
during his period of incarceration [Id.].
His specific allegations against the named Defendants are as follows. On March 8, 2016,
Plaintiff contacted all of the Defendants by mail to complain about his medical care [Id. at 5].
Plaintiff received a memorandum on Centurion letterhead, dated April 14, 2016, and signed by
Georgia Cromwell, NECX’s health services administrator [Id. at 6; Doc. 2-1 at 4]. The letter
details the examinations, diagnostic tests, and medications that Plaintiff had received from
February 4, 2016 through March 17, 2016, and outlines the “additional plans and next steps” of
Plaintiff’s care, including additional lab work at the end of April to “evaluate the efficiency of . . .
medication” and visits with the chronic care provider every ninety days [Id. at 6; Doc. 2-1 at 4].
After receiving this letter, he again contacted Teles by mail on April 24, 2016, reasserting
his complaints about the lack of care that he was receiving to manage his Crohn’s disease, and
asking that he be transferred to a special needs facility [Doc. 2 at 6]. Plaintiff then received another
memorandum, dated May 4, 2016 – again, on Centurion letterhead and signed by Cromwell –
which details Plaintiff’s gastrointestinal consultations, medicines, labs, and weight checks from
January 26, 2016 through April 27, 2016 and advises him that he will continue to be seen by a
provider at the chronic care clinic every ninety days [Id. at 6-7; Doc. 2-1 at 8].
Plaintiff maintains that this letter demonstrates that the Defendants “denied [his] request
for pain treatment, nutrition, [and] examination as requested” on March 8, 2016 and April 24, 2016
[Doc. 2 at 6-7]. He argues that their actions constitute deliberate indifference to his serious medical
conditions in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and violate the
Americans with Disabilities Act [Id. at 1-8].
Motions to Dismiss and/or for Summary Judgment
On November 29, 2016, Teles filed a motion for summary judgment and answer [Docs. 910]. Thereafter, on February 20, 2017, Centurion, Butler, and Wheeler filed a joint motion to
dismiss, as well as a motion for leave to file Plaintiff’s grievance records under seal [Docs. 14-16].
Several weeks later, Plaintiff filed motions to dismiss Butler and Wheeler from this action [Doc.
As Defendants correctly note in their motions and answers, service has not yet been
effected on them; however, this delay can hardly be attributed to Plaintiff, given that the Court has
not yet ruled on Plaintiff’s motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, nor has it screened his
Complaint pursuant to the PLRA. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(c)(3) (providing that a district court “must”
order that service be made by a United States Marshal in the event that a plaintiff is authorized to
proceed in forma pauperis under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) (providing that the
court “shall” dismiss a prisoner action sua sponte if it determines that the action “is frivolous or
malicious,” “fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted,” or “seeks monetary relief
against a defendant who is immune from such relief”). Because the Court has not yet had an
opportunity to resolve Plaintiff’s motion for in forma pauperis status or to perform its obligatory
screening of Plaintiff’s Complaint, the Motions filed by Defendants [Docs. 10, 14, 16] will be
DENIED AS PREMATURE.
Nonetheless, Plaintiff has moved to voluntarily dismiss Defendants Butler and Wheeler
from this action. As the Court has noted, the Court has not yet had an opportunity to resolve
Plaintiff’s pending motions for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, nor has it had occasion to
review the substance of Plaintiff’s original Complaint and proposed supplement and amendment.
Because the Court has not yet performed its preliminary review of Plaintiff’s filings, and because
no opposition to Plaintiff’s request for voluntarily dismissal have been filed, Plaintiff’s Motion to
dismiss Defendants Butler and Wheeler from this action [Doc. 18] will be GRANTED; these
Defendants will be DISMISSED from this action.
Screening Plaintiff’s Remaining Claims
Plaintiff asserted claims arising under both 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the ADA against Teles
in her individual capacity and against Centurion itself remain for the Court’s review.3 Under the
Plaintiff also asserts a claim against Teles in her official capacity. However, it is well
established that “[a] suit against an individual in h[er] official capacity is the equivalent of a suit
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 1915(A); Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 213 (2007);
Benson v. O’Brian, 179 F.3d 1014 (6th Cir. 1999). Courts must liberally construe pro se pleadings
filed in civil rights cases and hold them to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted
by lawyers. See, e.g., Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); but see Leeds v. City of
Muldraugh, 174 F. App’x 251, 255 (6th Cir. 2006) (noting that, despite the leniency afforded to
pro se plaintiffs, the Court is “not require[d] to either guess the nature of or create a litigant’s
The dismissal standard articulated by the Supreme Court in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662 (2009), and Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 554 (2007), “governs dismissals for
failure to state a claim under [28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A] because the relevant
statutory language tracks the language in [Federal Rule of Civil Procedure] 12(b)(6).” Hill v.
Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010). When reviewing a complaint for failure to state a
claim under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court must accept as true all of the factual allegations in the
complaint. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Although detailed factual allegations are not required, a
plaintiff must, at a minimum, “give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the
grounds upon which it rests” – that is, make a “‘showing,’ rather than a blanket assertion, of
entitlement to relief.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 556 n.3; see also Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.
against the . . . entity.” Matthews v. Jones, 35 F.3d 1046, 1049 (6th Cir. 1994); see also Kentucky
v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 166 (1985) (“[A]n official capacity suit is, in all respects other than
name, to be treated as a suit against the entity.”). Because Plaintiff’s official capacity claim against
Teles must be construed as a claim against Centurion, and Centurion is already a Defendant to this
action, the Court need not separately address the official capacity claim against Teles.
A motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) is thus
not a challenge to the plaintiff’s factual allegations, but rather, a “test of the plaintiff’s cause of
action as stated in the complaint.” Flanory v. Bonn, 604 F.3d 249, 252 (6th Cir. 2010). “[O]nly a
complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
679. “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court
to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. at
678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). The reviewing court must determine not whether the
plaintiff will ultimately prevail, but whether the facts permit the court to infer “more than the mere
possibility of misconduct[.]” Id. at 679; Ass’n of Cleveland Fire Fighters v. City of Cleveland,
Ohio, 502 F.3d 545, 548 (6th Cir. 2007) (holding that, in order to survive a motion to dismiss under
12(b)(6), a plaintiff’s “factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true.”).
Claims arising under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
In order to succeed on 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. Haywood v. Drown,
556 U.S. 729, 731 (2009); Dominguez v. Corr. Med. Servs., 555 F.3d 543, 549 (6th Cir. 2009); 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”). A prison authority’s deliberate indifference to an
inmate’s serious medical needs violates the inmate’s federal rights under the Eighth Amendment
to the U.S Constitution. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97 (1976). “Deliberate indifference ‘is a
stringent standard of fault, requiring proof that a municipal actor disregarded a known or obvious
consequence of his action.’” Shadrick v. Hopkins Cty., Ky., 805 F.3d 724, 737 (6th Cir. 2015)
(quoting Bd. of Cty. Comm’rs of Bryan Cty., Okla. v. Brown, 520 U.S. 397, 410 (1997)). The
standard is comprised of both objective and subjective components: the objective component
requires a plaintiff to show a “sufficiently serious” deprivation, while the subjective component
requires a showing of a sufficiently culpable state of mind—one of deliberate indifference. Farmer
v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834, 842 (1994). Prison medical personnel or officials may be
deliberately indifferent to a prisoner’s serious medical needs “in their response to a prisoner’s
needs” (or lack thereof) or by “interfer[ing] with treatment once prescribed.” Estelle, 429 U.S. at
104-5; Farmer, 511 U.S. at 836 (defining deliberate indifference as “lying somewhere between
the poles of negligence at one end and purpose or knowledge at the other” and noting that the
concept is “routinely equated . . . with recklessness”).
Even when liberally construed, Plaintiff’s Complaint contains no allegations from which
the Court can infer that Teles demonstrated deliberate indifference to Plaintiff’s medical needs.
The only allegations that involve Teles are Plaintiff’s allegations that he sent her two letters – in
March and April of 2016 – complaining about the inadequacy of care that he was receiving from
the medical staff at NECS for his Crohn’s disease and anemia and asking that he be transferred to
a special needs facility. Plaintiff does not include any allegations as to what he actions he believes
Teles could have or should have taken as a result of his letters. Indeed, Plaintiff concedes that
Teles was merely an administrative assistant employed by Centurion, not a medical provider
directly or indirectly involved with Plaintiff’s diagnosis and treatment, nor a manager or
policymaker at Centurion. Given that Plaintiff received responses to both of his letters, the Court
may infer that Teles referred Plaintiff’s letters to the employee(s) or official(s) at Centurion and/or
NECX with the responsibility the review such complaints and the authority to make decisions
related thereto. Plaintiff’s allegations against Teles are tenuous at best and thus are insufficient to
meet the pleading standards articulated in Iqbal and Twombly. Because Plaintiff has not pled any
facts regarding Teles’ actions or inactions that give rise to a plausible § 1983 claim, he has failed
to state a claim for relief against Teles, and any claims against her must be DISMISSED pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915(A).
As previously noted, the allegations in Plaintiff’s Complaint relate to his medical treatment
(or lack thereof) while incarcerated and under the care medical providers employed by Centurion,
a private corporation contracted to provide medical services to prisoners at NECX. Private
corporations may be held liable pursuant to § 1983 under the same standard of liability applicable
to municipal entities themselves. See Street v. Corr. Corp. of Am., 102 F.3d 810, 817-18 (6th Cir.
1996) (applying municipal liability standard from Monell v. Dep’t of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658
(1978), to private corporation operating prison); see also Rouster v. Cty. of Saginaw, 749 F.3d 437,
453 (6th Cir. 2014); Savoie v. Martin, 673 F.3d 488, 494 (6th Cir. 2012); Garretson v. City of
Madison Heights, 407 F.3d 789, 796 (6th Cir. 2005). In order to succeed on a § 1983 claim
premised on municipal entity, a plaintiff must establish that: (1) his harm was caused by a
constitutional violation; and (2) the institution itself was responsible for that violation, generally
because of a policy, custom, pattern or practice of the municipal defendant that caused the
Plaintiff’s constitutional injury. Spears v. Ruth, 589 F.3d 249, 256 (6th Cir. 2009); Pembaur v.
City of Cincinnati, 475 U.S. 469, 479 (1986); see also Okolo v. Metro. Gov’t of Nashville, 892 F.
Supp. 2d 931, 941 (M.D. Tenn. 2012); Monell, 436 U.S. at 691 (“[A] municipality cannot be held
liable solely because it employs a tortfeasor—or, in other words, a municipality cannot be held
liable under § 1983 on a respondeat superior theory.”).
In this case, the Court finds that Plaintiff has failed to state a plausible claim against
Centurion for a violation of his constitutional rights. Plaintiff alleges only that he wrote letters of
complaint to Centurion employees regarding inadequacies with his medical care and treatment at
NECX and that Centurion failed to order the medical providers and/or prison officials involved in
his care to implement Plaintiff’s requested treatments, medications, and care plan. Plaintiff’s
Complaint contains no allegations regarding any policy, custom, pattern, or practice of Centurion
that caused Plaintiff’s purported harms.
Because Plaintiff’s Complaint fails to plead facts
sufficient to create a claim for municipal liability, he has failed to state a claim for relief against
Centurion pursuant to § 1983.
Plaintiff has also asserted ADA claims against Teles and Centurion, arguing that they
refused to place Plaintiff “in the most integrated setting appropriate for disabled prisoners as
required by regulation” [Doc. 2 at 7]. Title II of the Americans with Disability Act (“ADA”)
provides, in relevant part, that “no qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such
disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or
activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by such an entity.” 42 U.S.C. §
12132. In relevant part, the ADA defines a “public entity” as “any State or local government; [or]
any department, agency, special purpose district, or other instrumentality of a State or States or
local government,” 42 U.S.C. § 12131(1); it is thus clear that the ADA applies to state prisons,
Penn. Dep’t of Corr. v. Yeskey, 524 U.S. 206, 210 (1998); see also Mingus v. Butler, 591 F.3d 474,
482 (6th Cir. 2010).
To the extent that Plaintiff seeks to hold Teles liable under the ADA, such claim must fail
as “the ADA [does not] impose liability upon individuals.” See Lee v. Mich. Parole Bd., 104 F.
App’x 490, 493 (6th Cir. 2004) (citing 29 U.S.C. § 794(b)(RA); 42 U.S.C. § 12131(1)). Plaintiff’s
ADA claim against Centurion is equally unpersuasive. Plaintiff has not alleged that he has been
denied the benefits of a program or activity of a public entity that is provided for other non-disabled
prisoners or that he was discriminated against because of his medical conditions. Instead, he
argues only that the Defendants violated the ADA by refusing to transfer him to a special needs
facility based on his chronic illness. However, as this Court has previously found, the ADA is not
violated by a defendant’s alleged refusal to transfer a prisoner to another facility. See Jones v.
Clement, Case No. 3:16-cv-257-PLR-CCS, Doc. 24 at 13 (E.D. Tenn. Feb. 22, 2017) (citing Veloz
v. N.Y., 178 F. App’x 39 (2d Cir. 2006) (finding no ADA violation where inmate was denied
placement in a unit for physically disabled prisoners since physicians did not find his condition
required such housing and thus did not recommend it)). Plaintiff’s claims against both Defendants
under the ADA will accordingly be DISMISSED for failure to state a claim.
PLAINTIFF’S PROPOSED SUPPLEMENTS
On August 22, 2016, Plaintiff filed a supplemental brief to his Complaint, naming seven
new individual defendants – Innocentes Sator, Desiree Andrews, Paul Alexander, Vernitta
Duncan, Palamira, David Moore, and Siddiqui Hafeezul – all of whom he alleges are medical
doctors employed by Centurion [Doc. 6]. Plaintiff alleges that he had appointments with each of
these doctors and that each of them denied his requests for pain medication, disregarded his
medical history and his requests that he be referred for surgery to remove an irregular section of
his ileum, and chose ineffective courses of treatment for Plaintiff’s conditions [Id. at 4].
Because this supplement seeks to add new claims against new defendants, the Court
construes it as a motion to amend the Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a).
Although leave to amend should be “freely given where justice so requires,” Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a),
a district court has discretion to deny a motion for leave to amend where the proposed claims are
“simply not related to [the] original claims” Hetep v. Warren, 27 F. App’x 308, 309 (6th Cir. 2001).
Plaintiff’s original Complaint raised claims of deliberate indifference against Centurion
and three of its administrative and/or managerial employees, based solely on the fact that they did
not adequately respond to Plaintiff’s letters in March and April of 2016 complaining about his
medical treatment at NECX and/or provide him with the medical treatment and housing
accommodations that he requested therein. The claims in Plaintiff’s proposed amendment are
against seven new defendants, all medical doctors who examined and/or treated Plaintiff at NECX.
The Court concedes that the new Defendants are also alleged to be employees of Centurion and
that Plaintiff is also seeking to raise claims of medical deliberate indifference against these new
defendants. However, the Court finds that the relationship between the allegations in the original
complaint and the proposed amendment end there. The allegations in Plaintiff’s proposed
amendment center around direct medical care, treatment, and advice that he received from medical
professionals at NECX, whereas the original Complaint solely revolved around a series of
correspondence with administrative and managerial employees of the company contracted to
provide medical services to the prison. The central facts in the original Complaint allegedly
occurred in March and April of 2016, whereas Plaintiff does not specify the dates on which he had
appointments with any of the seven proposed new defendants.4 The fact that all of the current
The Court also notes that Plaintiff provided a single factual statement as to all seven
defendants collectively, stating that he had “appointment[s] with all named defendants” and that
each denied his requests for pain medication, “interfered” with a preferred course of treatment set
forth by a specialist in 2009, “chose a less efficacious course of treatment,” and “never mentioned”
his voluminous medical file [Doc. 6 at 4]. This blanket statement, which does not provide even
general dates for the alleged appointments and provides no details as to his interaction with any
defendants and proposed defendants may be employed by the same corporation and that each cause
of action is tangentially related to Plaintiff’s medical care while incarcerated is insufficient to
create a meaningful connection between these two pleadings. The Court concludes that the
substance of the proposed amendment is “simply unrelated” to the defendants, facts, and claims in
the original Complaint, and Plaintiff’s construed Motion to Amend [Doc. 6] will be DENIED.5
On August 29, 2016, Plaintiff filed another supplement,6 attaching a letter that he wrote to
Centurion on August 15, 2016, informing them that he had not eaten in the dining hall from July
27th through August 11, 2016 because he was taken off “religious tray” and the kitchen refused to
provide him with a “therapeutic no-spice diet” [Doc. 7 at 1, 5]. His letter requested “fiber with 3
religious meal[s],” as well as a referral to a nutritionist or a transfer to a special needs facility [Id.
at 5]. He received a letter in response, signed by “RN Director of Nursing” Amy Bowen, detailing
Plaintiff’s appointments and sick calls from August 1, 2016 through August 16, 2016, including
one doctor – let alone all seven –, fails to meet the pleading standards set forth in Iqbal and
Twombly. Plaintiff’s vague and blanket factual allegations against an entire group of defendants
is simply insufficient for the Court to infer “more than the mere possibility of misconduct” as to
any specific defendant. Accordingly, the Court notes that, even if it were to allow Plaintiff’s
amendment, the new claims and defendants would nonetheless be subject to dismissal for failure
to state a claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915(A)
Plaintiff’s Motion to Voluntarily Dismiss Sator and Andrews [Doc. 19] will accordingly
be DENIED AS MOOT.
This brief also makes references to various medications that were prescribed by “GI
Smoote” [Doc. 2]. However, as the Court discussed in detail in its February 22, 2017 Order in
Plaintiff’s related case, the first-to-file rule applies to bar any additional claims against Dr. Smoote
regarding pain and/or stomach medications in this Court [E.D. Tenn. Case No. 3:16-cv-257, Doc.
24 at 14-16]. Accordingly, to the extent that Plaintiff’s second supplemental brief attempts to raise
any additional claims or issues related to Dr. Smoote’s prescriptions for Plaintiff, such claims
would be subject to dismissal without prejudice.
Plaintiff’s refusal of several appointments and lab work [Id. at 4]. Plaintiff argues that the staff at
NECX “lied about [him] refusing lab on 8-16-2016” [Id. at 2]. He also adds that he has been
denied access to the law library [Id.].
Because Plaintiff’s second supplement clearly seeks to add allegations regarding events
that happened after he filed his original complaint, the Court construes this filing as a motion to
supplement pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(d) (providing, in relevant part that
“[o]n motion and reasonable notice, the court may, on just terms, permit a party to serve a
supplemental pleading setting out any transaction, occurrence, or event that happened after the
date of the pleading to be supplemented”). The Court infers that Plaintiff seeks to use this
supplement to bolster his claim that Centurion has exhibited deliberate indifference to his medical
needs by continuing to deny his requests for specific diet, medical treatment, and transfer to a
special needs facility. However, the Court has found that Plaintiff has failed to provide sufficient
factual allegations to state a plausible claim for relief against Centurion under § 1983. These
supplemental facts do not compel the Court to alter its decision, as Plaintiff has still not alleged
any pattern, practice, custom, or policy by Centurion that led to Plaintiff’s alleged harm.
To the extent that Plaintiff seeks to add a claim about access to the law library, such a claim
is unrelated to the subject matter of the instant lawsuit and will not be permitted. See, e.g.,
Coleman v. Gullet, 2013 WL 4026839, at *4-5 (E.D. Mich. Aug. 6, 2013) (collecting cases for the
proposition that “there must be some connection between the claims as filed and the supplemental
ones”); Nottingham v. Peoria, 709 F.Supp. 542, 544 (M.D. Pa. 1988) (‘[A] court may deny leave
to file a supplemental pleading where that pleading relates only indirectly, if at all, to the original
complaint and the alleged cause of action arose out [of] an entirely unrelated set of facts[.]”).
Additionally, to the extent that Plaintiff seeks to add a claim against Bowen, any such claim will
not be permitted in the instant action. Plaintiff has another action pending against Bowen in this
Court, alleging that she showed deliberate indifference to Plaintiff’s medical needs. See Jones v.
Clement, Case No. 3:16-cv-257-PLR-CCS (E.D. Tenn. Feb. 22, 2017). Any additional allegations
against her should be filed in that action, rather than in a separate civil case. Accordingly, the
Court finds no reason to allow the supplement, and Plaintiff’s construed Motion [Doc. 7] will be
For these reason, the Court hereby:
GRANTS Plaintiff’s motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. 1];
DENIES AS PREMATURE the motions filed by Defendants Teles, Butler,
Wheeler, and Centurion [Docs. 10, 14, 16];
GRANTS Plaintiff’s motion to voluntarily dismiss Butler and Wheeler from this
action [Doc. 18];
DENIES Plaintiff’s construed motion to amend his Complaint [Doc. 6];
DENIES AS MOOT Plaintiff’s motion to dismiss Andrews and Sator from this
action [Doc. 19];
DENIES Plaintiff’s construed motion to supplement his Complaint [Doc. 7];
DISMISSES this action for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and
CERTIFIES that any appeal from this action would not be taken in good faith and
would be totally frivolous. See Fed. R. App. P. 24.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
_ ___ _
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
I T CT
UNITED STATES DISTRICT
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