Harris v. Davidson County Sheriff et al
OPINION & ORDER OF DISMISSAL: IT IS ORDERED that the complaint in this matter is dismissed with prejudice. Signed by Senior Judge Bernard A. Friedman on 4/5/17. (xc:Pro se party by regular and certified mail.)(DOCKET TEXT SUMMARY ONLY-ATTORNEYS MUST OPEN THE PDF AND READ THE ORDER.)(af)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE
Civil Action No. 3:15-cv-00356
HON. BERNARD A. FRIEDMAN
OF NASHVILLE AND DAVIDSON
COUNTY, TENNESSEE, et al.,
OPINION AND ORDER OF DISMISSAL
This matter is presently before the Court on the Court’s review of plaintiff’s most
recent amended complaint [docket entry 205]. Because plaintiff has repeatedly failed to file an
amended complaint that complies with Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a), and because he has twice disregarded
the Court’s orders requiring him to file an appropriate amended complaint, the Court shall dismiss
this matter with prejudice.
Plaintiff, a pro se inmate, commenced this action on April 1, 2015. His original
complaint [docket entry 1] was brought against the Davidson County Sheriff, Correct Care Solutions,
15 named defendants, “all other superiors in neglect,” and “any other unnamed officers responsible
for the plaintiff’s abuse and neglect.” The complaint consisted of 15 pages of “statement of facts”
and “relief requested” narratives, two pages of discovery requests, and 27 pages of grievance forms,
incident reports, and other documents. Plaintiff complained, among other things, of “denial of dental
care, staff reprisal and corporal punishment, personal injury, improper warmth, and harassment,”
Compl. at 6; “discrimination by the law librarian and denied legal case law,” id.; that he “was lied
on and given a false infraction report by several officers while being forced to see a case manager
that is a compulsive liar and I had not signed up to see,” id.; that he “was injured in a door and the
incident was completely denied,” id.; that an “officer tampered with my food in reprisal for reporting
misconduct on his friend,” id. at 7; that “no Bibles were allowed to 4A inmates,” id.; that his bed and
sheets were urine-stained, id.; that his case manager falsely accused him of sexually harassing her,
id. at 15; that a guard “smashed my arm in the door,” id. at 17; and that a guard put ink spots on one
of plaintiff’s cookies, id. at 18.
On April 10, 2015, the Court granted plaintiff’s application for leave to proceed in
forma pauperis and dismissed the complaint as to all defendants except Correct Care Solutions
[docket entry 3]. The Court noted that the complaint failed to state claims against any of the other
On April 20, 2015, plaintiff filed a “motion to amend complaint” [docket entry 6].
On April 21, he filed a document entitled “motion to amend complaint . . . amended complaint”
[docket entry 7], which appeared to be an amended (or proposed amended) complaint that is
essentially identical to the original complaint, but with the addition of three named defendants and
some further allegations. The same day, he filed a “memorandum motion to amend legal case”
[docket entry 8], which made other allegations and provided another long list of defendants.
On April 23, 2015, Magistrate Judge Brown issued an order denying plaintiff’s
motion for leave to amend [docket entry 10]. He noted that plaintiff’s three recent filings [entries
6, 7, and 8] “make is difficult, if not impossible, to determine what his final complaint is in this
matter.” Magistrate Judge Brown ordered plaintiff, within 14 days, “to file a single amended
complaint, which is complete in all details.”
Plaintiff did not comply with the magistrate judge’s order. On April 23, 2015, he
filed a motion to amend and an amended complaint that looked very much like the original [docket
entry 12]. The same day, plaintiff filed a notice of appeal [docket entry 14] regarding the Court’s
April 10, 2015, order of partial dismissal. The appeal was dismissed on June 15, 2015 [docket entry
31]. On June 18, 2015, plaintiff filed an amended complaint that appears to be a copy of the original
[docket entry 36].
On July 1, 2015, plaintiff filed a “motion to amend complaint and add these pages
to the complaint” [docket entry 45]. In this motion plaintiff asked that the Court “demote or fire”
two defendants “for failure to uphold their legal responsibilities.” Id. at 1. He alleged these
defendants “both are liars and need to be fired”; that a sergeant placed him in segregation without
a hearing; that the health services administrator “refused to make the dentist perform her job duties”;
that another defendant neglected to replace plaintiff’s contaminated cookie; that a dental assistant
scratched plaintiff’s gums while taking x-rays; that a case manager “refused to give my [legal
research] request to the librarian; and that another sergeant “returned me to SMU for no reason for
10 days.” Id. at 1-3. On July 16, 2015, plaintiff filed a “motion to amend complaint and add
unknown defendant and misconduct” [docket entry 47] in which he alleged that a dental assistant
“injured my gums twice on two separate occasions” and that the medical and dental staff have
destroyed his requests for treatment.
On August 19, 2015, the magistrate judge denied these two most recent motions to
amend and reminded plaintiff that he “has been told that if he wishes to amend his complaint he
should file a new complaint that is complete in all details” [docket entry 63].
On April 27, 2016, plaintiff filed another document entitled “motion for amended and
supplemental pleadings to be added to complaint” [docket entry 117]. This is another rambling,
disorganized, “stream of consciousness” diatribe that closely resembles the original complaint in
size and appearance. On May 20, 2016, plaintiff filed another document by this title [docket entry
130]. It is 178 pages in length. On May 25, 2016, plaintiff filed another amended complaint, which
appears similar to the original [docket entry 131]. On July 26, 2016, plaintiff filed another amended
complaint, this one being 313 pages in length [docket entry 152].
On February 3, 2017, the Court dismissed the complaint in part and, once again, gave
plaintiff the opportunity, within 21 days of the date of the order, to file a proper amended complaint
[docket entry 189]. The same day, the magistrate judge reiterated that plaintiff had 21 days “to
comply with the requirement that he file an appropriate amended complaint” [docket entry 190].
On February 28, 2017, plaintiff filed the most recent version of his complaint. It
appears to be essentially the same as the original. The first 42 pages consists of a long list of
defendants, a convoluted statement of facts, and various requests for relief – and 360 pages of
grievances, dental records, medical records, and other documents.
The Court is out of patience. For two years the Court has waited for plaintiff to file
a proper amended complaint. On three occasions – on April 23, 2015, February 3, 2017, and March
20, 2017 – the Court has specifically ordered plaintiff to do so. Plaintiff has stubbornly refused to
comply with these orders, despite repeated coaching in the Court’s orders of partial dismissal, which
signaled how plaintiff might reasonably have pared down his complaint to comply with the Court’s
orders and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
While pro se prisoner complaints are entitled to liberal construction, see, e.g., Haines
v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), pro se litigators are not excused from complying with the
Court’s orders or with the procedural rules applicable to all litigants. “[T]hose who proceed without
counsel must still comply with the procedural rules that govern civil cases.” Frame v. Superior
Fireplace, 74 F. App’x 601, 603 (6th Cir. 2003) (citing McNeil v. U.S., 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993)).
As the court stated recently in Ra-El v. Shelby Cty., 2017 WL 1048099, at *2 (W.D. Tenn. Mar. 17,
[p]ro se litigants and prisoners are not exempt from the requirements
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. As the Sixth Circuit has
Before the recent onslaught of pro se prisoner suits,
the Supreme Court suggested that pro se complaints
are to be held to a less stringent standard than formal
pleadings drafted by lawyers. See Haines v. Kerner,
404 U.S. 519 (1972) (per curiam). Neither that Court
nor other courts, however, have been willing to
abrogate basic pleading essentials in pro se suits. See,
e.g., id. at 521 (holding petitioner to standards of
Conley v. Gibson); Merritt v. Faulkner, 697 F.2d 761
(7th Cir.) (duty to be less stringent with pro se
complaint does not require court to conjure up
unplead allegations), cert. denied, 464 U.S. 986
(1983); McDonald v. Hall, 610 F.2d 16 (1st Cir.
1979) (same); Jarrell v. Tisch, 656 F. Supp. 237
(D.D.C. 1987) (pro se plaintiffs should plead with
requisite specificity so as to give defendants notice);
Holsey v. Collins, 90 F.R.D. 122 (D. Md. 1981) (even
pro se litigants must meet some minimum standards).
Wells v. Brown, 891 F.2d 591, 594 (6th Cir. 1989); see also Brown v.
Matauszak, No. 09-2259, 2011 WL 285251, at *5 (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)) (alteration in original); Payne v. Sec’y of
Treas., 73 Fed.Appx. 836, 837 (6th Cir. 2003) (affirming sua sponte
dismissal of complaint pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2) and stating,
“[n]either this court nor the district court is required to create Payne’s
claim for her”); cf. Pliler v. Ford, 542 U.S. 225, 231 (2004) (“District
judges have no obligation to act as counsel or paralegal to pro se
litigants.”); Young Bok Song v. Gipson, 423 Fed.Appx. 506, 510 (6th
Cir. 2011) (“[W]e decline to affirmatively require courts to ferret out
the strongest cause of action on behalf of pro se litigants. Not only
would that duty be overly burdensome, it would transform the courts
from neutral arbiters of disputes into advocates for a particular party.
While courts are properly charged with protecting the rights of all
who come before it, that responsibility does not encompass advising
litigants as to what legal theories they should pursue.”).
In the present case, plaintiff has repeatedly filed the same complaint that fails to
comport with the requirement of Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a) that a pleading contain a “short and plain
statement of the claim.” Plaintiff has disregarded three of the Court’s orders requiring him to amend
his complaint appropriately. Instead of complying, plaintiff has repeatedly refiled the original
rambling, disorganized, scattershot complaint (or some closely similar version thereof) with an ever
growing number of exhibits and with no regard for the Court’s several orders of partial dismissal.
Under these circumstances, involuntarily dismissal for plaintiff’s failure “to comply with these rules
or a court order,” Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(b), is proper. Accordingly,
IT IS ORDERED that the complaint in this matter is dismissed with prejudice.
/s/ Bernard A. Friedman
BERNARD A. FRIEDMAN
SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
SITTING BY SPECIAL DESIGNATION
Dated: April 5, 2017
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