Thomas v. Fayette County et al
ORDER Adopting the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation for Partial Sua Sponte Dismissal Signed by Judge John T. Fowlkes, Jr. on 2/10/17. (Fowlkes, J.)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE
FAYETTE COUNTY, et. al,
ORDER ADOPTING THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE’S
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION FOR PARTIAL SUA SPONTE DISMISSAL
On October 6, 2016, Plaintiff Caroline Thomas, proceeding pro se, filed a complaint against
numerous (23) defendants 1 alleging violations of her civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, along
with a motion to proceed in forma pauperis. 2 (ECF Nos. 1 & 3). On October 7, 2016,
the matter was referred to the Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915 (e)(2)(B) and L.R.
4.1(b)(2). On December 5, 2016, the Plaintiff filed a Motion to Amend and Supplement
Complaint and for Joinder of Additional Defendants. (ECF No. 8). On December 19, 2016, the
The Magistrate Judge separated the Defendants into two groups, the City of Piperton Defendants and the
Fayette County Defendants, and classified them as “any and every one in Fayette County and any and
everyone in the City of Piperton who had anything to do with her hearing in municipal court, her arrest on
charges of aggravated, her transportation to Baptist Hospital and then to the Fayette County Jail, and her
detention at the Fayette County Jail, including inter alia, city and county court clerks, City and county
commissioners, the sheriff’s secretary, the city prosecutor, the city judge, and the city mayor.” (ECF No.
12, p. 8).
On October 7, 2016, Plaintiff filed the exact same complaint in the Fayette County Chancery Court.
The matter was removed by the Defendants to this Court on December 8, 2016, Case No. 2:16-cv-2958,
Caroline Thomas v. Fayette County, et al. (ECF Nos. 1 and 1-1).
Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation that the Court dismiss sua sponte all of
Thomas’ state and federal claims other than her 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims against Defendants
Fayette County and Sheriff Bobby Riles for deliberate indifference to her medical needs under
the Fourteenth Amendment. The Magistrate Judge also denied Plaintiff’s motion to amend her
complaint to join any additional defendants. (ECF No. 12). On January 18, 2017, the
undersigned Court granted Plaintiff’s motion for additional time to file objections which were
submitted on January 31, 2017. (ECF Nos. 16 and 18).
II. LEGAL STANDARD
Congress passed 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) “to relieve some of the burden on the federal courts by
permitting the assignment of certain district court duties to magistrates.” See e.g. Baker v.
Peterson, 67 Fed. App’x. 308, 311, 2003 WL 21321184 (6th Cir. 2003) and Fed. R. Civ. P.
72(a). A United States District Judge may refer certain dispositive pretrial motions to a United
States Magistrate Judge for submission of proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law,
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and (C); Brown v. Wesley Quaker Maid, Inc., 771 F.2d
952, 957 (6th Cir. 1985). While most actions by a Magistrate Judge are reviewed for clear error,
dispositive recommendations to the District Court Judge are reviewed de novo. Thomas v. Arn,
474 U.S. 140, 141-42 (1985). In applying the de novo standard, Congress afforded the district
judge sound discretion to rely on the Magistrate Judge’s proposed findings and determinations.
U.S. v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667, 676 (1980).
A District Court Judge shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or
specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made. Therefore, the
District Judge may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or
recommendations made by the Magistrate Judge. The judge may also receive further evidence or
recommit the matter to the Magistrate Judge with instructions. See 28 U.S.C. §636 (b)(1)(B) and
(C); Fed. Rule Civ. P. 72(b); Baker v. Peterson, 67 Fed. App’x. 308, 311 (6th Cir. 2003). The
Court need not conduct a de novo hearing, but must make a de novo determination based on the
record only to matters involving disputed facts and findings. Mira, 806 F.2d at 637. Also, de
novo review is not required when the objections to the report and recommendation are frivolous,
conclusive or general. Mira v. Marshall, 806 F.2d 636, 637 (6th Cir. 1986).
III. FACTUAL HISTORY
The Magistrate Judge’s report and recommendation offers an extensive overview of the case
as proposed findings of fact. Plaintiff submitted objections which do not challenge any of the
proposed findings of fact. (ECF No. 12, pp. 3-9 and ECF No. 18). As such, the Court adopts the
Magistrate Judge’s proposed findings of fact as the factual summary of this case.
Plaintiff’s Request to Amend the Complaint
Plaintiff includes in her response to the Magistrate Judge’s report and recommendation, a
second Motion for Leave to Amend and Supplement her complaint pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P.
15(a)(2), 15(d), and 20(a)(2) and a proposed Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 18, pp. 10-52). She
requests leave to amend to add a Fifth Amendment equal protection claim against “DOE and
DOE officials [in their individual and official capacities] for failing to treat Plaintiff fairly and
equally” and to join Bev Holloway as a party Defendant. (ECF No. 18, pp. 1-9).
Plaintiff’s prior motion to amend requested leave to add Bev Holloway as a Defendant. The
Magistrate Judge denied Plaintiff’s request to add any additional defendants, including Bev
Holloway, who entered her property and removed 78 trees on October 17, 2016, as improper
joinder under Fed. R. Civ. P. 15. Plaintiff’s request to include a Fifth Amendment claim has also
been considered by the Magistrate Judge who recommended in her report and recommendation
that it be dismissed as lacking merit. (ECF No. 12, pp. 22 and 39).
Plaintiff now contends that additional and newly discovered facts support adding a Fifth
Amendment claim against DOE, DOE officials and the joinder of Bev Holloway as a party
Defendants. Plaintiff again asserts that the additional facts relate to property that was removed
from her land, support her current claims and justify adding more Defendants to her complaint.
(ECF No. 18, pp. 3-5). Plaintiff’s latest motion to amend her complaint is again Denied.
It would be futile to add Holloway or any other Defendant associated with the October 17,
2016 incident. The case currently before the Court involves the events that occurred after
Plaintiff’s municipal hearing on October 7, 2016, through October 9, 2016, the length of her
subsequent detention at the Fayette County Jail. The incidents regarding the removal of trees on
her property does not involve the same facts and circumstances for which she has filed § 1983
claims against Fayette County and its employees for deprivation of medical care in violation of
the Fourteenth Amendment.
Plaintiff’s Substantive Claims for Relief
The Magistrate Judge conducted an exhaustive examination of Plaintiff’s complaint and her
claims under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985 along with a review of Plaintiff’s unofficial
transcription of the compliance hearing. In the report and recommendation, the Magistrate
Judge, specifically concluding that Plaintiff has failed to assert: 1) a First Amendment claim that
she had engaged in protected conduct for which she suffered retaliation; 2) that her Second
Amendment right to keep and bear arms has been violated; 3) that she had been falsely arrested
and prosecuted in violation of the Fourth Amendment based on the judge’s finding of probable
cause and issuance of the arrest warrant; 4) the first element of a malicious prosecution claim
namely, that the underlying municipal court proceeding was resolved in her favor; 5) a Fourth
Amendment excessive force claim against Officers Hyde and Williams that resulted from a
municipal policy or custom of the City of Piperton that caused her harm; 6) a Fifth Amendment
due process violation because none of the Defendants acted on behalf of the federal government;
7) a viable Eighth Amendment claim of deliberate indifference to her medical needs because she
was not a convicted prisoner, rather a pre-trial detainee arrested for perjury; 8) a procedural due
process violation in reference to an involuntary commitment or one attributed to the compliance
hearing; 9) a substantive due process claim against the City of Piperton defendants in reference
to her serious medical needs; 10) a conspiracy to deprive her of her constitutional rights under 42
U.S.C. § 1985, and 11) a deliberate indifference to her medical needs claim against all of the
named Piperton Defendants.
The Magistrate Judge concluded that Plaintiff has asserted a viable claim under § 1983 for a
violation of the Fourteenth Amendment for deliberate indifference to her medical needs as to
Fayette County and Sheriff Riles, in his official and individual capacities while she was
incarcerated at the Fayette County Jail. The Magistrate Judge further recommended that all of
Plaintiff’s claims in this regard against Fayette County Jail, Sheriff Riles in his official capacity,
Davenport, Sparks, Lewis, Pulliam, and medical providers John and Jane Doe be construed as
claims against Fayette County. (ECF No. 12, pp. 12-35).
State Law Claims
In reference to Plaintiff’s state law claims, the Magistrate Judge found that Plaintiff alleged:
1) various violations of criminal statutes, i.e. attempted first degree murder, criminal attempt,
kidnapping, false imprisonment, inter alia, none of which pertain to a civil proceeding; 2)
violations of mental health commitment provisions that are inapplicable as Plaintiff was never
committed to the care of a mental health facility, and finally, 3) claims of intentional torts,
including the intentional infliction of emotional dismiss, that provide governmental immunity for
the City of Piperton and Fayette County under the TGTLA. (Id. at 35-37). The Magistrate Judge
recommended that the claims against the unnamed fictitious parties, John and Jane Doe, should
be dismissed for failure effect service of process. The Magistrate Judge recommends dismissal
under Fed. R. Civ. P. 18(a) and 20(a) of the criminal trespass allegations against Piperton Mayor
Henry Coats and others for improper joinder as these claims arise from a separate and distinct
incident from the facts underlying this case. (Id. at 37-41). The Court agrees and adopts each of
these findings for the reasons established below.
Plaintiff’s Objections to the Magistrate Judge’s Proposed Legal Findings
In order to be considered by the Court, objections to a Magistrate Judge’s report must be
specific. Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 141-42 (1985); Tyree v. U.S. Bank National Association,
No. 16-2076-STA-dkv, 2016 WL 6806269, at Howard v. Sec'y of Health and Human Services,
932 F.2d 505, 509 (6th Cir. 1991). “A general objection to the entirety of the magistrate’s report
has the same effects as would a failure to object. Consequently, to the extent that Plaintiff has
made vague, general, or conclusory objections, such as recitations from previous pleadings, those
objections are waived.” Tyree, 2016 WL 6806269 at *1; Mira, 806 F.2d at 637.
Plaintiff’s response to the Magistrate Judge’s report and recommendation includes the
same transcribed materials of her proceeding that were attached to her original complaint. (ECF
No. 1-1, pp, 1-12 and ECF No. 18-1, pp. 1-16). Plaintiff adds the proposed Amended Complaint
and copies of medical records from various medical facilities in her response. (ECF No. 18-1,
pp. 17-52 and ECF No. 18-2-18-5). The Court has liberally construed Plaintiff’s responsive
pleading in order to find any references or challenges to the Magistrate Judge’s legal
conclusions. However, the Plaintiff has merely reiterated and elaborated on her prior assertions.
As such, she has failed to offer specific objections to the Magistrate Judge’s report and
recommendation. Therefore, Plaintiff has waived objecting to the Magistrate Judge’s legal
Upon a de novo review of the pro se complaint, the unofficial “transcript” of the
municipal court proceeding, and Plaintiff response, the Court agrees with the Magistrate Judge’s
finding that the complaint sufficiently alleges a claim of deliberate indifference to Plaintiff’s
medical needs under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Fourteenth Amendment as to Fayette County and
Sheriff Bobby Riles, in his official capacity. Within her complaint, Plaintiff adequately alleges
that the jail officials and staff denied her any and all medical treatment and medications, even
after her disclosure of several serious health conditions during her time of incarceration from
October 7, 2015, to October 9, 2015. Based on the officials’ failure to provide her medical care
or her medications, Plaintiff adequately alleges that she became ill. Finally, Plaintiff properly
alleges that Fayette County’s failure to implement adequate policies or procedures or to properly
train or supervise their employees regarding the care and monitoring of custodial inmates caused
her injuries in violation of her constitutional rights.
(ECF No. 1, pp. 7, 13-19). As such, this
claim should proceed as recommended. Monell v. Department of Social Services of City of New
York, 436 U.S. 658, 690 (1978); Leach v. Shelby County Sheriff, 891 F.2d 1241, 1247 (6th Cir.
1989); and City of Canton v. Harris, 489 U.S. 379, 387-88 (1989).
Upon a de novo review, the Court adopts the Magistrate Judge’s report and
recommendation in its entirety, overrules Plaintiff’s objections as waived, and orders that all of
Plaintiff’s state and federal claims be dismissed other than the 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim for
deliberate indifference to medical needs as to Fayette County and Sheriff Bobby Riles.
Accordingly, the Clerk of Court is directed to issue process for Fayette County and
Sheriff Riles and to deliver that process along with a copy of the Complaint, a copy of the
Magistrate Judge’s report and recommendation and a copy of this Order to the U.S. Marshal for
service pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(h)(1) for service. It is ordered that service be made on
Fayette County and Sheriff Riles pursuant to Rule 4(h)(1) and that all costs of service be
advanced by the United States.
Going forward, Plaintiff Caroline Thomas is ordered to serve a copy of all of her
documents filed in this matter upon counsel for the remaining Defendants Fayette County and
the Sheriff, to make a certificate of service on every document filed, to familiarize herself with
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure as well as the Local Rules of this Court 3 and to notify the
Clerk of any change in her mailing address or extended periods of absences.
IT IS SO ORDERED on this 10th day of February, 2017.
s/John T. Fowlkes, Jr.
JOHN T. FOWLKES, JR.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
A copy of the Local Rules of Court are located on the court’s website at http/tnwd.uscourts.gov
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