Porterfield v. Shelby County Crim. Justice Center et al
ORDER ORDER consolidating Case Nos. 21-2528 and 21-2529. Signed by Judge Samuel H. Mays, Jr on 7/28/2022. (Mays, Samuel)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE
SHELBY COUNTY JAIL, et al.,
ORDER CONSOLIDATING CASE NOS. 21-2528-SHM-tmp & 21-2529-SHM-tmp;
DISMISSING NO. 21-2529’S COMPLAINT (ECF NO. 1) WITHOUT PREJUDICE;
GRANTING LEAVE TO AMEND;
AND DENYING NO. 21-2529’s PENDING MOTIONS (ECF NOS. 11 & 12)
On August 16, 2021, Plaintiff Isaac Porterfield, who is incarcerated at the Shelby County
Criminal Justice Center (the “SCCJC”) in Memphis, Tennessee, filed a pro se complaint under
42 U.S.C. § 1983. (ECF No. 1.) On October 1, 2021, the Court granted leave to proceed in forma
pauperis. (ECF No. 9.) On February 15, 2022, Porterfield filed a motion for a protective order.
(ECF No. 11 (the “First Motion”).) On February 23, 2022, Porterfield filed another motion for a
protective order. (ECF No. 12 (the “Second Motion”).) On the same dates, Porterfield filed a
complaint, a motion to proceed in forma pauperis, and two motions for protective order in Case
No. 21-2528. (See Porterfield v. Shelby Cnty. Criminal Justice Ctr., No. 21-2528 (“No. 212528”), ECF Nos. 1, 8, 10 & 11.) On June 30, 2022, the Court dismissed the complaint in No.
21-2528 for failure to state a claim to relief, granted leave to amend, and denied the motions for
protective order. (See ECF No. 12.)
The complaint, the First Motion, and the Second Motion in Case No. 21-2529 are before
Claims: The complaint in No. 21-2529 alleges the same patterns of “assault and
harassment,” food and water tampering, wrongful video and audio recording, and mail tampering
that Porterfield alleged in No. 21-2528. (No. 21-2529, ECF No. 1 at PageID 2-3 (alleging fear of
“be[ing] murdered d[ue] to food and water tampering”); No. 21-2528, ECF No. 1 at PageID 2-4
(alleging fear of being “murdered by the employees of the SCCJC and med[ical] dep[artment]”).)
Defendants: In No. 21-2529, Porterfield sues (1) seven of the Defendants who were
named in No. 21-2528 1; and (2) (a) All Jail Commanding Staff; (b) Lt. Ms. A. Reed; (c) Lt. Ms.
A. Styles; (d) Captain Ms. Talley; and (e) Ms. Luellen. (ECF No. 21-2529 at PageID 1-2.)
Relevant Dates: The complaint in No. 21-2528 alleged no dates for the underlying
events from which Porterfield’s claims arise. (No. 21-2528, ECF No. 1.) Porterfield alleges in
No. 21-2529 that the relevant events occurred in February 2021 through May 2021. (No. 212529, ECF No. 1 at PageID 1-3.)
Like Porterfield’s complaint in No. 21-2528, the complaint in No. 21-2529 seeks: (1)
compensatory damages (No. 21-2528, ECF No. 1 at PageID 5 (seeking over twenty-three million
dollars ($23,000,000) in damages); No. 21-2529, ECF No. 1 at PageID 4 (seeking eight hundred
fifty thousand dollars ($850,000) in damages); (2) criminal proceedings against the Defendants
(No. 21-2528, ECF No. 1 at PageID 5 (seeking assessment of “criminal charges” against “all staff
The complaints in both No. 21-2528 and No. 21-2529 name seven Defendants: (a) the
SCCJS; (b) Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner; (c) Officer Ms. Summerville; (d) Sergeant
Matthews; (e) Officer Ms. Martin; (f) Captain Mays; and (g) Officer M. Green. (No. 21-2528,
ECF No. 1 at PageID 1-2 & 5; No. 21-2529, ECF No. 1 at PageID 1-2.)
who tampered with my food”); No. 21-2529, ECF No. 1 at PageID 4 (seeking permanent
restraining orders [against] all named Defendants”); (3) termination of the Defendants’
employment (No. 21-2528, ECF No. 1 at PageID 5; No. 21-2529, ECF No. 1 at PageID 4); and
(4) a change in Porterfield’s housing assignment. (No. 21-2528, ECF No. 1 at PageID 5 (seeking
transfer to a different correctional facility); No. 21-2529, ECF No. 1 at PageID 4 (seeking
assignment to the SCCJC’s general inmate population). The complaint in No. 21-2529 also seeks
injunctive relief. (ECF No. 1 at PageID 4 (asking that “[a]ll tampering be stopped of my food
trays, water, mail, phone [and] the very illegal video and audio be remove[d] from the inside of
The complaints in No. 21-2528 and No. 21-2529 are substantially similar in their factual
allegations, legal claims, named Defendants, and requested relief. Actions involving common
questions of law or fact can be consolidated for the convenience of the court and the parties. Fed.
R. Civ. P. 42(a). Rule 42(a) provides:
When actions involving a common question of law or fact are pending before the
court, it may order a joint hearing or trial of any or all the matters in issue in the
actions; it may order all the actions consolidated; and it may make such orders
concerning proceedings therein as may tend to avoid unnecessary costs or delay.
Id. District courts have broad discretion in determining whether to consolidate cases, and courts
consider whether consolidation will promote judicial economy without impeding justice and the
interest of the parties. See Devlin v. Transp. Commc’n Int’l Union, 175 F.3d 121, 130 (2d Cir.
1999); Johnson v. Celotex Corp., 899 F.2d 1281, 1285 (2d Cir. 1990). Courts balance the risk of
prejudice and confusion against the possibility of achieving inconsistent results in the cases under
consideration. See In re Cree, Inc., 219 F.R.D. 369, 371 (M.D. N.C. 2003). The court should also
consider “the burden on the parties, witnesses, and judicial resources by multiple lawsuits, the
length of time required to try multiple suits versus a single suit, and the relative expense required
for multiple suits versus a single suit.” Id. (internal citation omitted).
Porterfield’s complaints in Nos. 21-2528 and 21-2529 arise from the same, or substantially
similar, set of facts and assert the same, or substantially similar, claims. Separate lawsuits would
lead to duplicative pleadings and discovery. To avoid unnecessary costs and promote judicial
efficiency, the Court CONSOLIDATES Nos. 21-2528 and 21-2529 as follows: (1) this Order is
INCORPORATED into the Court’s June 30, 2022 Order in No. 21-2528 (the “21-2528
Screening”); (2) the complaint in No. 21-2529 (ECF No. 1) is INCORPORATED into the
complaint in No. 21-2528 (ECF No. 1); (3) No. 21-2529 is DISMISSED and will not proceed; and
(4) Porterfield and the named Defendants in No. 21-2529 will PROCEED in No. 21-2528.
SCREENING OF THE COMPLAINT 2
A. CLAIMS OF HARASSMENT, UNCONSTITUTIONAL CONDITIONS OF
CONFINEMENT, AND VIOLATION OF RIGHT TO RECEIVE MAIL AND
RIGHT OF PRIVACY
The Court liberally construes the complaint in No. 21-2529, like the complaint in No. 212528, to allege claims of harassment, unconstitutional conditions of confinement, violation of
Porterfield’s First Amendment right to receive mail, and violation of Porterfield’s right to privacy.
(No. 21-2529, ECF No. 1 at PageID 2-3; No. 21-2528, ECF No. 1 at PageID 2.) The complaint in
No. 21-2529 does not allege facts that alter the 21-2528 Screening Order’s conclusion that
Porterfield does not allege any facts demonstrating a cognizable claim to relief, plausibly or
otherwise. Speculative assertions of food tampering, No. 21-2529 ECF No. 1 at PageID 2-3, are
not sufficient to support a constitutional claim. See Association of Cleveland Firefighters v. City
The legal standard for screening complaints under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 28
U.S.C. §§ 1915, et seq. (the “PLRA”), and the requirements to state a claim under § 1983, are set
forth in the 21-2528 Screening Order and are not restated here. (No. 21-2528, ECF No. 12.)
of Cleveland, 502 F.3d 545, 548 (6th Cir. 2007). Porterfield’s vague allegation about being
improperly recorded in his cell, No. 21-2529 ECF No. 1 at PageID 4, lacks supporting factual
allegations. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 557 (2007)). Porterfield makes no allegations from which to infer that any
Defendants tampered with his mail. No. 21-2529 ECF No. 1 at PageID 2-4. See Mayes v. Rodela,
No. 20-0057, 2021 WL 3439412, at *2 (M.D. Tenn. July 15, 2021). An allegation of “harassment,”
No. 21-2529 ECF No. 1 at PageID 2, does not state a cognizable claim to relief because (1) the
allegation is nonspecific and (2) it is well settled that verbal abuse or harassment at the hands of
prison officials does not constitute a violation of the Eight Amendment. See, e.g., Johnson v.
Unknown Dellatifa, 357 F.3d 539, 546 (6th Cir. 2004). The complaint in No. 21-2529 alleges no
new or different facts that alter the 21-2528 Screening Order’s conclusions about Porterfield’s
claims of harassment, unconstitutional conditions of confinement, violation of Porterfield’s First
Amendment right to receive mail, and violation of Porterfield’s right to privacy. All those claims
are DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE for failure to state a claim to relief. Porterfield may
amend his claims within TWENTY-ONE days of the date of this Order, and in accordance with
the conditions set forth in the 21-2528 Screening Order (No. 21-2528, ECF No. 12). The Court
grants Porterfield one opportunity to amend his claims.
B. CLAIMS OF EXCESSIVE FORCE & FAILURE TO PROTECT IN NO. 21-2529
Porterfield alleges that Officer Summerville “jumped on” Porterfield as he exited the
shower, placed Porterfield in a headlock, and held Porterfield’s neck “tightly.” (ECF No. 1 at
PageID 3 (the “Incident”).) Officer Jones stood in the doorway and laughed during the Incident.
(Id.) The date of the Incident is not clear from the complaint. The Court construes Porterfield’s
allegations as a claim of excessive force against Officer Summerville and a failure-to-protect claim
against Officer Jones.
Claim Of Excessive Force: The Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause protects
those in state custody 3 from the use of excessive force that amounts to punishment. Leary v.
Livingston Cnty., 528 F.3d 438, 443 (6th Cir. 2008) (quoting Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386,
395 n. 10 (1989)). “[W]hen assessing pretrial detainees’ excessive force claims [the Court] must
inquire into whether the plaintiff shows ‘that the force purposely or knowingly used against him
was objectively unreasonable.’” Santos v. Lane, No. 3:22-cv-0231, 2022 WL 1462964, at *1
(M.D. Tenn. May 9, 2022) (quoting Kingsley v. Hendrickson, 576 U.S. 389, 396-97 (2015)). The
inquiry about objective unreasonableness “account[s] for the ‘legitimate interests that stem from
[the government’s] need to manage the facility in which the individual is detained,’ appropriately
deferring to ‘policies and practices that in th[e] judgment’ of jail officials ‘are needed to preserve
internal order and discipline and to maintain institutional security.’” Kingsley, 576 U.S. at 397
(quoting Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 540 (1979)). The Fourteenth Amendment’s objective
reasonableness inquiry turns on the facts and circumstances of each particular case. Kingsley, 576
U.S. at 397. Courts assess the reasonableness of a use of force from “the perspective of a
reasonable officer on the scene, including what the officer knew at the time, not with the 20/20
vision of hindsight.” Id. (citing Graham, 490 U.S. at 396). Courts consider several factors under
the objective reasonableness inquiry, including:
the relationship between the need for use of force and the amount of force used; the
extent of the plaintiff's injury; any effort made by the officer to temper or limit the
amount of force; the severity of the security problem at issue; the threat reasonably
perceived by the officer and whether the plaintiff was actively resisting.
As of the date of Porterfield’s most recent filing in No. 21-2529, the record suggests that
he is a pretrial detainee at the SCCJC. (See ECF No. 12-1 at PageID 93.)
Id. Courts ask “whether force was applied in a good-faith effort to maintain or restore discipline,
or maliciously and sadistically to cause harm.” Cordell v. McKinney, 759 F.3d 573, 580 (6th Cir.
2014) (quoting Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 7 (1992)). Porterfield does not allege sufficient
facts demonstrating Officer Summerville’s headlock of Porterfield as he exited the shower was
objectively unreasonable. Porterfield alleges no facts about the circumstances of the Incident, such
as whether Porterfield posed a threat to himself or others, whether the SCCJC was under a safety
or security alert, whether Porterfield resisted verbal commands, or whether Porterfield suffered
any injuries. There are no factual allegations in the complaint from which to infer plausibly either
that Officer Summerville’s force was “a good-faith effort to maintain discipline” or that
Summerville’s force was applied “malicious and sadistically to cause harm.” See Cordell, 759
F.3d at 580. The complaint in No. 21-2159 fails to allege sufficient facts demonstrating a claim
of excessive force against Officer Summerville.
Claim Of Failure-To-Protect: Pretrial detainees may sue jail officials for failing to prevent
harm under the Fourteenth Amendment’s objective standard. See Westmoreland v. Butler Cnty.,
Ky., 29 F.4th 721, 728 (6th Cir. 2022). To state a failure-to-protect claim, a pretrial detainee must
allege that an official acted in a manner that: (1) was intentional; (2) put the plaintiff at substantial
risk of serious harm; (3) failed to take reasonable steps to abate that risk; and (4) actually caused
the plaintiff’s injuries. Id. at 729–30. “[The Sixth] Circuit has now explicitly taken the position
that a failure-to-protect claim by a pretrial detainee requires only an objective showing that an
individual defendant acted (or failed to act) deliberately and recklessly.” Id. (citing Brawner v.
Scott Cnty., Tenn., 14 F.4th 585, 596 (6th Cir. 2021)). In the context of a failure-to-protect claim,
a prison officer will not be held liable without a showing that he “should have been aware of the
reasonable likelihood of a potential attack and intervened earlier.” Carico v. Benton, Ireland, &
Stovall, 68 F. App’x 632, 639 (6th Cir. 2003). Porterfield does not allege facts demonstrating that
Officer Jones’s failure to intervene in the Incident placed Porterfield at a substantial risk of harm
and actually caused Porterfield’s injuries. The complaint does not allege that Porterfield was
injured during the Incident. The complaint does not allege facts about whether Officer Jones was
present for all, or a portion, of the Incident. The complaint does not allege that Officer Jones
should have been aware that Officer Summerville would place Porterfield in a headlock. There
are no factual allegations in the complaint from which to infer plausibly that Officer Jones
deliberately and recklessly failed to stop Officer Summerville’s use of force. The complaint in
No. 21-2159 fails to allege sufficient facts demonstrating a failure-to-protect claim against Officer
The claims of excessive force and failure-to-protect against Officers Summerville and
Jones in Case No. 21-2529 are DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE for failure to state a claim
to relief. Porterfield may amend those claims within TWENTY-ONE days of the date of this
Order, and in accordance with the conditions set forth in the 21-2528 Screening Order (No. 212528, ECF No. 12). The Court grants Porterfield one opportunity to amend his claims.
C. CLAIM OF DEPRIVATION OF RECREATION IN NO. 21-2529
Porterfield alleges that the Defendants are “withholding my rec[reation]” to prevent him
from calling his family. (ECF No. 1 at PageID 2 (the “Recreation Deprivation”).) Porterfield
alleges no dates when the Recreation Deprivation occurred.
For pretrial detainees, the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process clause precludes
“punish[ment] prior to an adjudication of guilt.” Thompson v. Cnty. of Medina, Ohio, 29 F.3d 238,
242 (6th Cir. 1994) (quoting Bell, 441 U.S. at 535). The Supreme Court explained in Bell that, “if
a particular condition or restriction of pretrial detention is reasonably related to a legitimate
governmental objective, it does not, without more, amount to punishment. Conversely, if a
restriction or condition is not reasonably related to a legitimate goal — if it is arbitrary or
purposeless — a court permissibly may infer that the purpose of the governmental action is
punishment that may not constitutionally be inflicted upon detainees qua detainees.” Bell, 441
U.S. at 539 (internal citations omitted). A pretrial detainee can demonstrate that he was subjected
to unconstitutional punishment by showing: (1) “an expressed intent to punish on the part of the
detention facility officials,” or (2) that “a restriction or condition is not rationally related to a
legitimate government objective or is excessive in relation to that purpose.” J.H. v. Williamson
Cnty., 951 F.3d 709, 717 (6th Cir. 2020) (citing Bell, 441 U.S. at 535 and Kingsley, 576 U.S. at
398). The Sixth Circuit has recognized that prisoners are entitled to outdoor recreation sufficient
to maintain reasonably good physical and mental health. See Walker v. Mintzes, 771 F.2d 920,
927 (6th Cir. 1985). Courts in the Sixth Circuit have recognized that “there is no applicable
precedent requiring any minimum amount of outdoor recreation for prisoners.” Kizer v. Robertson
Cnty., No. 3:17-cv-00715, 2018 WL 2164557, at *1 (M.D. Tenn. May 10, 2018) (citing Argue v.
Hofmeyer, 80 F. App’x 427, 430 (6th Cir. 2003)). The Sixth Circuit has held only that “a total or
near-total deprivation of exercise or recreational opportunity, without penological justification,
violates Eighth Amendment guarantees.” Rodgers v. Jabe, 43 F.3d 1082, 1086 (6th Cir. 1995)
(quoting Patterson v. Mintzes, 717 F.2d 284, 289 (6th Cir. 1983)).
Porterfield does not allege any facts about the circumstances of the Recreation Deprivation
that demonstrate it: (1) was intended to punish Porterfield; (2) was not rationally related to a
legitimate government objective; or (3) was excessive in relation to that purpose. The complaint
does not allege the dates of the Recreation Deprivation, its duration, or the amount of recreation
to which Porterfield would have been entitled had the Recreation Deprivation not been imposed.
Porterfield does not allege that the Recreation Deprivation was “a total or near-total deprivation of
exercise or recreational opportunity.” See Rodgers, 43 F.3d at 1086. The complaint in No. 212159 fails to allege sufficient facts demonstrating an Eighth Amendment claim for unconstitutional
punishment from denial of recreation.
The claim of unconstitutional deprivation of recreation in No. 21-2529 is DISMISSED
WITHOUT PREJUDICE for failure to state a claim to relief. Porterfield may amend that claim
within TWENTY-ONE days of the date of this Order, and in accordance with the conditions set
forth in the 21-2528 Screening (ECF No. 12). The Court grants Porterfield one opportunity to
amend his claim.
THE PENDING MOTIONS
No. 21-2529’s First Motion (ECF No. 11) is a photocopy of Porterfield’s first motion for
protective order in No. 21-2528 (ECF No. 10). No. 21-2529’s Second Motion (ECF No. 12) is a
photocopy of Porterfield’s second motion for protective order in No. 21-2528 (ECF No. 11).
No. 21-2529’s First Motion (ECF No. 11) and Second Motion (ECF No. 12) are DENIED
for the reasons stated in the 21-2528 Screening (ECF No. 12).
For the reasons explained above:
This Order is INCORPORATED into the Court’s June 30, 2022 Order in No. 21-
The complaint in No. 21-2529 (ECF No. 1) is INCORPORATED into the
complaint in No. 21-2528 (ECF No. 1);
No. 21-2529 is DISMISSED and will not proceed. Porterfield and the Defendants
named in No. 21-2529 SHALL PROCEED in No. 21-2528. The Clerk shall mark No. 21-2529
Porterfield’s claims of excessive force, failure to protect, and inadequate recreation
in No. 21-2159 are DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE for failure to state a claim to relief,
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(b). Leave to amend those claims is GRANTED.
An amended pleading must be filed within TWENTY-ONE (21) days after the date of entry of this
Order and pursuant to the conditions described in the 21-2528 Screening Order (ECF No. 12); and
The pending motions (ECF Nos. 11 & 12) are DENIED.
IT IS SO ORDERED, this 28th day of July, 2022.
/s/ Samuel H. Mays, Jr.
SAMUEL H. MAYS, JR.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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