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Jones v. Tompkins

United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Columbus Division

January 16, 2019

SHERIFF DONNA TOMPKINS, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff Timothy Lamar Jones, a pretrial detainee in the Muscogee County Jail in Columbus, Georgia, filed a pro se civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Compl., ECF No. 1. Thereafter, Plaintiff was granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis, and his complaint underwent a preliminary review. Order to Recast Compl., ECF No. 8. In that review, the United States Magistrate Judge found that Plaintiff had failed to state a claim but gave Plaintiff an opportunity to recast his complaint to address the deficiencies therein. Id. Plaintiff has now filed a recast complaint, which is also subject to a preliminary review. Recast Compl., ECF No. 9. Having reviewed the recast complaint, the Court now finds that Plaintiff has again failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. As a result, his complaint is DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.

         I. Preliminary Review of Plaintiff's Complaint

         Because Plaintiff is a prisoner “seeking redress from a governmental entity or [an] officer or employee of a governmental entity, ” the Court is required to conduct a preliminary review of Plaintiff's complaint. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a) (requiring the screening of prisoner cases) & 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) (regarding in forma pauperis proceedings). When performing this review, the district court must accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true. Brown v. Johnson, 387 F.3d 1344, 1347 (11th Cir. 2004). Pro se pleadings are also “held to a less stringent standard than pleadings drafted by attorneys, ” and thus, pro se claims are “liberally construed.” Tannenbaum v. United States, 148 F.3d 1262, 1263 (11th Cir. 1998). Still, the Court must dismiss a prisoner complaint if it “(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. §1915A(b).

         A claim is frivolous if it “lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact.” Miller v. Donald, 541 F.3d 1091, 1100 (11th Cir. 2008) (internal quotation marks omitted). The Court may dismiss claims that are based on “indisputably meritless legal” theories and “claims whose factual contentions are clearly baseless.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). A complaint fails to state a claim if it does not include “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). The factual allegations in a complaint “must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level” and cannot “merely create[] a suspicion [of] a legally cognizable right of action.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (first alteration in original). In other words, the complaint must allege enough facts “to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence” supporting a claim. Id. at 556. “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         To state a claim for relief under §1983, a plaintiff must allege that (1) an act or omission deprived him of a right, privilege, or immunity secured by the Constitution or a statute of the United States; and (2) the act or omission was committed by a person acting under color of state law. Hale v. Tallapoosa Cty., 50 F.3d 1579, 1582 (11th Cir. 1995). If a litigant cannot satisfy these requirements or fails to provide factual allegations in support of his claim or claims, the complaint is subject to dismissal. See Chappell v. Rich, 340 F.3d 1279, 1282-84 (11th Cir. 2003).

         A. Plaintiff's Complaint

         In his recast complaint, Plaintiff alleges that he has diabetes and sometimes develops blood clots in his lungs.[1] Recast Compl. 5, ECF No. 9. Thus, when Plaintiff arrived at the Muscogee County Jail, he told the intake nurse about his condition and the medications that he was taking, including medformin for diabetes and a blood thinner called caumadin for the blood clots. Id. Because of the caumadin, it is necessary for Plaintiff to have his blood checked regularly. Id. Defendants Correct Care Solution, the prison's healthcare provider; Correct Care Solutions Manager Pout Morris; Chief Physician Dr. Parks; and Service Professional Dr. Petty, however, have failed to routinely check Plaintiff's blood, resulting in damage to Plaintiff's health. Id.

         In particular, around June 6, 2018, Plaintiff began to feel ill, with continuous headaches and pain in his leg. Id. at 6. At some point, Plaintiff beat on the window of his cell to try to get an officer's attention, but Plaintiff was ignored. Id. Later, at pill call, Plaintiff informed an officer and the pill call nurse, but Plaintiff was not taken to medical and no one checked on him after that. Id.

         Around 3:30 a.m. on June 8, 2018, Plaintiff was supposed to get up to take a dose of medformin, but when he stood up, he felt dizzy and fell back on the bed. Id. Plaintiff's cellmates tried to alert officers in the area by beating on the window of the cell, but none of the officers responded. Id. Plaintiff therefore tried to walk down the stairs by himself, but he fell most of the way down, hitting his face on the rail. Id. Thereafter, an officer came by to give insulin shots and observed Plaintiff's condition. Id. Plaintiff asserts that an officer should have responded sooner and that inmates should not have to beat on the windows to get the officers' attention, particularly because officers sometimes get irritated and ignore the beating. Id. Additionally, some officers will put inmates in lockdown for beating on the windows. Id.

         Plaintiff adds that the jail is dangerous because there are no cameras and the call buttons in the cells have been disconnected. Id. at 7. Moreover, the jail is overcrowded, has a lot of gang activity, houses violent and murderous criminals, and has a poor classification system. Id. In this regard, Plaintiff asserts that Defendants Muscogee County and Sheriff Donna Tompkins have failed to provide safe and secure conditions of confinement for Plaintiff and other inmates. Id.

         Returning to the events of June 8, Plaintiff alleges that when officers saw him, they helped him up and took him to medical. Id. After three days in medical at the jail, Plaintiff began to get worse and was taken to the Emergency Room at Piedmont Medical Center. Id. At the hospital, Plaintiff was admitted to intensive care, where the doctor told Plaintiff that his blood tests indicated that the medical staff at the Muscogee County Jail was treating Plaintiff with too much caumadin without properly monitoring Plaintiff's blood levels, which put Plaintiff's life in danger. Id. at 7-8.

         Plaintiff asserts that his treatment was the result of deliberate indifference to a serious medical need. Id. at 8. With regard to the named defendants, Plaintiff asserts that Correct Care Solutions is a health maintenance organization with an official policy to provide continuous, effective, and quality healthcare services, but that it failed to provide such services in his case. Id. Additionally, Plaintiff asserts that Correct Care violated Georgia law, as well as the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, with regard to his treatment.[2] Id.

         A. Deliberate Indifference to a ...

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