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Pierson v. Unknown Nurse "A"

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky

November 8, 2018



         This is a pro se prisoner civil rights action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This matter is before the Court for screening of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will dismiss certain claims, allow others to proceed, and provide Plaintiff the opportunity to amend his complaint.


         Plaintiff Devan Lamont Pierson, now a convicted prisoner, alleges that he was a federal pretrial detainee being housed at Grayson County Detention Center (GCDC) when the events set forth in the complaint occurred. He brings this action against nine Defendants in both their official and individual capacities - the United States Marshals Service (USMS), GCDC, GCDC Jailer Jason Woosley, GCDC Nurse Rita Wilson, GCDC “Unknown Officer VI, ” GCDC “Unknown Officer #2, ” GCDC “Unknown Nurse A, ” Twin Lakes Medical Center (TLMC) “Unknown Nurse I, ” and TLMC “Unknown Doctor AA.”

         Plaintiff first alleges that his rights were violated at GCDC because active and inactive gang members, including those of rival gangs, were housed together at GCDC. Plaintiff alleges that, as a result of this custom or policy, he was physically assaulted by an inmate from a rival gang on June 3, 2017. Plaintiff further alleges that this attack was the result of “forcing federal inmates to sleep on the floor due to the overcrowding of the facility.” Plaintiff alleges that as a result of this attack, “a portion of his right ear was severed by being bitten off, my right shoulder injured, front tooth chipped, right eye severely swollen and lacerated, and face swollen as a result from the numerous punches and kicks to the head I received . . . .”

         Plaintiff then states that approximately five minutes after the emergency beacon was pressed, an officer responded to the disturbance and requested the assistance of additional officers. Plaintiff states that Defendant “Unknown Officer #2” then arrived. Plaintiff claims that Defendant “Unknown Officer #2” failed to protect him from injury because he “was assigned to the pod [where] the altercation took place, but was not at his assigned post to monitor inmates.”

         Plaintiff then alleges that, once he “arrived in medical, ” Defendant “Unknown Nurse A” “placed the severed portion of his ear in a small plastic cup and placed the cup in a small bag of ice. [She] then placed a gauze with tape around my bleeding. None of my other injuries were tended to, clearly violating my Eighth Amendment by not treating my serious medical needs adequately.”

         Plaintiff indicates that he was then transported to TLMC, “the designated hospital for treatment of inmates at Grayson County Detention Center.” He continues: “Upon my arrival a cat-scan was performed to assure I had no bleeding in the brain or any other brain trauma. I was then placed in a room where I was handcuffed and shackled to a bed for approximately 2½-3 hours with nothing else done to the injuries.” Plaintiff states that he complained to Defendants TLMC “Unknown Nurse I” and “Unknown Doctor AA” about “my ear hurting, my shoulder hurting, the blood dripping from my ear, and my head hurting. . . . I also made medical personnel aware of the fact that the ice that was preserving my ear had melted and needed to be changed in order to allow the possibility of such being re-attached.” However, Plaintiff states that these two Defendants “refused to look at or even treat me for nearly 3 hours. As well as refusing to place the bitten off portion of my ear in a solution in hopes of saving it.” Plaintiff then writes that at approximately 3:00 a.m., Defendant “Unknown Doctor AA informed the transporting officers that the hospital could not handle my medical needs and recommended that I be transported to the University of Louisville Medical Center . . . .”

         Plaintiff states that he was then transported back to GCDC, where he was “left in full restraints for approximately ‘40' minutes” while awaiting for the arrival of another officer to assist in transporting him to the University of Louisville Medical Center. Plaintiff alleges that, while he was waiting, he told Officer Pendelton that his head was hurting and that he felt like he was going to pass out. He states that he also requested a new gauze pad be placed on his ear and that the blood be cleaned off of his face so he could see. He states that he also asked for the severed portion of his ear “to be placed in some type of solution in hopes to have it sewed back on.” Plaintiff asserts that Officer Pendelton then told him “That why happens you fight in my jail. You're not getting shit from anyone. Your ear is not your only loss.”

         Plaintiff alleges that he arrived at the University of Louisville Medical Center at “5:30 a.m. on June 4, 2017 (nearly 6 hours after the incident occurred).” Plaintiff states that the officer who had transported him gave the medical staff there the severed portion of his ear which was in a plastic bag in room temperature water. Plaintiff states that the medical staff told him that “there was nothing they could do to save my ear, and if I wanted to look normal again I would need plastic surgery in the future.” He writes that they then put 30 stitches in his ear and disposed of the severed portion of his ear. Plaintiff states that he was then prescribed two medications and discharged.

         Plaintiff states that upon his return to GCDC, he was placed in segregation. He states that although he originally thought he was being placed in segregation for a 72-hour “medical watch, ” he was told that he was in disciplinary segregation for fighting with another inmate. Plaintiff indicates that his placement in disciplinary segregation violated his rights because he never received a disciplinary report or a hearing. Plaintiff then writes: “I was so emotionally distraut due to my current confinement that I asked to speak to someone from psychology. After several attempts to get the attention of someone from psychology, I became so emotionally distrust that I began to deficate on the interior of my cell.” Plaintiff states that he was then placed in a restraint chair “for approximately 30 hours . . . during which time I was not fed.” Plaintiff states that when he continued to request to speak to “someone from psychology, ” the nurse at GCDC informed him that “[GCDC] does not have a psychology department, nor do they have an onsite psychologist.” Plaintiff states that she also told him that if he needed any mental health treatment, GCDC would have to call an outside specialist and that his “issue” was not serious enough to require such. Plaintiff states that he was placed back on suicide watch for 72 hours and that then placed in disciplinary segregation for nine days.

         Plaintiff also claims that GCDC required him to pay a co-pay for the medications prescribed to him by the University of Louisville Medical Center. He states that Defendant GCDC Nurse Rita Wilson explained to him that this was because “the meds belonged to [GCDC].” Plaintiff also states that he asked Defendant Wilson for “preventative shots in case the assailant had any diseases” and that she told him they were not necessary, but that she would have blood work performed.

         As relief, Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages and injunctive relief.


         When a prisoner initiates a civil action seeking redress from a governmental entity, officer, or employee, the trial court must review the complaint and dismiss the complaint, or any portion of it, if the court determines that the complaint is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See § 1915A(b)(1), (2); McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 604 (6th Cir. 1997), overruled on other grounds by Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199 (2007).

         In order to survive dismissal for failure to state a claim, “a complaint must contain 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)). “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. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “[A] district court must (1) view the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and (2) take all well-pleaded factual allegations as true.” Tackett v. M & G Polymers, USA, LLC, 561 F.3d 478, 488 (6th Cir. 2009) (citing Gunasekera v. Irwin, 551 F.3d 461, 466 (6th Cir. 2009) (citations omitted)). “But the district court need not accept a ‘bare assertion of legal conclusions.'” Tackett, 561 F.3d at 488 (quoting Columbia Natural Res., Inc. v. Tatum, 58 F.3d 1101, 1109 (6th Cir. 1995)). “A pleading that offers ‘labels and conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.' Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders ‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557).

         Although this Court recognizes that pro se pleadings are to be held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972); Jourdan v. Jabe, 951 F.2d 108, 110 (6th Cir. 1991), “[o]ur duty to be ‘less stringent' with pro se complaints does not require us to conjure up unpled allegations.” McDonald v. Hall, 610 F.2d 16, 19 (1st Cir. 1979) (citation omitted). And this Court is not required to create a claim for Plaintiff. Clark v. Nat'l Travelers Life Ins. Co., 518 F.2d 1167, 1169 (6th Cir. 1975). To command otherwise would require the Court “to explore exhaustively all potential claims of a pro se plaintiff, [and] would also transform the dist rict court from its legitimate advisory role to the improper role of an advocate seeking out the strongest arguments and most successful strategies for a party.” Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985).

         III. ANALYSIS

         “Section 1983 creates no substantive rights, but merely provides remedies for deprivations of rights established elsewhere.” Flint ex rel. Flint v. Ky. Dep't of Corr., 270 F.3d 340, 351 (6th Cir. 2001). Two elements are required to state a claim under § 1983. Gomez v. Toledo, 446 U.S. 635 (1980). “[A] plaintiff must allege the violation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States, and must show that the alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state law.” West v. Atkins, 487 ...

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