529 F.2d 709 (5th Cir. 1976), 75--1322, Taylor v. Gibson

Docket Nº:75--1322.
Citation:529 F.2d 709
Party Name:Terry Ray TAYLOR, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. M. M. (Hoot) GIBSON et al., Defendants-Appellees.
Case Date:April 01, 1976
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

Page 709

529 F.2d 709 (5th Cir. 1976)

Terry Ray TAYLOR, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

M. M. (Hoot) GIBSON et al., Defendants-Appellees.

No. 75--1322.

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

April 1, 1976

Page 710

Champ Lyons, Jr., Montgomery, Ala., for plaintiff-appellant.

A. Stewart O'Bannon, Jr., Florence, Ala., for Gibson.

Robert E. Parsons, Birmingham, Ala., for defendants-appellees.

Robert O. Cox, Florence, Ala., for R. C. Barnes & Dr. S. Roberts.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama.

Before GODBOLD, SIMPSON and CLARK, Circuit Judges.

SIMPSON, Circuit Judge:

Taylor, a state prisoner, sought to file a Title 42, U.S.C., Section 1983, civil rights suit for monetary damages, seeking

Page 711

the benefit in this connection of the in forma pauperis (IFP) statute, Title 28, U.S.C., Section 1915. 1 The district court, following a somewhat convoluted procedure, dismissed the suit. This Court accepted Taylor's appeal. We find the district court to have erred, and we reverse.

Appellant is a felon incarcerated within the Alabama penal system. On May 14, 1974, he presented for filing in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama a lengthy ninety-seven paragraph pro se complaint, with supporting affidavits of other prisoners. The complaint primarily alleged medical mistreatment and neglect which arguably amounted to a denial of plaintiff's Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, 2 and asked money damages from various persons who had come into contact with Taylor during three separate stays at the Lauderdale County Jail, Florence, Alabama. The complaint was accompanied by a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis and for appointment of counsel. A docket number was assigned the complaint 'for record keeping purposes only'. The practice of the district court in situations such as this was to refer the matter to a United States Magistrate for recommendations as to whether the plaintiff should be allowed to proceed in forma pauperis. The Magistrate entered an order referring to Taylor's complaint as 'a proposed complaint' and requiring factual responses from the various defendants. Responses were filed. Plaintiff tendered additional affidavits in support of his allegations. He also filed memoranda of law in response to two of the factual responses. Plaintiff renewed, on September 16, 1975, his motion for appointment of counsel and complained of his inability due to his confinement to obtain affidavits of witnesses, and evidence in support of his allegations.

In the meantime, on the basis of the complaint and factual responses, the Magistrate determined that there could be no § 1983 liability with respect to some of the defendants, and that Taylor's allegations with respect to the others were 'beyond belief'. He therefore recommended that the opportunity to proceed in forma pauperis be denied plaintiff, and that the action be dismissed. The district court entered an order approving and adopting the recommendations of the Magistrate. The action was dismissed. A motion to vacate the dismissal was denied. A subsequent motion for leave to appeal in forma pauperis was denied by the district court on grounds that the proposed appeal would be totally frivolous and without merit. Thereafter we granted plaintiff's pro se application to appeal in forma pauperis and appointed counsel.

The allegations upon which Taylor's charges are predicated stem from occurrences which happened during three separate periods of incarceration at the Lauderdale County Jail. The incidents will be identified, for our purposes, as the infected foot, the eye injury, and the postoperative mistreatment. Without attempting to capture the full extent of the graphic and gruesome complaint filed by Taylor, it is necessary to recount

Page 712

in bare outline the charges presented. In chronological order the incidents as alleged by Taylor may be sketched as follows:

1. The Infected Foot. (August 3, 1971--August 25, 1971). Taylor was arrested by Lauderdale County deputies on an escape charge, and jailed. Shortly thereafter a 'red spot' appeared on his foot, and it began to swell. Plaintiff repeatedly requested to various deputies, and through them to the sheriff, that he be provided medical care. Despite intense pain and a very badly infected foot, it was not until August 12 that plaintiff was taken to see a doctor. The doctor instructed that plaintiff be admitted to the Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital. Taylor was taken to the hospital, admitted, and locked in a room of the hospital's mental and alcoholic section, despite the lack of facilities there to properly care for his foot.

The next day plaintiff was moved for a short time, pursuant to his doctor's orders, into the main section of the hospital. The Sheriff had him returned to the mental and alcoholic section. For the next several days, due to the conflicting orders of his doctor and the Sheriff, he was shuffled back and forth between the mental and alcoholic section and the main section of the hospital. On August 19, plaintiff, because of fear that Sheriff Gibson was going to have him taken back to jail despite his not being released from the hospital, escaped from the main section of the hospital. He was recaptured and taken to jail, where he alleges he was denied medical attention and basic comforts, such as a mattress and clean linen. On August 23 appellant plead guilty to charges against him, in the hope of thereby obtaining medical care. The Sheriff was ordered by the judge to see that Taylor was immediately taken to the doctor, but it was not until the next day that he was taken to have his foot attended to. This followed an express order from the judge. The following day Taylor was removed to the Mount Meigs Medical facility of the Alabama prison system.

Taylor alleges in this and all other incidents that Sheriff Gibson and certain named deputies inflicted cruel and unusual punishment by depriving him of medical attention. As to this incident he further charges that defendant-appellee W. C. Barnes, the hospital administrator, agreed with Sheriff Gibson or acquiesced in the Sheriff's directions by putting him in the alcoholic and mental section of the hospital, contrary to his doctor's orders, all of which constituted cruel and unusual punishment.

2. The Eye Injury. (September 23, 1973--October 4, 1973). Taylor was again incarcerated in the Lauderdale County Jail September 23, 1973 and placed alone in a cell. He alleges that Sheriff Gibson and his deputies knew of his tendency to experience fainting spells. On September 24 appellant had one of these spells. He asked to be taken to a doctor, or to have another prisoner put in the cell with him to help in case of another spell, and to prevent, if possible, any injury he might suffer. On September 27 Taylor had a spell, fainted, fell and struck and injured his good eye. 3 He was taken, blinded, to the Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital. There Dr. Roberts examined Taylor's eye, and stated according to Taylor that he would be admitted to the hospital. Dr. Roberts then called Sheriff Gibson to discuss the situation with him. Following this conversation, Dr. Roberts treated Taylor very badly, and refused him both admission to the hospital and pain medication. Taylor was then taken back to the jail where he was left, in his injured condition, handcuffed alone in a cell for several hours. He was re-examined that afternoon by Dr. Roberts at the latter's clinic, although the only treatment afforded him was eye drops. His requests for pain medication were again denied. During the next week Taylor was taken to Dr. Roberts' office several times, although he received no medication or treatment other than the

Page 713

eye drops. Taylor suffered several more fainting spells, but never received adequate medical attention for the spells or for a head cut he received as a result of an attendant fall.

On October 4 Taylor was again transferred to Mount Meigs. He states that a Dr. Young told him that if his eye had been properly treated by Dr. Roberts, he, Taylor, would have recovered more of his eyesight than he ultimately did.

Taylor, in connection with this incident, alleges not only that Sheriff Gibson and the deputies deprived him, in a variety of ways, of proper medical care but that Dr. Roberts conspired with the Sheriff to keep him from the hospital, where he could have received adequate and proper treatment resulting in greater recovery of eyesight.

3. Postoperative Mistreatment. (March 11, 1974--April 11, 1974). On March 11, 1974, Taylor was released from the Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital to the custody of the Lauderdale County Jail. While in the hospital Taylor had undergone a major operation. 4 He was in severe pain due to the after effects of this operation and a subsequent internal infection. Taylor alleges he was denied proper and sanitary bedding in the jail. He further charges that several named deputies refused to give him pain medicine at times specified by his doctors. The appellant suffered further physical distress caused by the internal infection, but was not properly treated. Taylor was re-admitted to the hospital for several days in early April. Upon his release to the jail Sheriff Gibson refused to see that Taylor was given prescribed pain medicine and refused to put Taylor in a bathtub three times a day, as ordered by his doctors. On April 11 'Plaintiff had to plead guilty to three criminal charges against him so he would be brought to the Alabama Penal Institution where he could get propler (sic) medical attention'.

CONTROLLING PRINCIPLES

We begin our consideration of the law of this case by reiterating our refusal to examine the merit of any of appellant's factual allegations. We recognize the hardships a § 1983 suit may impose upon persons acting for a state. We are aware that a large number of...

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99 practice notes
  • Richardson v. Plaquemines Parish Detention Center, 122520 LAEDC, C. A. 19-10926
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 5th Circuit Eastern District of Louisiana
    • 25 décembre 2020
    ...U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)). In Taylor v. Gibson, 529 F.2d 709 (5th Cir.1976), the Court further explained this standard in the prisoner context: It is the responsibility of the cour......
  • 713 F.2d 143 (5th Cir. 1983), 82-4472, McFadden v. Lucas
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
    • 1 septembre 1983
    ...complaint prior to service of process. Viewing the plaintiff's pro se complaint with the liberality to which it is due, Taylor v. Gibson, 529 F.2d 709, 714 (5th Cir.1976), we look to see whether under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d) the complaint was "frivolous or malicious." Watson v. Ault, ......
  • Smith v. C.B.M. Catering Co., 080520 LAEDC, C. A. 20-208
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 5th Circuit Eastern District of Louisiana
    • 5 août 2020
    ...than a sheer possibility” that the defendant has violated the law as alleged. See id. Furthermore, in Taylor v. Gibson, 529 F.2d 709 (5th Cir. 1976), the Fifth Circuit explained that before dismissing the complaint of a pro se prisoner, “[a]n opportunity should......
  • 917 So.2d 155 (Ala.Civ.App. 2005), 2030960, Radford v. Radford
    • United States
    • Alabama Alabama Court of Civil Appeals
    • 17 juin 2005
    ...819 F.2d 1025, 1028 (11th Cir. 1987) (quoting Ballard v. Spradley, 557 F.2d 476, 480 (5th Cir. 1977) (quoting in turn Taylor v. Gibson, 529 F.2d 709, 717 (5th Cir. 1976))). In fact, '[g]iven the charge to be "imaginative and innovative," ' at least one federal appellate court has ......
  • Free signup to view additional results
99 cases
  • Richardson v. Plaquemines Parish Detention Center, 122520 LAEDC, C. A. 19-10926
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 5th Circuit Eastern District of Louisiana
    • 25 décembre 2020
    ...U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)). In Taylor v. Gibson, 529 F.2d 709 (5th Cir.1976), the Court further explained this standard in the prisoner context: It is the responsibility of the cour......
  • 713 F.2d 143 (5th Cir. 1983), 82-4472, McFadden v. Lucas
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
    • 1 septembre 1983
    ...complaint prior to service of process. Viewing the plaintiff's pro se complaint with the liberality to which it is due, Taylor v. Gibson, 529 F.2d 709, 714 (5th Cir.1976), we look to see whether under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d) the complaint was "frivolous or malicious." Watson v. Ault, ......
  • Smith v. C.B.M. Catering Co., 080520 LAEDC, C. A. 20-208
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 5th Circuit Eastern District of Louisiana
    • 5 août 2020
    ...than a sheer possibility” that the defendant has violated the law as alleged. See id. Furthermore, in Taylor v. Gibson, 529 F.2d 709 (5th Cir. 1976), the Fifth Circuit explained that before dismissing the complaint of a pro se prisoner, “[a]n opportunity should......
  • 917 So.2d 155 (Ala.Civ.App. 2005), 2030960, Radford v. Radford
    • United States
    • Alabama Alabama Court of Civil Appeals
    • 17 juin 2005
    ...819 F.2d 1025, 1028 (11th Cir. 1987) (quoting Ballard v. Spradley, 557 F.2d 476, 480 (5th Cir. 1977) (quoting in turn Taylor v. Gibson, 529 F.2d 709, 717 (5th Cir. 1976))). In fact, '[g]iven the charge to be "imaginative and innovative," ' at least one federal appellate court has ......
  • Free signup to view additional results