Brown v. Montgomery Cnty. Mgmt.

Decision Date05 October 2022
Docket Number3:22-CV-00580
PartiesJEFFREY SCOTT BROWN, #412, Plaintiff, v. MONTGOMERY COUNTY MANAGEMENT, et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Middle District of Tennessee




Plaintiff Jeffrey Scott Brown, a pre-trial detainee in the custody of the Montgomery County Jail in Clarksville, Tennessee, filed this pro se action against Montgomery County Management Montgomery County Jail Administration, and Montgomery County Legislative Bodies, alleging violations of Plaintiff's civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. No. 1). Plaintiff also has filed a “Motion to Have Medical Records in Hand”, (Doc. No. 3), Motion to Amend Complaint (Doc. No. 5) and “Motion for Hard Paper Copy of All Kiosk Request, Medical and Grievance.” (Doc. No 7).


By Order entered on August 18, 2022, the Court notified Plaintiff that this case could not proceed until he submitted the full civil fining fee or an application to proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. No. 4). The Court ordered the Clerk to mail Plaintiff a blank application to proceed in forma pauperis for prisoners. (Id.)

Plaintiff then submitted a handwritten “Motion on Forma Pauperis” in which he states that he has not received the form” but wishes to proceed as a pauper. (Doc. No. 6). The Court construed Plaintiff's filing as a timely Motion for an Extension of Time within which to comply with the Court's prior Order, and granted that Motion. (Doc. No. 8 at 1-2). The Court extended Plaintiff's deadline for submitting either the full civil filing fee of $402 or a completed application to proceed in forma pauperis by another thirty days. (Id. at 2).

Plaintiff now has now filed an Application to Proceed in Forma Pauperis. (Doc. No. 9). The application lacks the certified inmate account statement required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2). However, along with his application, Plaintiff submitted a letter to the Court in which he states that, on August 22, 2022, he submitted a request for his trust fund account statement via the jail kiosk and was told that his attorney needed to subpoena the records. (Id. at 3). On September 20, 2022, Plaintiff asked a deputy to take Plaintiff's pauper application to the commissary so Plaintiff could obtain a copy of his trust fund statement; the deputy refused. (Id.) Additionally, Plaintiff submits documents from another federal case in this district in which he also represented to the Court that jail officials refuse to provide him with a certified copy of his inmate trust account statement without an attorney's subpoena. (Id. at 4-5). Plaintiff states that, from February 2022 to September 2022, he has had $25 in his inmate trust account. (Id. at 3).

It appears that Plaintiff has attempted to comply with the Court's instructions and has been unable to do so for reasons outside of his control. The Court finds that, under these specific circumstances, Plaintiff has made a good faith effort to obtain pauper status with proper documentation. See Michael Kilpatrick v. James O'Rouke, No. 3:16-cv-01840 (M.D. Tenn. 2016) (Sharp., J.) (Doc. No. 3 at 2) (if jail officials refuse to cooperate with plaintiff's efforts to get his inmate account statement certified, plaintiff may submit a signed statement to the court detailing his attempts to comply with the court's order). Accordingly, Plaintiff's Application will be granted. Should the Court discover at any point that Plaintiff has falsely represented the amount in his inmate trust account, Plaintiff's pauper status could be revoked and Plaintiff will be required to pay the full civil filing fee of $402.


The complaint is before the Court for an initial review pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), the court must dismiss any portion of a civil complaint filed in forma pauperis that fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, is frivolous, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. Section 1915A similarly requires initial review of any “complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity,” id. § 1915A(a), and summary dismissal of the complaint on the same grounds as those articulated in Section 1915(e)(2)(B). Id. § 1915A(b).

The court must construe a pro se complaint liberally, United States v. Smotherman, 838 F.3d 736, 739 (6th Cir. 2016) (citing Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)), and accept the plaintiff's factual allegations as true unless they are entirely without credibility. See Thomas v. Eby, 481 F.3d 434, 437 (6th Cir. 2007) (citing Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 33 (1992)). Although 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), the courts' “duty to be ‘less stringent' with pro se complaints does not require us to conjure up [unpleaded] allegations.” McDonald v. Hall, 610 F.2d 16, 19 (1st Cir. 1979) (citation omitted).


Title 42 U.S.C. § 1983 creates a cause of action against any person who, acting under color of state law, abridges “rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws . . . .” To state a claim under Section 1983, a plaintiff must allege and show two elements: (1) that he was deprived of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States; and (2) that the deprivation was caused by a person acting under color of state law. Dominguez v. Corr. Med. Servs., 555 F.3d 543, 549 (6th Cir. 2009) (quoting Sigley v. City of Panama Heights, 437 F.3d 527, 533 (6th Cir. 2006)); 42 U.S.C. § 1983.


The complaint alleges that, while in the custody of the Montgomery County Jail as a pretrial detainee in March 2022, Plaintiff experienced severe pain when he “pull[ed] [him]self out of the bed.” (Doc. No. 1 at 3-4). Plaintiff sought medical attention, and it was “days later” before he was permitted to see an unidentified person for medical treatment. (Id. at 4). According to Plaintiff, his “muscles and tendons separated from bone and other muscles.” (Id. at 6). Plaintiff “since [has] been told that [his] arm will need surgery to make it where [he] can be able to use it again”, but they refused to arrange for Plaintiff's surgery. (Id. at 4).

Prior to this incident, Plaintiff had told “them” that he was having problems with his arms, and “staff of Jail” did not take Plaintiff's complaints seriously. (Id.)

As relief, Plaintiff seeks “the max” in punitive, mental, and physical damages “due to the drama and ongoing anxiety over [his] medical care.” (Id. at 6).


The complaint alleges that Plaintiff did not receive adequate medical treatment as a pretrial detainee in the custody of the Montgomery County Jail. The complaint names as Defendants (1) Montgomery County Management, (2) Montgomery County Jail Administration, and (3) Montgomery County Legislative Bodies.

The Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment requires prison officials to provide humane conditions of confinement, which includes appropriate medical care to inmates. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832-33 (1994) (citations omitted). The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment incorporates these protections for pretrial detainees such as Plaintiff. Winkler v. Madison Cnty., 893 F.3d 877, 890 (6th Cir. 2018). An Eighth Amendment claim is composed of two parts: an objective prong, which requires plaintiff to show a “sufficiently serious” deprivation, and a subjective prong, which requires a showing of a sufficiently culpable state of mind-one of deliberate indifference. Farmer, 511 U.S. 825, 834, 837. Deliberate indifference is “a high standard of culpability, ‘equivalent to criminal recklessness.' Greene v. Crawford Cnty., Michigan, 22 F.4th 593, 605 (6th Cir. 2022) (quoting Griffith v. Franklin Cnty., Kentucky, 975 F.3d 554, 566 (6th Cir. 2020)).

Until recently, the Sixth Circuit “analyzed Fourteenth Amendment pretrial detainee claims and Eighth Amendment prisoner claims ‘under the same rubric.' Greene, 22 F.4th 593 at 605 (6th Cir. 2022) (quoting Brawner v. Scott Cnty., Tennessee, 14 F.4th 585, 591 (6th Cir. 2021) (citation omitted). But in Kingsley v. Hendrickson, 576 U.S. 389 (2015), the Supreme Court held that the standard for excessive force claims brought by pretrial detainees under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment differs from the standard for excessive force claims brought by convicted prisoners under the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause of the Eighth Amendment. Id. at 391-92. The Court held that, to prove the second prong of an excessive force claim, a pretrial detainee must show that “the officers were subjectively aware that their use of force was unreasonable, or only that the officers' use of that force was objectively unreasonable.” Id. at 39192 (italics in original).

Kingsley left open the question of “whether an objective standard applies in other Fourteenth Amendment pretrial detainment context[s].” Brawner, 14 F.4th at 592. Finding that it was “no longer tenable” after Kingsley to apply the same analysis to the “constitutionally different groups” of convicted prisoners and pretrial detainees, the Sixth Circuit in Brawner modified the second prong of the deliberate indifference test applied to pretrial detainees to require only recklessness[.] Id. at 592, 596. Thus, to prove a deliberate indifference to serious...

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