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Griffin v. Easter

United States District Court, D. Kansas

March 10, 2015

ANTHONY GRIFFIN, Plaintiff,
v.
JEFF EASTER, Sheriff, Sedgwick County Detention Facility, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

SAM A. CROW, Senior District Judge.

This pro se civil complaint was filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by a Kansas inmate. The court examined the materials filed and issued a Memorandum and Order in which plaintiff was required to pay an initial partial filing fee and to show cause why this action should not be dismissed for reasons stated therein. Plaintiff has paid the partial fee, and his motion to proceed without prepayment of fees shall be granted.[1] The matter is before the court upon plaintiff's Amended Complaint (Doc. 7).

I. ALLEGATIONS AND CLAIMS

In his original complaint, Mr. Griffin alleged the following factual background. On September 25, 2012, during his detention at the Sedgwick County Detention Center, Wichita, Kansas (SCDC) he fell due to a wet floor and sustained serious injuries. He was taken to the clinic for an "intense evaluation" and found to be "suffering severe medical issues" including that his "neck was out of joint" due to the fall. The examining nurse at the SCDC prescribed a neck collar and referred Mr. Griffin to a specialist. He returned to his pod "under strict medical monitoring." On September 27, 2012, plaintiff was given x-rays, which were "considered inconclusive." Two weeks later, he was transported to his personal physician Dr. Moufarrij, who determined that plaintiff needed an MRI. Dr. Moufarrij analyzed the MRI results and determined that plaintiff's "C-4, C-5, C-6 and C-7 needed to be fused due to the fall which crushed those bones from the impact." The recommended surgery was conducted.

Thereafter plaintiff sustained injury at the SCDC when the clinical therapist, whose name is unknown, acted negligently and without proper training in that he "roughly pulled" plaintiff's neck during a session causing it to "snap, " which resulted in paralysis to plaintiff's left side, arm, and upper body for 8 days. Mr. Griffin was again transported to his personal physician, who performed an MRI and CT and determined that a second surgery was necessary for "spinenoisis and Laminectomy for 3 through 6 due to the disc were damaged." This prescribed surgery was performed.

In his Amended Complaint, Mr. Griffin does not repeat many of the foregoing facts, and instead begins his factual statement by merely recounting that on September 25, 2012, at the SCDC he injured his neck when he slipped and fell. In addition, plaintiff does not assert all the claims that he did in his original complaint.[2] All facts and claims that are not alleged in plaintiff's Amended Complaint are no longer before this court.

As Count I in his Amended Complaint, plaintiff claims that he was never provided the therapy that was ordered by his surgeon and instead was sent to KDOC "within a week of major surgery" on his neck. Records available on-line regarding Kansas Department of Corrections (KDOC) offenders, show that Mr. Griffin was committed to KDOC custody on August 5, 2013; and was transferred to the Hutchinson Correctional Facility, Hutchinson, Kansas (HCF), on February 24, 2014.[3] As "supporting facts" for this Count, plaintiff alleges as follows. In July 2013, he was released from the hospital and picked up by "the sheriff" who took him to the SCDC "without his neck brace, which was taken from (his) cell and never returned." He was placed in a cell with an "uncomfortable mattress" that was 1- inches thick, which sat upon an iron bunk. He was unable to stand or walk more than 15 feet at a time, had an open wound on the back of his neck, and was forced to deal with pain without medication. He was left to hold up his head himself and deal with the cell conditions as best he could. Now, he cannot walk, bend, turn his head, or use the bathroom without pain and discomfort and never has a restful night's sleep. He has 70% nerve damage to his right side. He is now handicapped and disabled because "no one took the time to rehab (him) back to walking and moving around like normal."

As Count II of his Amended Complaint, plaintiff claims that Karen Powell, Assistant County Counselor, "failed to fairly investigate this matter and gather adequate information." As supporting facts, he alleges the following. Powell failed to interview him as to what happened, how it happened, and his condition. Powell failed to see that he was taken care of "in the damages in all ways a simple settlement to adequately" ease his pains for the rest of his disabled life "with open medical care to help" him. He adds that his spinal damage is the same as that of Christopher Reeves, and that he cannot control his movement, write, or remember how to spell simple words.

As Count III in his Amended Complaint, plaintiff claims that the "Sedgwick County Clinical Therapist" performed physical therapy upon him in a manner that injured him. In support, he alleges that the therapist pulled and twisted his joints that were fused together in a very unprofessional manner, which left him in pain and with left-side paralysis[4] in his shoulder and arm and that ultimately led to a second surgery, which left him unable to turn his head more than 20% of the way.

Plaintiff seeks damages in the amount of $3, 500, 000. He also seeks release to get back and forth to this court on this case and to get the therapy he needs.[5]

II. SCREENING

The court is required by statute to screen the Amended Complaint and to dismiss the complaint or any portion thereof that is frivolous, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks relief from a defendant immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a) and (b); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

III. LEGAL STANDARDS

Plaintiff was previously informed of the standards under which his complaint must be reviewed by this court. A court liberally construes a pro se complaint and applies "less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). In addition, the court accepts all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true. Anderson v. Blake, 469 F.3d 910, 913 (10th Cir. 2006). On the other hand, a pro se litigant's "conclusory allegations without supporting factual averments are insufficient to state a claim upon which relief can be based." Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991); Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)(The complaint must offer "more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action."). To avoid dismissal, the complaint's "factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. "[W]hen the allegations in a complaint, however true, could not raise a claim of entitlement to ...


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