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Williams v. Kansas Department of Corrections

United States District Court, D. Kansas

June 7, 2017



          SAM A. CROW U.S. Senior District Judge

         This matter is a civil rights action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. By order of April 19, 2017, the undersigned directed Plaintiff to show cause why this matter should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. In lieu of a response, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint on May 30, 2017. Rule 15 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a party may amend its pleading once as a matter of course within 21 days of service of the original pleading. Because this is Plaintiff's first amended complaint and because the original complaint has not been served on Defendants, Plaintiff is in compliance with Rule 15, and the Court will consider his amended complaint.

         Statutory Screening of Prisoner Complaints

         The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or an officer or employee of such entity to determine whether summary dismissal is appropriate. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Additionally, with any litigant, such as Plaintiff, who is proceeding in forma pauperis, the Court has a duty to screen the complaint to determine its sufficiency. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Upon completion of this screening, the Court must dismiss any claim that is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary damages from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A(b), 1915(e)(2)(B).

         To survive this review, the plaintiff must plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). In applying the Twombly standard, the Court must assume the truth of all well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint and construe them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Leverington v. City of Colo. Springs, 643 F.3d 719, 723 (10thCir. 2011).

         While a pro se plaintiff's complaint must be liberally construed, Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007), pro se status does not relieve the plaintiff of “the burden of alleging sufficient facts on which a recognized legal claim could be based.” Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991). The Court need not accept “mere conclusions characterizing pleaded facts.” Bryson v. City of Edmond, 905 F.2d 1386, 1390 (10th Cir. 1990). “[A] plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (internal quotation marks omitted).

         “To state a claim under § 1983, 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 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Northington v. Jackson, 973 F.2d 1518, 1523 (10th Cir. 1992). In addressing a claim brought under § 1983, the analysis begins by identifying the specific constitutional right allegedly infringed. Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 393-94 (1989). The validity of the claim then must be judged by reference to the specific constitutional standard which governs that right. Id.


         In his amended complaint, Plaintiff names two defendants: Officer M. Steen and Corizon Healthcare (“Corizon”). Plaintiff alleges that on September 18, 2016, he was struck in the chest by a sally port door as a result of the actions of Defendant Steen. Plaintiff had been in the medication line at the time, and Defendant Steen was operating the control system for the door. He directed the prisoners in line to proceed through the door. Plaintiff was walking through the door when it began to close, striking Plaintiff in the center of the chest. Plaintiff backed up into the housing unit to avoid further contact with the door. When he brought the incident to Defendant Steen's attention, Plaintiff alleges Officer Steen became very aggressive, irate, and defensive, yelling at him that he “should have waited until the door was completely opened.” Plaintiff complained to the shift sergeant, who was present, and later filed a formal grievance.

         After being advised by the Court that negligent acts cannot form the basis of a constitutional violation, Plaintiff now alleges Defendant Steen intentionally caused the door to close on him. Plaintiff did not otherwise change his description of the event.

         Plaintiff adds allegations that he was not properly assessed by Corizon staff members after the incident. He complains that no x-rays were taken of his chest.

         Plaintiff alleges that he suffers from chronic chest and back pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, and a phobia of sally port doors as a result of the incident. He requests damages in the amount of $133, 666.13.


         The Court has reviewed Plaintiff's amended complaint with the standards set out above in mind. While Plaintiff has cured some of the deficiencies noted in the order to show cause, ...

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