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Washburn v. Saline County Jail

United States District Court, D. Kansas

February 6, 2018

ALLEN DEAN WASHBURN, Plaintiff,
v.
SALINE COUNTY JAIL, et al., Defendants.

          NOTICE AND ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE

          SAM A. CROW, U.S. Senior District Judge.

         This matter is a civil rights action filed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff commenced this action while incarcerated. He proceeds pro se and in forma pauperis.

         Background

         Because plaintiff alleged he could not identify individual defendants and that the Saline County Jail (“SCJ”) would not return his personal property, through which the prospective defendants could be identified, the Court directed the preparation of a Martinez report.[1]

         Following the filing of that report, the Court has conducted an initial screening of the complaint and enters the following order.

         Statutory Screening Standards

         The Court is required to screen complaints brought by a prisoner seeking relief against a governmental entity or an officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a complaint, or any portion of it, if the plaintiff's claims are legally frivolous or malicious, fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seek monetary damages from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1)-(2).

         “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)(citations omitted); Northington v. Jackson, 973 F.2d 1518, 1523 (10th Cir. 1992). A court must liberally construe a pro se party's pleadings and will apply “less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). In addition, a court accepts all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true. Anderson v. Blake, 469 F.3d 910, 913 (10th Cir. 2006). However, “when the allegations in a complaint, however true, could not raise a claim of entitlement to relief, ” dismissal is appropriate. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 558 (2007).

         A pro se party'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). “[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.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citations omitted). The complaint's “factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level” and “to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 555, 570.

         The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has explained “that, to state a claim in federal court, a complaint must explain what each defendant did to [the plaintiff]; when the defendant did it; how the defendant's action harmed [the plaintiff]; and what specific legal right the plaintiff believes the defendant violated.” Nasious v. Two Unknown B.I.C.E. Agents, 492 F.3d 1158, 1163 (10th Cir. 2007). The court “will not supply additional factual allegations to round out a plaintiff's complaint or construct a legal theory on a plaintiff's behalf.” Whitney v. New Mexico, 113 F.3d 1170, 1173-74 (10th Cir. 1997)(citations omitted).

         The Tenth Circuit has pointed out that the Supreme Court's decisions in Twombly and Erickson gave rise to a new standard of review for § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) dismissals. See Kay v. Bemis, 500 F.3d 1214, 1218 (10th Cir. 2007)(citations omitted); see also Smith v. United States, 561 F.3d 1090, 1098 (10th Cir. 2009). As a result, courts now must “look to the specific allegations in the complaint to determine whether they plausibly support a legal claim for relief.” Kay, 500 F.3d at 1218 (citation omitted). Under the new standard, “a plaintiff must ‘nudge his claims across the line from conceivable to plausible.'” Smith, 561 F.3d at 1098 (citation omitted). “Plausible” in this context does not mean “likely to be true, ” but instead refers “to the scope of the allegations in a complaint: if they are so general that they encompass a wide swath of conduct, much of it innocent, ” then the plaintiff has not “nudged [his] claims across the line from conceivable to plausible.” Robbins v. Oklahoma, 519 F.3d 1242, 1247 (10th Cir. 2008)(citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).

         Discussion

         Plaintiff's complaint alleges that he was arrested four days after leg surgery and booked into the SCJ. He claims that while he was incarcerated there, his bandages, brace, and medications were taken away, that he was placed in an unsanitary cell, and that he was not allowed to see a physician. He later tested positive for MRSA and underwent antibiotic treatment and another surgical procedure. He seeks monetary damages (Doc. #6).

         Plaintiff's claims primarily allege inadequate medical care during his incarceration at the SCJ. Because he was a pretrial detainee during the relevant time, his right to adequate medical care was guaranteed by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth ...


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