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Ranes v. Murphy

United States District Court, D. Kansas

March 28, 2018

CHAD EUGENE RANES, Plaintiff,
v.
BRIAN MURPHY and MIKE JEWEL, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          SAM A. CROW U.S. Senior District Judge

         This matter is a civil rights action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff, a prisoner at the Allen County, Kansas, Jail, proceeds pro se and forma pauperis.

         Screening

         A federal court must conduct a preliminary review of any case in which a prisoner seeks relief against a governmental entity or an officer or employee of such an entity. See 28 U.S.C. §1915A(a). Following this review, the court must dismiss any portion of the complaint that is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary damages from a defendant who is immune from that relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

         In screening, a court liberally construes pleadings filed by a party proceeding pro se and applies “less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007).

         To state a claim for relief under Section 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, 48-49 (1988)(citations omitted).

         To avoid a dismissal for failure to state a claim, a complaint must set out factual allegations that “raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). The court accepts the well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true and construes them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Id. However, “when the allegations in a complaint, however true, could not raise a [plausible] claim of entitlement to relief, ” the matter should be dismissed. Id. at 558. A court need not accept “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action supported by mere conclusory statements.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Rather, “to state a claim in federal court, a complaint must explain what each defendant did to [the pro se 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 Tenth Circuit has observed that the U.S. Supreme Court's decisions in Twombley and Erickson set out a new standard of review for dismissals under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) dismissals. See Key v. Bemis, 500 F.3d 1214, 1218 (10th Cir. 2007)(citations omitted). Following those decisions, courts “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 (quotation marks and internal citations omitted). A plaintiff “must nudge his claims across the line from conceivable to plausible.” Smith v. United States, 561 F.3d 1090, 1098 (10th Cir. 2009). In this context, “plausible” 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 [the] claims across the line from conceivable to plausible.” Robbins v. Oklahoma, 519 F.3d 1242, 1247 (citing Twombly at 1974).

         Discussion

         Plaintiff presents three grounds for relief: (1) that he told jail guards, the sheriff, and the jail administrator that he was in pain and needed to go to the hospital; (2) that his legal mail is being opened outside his presence; and (3) that he has told “all guards” that he needs to see mental health providers. The defendants named in the complaint are Sheriff Brian Murphy and Mike Jewel, the jail administrator.

         Right to Medical Care

         Two of plaintiff's claims assert that he has been denied adequate medical attention. In an action under Section 1983, the Court must consider whether a deprivation alleged by a prisoner violates the Constitution. A prisoner is entitled to humane conditions of confinement, including adequate medical care. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994)(quoting Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 526-27 (1984)). “[D]eliberate indifference to serious medical needs of prisoners” violates the Eighth Amendment.[1] Estelle v. Gamble, 419 U.S. 97, 104-05 (1976). The deliberate indifference standard has two components; first, the objective component requires that a condition must be “sufficiently serious” and second, the subjective component requires that the prison officials acted with a sufficiently culpable state of mind. Self v. Crum, 439 F.3d 1227, 1230-31 (10th Cir. 2006).

         A negligent failure to provide adequate medical care does not violate a prisoner's constitutional rights, even if that failure rises to medical malpractice. Perkins v. Kan. Dept. of Corrections, 165 F.3d 803, 811 (10th Cir. 1999). Finally, a prisoner's disagreement with a diagnosis or the course of medical care offered is not, in itself, a constitutional violation. Id.

         Because the complaint offers no factual support for plaintiff's claims that he was denied adequate medical care, he must present facts to explain the nature of his medical needs, how officials responded to his medical complaints, and any ...


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