United States District Court, D. Kansas
DAVID B. CHAPMAN, Plaintiff,
RENO COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE
CROW, U.S. SENIOR DISTRICT JUDGE.
David B. Chapman, an inmate at the Winfield Correctional
Facility in Winfield, Kansas, brings this pro se
civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Plaintiff proceeds in forma pauperis. For the
reasons discussed below, Plaintiff is ordered to show cause
why his complaint should not be dismissed.
Nature of the Matter before the Court
complaint (ECF No. 1) alleges he received constitutionally
inadequate medical care while being held at the Reno County
Correctional Facility (RCCF). Mr. Chapman states he had an
altercation with jail staff when he was booked into RCCF on
March 23, 2018. In the course of the altercation, the fifth
finger on his right hand was injured. He reported the injury
to jail staff, and they sent a nurse to examine him. She said
nothing was wrong with it and “did nothing.” ECF
No. 1 at 2. Plaintiff asserts the finger was broken and that
he repeatedly requested further examination or treatment, and
his requests were denied. He names one defendant, the Reno
County Sheriff's Department, Jail Division, and claims
violation of his Eighth Amendment rights. Plaintiff seeks
damages of $150, 000.
Statutory Screening of Prisoner Complaints
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),
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 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, “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).
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).
“[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.
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 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 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) (citation omitted).
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 “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 this 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 rather 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, 127 S.Ct. at 1974).
Eighth Amendment guarantees a prisoner the right to be free
from cruel and unusual punishments. The United States Supreme
Court has held that an inmate advancing a claim of cruel and
unusual punishment based on inadequate provision of medical
care must establish “deliberate indifference to serious
medical needs.” Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S.
97, 106 (1976); Boyett v. County of Washington, 282
Fed.Appx. 667, 672 (10th Cir. 2008) (citing Mata v.
Saiz, 427 F.3d 745, 751 (10th Cir. 2005)). The
“deliberate indifference” standard has two
components: “an objective component requiring that the
pain or deprivation be sufficiently serious; and a subjective
component requiring that [prison] officials act with a
sufficiently culpable state of mind.” Miller v.
Glanz, 948 F.2d 1562, 1569 (10th Cir. 1991);
Martinez v. Garden, 430 F.3d 1302, 1304 (10th Cir.
2005). In the objective analysis, the inmate must show the
presence of a “serious medical need, ” that is
“a serious illness or injury.” Estelle,
429 U.S. at 104, 105; Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S.
825, 834 (1994). A serious medical need includes “one
that has been diagnosed by a physician as mandating treatment
or one that is so obvious that even a lay person would easily
recognize the necessity for a doctor's attention.”
Ramos v. Lamm, 639 F.2d 559, 575 (10th Cir. 1980);
Hunt v. Uphoff, 199 F.3d 1220, 1224 (10th Cir.
1999); Martinez, 430 F.3d at 1304 (quoting
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834 (quotation omitted)).
subjective component is met if a prison official knows of and
disregards an excessive risk to inmate health or
safety.” Martinez, 430 F.3d at 1304 (citing
Sealock v. Colorado, 218 F.3d 1205, 1209 (10th Cir.
2000)(quotation omitted)). In measuring a prison
official's state of mind, “the official must both
be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn
that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he must
also draw the inference.” Id. at 1305 (citing
Riddle v. Mondragon, 83 F.3d 1197, 1204 (10th Cir.
1996) (quotation omitted)).
inadvertent failure to provide adequate medical care or a
negligent diagnosis “fail[s] to establish the requisite
culpable state of mind.” Estelle, 429 U.S. at
106 (“[A] complaint that a physician has been negligent
in diagnosing or treating a medical condition does not state
a valid claim of medical mistreatment under the Eighth
Amendment.”); Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294,
297 (1991). Likewise, a mere difference of opinion between
the inmate and prison medical personnel regarding diagnosis
or reasonable treatment does not constitute cruel and unusual
punishment. See Estelle, 429 U.S. at 106-07;
Handy v. Price, 996 F.2d 1064, 1067 (10th Cir.
1993)(affirming that a quarrel between a prison inmate and
the doctor as to the appropriate treatment for hepatitis did
not successfully raise an Eighth Amendment claim); Ledoux
v. Davies, 961 F.2d 1536 (10th Cir.
1992)(Plaintiff's contention that he was denied treatment
by a specialist is insufficient to establish a ...