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Bradford v. Schnurr

United States District Court, D. Kansas

February 13, 2019

DAN SCHNURR, et al., Defendants.


          Sam A. Crow U.S. Senior District Judge

         Plaintiff Virgil Bradford is hereby required to show good cause, in writing, to the Honorable Sam A. Crow, United States District Judge, why this case should not be dismissed due to the deficiencies in Plaintiff's Complaint that are discussed herein. Plaintiff is also given the opportunity to file a proper amended complaint to cure the deficiencies discussed herein.

         I. Nature of the Matter before the Court

         Plaintiff filed this civil rights action alleging a denial of proper medical care. Plaintiff alleges that on March 28, 2017, he was in the Central Unit Gym playing ping-pong when he slipped in a puddle of water and fell into another inmate causing that inmate to fall on top of Plaintiff. Plaintiff tried to continue his game, but sharp and throbbing pain started shooting through his left shoulder. Plaintiff went to the Officer's desk and asked Officer Foster to call the clinic. Officer Foster refused, stating that he would not call the clinic because Plaintiff “was not going to sue” and that Plaintiff knew the water was on the floor and fell on purpose. Foster stated that if any other officer or the Gym Coordinator Cassey wanted to call for Plaintiff they could. Plaintiff claims that “none made any attempt to assist the Plaintiff seeing he was asking for help and in pain.” (Doc. 1, at 6.) Plaintiff then attempted to have his cellhouse sergeant call medical for him and the sergeant told him that he needed to fill out a sick call form. The sergeant then told Plaintiff to go “lockdown.” That night when Plaintiff came out for work at 11:00 p.m., Plaintiff asked the night sergeant if he would call the clinic for him and he did. However, the sergeant told Plaintiff he could not lay in for the night from work, telling him that if he did not work he would get a “write up” for work performance. That night, Plaintiff filled out a sick call and was called out the next morning to the clinic where he was given ibuprofen and told that nothing was wrong. By March 3, 2017, [1] Plaintiff was in so much pain that he had to go back to the clinic. “Some time further down the road” the clinic finally took x-rays of Plaintiff's shoulder and Plaintiff was told that he had some swollen tissue and arthritis in his left shoulder. The next time Plaintiff went to the clinic he was in so much pain that they sent Plaintiff to physical therapy. After going through therapy “so long” the therapist stated that he could not do anything more for Plaintiff and he told the clinic that Plaintiff needed an MRI.

         The clinic finally sent Plaintiff to have an MRI, which reflected a small tear in Plaintiff's left shoulder that was 1.3 centimeters in length. Several weeks later Plaintiff was able to see an outside specialist who stated that Plaintiff had a large tear in his left tendon which needed surgery as soon as possible. A week or two later, on December 27, 2017, Plaintiff received surgery.

         II. 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 an employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if a plaintiff has raised claims that are legally frivolous or malicious, that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief 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 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).

         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). “[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 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).

         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 “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).


         Plaintiff claims that he has been denied proper medical care. The Eighth Amendment guarantees a prisoner the right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. “[D]eliberate indifference to serious medical needs of prisoners constitutes the ‘unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain' . . . proscribed by the Eighth Amendment.” Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976) (citation omitted).

         The “deliberate indifference” standard includes both an objective and a subjective component. Martinez v. Garden, 430 F.3d 1302, 1304 (10th Cir. 2005) (citation omitted). In the objective analysis, the deprivation must be “sufficiently serious, ” and 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), Martinez, 430 F.3d at 1304 (citation omitted). 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 ...

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