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Francis v. Corrections Corporation of America

United States District Court, D. Kansas

April 11, 2019




         Plaintiff Charles E. Francis, Jr., a federal prisoner at the Leavenworth Detention Center in Leavenworth, Kansas (“CCA-Leavenworth”), brings this prosecivil rights action 42 U.S.C § 1983. He proceeds in forma pauperis. For the reasons discussed below, Plaintiff is ordered to show cause why his Complaint should not be dismissed.

         I. Nature of the Matter before the Court

         Mr. Francis's Complaint (ECF No. 1) takes issue with the medical care he has received while being held at CCA-Leavenworth. Plaintiff names as defendant Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), which owns and operates CCA-Leavenworth.

         Plaintiff refers to three separate incidents in the Complaint. First, Plaintiff was injured on May 16, 2017, when he fell going through the door to the medical unit, and the metal detector tipped over and landed on his back. A corrections officer witnessed the accident. Mr. Francis had a migraine headache and pain in his knees, ankles, upper neck, and back after the incident. He was x-rayed, but he seems to dispute the thoroughness of the x-rays (“they x-rayed what they wanted to” (ECF No. 1 at 4)). He continues to suffer pain in his upper and lower back, knees, and ankles, and continues to have migraine headaches.

         In the second incident, Plaintiff alleges that he suffered a heart attack in 2018 because a facility doctor gave him the wrong medication. His heart rate dropped, and he was taken to the hospital where he stayed overnight and had some tests run. When he was returned to CCA-Leavenworth, he received no further treatment.

         The third incident Plaintiff mentions occurred on August 5, 2018. Plaintiff states one of the corrections officers slammed his arms against a door, and one of his hands was swollen as a result. Plaintiff states that “they did not want to take me to the hospital and they did not do no x-rays on my hand”, and his arm continues to hurt. ECF No. 1 at 5.

         Plaintiff claims Defendant has not provided him with the treatment that he needed for his injuries. He seeks compensation for his pain and suffering.

         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).

         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 ...

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