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Buchanan v. Johnson County Sheriff's Department

United States District Court, D. Kansas

July 31, 2019

RONALD LEVON BUCHANAN, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHNSON COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE

          Sam A. Crow, U.S. Senior District Judge.

         Plaintiff Ronald Levon Buchanan brings this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff proceeds in forma pauperis. Mr. Buchanan is a pretrial detainee at the Johnson County Adult Detention Center in Olathe, Kansas. 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

         Plaintiff's complaint (ECF No. 1) alleges he has been harassed and mistreated by two nurses employed by Correct Care Solutions (CCS), while deputies failed to intervene. Mr. Buchanan recounts two specific incidents. On August 22, 2018, Defendant Vann, a nurse employed by CCS, was conducting medication rounds. He told Plaintiff he would not issue his meds unless Plaintiff had a cup. Plaintiff responded that he only had a dirty soup cup that was in the trash. Defendant Vann refused to give Plaintiff a new cup, telling Mr. Buchanan he had to reuse the soup cup. A deputy sheriff, Deputy Gilliham, accompanied Nurse Vann and did not intervene.

         In the second incident, Nurse Misty ordered Plaintiff to sit in the module room and proceeded to scream at him, point a finger in his face, make fun of his grammar, and otherwise humiliate him, telling him to stop filing grievances. Deputy Grieschar was present and did not intervene.

         Plaintiff names as defendants the Johnson County Sheriff's Department, Correct Care Solutions (CCS), Wellpath, Nurse Vann, and Nurse Misty (lnu). He requests relief in the form of $250, 000 in compensatory damages, as well as the firing of Defendants Vann and Misty (lnu).

         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). 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). 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).

         III. Discussion

         A. Failure to state a claim of a ...


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