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Hill v. Werholtz

United States District Court, D. Kansas

August 28, 2019

DONNIE HILL, Plaintiff,
v.
ROGER WERHOLTZ, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER AND ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE

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

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

         I. Nature of the Matter before the Court

         Plaintiff brings this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court granted Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Plaintiff is incarcerated at the Hutchinson Correctional Facility in Hutchinson, Kansas (“HCF”).

         Plaintiff alleges in his Complaint that Defendants are violating his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. Plaintiff alleges that he entered the Kansas Department of Corrections (“KDOC”) with a medical condition that required follow-up surgery and treatment, and despite numerous attempts Defendants have denied the necessary surgery and treatment, leaving Plaintiff in extreme pain and causing additional damage.

         Plaintiff alleges that he received a laceration to his left wrist and right thumb during his arrest in 2016. Plaintiff received initial treatment and surgery on February 12, 2016. Subsequent to his arrest and conviction, he was committed to KDOC custody and upon his arrival began seeing medical and receiving treatment. KDOC and the medical provider, Corizon, were transporting Plaintiff to Wichita, Kansas, for treatment with an off-site health care provider, who determined that in addition to pain medication, Plaintiff needed additional surgery and that Plaintiff should receive pre-surgery therapy by a mental health provider. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants have ignored the recommendation of the off-site provider and have denied the recommended surgery, pain medication and therapy.

         Plaintiff alleges that he addressed his concerns to the Warden and Secretary of Corrections through the administrative grievance procedure and did not receive any substantial assistance from either. Plaintiff names as Defendants: Roger Werholtz, Secretary of KDOC; Dan Schnurr, Warden, HCF; and Lacey Osmon, Supervisor for Corizon, Kansas Regional Office. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages, and injunctive and declaratory relief.

         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 ‘entitle[ment] 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. ...


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