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Bradford v. Singleton

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division

June 21, 2017

WILLIAM A. BRADFORD, JR. PLAINTIFF
v.
SHERIFF JAMES A. SINGLETON; CHIEF DEPUTY T.P. MICKEY ATKINSON; JAIL ADMINISTRATOR JOHNNY GODBOLT; ASSISTANT ADMINISTRATOR HEATH ROSS; SERGEANT SUSAN HANSON; JAILER ERIC GARNER; JAILER VERMILLION; and JAILER KYLE SHELBY DEFENDANTS

          ORDER

          Susan O. Hickey, United States District Judge

         Before the Court is the Report and Recommendation filed April 27, 2017, by the Honorable Barry A. Bryant, United States Magistrate Judge for the Western District of Arkansas. (ECF No. 6). Plaintiff William A. Bradford has filed objections to the Report and Recommendation. (ECF No. 12). Also before the Court is Plaintiff William A. Bradford, Jr.'s Motion to Amend Complaint. (ECF No. 11). The Court finds the matters ripe for consideration.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This case arises from allegedly inadequate medical care provided to Plaintiff by staff at the Hempstead County Detention Center (“HCDC”). Plaintiff alleges that on March 17, 2017, he went to receive an insulin injection for his diabetes and noticed that a new bottle of insulin was broken. Plaintiff alleges that he pointed out this fact to the HCDC staff, and that Defendant Susan Hanson drew insulin from the broken bottle into four syringes and placed them in the refrigerator, saying that she would try to save them for Plaintiff to use.

         Plaintiff alleges that on the following day, he received an insulin injection from one of the four syringes, which caused a big, red knot to form at the injection site. Plaintiff states that, on March 18, 2017, he went to receive an insulin injection, and Defendant Hanson used the same syringe, causing another swollen knot to form. Plaintiff alleges that, on March 19, 2017, Defendant Hanson presented the same syringe for his use, and that he told Defendant Hanson he did not want to take the insulin injection because his side was swollen from the previous injections and because he did not feel safe. Plaintiff alleges further that Defendant Hanson threatened to tell another HCDC staff member if Plaintiff did not take the shot.

         On April 5, 2017, Plaintiff filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, seeking monetary damages. Plaintiff did not state the specific claims he asserted against the various Defendants. However, Plaintiff's complaint did state that Defendant Singleton should give his officers more training. Plaintiff also stated in his complaint that he submitted two grievance forms related to the insulin injections, but that he received no response to them.

         On April 27, 2017, Judge Bryant issued the instant Report and Recommendation pursuant to the pre-service screening provisions of the Prisoner Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), under which the Court must screen any civil complaint in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or an employee of a governmental entity. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A(a). Plaintiff's complaint did not assert any claims against Defendants and did not specify whether Defendants were being sued in their official or individual capacity. Judge Bryant's Report and Recommendation identified the possible claims that could be brought against each Defendant based on the facts asserted in the complaint, and construed the claims as being brought against Defendants in both their official and individual capacities. Judge Bryant concluded that all of Plaintiff's official-capacity and individual-capacity claims failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, and recommended that all claims be dismissed.

         On May 24, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Amend, requesting the Court's leave to amend his complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15 to clarify the claims he seeks to assert in this matter. (ECF No. 11). Specifically, Plaintiff states that he wishes to allege that HCDC staff knowingly gave him contaminated insulin, and to assert claims of medical neglect, cruel and unusual punishment, and medical malpractice, all in violation of the Eighth Amendment, against all Defendants in both their official and individual capacities. Also on May 24, 2017, Plaintiff filed an objection to the Report and Recommendation, stating only that he has filed a motion to amend his complaint.[1]

         II. DISCUSSION

         The Court will first address Plaintiff's motion for leave to amend. Then the Court will take up the Report and Recommendation.

         A. Motion for Leave to Amend

         Plaintiff seeks the Court's leave to amend his complaint pursuant to Rule 15, in order to clarify the claims he seeks to assert in this case.

         Unless a party seeks to amend as a matter of course, the party “may amend its pleading only with the opposing party's written consent or the court's leave.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). When a party seeks the court's permission to amend, leave to amend “shall be freely given when justice so requires.” Doe v. Cassel, 403 F.3d 986, 990 (8th Cir. 2005). “[A]bsent a good reason for denial-such as undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the non-moving party, or futility of amendment-leave to amend should be granted.” Thompson-El v. Jones, 876 F.2d 66, 67 (8th Cir. 1989); see also Plymouth Cnty., Iowa v. Merscorp, Inc., 774 F.3d 1155, 1160 (8th Cir. 2014) (“[A] party is not entitled to amend a complaint without making a showing that such an amendment would be able to save an otherwise meritless claim.”). An amendment is futile when it would allege a claim “that is legally insufficient on its face.” Williams v. Little Rock Mun. Water Works, 21 F.3d 218, 225 (8th Cir. 1994). “Duplicative and frivolous claims are futile.” Reuter v. Jax Ltd., 711 F.3d 918, 922 (8th Cir. 2013) (citations omitted).

         Plaintiff seeks to amend his complaint-which primarily consists of factual allegations and does not state any specific claims being asserted-by specifying the three claims he is bringing against Defendants, as well as clarifying that he is suing Defendants in both their official and individual capacities. Judge Bryant's Report and Recommendation identified the possible claims that could be brought, based on the facts asserted in the complaint, and construed the claims as being brought against Defendants in both their official and individual capacities. In doing so, Judge Bryant examined each of the potential claims pursuant to the PLRA's pre-service screening provisions, ultimately recommending that they all should be dismissed because Plaintiff failed to state claims upon ...


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