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Waters v. Helder

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

August 22, 2017

BRANDON WATERS PLAINTIFF
v.
SHERIFF TIM HELDER; and DR. KARAS DEFENDANTS

          OPINION AND ORDER

          P. K. HOLMES, III CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff, Brandon Waters, filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983. He proceeds pro se and in forma pauperis. The case is before the Court for preservice screening under the provisions of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court has the obligation to screen any complaint in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a).

         I. BACKGROUND

         According to the allegations of the complaint (Doc. 1) and supplement (Doc. 6), Plaintiff was booked into the Washington County Detention Center (WCDC) on April 14, 2017. He advised the booking officer that he had an appointment with a pain management doctor on April 24, 2017, about having a nerve block done because of pain and other ongoing issues he had from a January 2017 hernia repair surgery. His surgeon indicated there was a possibility he would have to remove the mesh used during the hernia surgery. Plaintiff alleges the mesh was causing nerve damage and pain and swelling on the left side of his body.

         At the time, Plaintiff states his left knee was swollen. Plaintiff indicates he had previously injured his knee and believed he had re-injured it. When Plaintiff did see Dr. Karas about his knee, he merely prescribed ice and told Plaintiff to wrap the knee up. Plaintiff alleges this is not working. Plaintiff states his knee needs to be checked out to see if he tore something in it.

         The week of May 15, 2017, Plaintiff alleges he was told he would have the nerve block done. However, two weeks later, Plaintiff alleges he was told his doctor would not see any detainees. He was told they would have to locate another pain management doctor to perform the nerve block.

         Plaintiff alleges he stays in pain 24/7 and that the mat he has for sleeping is so thin it causes his back to hurt. When he is lying on his back, Plaintiff states he can feel the mesh. His requests to be taken to the emergency room have been denied. He also states that his requests for something to be done to help him with the pain were ignored.

         Plaintiff also had a problem with the nail on his big toe bleeding. He alleges it was coming off and would get caught on his bedding which was painful. When an officer came to look at it, Plaintiff states it was clear the officer did not care about the problem.

         Plaintiff names Defendants in both their individual and official capacities. As relief, Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages and medical treatment.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Under the PLRA, the Court is obligated to screen the case prior to service of process being issued. The Court must dismiss a complaint, or any portion of it, if it contains claims that: (1) are frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or, (2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

         A claim is frivolous if “it lacks an arguable basis either in law or fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). A claim fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted if it does not allege “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “In evaluating whether a pro se plaintiff has asserted sufficient facts to state a claim, we hold ‘a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded ... to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.'” Jackson v. Nixon, 747 F.3d 537, 541 (8th Cir. 2014) (quoting Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)).

         III. DISCUSSION

         Plaintiff's claims against Sheriff Helder in his individual capacity are subject to dismissal. Plaintiff's claims against Sheriff Helder are based on his being in charge of the jail. A claim of deprivation of a constitutional right cannot be based on a respondeat superior theory of liability. See Monell v. Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 654, 694 (1978). “[A] supervisor is not vicariously liable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for an employee's unconstitutional activity.” White v. Holmes, 21 F.3d 277, 280 (8th Cir. 1994); see also Whitson v. Stone County Jail, 602 F.3d 920, 928 (8th Cir. 2010) (“In a § 1983 case, an official is only liable for his own misconduct and is not accountable for the misdeeds of his agents under a theory such as respondeat superior or supervisor liability”) (internal quotations ...


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