United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Pine Bluff Division
Procedure for Filing Objections
Recommended Disposition (“Recommendation”) has
been sent to Judge James M. Moody Jr. Any party may file
written objections to this Recommendation. If objections are
filed, they must be specific and must include the factual or
legal basis for your objection. Objections must be received
in the office of the United States District Court Clerk
within fourteen (14) days of this Recommendation.
objections are filed, Judge Moody can adopt this
Recommendation without independently reviewing the record. By
not objecting, parties may waive any right to appeal
questions of fact.
Ellis, an Arkansas Department of Correction
(“ADC”) inmate, filed this lawsuit without the
help of a lawyer under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Docket entry
#2) In his complaint, Mr. Ellis claims that Defendant Stieve
was deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs.
Stieve has now moved to dismiss Mr. Ellis's claims
against him, arguing that he has failed to state a
constitutional claim. (#9) Mr. Ellis has responded to the
motion, and it is ripe for review. (#12)
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the Court may
dismiss a complaint if the plaintiff's factual
allegations, even if true, do not state a federal claim for
relief. In deciding whether a plaintiff has stated a claim,
the Court must determine whether the plaintiff has pleaded
facts with enough specificity “to raise a right to
relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atlantic
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1965
(2007)(citations omitted). A complaint cannot simply
“[leave] open the possibility that a plaintiff might
later establish some ‘set of undisclosed facts' to
support recovery.” Id. at 1968 (citation
omitted). Rather, the facts set forth in the complaint must
be sufficient to “nudge [the] claims across the line
from conceivable to plausible.” Id. at 1974.
purposes of reviewing this motion, the Court has assumed that
the factual allegations in the complaint are all true.
Because Mr. Ellis is not represented by a lawyer, his
complaint is held “to less stringent standards than
formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972) (per
curiam). Even though Mr. Ellis is proceeding without the
help of a lawyer, he must still allege sufficient facts to
support his claims. Stringer v. St. James R-1 Sch.
Dist., 446 F.3d 799, 802 (8th Cir. 2006); Stone v.
Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 913 (8th Cir. 2004) (citing
Dunn v. White, 880 F.2d 1188, 1197 (10th Cir.1989)
(“we will not supply additional facts, nor will we
construct a legal theory for plaintiff that assumes facts
that have not been pleaded”).
indifference to a prisoner's serious medical needs is a
violation of the United States Constitution. McRaven v.
Sanders, 577 F.3d 974, 979 (8th Cir. 2009); Estelle
v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976). To state a
deliberate-indifference claim, however, a plaintiff must
allege that he suffered from an objectively serious
medical need and that the defendant knew of the need, yet
deliberately disregarded. Hartsfield v. Colburn, 371
F.3d 454, 457 (8th Cir. 2004). In this context, a
“serious medical need” is a condition or illness
that has been diagnosed by a doctor as requiring treatment,
or a need so apparent that a lay person would easily
recognize the need for a doctor's attention. Coleman
v. Rahija, 114 F.3d 778, 784 (8th Cir. 1997).
purposes of this motion, the Court will assume that Mr. Ellis
had serious medical needs. The only remaining issue, then, is
whether Defendant Stieve “actually knew of, but
deliberately disregarded” those needs. Id.
Ellis alleges that Defendant Stieve, the Regional Medical
Director for Correct Care Solutions, failed to timely approve
Mr. Ellis's request to see a neurologist. The grievance
papers attached to Mr. Ellis's complaint, however, fail
to support Mr. Ellis's position.
to grievance papers Mr. Ellis attached to his complaint, on
March 30, 2017, a nurse practitioner examined Mr. Ellis and
submitted a request for a neurology consultation to Defendant
Stieve, and he approved the request. (#2 at p.9)
Approximately one week later, on April 7, Mr. Ellis submitted
an informal grievance inquiring as to the status of the
consultation request. (Id. at p.10) On April 11, a
member of the medical staff responded to Mr. Ellis's
grievance informing him that an appointment at the neurology
clinic had been scheduled. (Id.) On April 14, Mr.
Ellis proceeded with a formal grievance. (Id.)
11, a member of the medical staff responded to Mr.
Ellis's formal grievance advising Mr. Ellis as follows:
“After a review of your encounters and records[, ] it
is clear that your appointment has been approved. Per the ADC
policy[, ] inmates are not allowed to know the appointment
dates and times.” (Id. at p.7) On July 10,
Rory Griffin responded to Mr. Ellis's grievance appeal.