United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Harrison Division
OPINION AND ORDER
TIMOTHY L. BROOKS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
David Carrow filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983. He proceeds pro se and in
forma pauperis ("I FP"). The case is before
the Court for pre-service screening pursuant to the Prison
Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"). The PLRA modified
the IFP statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1915, to require the Court
to screen complaints for dismissal under §
1915(e)(2)(B). The Court must dismiss a complaint, or any
portion of it, if it contains claims that: (a) are frivolous
or malicious; (b) fail to state claims upon which relief may
be granted; or, (c) seek monetary relief from a defendant who
is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
is incarcerated in the Carroll County Detention Center
("CCDC"). Plaintiff has asserted two claims: denial
of medical care and negligence. According to the allegations
of the Complaint (Doc. 1), Plaintiff sought medical care on
December 25, 2017, concerning his blood pressure and pain
medications that he had previously been prescribed. He
alleges that he was denied medical care by Lieutenant
Williams until January 5, 2018. Plaintiff also alleges that
this particular denial of medical care resulted in
"prolonged pain and suffering." Id. at 8.
addition, Plaintiff contends that in December, he was
experiencing severe depression "and mental
instabilities, accompanied by urges and thoughts of
suicide." Id. His requests to see a doctor or
mental health professional were denied by Lieutenant
Williams. In fact, Plaintiff claims that as of the date of
the Complaint, January 24, 2018, he has not yet seen a mental
health professional, received any medication for his mental
health condition, and has not been removed from the general
population for evaluation.
Complaint also contains two other incidents in which
Plaintiff claims he was denied appropriate medical care. On
January 11, 2018, Plaintiff suffered from "severe
dia[rrhea] and vomiting for several hours." Id.
He filed medical requests and made "multiple verbal
requests to Officer Oliverio and Officer Markle for medical
assistance, " but both officers failed to provide him
with medical care. Id. Next, Plaintiff claims that
sometime in January, he broke his hand. Instead of being
taken to a medical professional for evaluation, he "was
given an ace bandage without any proper diagnosis."
Id. Plaintiff blames Lieutenant Williams for
ignoring or denying his requests for medical care for his
final claim is that the CCDC has a custom and unwritten
policy of simply ignoring the medical needs of inmates.
According to Plaintiff, this policy, custom, and culture has
been instituted through the jail administrator's failure
or unwillingness to provide needed medical care. He further
contends that officers who deny medical care to the inmates
are not disciplined or sanctioned.
the PLRA, the Court is obligated to screen a case prior to
service of process being issued. A claim is frivolous when 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 Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The Court
bears in mind, however, that when "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
1983 provides a federal cause of action for the deprivation,
under color of law, of a citizen's "rights,
privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and
laws" of the United States. In order to state a claim
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege that the
defendant acted under color of state law and that he violated
a right secured by the Constitution. West v. Atkins,
487 U.S. 42 (1988); Dunham v. Wadley, 195 F.3d 1007,
1009 (8th Cir. 1999). The deprivation must be intentional;
mere negligence will not suffice to state a claim for
deprivation of a constitutional right under § 1983.
Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327 (1986);
Davidson v. Cannon, 474 U.S. 344 (1986).
Plaintiff has sued all three Defendants in their personal
capacities for both denial of medical care and for
negligence. As per the case law established by the
United States Supreme Court, mere negligence will not create
a constitutional violation that is actionable under Section
1983. The negligence claims against all Defendants are
therefore subject to dismissal. This leaves Plaintiffs claims
for deliberate denial of medical care.
Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual
punishment establishes the government's obligation to
provide medical care for those whom it is punishing by
incarceration. An inmate must rely on prison authorities to
treat his medical needs; if the authorities fail to do so,
those needs will not be met. Estelle v. Gamble, 429
U.S. 97, 103 (1976) (internal quotation marks and citation
omitted). "For this reason, the Eighth Amendment
proscribes deliberate indifference to the serious medical
needs of prisoners." Robinson v. Hager, 292
F.3d 560, 563 (8th Cir. 2002) (citing Estelle, 429
U.S. at 104).
Court finds that Plaintiffs deliberate-indifference claim
against Officers Markle and Oliverio is subject to dismissal.
In order to succeed on such a claim, an inmate must show both
that he had an objectively serious medical need and that the
defendant or defendants were deliberately indifferent to that
need. Coleman v. Rahija, 114 F.3d 778, 784 (8th Cir.
1997) (citations omitted). "A medical need is serious
when it has been diagnosed by a physician as requiring
treatment, or is so obvious that even a layperson would
easily recognize the necessity for a doctor's
attention." Phillips v. Jasper Cnty. Jail, 437
F.3d 791, 795 (8th Cir. 2006) (citation omitted).
"Deliberate indifference may be demonstrated by prison
guards who intentionally deny or delay access to medical care
or intentionally interfere with prescribed treatment, or by
prison doctors who fail to respond to prisoner's serious
medical needs. Mere negligence or medical malpractice,
however, are insufficient to rise to a constitutional
violation." Dulany v. Carnahan, 132 F.3d 1234,
1239 (8th Cir. 1997) (citation omitted).
Plaintiffs deliberate-indifference claims against Officers
Markle and Oliverio stem from a single incident on January
11, 2018, when Plaintiff suffered from vomiting and diarrhea
for several hours. Taking the allegations in the Complaint as
true, the symptoms Plaintiff experienced on this date were
temporary in nature, and there is no indication that
Plaintiff suffered any long-term harm from an alleged failure
to provide him with medical treatment. As the symptoms
alleged do not constitute a "serious medical need,
" they cannot serve as the basis for a constitutional
claim against Officers Markle and Oliveiro. Cf. Martinson
v. Leason,22 F.Supp.3d 952, 963 (D. Minn. 2014)
(diarrhea, cough, bloody sputum, and other cold-like symptoms
did not constitute serious medical need); Ware v.
Fairman,884 F.Supp. 1201, 1206 (N.D. III. ...