United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
O. HICKEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
case is before the Court for preservice screening under the
provisions of the Prison Litigation Reform Act
(“PLRA”). Pursuant to the PLRA, the Court must
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).
December 20, 2017, Plaintiff Gerral Schray Stuart filed his
Complaint. (ECF No. 1). On January 8, 2018, Plaintiff filed
an Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 7). He alleges that his
constitutional rights were violated while he was incarcerated
in the Miller County Jail. Plaintiff seeks compensatory and
punitive damages and asserts two claims against Defendants in
both their official and individual capacities.
first claim, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants King, Chelsea,
Camble, and Adams, denied him medical care on November 28,
2017. Specifically, he alleges that the staff and guards knew
he was sick and knew he was unable to place a proper medical
request, so Plaintiff was therefore refused medical aid.
(Id. at 4). In the section where Plaintiff is asked
to describe the custom or policy which he believes violated
his constitutional rights, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant
Adams “took his kiosk offline” so he could not
file a medical request. (Id. at 5).
second claim, Plaintiff similarly alleges that on November
28, 2017, Defendants King, Chelsea, Camble, and Adams denied
him medical care. Plaintiff alleges that he was refused
medical care when he could not submit a sick call because
Defendant Adams “took his kiosk offline, ” and
Camble threw his handwritten documents in the trash.
(Id. at 5). In the section where Plaintiff is asked
to describe the custom or policy which he believes violated
his constitutional rights, Plaintiff alleges he was not able
to file a proper medical request due to the neglect of
medical staff and the poor judgment of Camble and Adams.
(Id. at 6).
the PLRA, the Court must screen this case prior to the
issuance of service of process. The Court must dismiss a
complaint, or any portion of it, if it contains claims that:
(1) are frivolous, malicious, or fail 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.
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 Atl. 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)). Even a
pro se plaintiff must allege specific facts
sufficient to support a claim. Martin v. Sargent,
780 F.2d 1334, 1337 (8th Cir. 1985).
bare allegations that Defendants denied him medical care fail
to state a plausible claim. The Eighth Amendment's
prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment prohibits
deliberate indifference to prisoners' serious medical
needs. Luckert v. Dodge Cnty., 684 F.3d 808, 817
(8th Cir. 2012). To prevail on his Eighth Amendment claim,
Plaintiff must prove that Defendants acted with deliberate
indifference to his serious medical needs. Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). The deliberate
indifference standard includes “both an objective and a
subjective component: The [Plaintiff] must demonstrate (1)
that [he] suffered [from] objectively serious medical needs
and (2) that the prison officials actually knew of but
deliberately disregarded those needs.” Jolly v.
Knudsen, 205 F.3d 1094, 1096 (8th Cir. 2000) (internal
quotation marks omitted).
that he suffered from an objectively serious medical need,
Plaintiff must show that he “has been diagnosed by a
physician as requiring treatment” or has an injury
“that is so obvious that even a layperson would easily
recognize the necessity for a doctor's attention.”
Schaub v. VonWald, 638 F.3d 905, 914 (8th Cir. 2011)
(internal quotations and citations omitted). For the
subjective prong of deliberate indifference, “the
prisoner must show more than negligence, more even than gross
negligence.” Popoalii v. Correctional Med.
Servs., 512 F.3d 488, 499 (8th Cir. 2008) (internal
citation omitted). “Deliberate indifference is akin to
criminal recklessness, which demands more than negligent
well-settled that a “prisoner's mere difference of
opinion over matters of expert medical judgment or a course
of medical treatment fail[s] to rise to the level of a
constitutional violation.” Nelson v. Shuffman,
603 F.3d 439, 449 (8th Cir. 2010) (internal quotation marks
and citations omitted). An “inmate must clear a
substantial evidentiary threshold to show the prison's
medical staff deliberately disregarded the inmate's needs
by administering inadequate treatment.” Id.
Despite this, issues of fact exist when there is a question
of whether or not medical staff exercised independent medical
judgment and whether the decisions made by medical staff fell
so far below the reasonable standard of care as to constitute
deliberate indifference. See Smith v. Jenkins, 919
F.2d 90, 93 (8th Cir. 1990).
indifference may also be manifested by “prison guards
in intentionally denying or delaying access to medical care
or intentionally interfering with the treatment once
prescribed.” Estelle, 429 U.S. at 104-05.
However, the “Constitution does not require jailers to
handle every medical complaint as quickly as each inmate
might wish.” Jenkins v. Cnty. of Hennepin,
Minn., 557 F.3d 628, 633 (8th Cir. 2009). “A
prisoner alleging a delay in treatment must present verifying
medical evidence that the prison officials ignored an acute
or escalating situation or that these delays adversely
affected his prognosis.” Holden v. Hirner, 663
F.3d 336, 342 (8th Cir. 2011) (internal quotations omitted).
Unless, however, the need for medical attention is obvious to
a layperson, in which case the plaintiff need not submit
verifying medical evidence to show the detrimental effects of
delay. See Schaub, 638 F.3d at 919 (citing
Roberson v. Bradshaw, 198 F.3d 645, 648 (8th ...