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Shipp v. Murphy

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

May 23, 2018



          Susan O. Hickey United States District Judge.

         Before the Court is Defendants Kevin Murphy and Steve Arnold's Motion to Dismiss. (ECF No. 18). Plaintiff Craig Shipp filed a response. (ECF No. 20). The Court finds the matter ripe for consideration.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On March 26, 2018, Plaintiff, represented by counsel, filed an amended complaint, asserting Eighth Amendment cruel-and-unusual-punishment claims and Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment deliberate-indifference claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, as well as state-law negligence claims against various Defendants.[1]

         At all times relevant to this suit, Plaintiff was serving a sentence in the Arkansas Community Correction, Southwest Arkansas Community Correction Center in Texarkana, Arkansas (“SWACCC”). Plaintiff is diabetic and alleges that he requires the use of orthotic shoes to prevent sores and/or ulcers from forming on his feet as a result of his condition.

         Plaintiff alleges that before being transferred to the SWACCC, his orthotic shoes were taken from him at the Miller County Detention Center. Plaintiff alleges further that when he was transferred to the SWACCC on February 1, 2016, he informed the intake personnel that he was diabetic and required orthotic shoes for his medical condition. Plaintiff states that he was told he needed approval for orthotic shoes. Plaintiff alleges that on the same day, he wrote a formal complaint to Defendant Arnold, the warden of the SWACCC, stating that it was medically necessary for him to receive orthotic shoes. Plaintiff did not receive orthotic shoes at that time.

         Plaintiff alleges that he was forced to climb multiple flights of stairs because he was housed on an upper level of the facility, and that climbing the stairs without orthotic shoes caused additional stress on his feet. He alleges that he applied for elevator use, but the request was denied. On February 12, 2016, Plaintiff alleges to have advised Defendant Arnold that he had begun to suffer medical complications to his feet. Plaintiff alleges to have again advised Defendant Arnold that he needed orthotic shoes. Plaintiff also alleges that this request was forwarded to Separate Defendant Lenora Turner, the medical director at the SWACCC. (ECF No. 15, p. 6).

         Plaintiff alleges that he saw medical staff on February 12, February 16, and February 23, 2016, and did not receive orthotic shoes during those visits. On February 23, 2016, medical staff informed Plaintiff that he had a limb-threatening wound and needed expert debridement, [2] but Plaintiff alleges that due to the “policies and procedures and custom or practice” implemented by certain Defendants, including Defendants Murphy and Arnold, nearly a week passed before he received the requested debridement.

         At some unspecified time, Plaintiff alleges to have requested a transfer to a corrections center in Malvern, Arkansas, which he states had a better medical department and facility to manage his diabetic condition. Plaintiff alleges that this request was denied due to Defendants' policies, procedures, and protocol.

         Plaintiff ultimately received his orthotic shoes more than three weeks after arriving at the SWACCC. Plaintiff alleges that his foot was amputated because of the wounds and ulcers that formed during the time he did not have orthotic shoes. Plaintiff claims that Defendants' acts, omissions, policies, and procedures violated his constitutional rights.

         On March 28, 2018, Defendants Murphy and Arnold filed the instant motion, arguing that Plaintiff's claims against them should be dismissed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Plaintiff opposes the motion.

         II. STANDARD

         To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a pleading must provide “a short and plain statement of the claim that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The purpose of this requirement is to “give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). The Court must accept as true all factual allegations set forth in Plaintiff's amended complaint and must draw all reasonable inferences in Plaintiff's favor. See Ashley Cnty., Ark. v. Pfizer, Inc., 552 F.3d 659, 665 (8th Cir. 2009).

         However, the complaint “must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. “A pleading that offers ‘labels and conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.' Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders ‘naked assertions' devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.'” Id. (internal citations and alterations omitted) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557). In other words, “the pleading standard Rule 8 announces does not require ‘detailed factual allegations, ' but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

         In considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), “the complaint should be read as a whole, not parsed piece by piece to determine whether each allegation, in isolation, is plausible.” Braden v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 588 F.3d 585, 594 (8th Cir. 2009). The issue in considering such a motion is not whether Plaintiff will ultimately prevail, but whether Plaintiff is entitled to present evidence in support of the claim. See Nusku v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989). In reviewing a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court is “not precluded in [its] review of the complaint from taking notice of items in the public record” or considering documents that do not contradict the complaint. Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 269 n.1 (1986); Stahl v. U.S. Dep't of Agric., 327 F.3d 697, 700 (8th Cir. 2003); Nixon v. Coeur D'Alene Tribe, 164 F.3d 1102, 1107 (8th Cir. 1999).


         Defendants Murphy and Arnold argue that Plaintiff has failed to allege facts sufficient to state a claim upon which relief may be granted against either of them. Accordingly, Defendants Murphy and Arnold move for dismissal of all claims against them pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6).

         42 U.S.C. § 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 section 1983, Plaintiff must allege that Defendants Murphy and Arnold acted under color of state law and that they violated a right secured by the Constitution. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). The deprivation must be intentional; mere negligence will not suffice to state a claim for deprivation of a constitutional right under section 1983. Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327, 328 (1986).

         Plaintiff appears to assert three types of claims against Defendants Murphy and Arnold: (1) deliberate indifference under the Fourteenth Amendment; (2) deliberate indifference under the Eighth Amendment; and (3) cruel and unusual punishment ...

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