United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
OPINION AND ORDER
TIMOTHY L. BROOKS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
a civil rights action filed by Plaintiff pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff 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
filed his Complaint on December 28, 2018. (Doc. 1). That same
day, the Court granted Plaintiff's motion for leave to
proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. 3). An Amended
Complaint was filed on February 13, 2019. (Doc. 7).
to Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, he is currently in jail
in the Washington County Detention Center ("WCDC")
awaiting trial on pending new criminal charges and a parole
violation. The Amended Complaint lists five claims. In the
first claim, Plaintiff names Karas Medical, Dr. Karas and
Sheriff Helder, in both their official and personal
capacities, and asserts that these Defendants denied him pain
medication. Plaintiff's second claim names Sheriff Helder
in both his personal and official capacity and asserts a
claim for unconstitutional conditions of confinement with
respect to overcrowding. Plaintiffs third claim also asserts
a claim for conditions of confinement, naming Sheriff Helder
and unknown deputies, and discusses both overcrowding and the
alleged denial of a second sleeping mat. In his fourth claim,
Plaintiff names Sheriff Helder, Deputy Pineda, Deputy
Lundsford, and Deputy Partain and asserts that the WCDC lacks
"a functioning grievance procedure." Finally,
Plaintiffs fifth claim names Sheriff Helder, Deputy Simpson
and Deputy Partain and asserts a claim for cruel and unusual
punishment involving a canister of pepper spray.
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 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).
forth above, Plaintiffs first claim is stated both
individually and officially against Karas Medical, Dr. Karas,
and Sheriff Helder. Plaintiff states that Karas Medical
repeatedly denied Plaintiff pain medication to alleviate or
prevent excessive pain. Plaintiff states that "Dr. Karas
owns/oversees operations of Karas Medical" and that
Sheriff Helder "hired/allows Karas to operate in the
facility on those in his care." (Doc No. 7 at 4).
claim against Sheriff Helder in his individual capacity
fails, as he does not allege that Sheriff Helder directly
participated in any alleged unconstitutional violation
concerning the denial of pain medication. "Liability
under § 1983 requires a causal link to, and direct
responsibility for, the deprivation of rights."
Madewell v. Roberts, 909 F.2d 1203, 1208 (8th Cir.
1990) (citation omitted). "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). Instead, the
supervisor must be personally involved in the alleged
constitutional violation or his inaction must constitute
deliberate indifference towards the constitutional violation.
Boyd v. Knox, 47 F.3d 966, 968 (8th Cir. 1995).
Because the Plaintiff has failed to include any allegations
of personal involvement by Sheriff Helder, he has failed to
assert a claim against Sheriff Helder in his individual
capacity based on the denial of pain medication.
individual capacity claim against Dr. Karas for the denial of
pain medication will be allowed to proceed.
Plaintiff's official capacity claim against Karas
Medical and Sheriff Helder, in Gorman v.
Bartch,152 F.3d 907 (8th Cir. 1998), the Eighth Circuit
Court of Appeals discussed the distinction between individual