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Edwards v. Stevens

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division

March 27, 2019

TEDDY EDWARDS PLAINTIFF
v.
SHERIFF JIMMY STEVENS, LISA HADDELSTOR, and JOHNSON COUNTY REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER DEFENDANTS

          OPINION AND ORDER

          P. K. HOLMES, III U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

         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 entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a).

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Teddy Edwards (“Edwards”) filed a Complaint under 42 U.S.C § 1983 on January 25, 2019. (ECF No. 1). The Complaint listed the following Defendants: Sheriff Jimmy Stevens, Lisa Haddelstor, and Johnson County Regional Medical Center. (Id.). Edwards alleges one claim: denial of medical care. (Id.). He also mentions the denial of a grievance process, and the Court will construe this as an additional claim. (Id.). He supports his denial of medical care claim by stating that his severe injuries from an auto accident required the attention of a medical doctor, as opposed to an allegedly unqualified nurse that was on staff. (Id.). He is suing Separate Defendants Stevens and Haddelstor in both their official and personal capacities. (Id.). For his official capacity claim, he states the following policy or custom violated his rights: “By not providing me with my grievances to document my plea for medical treatment and the form that shows the monies on my books to pay for this motion, it unduly prejudices my plea.” (Id.).

         Edwards requests relief in the form of compensatory and punitive damages, stating his ability to work was diminished by the lack of medical care. (Id.). He is requesting $700, 000.00, calculated from his average earnings of $35, 000.00 per year across 20 years. (Id.).

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Under the PLRA, the Court is obliged 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. § 1915A(b).

         A claim 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 Atlantic 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).

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Johnson County Regional Medical Center

         Section 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 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's claims against Johnson County Regional Medical Center are subject to dismissal. In Montano v. Hedgepeth, 120 F.3d 844 (8th Cir. 1997), the Eighth Circuit set forth the analysis to be applied in determining whether state action exists for purposes of § 1983. Specifically, the Court said:

In ascertaining the presence of state action, we must examine the record to determine whether “the conduct allegedly causing the deprivation of a federal right [is] fairly attributable to the State.” Lugar v. Edmondson Oil Co., 457 U.S. 922, 937, 102 S.Ct. 2744, 2753, 73 L.Ed.2d 482 (1982). Resolving this question entails a journey down a particularly fact-bound path, see id. at 939, 102 S.Ct. at 2754-55, but the Supreme Court has identified two legal touchstones to provide guidance along the way. To begin with, there can be no “fair attribution” unless the alleged constitutional violation was “caused by the exercise of some right or privilege created by the State or by a rule of conduct imposed by the State or by a person for whom the State is responsible.” Id. at 937, 102 S.Ct. at 2753. Furthermore, “the party charged with the deprivation must be a person who may fairly be said to be a state actor. This may be because he is a state official, ...

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