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Sweetland v. Florance

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

April 1, 2019




         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 filed his Complaint in the Eastern District of Arkansas on January 31, 2019. (ECF No. 1). It was transferred to this District on February 5, 2019. (ECF No. 4). That same day, the Court entered an Order directing Plaintiff to file an Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 7). Plaintiff did so on February 19, 2019. (ECF No. 8). Plaintiff was granted in forma pauperis (IFP) status on March 7, 2019. (ECF No. 9). Plaintiff had previously filed his claims in Case No. 2:17-cv-02153, which was dismissed without prejudice on July 23, 2018 for failure to comply with a Court Order and failure to prosecute the case.

         Plaintiff alleges his constitutional rights were violated on February 4, 2017, while he was incarcerated in the Sebastian County Detention Center (SCDC). (ECF No. 8 at 8). He alleges Deputy Florance and Deputy England[1] were to take him from Holding Cell Three to the Hospital Cell. Florance told Plaintiff to give him his shoes and his artificial leg. (Id.). Plaintiff refused to do so because medical staff had told him he could keep his shoes and leg. (Id.). Florance then “twisted and ripped” Plaintiff's artificial leg off, causing his knee to pop out of place. (Id.). Florance also proceeded to elbow and punch Plaintiff in the face about 8-10 times. (Id.). England pulled Florance off, but Florance “broke free” and hit Plaintiff another 8-10 times. (Id.). Florance then drug Plaintiff to the front of the holding cell “bleeding and choking the whole way, ” and he was not able to stand up because he was missing his artificial leg and his knee was out on his other leg. (Id.). The nurse came to the holding cell, and Plaintiff was drug back into the cell without his leg or shoes. (Id.). Florance and England left him in Holding Cell Three for over a week with no medical attention, even though he “asked for medical numerous times.” (Id. at 9). Plaintiff alleges his knee and arm were swollen and bruised so badly he could not use them for days. (Id.). He was never permitted to see medical, but pictures were taken of his knee and face immediately after the incident. (Id.). Plaintiff alleges he did not fight or resist in any way and did not deserve the beating. (Id.).

         Plaintiff proceeds against all Defendants in their personal and official capacities. (Id. at 4). He seeks compensatory and punitive damages. (Id. at 7).


         Under 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. § 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. Sheriff Hollenbeck, Jail Administrator Pevehouse, and Doe Medical Supervisor

         “Liability under Section 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) (citing Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362, 370 (1976)). Thus, to state a cognizable Section 1983 claim, a complaint must set forth specific factual allegations showing what each named defendant did, or failed to do, that allegedly violated the plaintiff's federal constitutional rights. Martin, 780 F.2d at 1337.

         Defendants Hollenbeck, Pevehouse, and Doe Medical Supervisor are named as Defendants in this case. (ECF No. 1 at 2-3, 5). Plaintiff does not, however, provide any specific factual allegations detailing how they were involved in, or responsible for, any purported violation of his constitutional rights. To the extent Plaintiff named Defendants because they are in positions of authority in SCDC, he may not bring a claim solely on the theory of respondeat superior. See Monell v. Department of Social Services,436 ...

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