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Ventry v. Correct Care Solutions Corp.

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Pine Bluff Division

May 15, 2019

MONTRELL DASHONE VENTRY ADC #141556 PLAINTIFF
v.
CORRECT CARE SOLUTIONS CORPORATION, et al. DEFENDANTS

          ORDER

          Kristine G. Baker, United States District Judge.

         The Court has received a Recommended Partial Disposition submitted by United States Magistrate Judge J. Thomas Ray (Dkt. No. 11). Plaintiff Montrell Dashone Ventry filed objections (Dkt. No. 15). After careful review of the Recommended Partial Disposition and Mr. Ventry's objections, as well as a de novo review of the record, the Court adopts the Recommended Partial Disposition in its entirety as this Court's findings (Dkt. No. 11).

         I. Objections

         Mr. Ventry objects to Judge Ray's recommendation that the Court dismiss without prejudice Mr. Ventry's claims against defendants Rory L. Griffin and Correct Care Solutions Corporation (“Correct Care”) (Dkt. No. 15, ¶ 2). The Court addresses in turn Mr. Ventry's objections as to each defendant.

         A. Rory L. Griffin

         Judge Ray recommended that the Court dismiss without prejudice Mr. Ventry's claims against Mr. Griffin because, as a supervisor, Mr. Griffin cannot be held vicariously liable in a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action on a respondeat superior theory, and Mr. Ventry's only allegation against Mr. Griffin is that, as the Arkansas Department of Correction (“ADC”) Deputy Director for Health and Correction Services, Mr. Griffin is “legally responsible for the overall operations” of ADC's health services (Dkt. No. 11, at 4-5).

         Mr. Ventry objects to Judge Ray's recommendation that the Court dismiss without prejudice Mr. Ventry's claims against Mr. Griffin (Dkt. No. 15, ¶ 2). Mr. Ventry first argues that he filed a motion to appoint counsel to assist him with his claims due to a number of defendants, including Mr. Griffin and Correct Care, being supervisory officials (Dkt. No. 15, ¶¶ 5-6).

         Mr. Ventry next contends that Mr. Griffin is the Director for Health and Correction Services as well as the last step in the appeal process for the administrative grievances (Id., ¶ 14). Mr. Ventry asserts that his grievances containing allegations against defendants Mary Seals, Andria Leah Anne Cantrell, and LaSonya Griswold were forwarded to Mr. Griffin, that Mr. Griffin relied on false and misleading information in response to the grievances, and that Mr. Griffin failed to investigate the facts alleged within the grievances (Id., ¶¶ 15-17). Mr. Ventry also objects to Mr. Griffin's written responses to Mr. Ventry's grievances during the appeal process (Id., ¶¶ 18-30).

         According to Mr. Ventry, the custom of allowing medical beds inside ward cells unequipped with sufficient nursing alert devices subjected Mr. Ventry to cruel and unusual punishment (Id., ¶ 42). Mr. Ventry submits that, instead of Mr. Griffin or Correct Care remedying the wrong, the responsibility for such lack of medical device was placed on the ADC and specifically on defendants Wendy Kelley and William Straughn (Id.).

         The Court first notes that Judge Ray denied Mr. Ventry's motion to appoint counsel (Dkt. No. 12). Mr. Ventry filed a motion for reconsideration of the motion to appoint counsel (Dkt. No. 17), on which Judge Ray has not yet ruled. Mr. Ventry is not constitutionally entitled to the appointment of counsel in this civil case.

         As to Mr. Ventry's objections regarding Mr. Griffin's role as the Director for Health and Correction Services as well as his role in the grievance appeal process, Judge Ray explained in the Recommended Partial Disposition that it is well settled that a supervisor may not be held vicariously liable in a § 1983 action on a respondeat superior theory. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 676 (2009); see also Keeper v. King, 130 F.3d 1309, 1314 (8th Cir. 1997). To state a cognizable claim against a defendant in a supervisory role, a prisoner plaintiff must allege that the defendant was personally involved in the constitutional violation or became aware of the constitutional violation and, with deliberate indifference, failed to take corrective action. Choate v. Lockhart, 7 F.3d 1370, 1376 (8th Cir. 1993). In addition, a “general responsibility for supervising the operations of a prison is insufficient to establish the personal involvement required to support liability.” Camberos v. Branstad, 73 F.3d 174, 176 (8th Cir. 1995).

         Mr. Ventry makes no allegations against Mr. Griffin in his complaint, declaration in support of complaint, or memorandum of law in support of complaint beyond that Mr. Griffin is “legally responsible for the overall operations” of the ADC's health services (Dkt. Nos. 2, 3, 4). Similarly, Mr. Ventry's complaint, declaration in support of complaint, and memorandum of law contain no basis in fact for his allegation in his objections that there was a “custom” of allowing medical beds inside ward cells unequipped with sufficient nursing alert devices thereby subjecting him to cruel and unusual punishment. Mr. Ventry filed a grievance stating that the ward he was placed in did not have an alert system (Dkt. No. 2, at 36). In his appeal of that grievance, Mr. Ventry stated that the Cummins Unit ward cells lack the proper medical alert systems (Id., at 38). Mr. Ventry's current allegations do not satisfy the pleading requirements for stating an actionable claim against Mr. Griffin. Mr. Ventry acknowledges that Mr. Griffin informed Mr. Ventry through his decision that the ADC is responsible for providing medical equipment such as call lights (Dkt. No. 15, ¶ 42; Dkt. No. 2, at 40). To the extent that Mr. Ventry is pursuing that issue, ADC defendants Ms. Kelley and Mr. Straughn remain defendants in this action. For these reasons, the Court agrees with Judge Ray's recommendation and dismisses without prejudice Mr. Ventry's claims against Mr. Griffin.

         B. Correct Care Solutions Corporation

         Judge Ray also recommended that the Court dismiss without prejudice Mr. Ventry's claims against Correct Care because a corporation acting under color of state law can be held liable only for its unconstitutional policies or practices, and Mr. Ventry did not allege any policy, ...


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