United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Harrison Division
OPINION AND ORDER
TIMOTHY L. BROOKS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Joe Gatlin ("Gatlin"), currently an inmate of the
Boone County Detention Center ("BCDC"), has filed a
civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He proceeds
pro se and has sought leave to proceed in forma
names as Defendants Prosecuting Attorney Devon Goodman
("Goodman"), Jail Administrator Jason Day
("Day"), Corporal Jared Pointer
("Pointer"), Corporal Wade ("Wade"), and
Jailer Heath Hudson ("Hudson"). Gatlin has sued the
Defendants in both their individual and official capacities.
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. §
to the allegations of the Complaint and Supplement (Docs. 2,
3), on April 14, 2019, Pointer "got a hold of medical
records concerning Gatlin's infant daughter. The jailers
then discussed the records and passed them around prior to
faxing them to Goodman, the prosecutor in a case against
Gatlin. According to Gatlin, Pointer thought it was "a
joke and shared [the records] with not only his shift but the
next shift." The records were passed though Wade and
Hudson as well as other officers.
they were done passing the records around, Gatlin alleges
that Wade, who discussed the records with shift commanders,
including Day, gave Gatlin the medical records that had been
intended "only" for him. Gatlin alleges that
neither he nor his wife had signed a medical authorization
form releasing the records.
to Gatlin, Goodman discussed the records with Derika Bell and
Jamie Christman from the public defender's office and
also provided them with copies. Gatlin further alleges that
Goodman "was heard in the courtroom discussing and
making jokes, comments about my daughter[']s medical
status." Gatlin maintains that Goodman tried "to
use the documents to further my incarceration due to a
failure to appear in court."
alleges that Defendants' conduct in illegally obtaining,
sharing, and using Gatlin's daughter's medical
records constitutes a violation of the Health Insurance
Portability and Accountability Act ("HIPAA") and a
violation of his and his family's constitutional right to
privacy. As relief, Gatlin requests monetary damages as well
as an order preventing Goodman from violating the medical
privacy rights of inmates in the future.
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 or malicious; (2) fail to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted; or, (3) seek monetary
relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(iii).
is frivolous when 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). "The essential function of a complaint
under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is to give the
opposing party fair notice of the nature and basis or grounds
for a claim, and a general indication of the type of
litigation involved." Topchian v. JPMorgan Chase
Bank, N.A., 760 F.3d 843, 848 (8th Cir. 2014) (internal
quotation marks and citation omitted).
the Court bears in mind that when "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