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Winter v. Runion

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division

November 12, 2019

DOUGLAS RAY WINTER PLAINTIFF
v.
SHERIFF JACKIE RUNION, Miller County, Arkansas; WARDEN WALKER; CORRECTIONAL OFFICER HENDERSON; and NURSE CHELSEA DEFENDANTS

          ORDER

          Susan O. Hickey Chief United States District Judge

         This is a civil rights action filed by Plaintiff, Douglas Ray Winter, 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 entity.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed his Complaint on September 11, 2019. (ECF No. 1). His application to proceed in forma pauperis was granted the same day. (ECF No. 3). Plaintiff is currently incarcerated in the Miller County Detention Center (“MCDC”). A review of Plaintiff's complaint revealed that Plaintiff did not specifically state what each named defendant did or failed to do that allegedly violated his constitutional rights and Plaintiff did not indicate what injuries he suffered. Consequently, the Court ordered Plaintiff to file an Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 6). On September 25, 2019, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint naming as Defendants Jackie Runion, Sheriff of Miller County, Arkansas; Warden Walker of the MCDC; Correctional Officer Henderson of the MCDC; and Nurse Chelsea, who is employed by Southern Health Partners, Inc., the third party medical provider at the MCDC. (ECF No. 7). Plaintiff is seeking compensatory and punitive damages and sues all Defendants in both their individual and official capacities.

         Plaintiff describes his first claim as “medical neglect” and identifies Defendants Runion, Walker, and Chelsea as the responsible parties. He states that on or about June 21, 2019, “upon explaining to Nurse Chelsea that I had previously taken preventive medication for T.B. at that time she forced me to take the T.B. test anyway. I was distressed for my health.” (ECF No. 7, p. 4). He describes his official capacity claim under Claim One as “medical neglect.” (ECF No. 7, p. 5.)

         Plaintiff describes his second claim as “unprofessional conduct” and identifies Defendants Runion, Walker, and Henderson as being involved. He states that “CO Henderson harassed my fiancé and I and caused me emotional distress.” (ECF No. 7, p. 5). He describes his official capacity claim under Claim Two as “conduct unbecoming of an officer.” Id. at p. 6.

         Plaintiff describes his third claim as “Health and Safety Violations” and identifies Defendants Runion and Walter as the responsible parties. He states that on or about June 26, 2019, “a storm blew out power to facility at which time for approximately 6 to 8 hours there was no emergency power or lights. I was in fear for my life and safety.” (ECF No. 7, p. 6). He describes his official capacity claim as “failing to provide a safe environment.” Id. at p. 7.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         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) seek 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)). However, 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).

         Mere conclusory allegations with no supporting factual averments are insufficient to state a claim upon which relief can be based. Allen v. Purkett, 5 F.3d 1151, 1153 (8th Cir. 1993); see also Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914 (8th Cir. 2004). “[A] pro se plaintiff requires no special legal training to recount the facts surrounding his alleged injury, and he must provide such facts if the court is to determine whether he makes out a claim on which relief can be granted.” Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991) (citations omitted).

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Claim One - Right to Refuse Medical Treatment

         Plaintiff claims Defendants Runion, Walker, and Nurse Chelsea medically neglected him when Nurse Chelsea “forced” Plaintiff to take a tuberculosis (“TB”) test even though he had previously taken preventive medication for the disease. Although Plaintiff describes his claim as one for medical neglect, the Court ...


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