United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville
W. Phillips Senior United States District Judge.
a prisoner proceeding pro se, has filed a complaint pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 [Doc. 2]. For the reasons set forth
below, Plaintiff's complaint will be
DISMISSED for failure to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted under § 1983.
the Prisoner Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”),
district courts must screen prisoner complaints and shall, at
any time, sua sponte dismiss any claims that are
frivolous or malicious, fail to state a claim for relief, or
are against a defendant who is immune. See, e.g., 28
U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915(A); Benson v.
O'Brian, 179 F.3d 1014 (6th Cir. 1999). The
dismissal standard articulated by the Supreme Court in
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009) and in
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007)
“governs dismissals for failure state a claim under [28
U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A] because the
relevant statutory language tracks the language in Rule
12(b)(6).” Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468,
470-71 (6th Cir. 2010). Thus, to survive an initial review
under the PLRA, a complaint “must contain sufficient
factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.'”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly,
550 U.S. at 570). Courts liberally construe pro se pleadings
filed in civil rights cases and hold them to a less stringent
standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Haines
v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972).
order to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a
plaintiff must establish that he was deprived of a federal
right by a person acting under color of state law. Braley
v. City of Pontiac, 906 F.2d 220, 223 (6th Cir. 1990)
(stating that “Section 1983 . . . creates a right of
action for the vindication of constitutional guarantees found
elsewhere”). “Absent either element, a section
1983 claim will not lie.” Christy v. Randlett,
932 F.2d 502, 504 (6th Cir. 1991).
ALLEGATIONS OF THE COMPLAINT
contends that between August 1 and August 10, 2018, he
requested medical treatment for a “bump” on his
leg [Doc. 2 p. 3-5]. He states that a correctional officer
took him to the nurse's office, treated his wound, and
wrapped it [Id. p. 4]. Plaintiff alleges that after
three days, Nurse Michelle Smith unwrapped the wound and
treated it with alcohol and peroxide, at which point the
wound began to ooze infection [Id.]. Nurse Smith
treated the wound with triple antibiotic ointment and told
Plaintiff that he would see a doctor the following Monday
[Id.]. Plaintiff asserts that as of October 16,
2018, he had yet to be seen by a physician [Id. at
prison authority's deliberate indifference to an
inmate's serious medical needs violates the Eighth
Amendment. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97 (1976).
The subjective component of a claim for denial of medical
care requires proof that the prison official acted with
deliberate indifference. Carter v. City of Detroit,
408 F.3d 305, 312 (6th Cir. 2005), abrogated on other
grounds in Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223 (2009).
Deliberate indifference requires a mental state amounting to
criminal recklessness, and mere negligence is insufficient.
Santiago v. Ringle, 734 F.3d 585, 591 (6th Cir.
2013) (citing Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834, 839-40). To
meet this subjective standard, a plaintiff must establish
that the defendant: (1) “perceived the facts from which
to infer substantial risk to the prisoner;” (2)
“did in fact draw the inference;” and (3)
“then disregarded that risk.” Id. at 591
(quoting Comstock v. McCrary, 273 F.3d 693, 703 (6th
a general rule, a patient's disagreement with his
physicians over the proper course of treatment alleges, at
most, a medical-malpractice claim, which is not cognizable
under § 1983.” Darrah v. Krisher, 865
F.3d 361, 372 (6th Cir. 2017) (citing Estelle, 429
U.S. at 107). “Additionally, ‘[w]here a prisoner
has received some medical attention and the dispute is over
the adequacy of the treatment, federal courts are generally
reluctant to second guess medical judgments and to
constitutionalize claims which sound in state tort
law.'” Id. (quoting Westlake v.
Lucas, 537 F.2d 857, 860 n.5 (6th Cir. 1976)).
the Court finds that there is nothing in Plaintiff's
compliant to suggest that Jail Administrator, Steve Ellis,
violated Plaintiff's constitutional rights. A court may
not impose liability under § 1983 based on a failure to
act and/or a theory of respondeat superior.
Shehee v. Luttrell, 199 F.3d 295, 300 (6th Cir.
1999) (holding denial of administrative grievances or failure
to act does not subject supervisors to liability under §
1983). Accordingly, Jail Administrator Steve Ellis is
entitled to be dismissed from this action.
the Court finds that there is nothing in Plaintiff's
complaint that allows the Court to plausibly infer that Nurse
Smith violated Plaintiff's constitutional rights. Nurse
Smith treated Plaintiff's wound and attempted to set him
an appointment with a doctor. Plaintiff has not suggested,
and the Court has no reason to infer, that Nurse Smith has
control of whether or when Plaintiff is actually transported
to doctor's appointments, and there is no evidence in
Plaintiff's allegations that Nurse Smith was deliberately
indifferent to Plaintiff's serious medical needs.
Therefore, Nurse Smith will be dismissed from this action.
the Court notes that Plaintiff named the Claiborne County
Justice Center as a Defendant, but a jail is not a person
subject to liability under § 1983. Cage v. Kent
County Corr. Facility, No. 96-1167, 1997 WL 225647, at
*1 (6th Cir. May 1, 1997) (stating that “[t]he district
court also properly found that the jail facility named as a
defendant was not an entity subject to suit under §
1983”). The Court, construing Plaintiff's claims as
arising against Caliborne County itself, nonetheless finds
that Plaintiff cannot sustain his action against this
Defendant, as he has not alleged that any jail policy and/or
custom was behind the violation of his constitutional rights.
See Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs, 436 U.S. 658,
708 (1978) (Powell, J., concurring) (explaining a
municipality can only be held liable for harms that result
from a constitutional violation when that underlying
violation resulted from “implementation of [its]
official policies or established customs”).
Accordingly, Claiborne County will be dismissed from this