United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Chattanooga
L. REEVES DISTRICT JUDGE.
an inmate proceeding pro se in a civil rights action for
violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleges that Defendant
Danielle Turner denied him constitutionally adequate medical
care [See Doc. 12 p. 5-8]. Defendant has filed a
motion to dismiss Plaintiff's claim against her for
failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted
[Doc. 16]. Plaintiff has submitted a response in opposition
to the motion [Doc. 19], and Defendant has filed a reply
thereto [Doc. 22]. Having fully considered the parties'
arguments and the applicable law, the Court finds that
Defendant's motion should be granted.
PLAINTIFF'S RELEVANT ALLEGATIONS
7, 2017, while housed at the Bledsoe County Correctional
Complex, Plaintiff was injured while playing basketball [Doc.
12 p. 5]. He was examined by Defendant Danielle Turner, a
nurse at the clinic, who noted the swelling to his injured
foot and left the room to speak to the doctor. When she
returned, she told Plaintiff that a doctor would x-ray his
ankle the following day [Id.]. Defendant Turner did
not provide Plaintiff with pain medication or crutches, but
after Plaintiff advised her that he could not place weight on
his ankle, she called an officer to return Plaintiff to his
unit in a wheelchair [Id. at 5-6]. Plaintiff was
returned to his unit but was denied food for the following
two days, as he could not walk to the dining hall and lacked
crutches or a wheelchair to assist him [Id. at 6,
limped to the clinic the following day and had his foot and
ankle x-rayed [Id. at 6-7]. He was not provided any
medication for pain [Id. at 7]. The swelling of his
foot prevented him from wearing his boots [Id.]. On
June 12, 2017, Plaintiff was told by an officer in the dining
hall that he could not return until he had on boots
[Id.]. The same day, Plaintiff returned to the
clinic, where Defendant Turner advised Plaintiff that doctor
had just read his x-ray, which showed that he had a hairline
fracture [Id.]. Plaintiff was provided crutches and
ibuprofen [Id.]. On June 14, 2017, Plaintiff finally
saw a doctor and was informed that he had a broken ankle and
would be placed in a special boot [Id.].
alleges that Defendant Turner was responsible for ensuring
that he was timely seen by medical professionals who would
have diagnosed and treated his injury, and that he endured
unnecessary pain and suffering due to her failure to make a
prompt referral to the available, treating professionals
[See Doc. 12; Doc. 19 p. 1-2].
MOTION TO DISMISS STANDARD
survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must “state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007)). A claim for relief is plausible on its face
“when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows
the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant
is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. A
claim for relief is implausible on its face when “the
well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than
the mere possibility of misconduct.” Id. at
679. When considering a plaintiff's claims, all factual
allegations in the complaint must be taken as true. See,
e.g., Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93-94
(2007). However, the Supreme Court has cautioned:
Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for
relief will. . . be a context-specific task that requires the
reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common
sense. But where the well-pleaded facts do not permit the
court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct,
the complaint has alleged-but it has not
“show[n]”-“that the pleader is entitled to
relief.” Fed. Rule Civ. Proc. 8(a)(2).
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (internal citations omitted).
while Plaintiffs claim survived a frivolity review upon
initial screening under the Prison Litigation Reform Act
(“PLRA”), the standard for a Rule 12(b)(6) motion
is a higher bar than the frivolity standard in 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915. See, e.g, Leach v. Corr. Corp. of Am.,
No. 3:16-CV-2876, 2017 WL 35861, at *3 (M.D. Tenn. Jan. 4,
2017) (stating the required screening of a plaintiffs
complaint under the PLRA is “a lower burden for the
plaintiff to overcome in order for his claims to
proceed” than a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6)).
It is with these standards in mind that the Court considers
the Defendant's motion.
allegation that Defendant Turner denied him proper medical
treatment implicates the Eighth Amendment's prohibition
against cruel and unusual punishment, which proscribes acts
or omissions that produce an “unnecessary and wanton
infliction of pain.” Wilson v. Seiter, 501
U.S. 294, 297 (1991). An Eighth Amendment claim is composed
of two parts: (1) an objective component, which requires a
plaintiff to show a “sufficiently serious”
deprivation; and (2) a subjective component, which requires a
showing of a sufficiently capable state of mind - that of
“deliberate indifference.” Farmer v.
Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834, 842 (1994).
order to meet the subjective requirement, an inmate must show
more than negligence or medical malpractice in failing to
render adequate medical care. See, e.g., Harrison v.
Ash,539 F.3d 510, 518 (6th Cir. 2008). Rather,
deliberate indifference is demonstrated only where “the
official knows of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate
health or safety; the official must both be aware of the
facts from which the inference could be drawn that a