United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
JOSEPH M. HOOD, Senior District Judge.
Larry Neal Williams is a federal inmate in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons ("BOP"). Williams is currently confined in the Federal Medical Center located in Butner, North Carolina ("FMC-Butner"); he was formerly housed in the Federal Medical Center located in Lexington, Kentucky ("FMC-Lexington"). While confined at FMC-Lexington, Williams, proceeding pro se, filed a Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, and the doctrine announced in Bivens v. Six Unknown Federal Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), claiming that he had received inadequate medical care at FMC-Lexington and that the defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs, in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. [R. 1] The named defendants are all FMC-Lexington prison personnel: (1) the Warden, (2) Dr. Rios, and (3) unnamed staff. Williams sues the defendants in their individual and official capacities, and he seeks damages of $4.1 Million. Id.
Because Williams is proceeding in forma pauperis and is asserting claims against government officials, the Court must conduct a preliminary review of his complaint. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A. A district court must dismiss any claim that is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 607-08 (6th Cir. 1997). The Court evaluates Williams' complaint under a more lenient standard because he is not represented by an attorney. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Burton v. Jones, 321 F.3d 569, 573 (6th Cir. 2003). At this stage, the Court accepts the plaintiff's factual allegations as true, and his legal claims are liberally construed in his favor. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007). The Court has given his complaint a liberal, and hence broad, construction, and will evaluate any cause of action which can reasonably be inferred from the allegations made.
For the reasons stated below, Williams' complaint will be dismissed because he failed to exhaust his administrative remedies prior to filing suit.
In his complaint, Williams states that in February 2013, while he was confined at Alexandria Federal Holdover, he became ill, experiencing pain in his lower abdomen, but was advised that no medical treatment was available there. [R. 1, Page ID# 2] Sometime thereafter, Williams was transferred to the Federal Correctional Complex-Hazelton ("FCC-Hazelton") located in Bruceton Mills, West Virginia. Id. While at FCC-Hazelton, Williams voiced complaints of lower abdominal pain, was examined and underwent tests. Based on a PET scan, cancer was suspected. Williams underwent exploratory surgery; a mass was discovered and removed from his lower abdominal area. A biopsy of that mass confirmed that it was cancerous. Id. Williams states that even though Dr. Mimms at FCC-Hazelton recommended that he undergo chemotherapy treatment post-surgery, "the facility was denied permission to treat me." Id.
Subsequently, in August of 2013, Williams was transferred to FMC-Lexington, according to Williams, so that he could be treated properly for his medical condition. Id. Williams states that within three weeks after he arrived at FMC-Lexington, another PET scan was performed, and he was advised that there was no indication of cancer in his lower abdominal area. Id. Williams states that he was examined by a consultative physician at the University of Kentucky Medical Center, who advised him that no treatment was necessary at that time because there was no sign of cancer but that Williams would be treated when the cancer returned. [R. 1, Page ID# 3]
Williams states that approximately ten months after the decision was made not to administer chemotherapy treatments, presumably by the consultative physician at the University of Kentucky, because Williams had no need for chemotherapy treatment due to no signs of cancer, another PET scan was performed of his lower abdominal area, indicating that the cancer had returned. Id. With that development, Williams advises that a recommendation was made to transfer him to FMC-Butner for treatment of his cancerous condition. Williams states that he had repeatedly made this same request to prison officials at FMC-Lexington, which the Warden had denied.
Williams's claims that the medical staff at FMC-Lexington were "not qualified to make medical determinations regarding my type of illness made decisions to his detriment, resulting in his enduring unnecessary pain and suffering." He characterizes their conduct as "the unnecessary wanton infliction of pain and inadequate medical care." Id.
A. Official Capacity Claims
A Bivens claim for damages may only be asserted against federal employees in their individual capacities; it may not be asserted against federal employees/officers in their official capacities. Okoro v. Scibana, 63 F.Appx. 182, 184 (6th Cir. 2003); Berger v. Pierce, 933 F.2d 393, 397 (6th Cir. 1991).
When damages are sought against federal employees in their official capacities, the damages in essence are sought against the United States, and such claims cannot be maintained. Clay v. United States, No. 05-CV-599-KKC, 2006 WL 2711750 (E.D. Ky. Sept. 21, 2006). Thus, Williams' official capacity claims against these defendants will therefore be dismissed with ...