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Rodgers v. Southern Health Partners

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville

June 5, 2017

MATTHEW RODGERS PLAINTIFF
v.
SOUTHERN HEALTH PARTNERS, et al. DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Greg N. Stivers, Judge United States District Court .

         Plaintiff Matthew Rodgers filed a pro se complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. At the time he filed the complaint, Plaintiff was a prisoner incarcerated in the Hardin County Detention Center (HCDC). However, Plaintiff subsequently notified the Court of a change of his address that indicates he is no longer incarcerated. The Court has granted Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis. The complaint is before the Court for screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601 (6th Cir. 1997), overruled on other grounds by Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199 (2007). For the reasons that follow, the Court will dismiss Defendants Carman and Southern Health Partners (SHP) and the claims against them and give Plaintiff 30 days to amend his complaint, if he so chooses.

         I. SUMMARY OF CLAIMS

         Plaintiff names two Defendants in this action, SHP and Carman. Plaintiff identifies SHP as the medical provider at HCDC. He identifies Carman[1] as “Legal Risk Management” at HCDC, and Plaintiff sues Carman in his individual and official capacities. As relief, Plaintiff seeks punitive damages. Plaintiff asserts that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

         In his complaint, Plaintiff states that he is a former combat Marine and that he suffers from “chronic anxiety, acute PTSD, depression, insomnia, osteo-arthritis, and high blood pressure.” Plaintiff states that he is prescribed medication for “every one of these conditions” and received his medications until November 12, 2016. Plaintiff states that on November 12, 2016, SHP “stopped giving [him his] medication that is to be passed out twice daily.” Plaintiff states that on November 13, 2016, he received only his evening medications, not his morning medications.

         Plaintiff states that on November 14, 2016, after not receiving his morning medications, he asked the nurse about his medications. According to Plaintiff, the nurse stated that “she would bring it back later.” Plaintiff states that he “also submitted a request asking why [he] was missing [his] doses, especially the ‘life-sustaining' blood pressure medication.” Plaintiff states that his “evening dose for 11-14-16 wasn't there and the nurse still didn't know why.” Plaintiff requested that his blood pressure be checked, “as [he] knew it was high.” He was told it would be checked, but no one ever came and took his blood pressure. Plaintiff says that at this point he had talked to four different nurses about his medication, but “none seemed concerned, or wasn't able to do anything about it.” On November 15 and 16, Plaintiff states that again he did not receive any medication. According to Plaintiff, on November 15th, he again requested that his blood pressure be checked. Plaintiff states that “no one came to check it.” Plaintiff states that he “put in a second request to be put back on meds, no response.”

         On the morning of November 16, 2016, Plaintiff states he “still had no meds, no explanation, & not had [his] blood pressure checked.” Plaintiff states that he “felt like [he] was going to burst.” Plaintiff states that he “could feel [his] pulse in [his] eyelids.” He states that he was “in a state of chaos.” He says he felt “[a]nxious and paranoid that [he] would be stuck in this state of anguish.” According to Plaintiff, this caused Plaintiff to “bang [his] face on a metal table 7 or 8 times.” According to Plaintiff, he “busted [his] nose & mouth open, bleeding profusely. This release of pressure mixed with adrenaline relieved [him] temporarily until the pain set in.” Plaintiff states that “[l]ess than 20 minutes after this, [he] received [his] meds and [has] been on them ever since.”

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Upon review under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), a district court must dismiss a case at any time if it determines that the action 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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). A claim is legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). The trial court may, therefore, dismiss a claim as frivolous where it is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory or where the factual contentions are clearly baseless. Id. at 327. In order to survive dismissal for failure to state a claim, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)).

         “[A] district court must (1) view the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and (2) take all well-pleaded factual allegations as true.” Tackett v. M & G Polymers, USA, LLC, 561 F.3d 478, 488 (6th Cir. 2009) (citing Gunasekera v. Irwin, 551 F.3d 461, 466 (6th Cir. 2009) (citations omitted)). “But the district court need not accept a ‘bare assertion of legal conclusions.'” Tackett v. M & G Polymers, USA, LLC, 561 F.3d at 488 (quoting Columbia Nat. Res., Inc. v. Tatum, 58 F.3d 1101, 1109 (6th Cir. 1995)). The court's duty “does not require [it] to conjure up unpled allegations, ” McDonald v. Hall, 610 F.2d 16, 19 (1st Cir. 1979), or to create a claim for a plaintiff. Clark v. Nat'l Travelers Life Ins. Co., 518 F.2d 1167, 1169 (6th Cir. 1975). To command otherwise would require the Court “to explore exhaustively all potential claims of a pro se plaintiff, [and] would also transform the district court from its legitimate advisory role to the improper role of an advocate seeking out the strongest arguments and most successful strategies for a party.” Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985).

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Claims Against Defendant Carman

         1. Official-Capacity Claim

         Plaintiff sues Defendant Carman in his official capacity as “Legal Risk Management” at HCDC. “Official-capacity suits . . . ‘generally represent [] another way of pleading an action against an entity of which an officer is an agent.'” Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 165 (1985) (quoting Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. of N.Y., 436 U.S. 658, 690 n.55 (1978)). Suing Defendant in his official capacity is the equivalent of suing his employer, HCDC. See Lambert v. Hartman, 517 F.3d 433, 439-40 (6th Cir. 2008) (stating that civil rights suit against county clerk of courts in his official capacity was equivalent of suing clerk's employer, the county); Bradford v. Hammond, No. Civ.A.3:05CVP459-H, 2005 WL 2739154, at *2 (W.D. Ky. Oct. 21, 2005) (construing a claim against Louisville Metro Corrections as one brought against Louisville/Jefferson County Metro Government); Smallwood v. ...


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