United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division London
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
K. CALDWELL, CHIEF JUDGE.
Roscoe Chambers is an inmate confined at the United States
Penitentiary (“USP”) Lewisburg in Lewisburg,
Pennsylvania. Proceeding without an attorney, Chambers has
filed a civil rights action pursuant to Bivens v. Six
Unknown Federal Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971) in
which he alleges that Defendants acted with deliberate
indifference to his medical needs in violation of his
constitutional rights while Chambers was confined at United
States Penitentiary-McCreary (“USP-McCreary”) in
Pine Knot, Kentucky. [R. 1]
separate order the Court has granted Chambers's motion to
proceed without prepayment of the filing fee. [R. 8]. Thus,
the Court must conduct a preliminary review of Chambers's
complaint pursuant to 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 Chambers's 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).
Complaint generally alleges that Defendants all acted with
deliberate indifference to his medical needs in violation of
the Eighth Amendment. Specifically, he alleges that Dr.
Hardy, identified as USP-McCreary's physician, operated
on Chambers's foot without his permission and neglected
to send Chambers for knee replacement. [R. 1 at p. 3]. He
alleges that Ormond (Warden) and Barrone (Assistant Warden)
were aware of Chambers's medical situation and had him
transferred to a non-medical facility, in deliberate
indifference to his medical needs. [Id. at p. 3].
Chambers further alleges that Defendant Jones, the facility
Health Care Administrator, was aware of his need for knee
replacement and other injuries, but deliberately denied him
medical attention. [Id. at p. 4]. Finally, Chambers
alleges that an “Unknown PA-C” denied him
appropriate medical attention, used her staff office to deny
him medicine and a transfer to a medical facility.
[Id. at p. 4]. He has sued all of Defendants in
their official and individual capacities. [Id.].
previously filed these claims in the United States District
Court for the Central District of California. Chambers v.
Dr. Allen, et al., 5:17-cv-1353-MWF-KES (C.D. Cal.
2017). As the district court explained in that case,
“Plaintiff alleges that doctors, wardens, and
administrators throughout the federal prison system have been
deliberately indifferent to his medical needs. All of his
allegations center around the fact that he has been refused
surgery on both knees, his right foot, and his right
hand.” [Id. at R. 7]. The district court
thoroughly analyzed Chambers's claims in that case,
including those that he has re-alleged here, and found that
Chambers' failed to state a claim against the defendant
medical providers and prison staff. [Id.].
district court ultimately dismissed Chambers's complaint
with leave to amend to correct the deficiencies identified in
the court's order, although it also noted that it did not
have personal jurisdiction over the defendants named by
Chambers located in Kentucky. [Id.]. Thus, the Court
instructed Chambers that, should he wish to pursue lawsuits
against those defendants, he should file separate complaints
in the courts that have personal jurisdiction over those
defendants. [Id.]. Shortly after his complaint was
dismissed in California, he filed this lawsuit, as well as a
similar lawsuit against staff at USP-Big Sandy, located in
Inez, Kentucky. Chambers v. Sepanek, et al., No.
7:17-cv-146-KKC (E.D. Ky. 2017).
the Court notes that, although the district court in
California ultimately found that it did not have jurisdiction
over Chambers's claims that he has now brought in this
case, the deficiencies in those claims have already been
identified and explained to Chambers. Thus, his Complaint in
this case is essentially his second “bite at the
Court has carefully reviewed the Complaint filed by Chambers
in this case and has found that he has again failed to allege
facts sufficient to state a claim of deliberate indifference
to his medical needs with respect to his “official
capacity” claims, as well as his individual capacity
claims against Ormond, Barrone, Jones and “Unknown
PA-C.” First, Chambers's claims against
“unknown PA-C” fail because unnamed defendants,
without any identifying description, cannot be parties.
Richardson v. Johnson, 598 F.3d 734, 738 (11th Cir.
2010) (affirming district court's dismissal of
“John Doe (Unknown Legal Name), Guard, Charlotte
to the extent Chambers seeks to pursue his Bivens
claim against Defendants in their official capacities, such a
claim is barred by sovereign immunity. A suit against a
government employee in his or her “official
capacity” is not a suit against the employee for his or
her conduct while performing job duties for the government,
but is rather a suit against the government agency that
employs the individual. Thus, an official capacity suit
against a Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) employee is a
suit against the BOP, which is a federal agency. While
Bivens authorizes suits against federal employees
for violations of civil rights, it does not waive the
sovereign immunity enjoyed by the United States and its
agencies. Ctr. for Bio-Ethical Reform, Inc. v.
Napolitano, 648 F.3d 365, 370 (6th Cir. 2011)
(Bivens claims may be asserted against federal
officials only in their individual capacities); Okoro v.
Scibana, 63 Fed.Appx. 182, 184 (6th Cir. 2003).
“individual capacity” claims against Ormond,
Barrone, and Jones also fail. While Bivens expressly
validated the availability of a claim for damages against a
federal official in his or her individual capacity, an
officer is only responsible for his or her own conduct.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.662, 676-677 (2009).
See also Ziglar v. Abbasi, 137 S.Ct. 1843, 1860
(2017). The mere fact of supervisory capacity is not enough:
an official must be personally involved in the conduct
complained of because respondeat superior is not an
available theory of liability. Polk County v.
Dodson, 454 U.S. 312, 325-26 (1981).
Chambers generally alleges that Ormond, Barrone and Jones
were aware of his “medical needs” and denied him
medical attention, but even according to Chambers's own
allegations, these Defendants are administrators, not medical
providers. To establish that non-medical personnel such as a
warden or jailer was deliberately indifferent to an
inmate's serious medical needs, the plaintiff must
demonstrate that he intentionally prevented or interfered
with a doctor's course of appropriate treatment, or
directly or tacitly authorized the physician's clear
mistreatment or neglect of an inmate. Spruill v.
Gillis, 372 F.3d 218, 236 (3rd Cir. 2004) (“If a
prisoner is under the care of medical experts...a non-medical
prison official will generally be justified in believing that
the prisoner is in capable hands.”); Brock v.
Wright, 315 F.3d 158, 164-65 (2d Cir. 2003) (absent
evidence that warden was medically trained or independently
understood allegedly adverse consequences of regional medical
director's decision not to refer prisoner for outside
treatment, warden was not deliberately indifferent to
prisoner's medical needs merely for adopting medical
director's decision); Coleman v. Lappin, No. 6:
10-CV-186-GFVT, 2011 WL 4591092, at *6-7 (E.D. Ky. 2011)
(collecting cases); Fuller v. Shartle, 2012 WL
1068805, at *4-5 (N.D. Ohio 2012).
makes no such allegations against Ormond, Barrone, or Jones.
He does not allege that any of these individuals were aware
of the seriousness of his medical injuries, nor that any of
them were personally involved in the decisions made regarding
Chambers's medical care. The absence of any of these
allegations is particularly notable because Chambers was
specifically instructed by the California Court that, in
order to state a deliberate indifference claim against the
individual Defendants, he must allege facts demonstrating
that Chambers's injuries were serious and that the
Defendants actually knew that he was at a substantial risk of
harm. Chambers v. Dr. Allen, et al.,
5:17-cv-1353-MWF-KES (C.D. Cal. 2017) at R. 7, p. 7. However,
his Complaint in filed in this action fails to address any of
these deficiencies. Accordingly, his “individual
capacity” claims against Ormond, Barrone and Jones will
be dismissed without prejudice.
these claims will be dismissed, the Court finds that a
response is required with respect to Chambers's Eighth
Amendment claim against Dr. Hardy in his individual capacity.
Because the Court has granted Chambers pauper
status, the Clerk's Office and the United States Marshals
Service (“USMS”) will serve Defendant Dr. Hardy