United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Owensboro Division
DANNY LEE COOK, Jr. PLAINTIFF
SOUTHERN HEALTH PARTNERS DEFENDANT
H. McKinley Jr., Senior Judge.
Danny Lee Cook, Jr., filed a pro se, in forma
pauperis complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
This matter 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 set
forth below, this action will be dismissed.
SUMMARY OF CLAIMS
time he filed his complaint, Plaintiff was an inmate at the
Daviess County Detention Center (DCDC). He names as Defendant
Southern Health Partners (SHP), the medical provider at DCDC.
He states that on January 25, 2019, he broke his hand and put
in a medical request. He states that the next day
“medical called me out . . . to ask me what
happened.” Plaintiff states that he told
“her” that his hand was broken. He states that
his hand was “swollen and bruised very bad” but
“she” told him that it was not broken. He alleges
that when he asked her how she knew that, her response was
that it was her job to know things like that. He states that
he was told that he would receive ibuprofen for five days
and, that if it was still swollen and hurting after five
days, to put in another request. Plaintiff states that on
January 29, 2019, he made another medical request and a
different nurse examined him. This nurse told him that his
hand looked “very bad” and ordered an x-ray but
would not give him anything for pain. It appears that
Plaintiff's hand was x-rayed the next day, on January 30,
2019. He states that on February 2, 2019,
“medical” told him that his pinky was fractured.
The complaint which was signed on February 7, 2019, states
that Plaintiff is still in a lot of pain and cannot use his
hand. He also states that he “feel[s] like I am going
to have to get surgery on my hand.”
relief, Plaintiff asks for monetary damages.
prisoner initiates a civil action seeking redress from a
governmental entity, officer, or employee, the trial court
must review the complaint and dismiss the action, if the
Court determines that it 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. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1) and (2). 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 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. When determining
whether a plaintiff has stated a claim upon which relief can
be granted, the Court must construe the complaint in a light
most favorable to Plaintiff and accept all factual
allegations as true. Prater v. City of Burnside,
Ky., 289 F.3d 417, 424 (6th Cir. 2002). While a
reviewing court must liberally construe pro se
pleadings, Boag v. MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364, 365
(1982) (per curiam), to avoid dismissal, a complaint must
include “enough facts to state a claim to relief that
is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).
names only SHP as Defendant in this action. Based on the
complaint, the Court presumes that SHP is a private entity
which contracts with DCDC to provide medical care to inmates.
“The Sixth Circuit has held that the analysis that
applies to a § 1983 claim against a municipality applies
to a § 1983 claim against a private corporation.”
Detwiler v. S. Health Partners, No.
3:16-cv-P343-DJH, 2016 WL 4083465, at *2 (W.D. Ky. Aug. 1,
2016). When a § 1983 claim is made against a
municipality, or in this case a private corporation providing
medical services in an institutional setting, a court must
analyze two distinct issues: (1) whether the plaintiff's
harm was caused by a constitutional violation; and (2) if so,
whether the municipality is responsible for that violation.
Collins v. City of Harker Heights, Tex., 503 U.S.
115, 120 (1992). The Court will address the issues in reverse
municipality cannot be held liable solely because it
employs a tortfeasor - or, in other words, a municipality
cannot be held liable under § 1983 on a respondeat
superior theory.” Monell v. N.Y.C. Dep't of
Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978) (emphasis in
original); Searcy v. City of Dayton, 38 F.3d 282,
286 (6th Cir. 1994); Berry v. City of Detroit, 25
F.3d 1342, 1345 (6th Cir. 1994). “[T]he touchstone of
‘official policy' is designed ‘to distinguish
acts of the municipality from acts of
employees of the municipality, and thereby make
clear that municipal liability is limited to action for which
the municipality is actually responsible.'”
City of St. Louis v. Praprotnik, 485 U.S. 112, 138
(1988) (quoting Pembaur v. Cincinnati, 475 U.S. 469,
479-80 (1986)) (emphasis in Pembaur).
municipality cannot be held responsible for a constitutional
deprivation unless there is a direct causal link between a
municipal policy or custom and the alleged constitutional
deprivation. Monell, 436 U.S. at 691; Deaton v.
Montgomery Cty., Ohio, 989 F.2d 885, 889 (6th Cir.
1993). Simply stated, the plaintiff must
“‘identify the policy, connect the policy to the
city itself and show that the particular injury was incurred
because of the execution of that policy.'”
Garner v. Memphis Police Dep't, 8 F.3d 358, 364
(6th Cir. 1993) (quoting Coogan v. City of Wixom,
820 F.2d 170, 176 (6th Cir. 1987), overruled on other
grounds by Frantz v. Vill. of Bradford, 245
F.3d 869 (6th Cir. 2001)). The policy or custom “must
be ‘the moving force of the constitutional
violation' in order to establish the liability of a
government body under § 1983.” Searcy, 38
F.3d at 286 (quoting Polk Cty. v. Dodson, 454 U.S.
312, 326 (1981) (citation omitted)); Bd. of Cty.
Comm'rs of Bryan Cty., Okla. v. Brown, 520 U.S. 397,
404 (1997) (indicating that plaintiff must demonstrate
“deliberate conduct”). Here, Plaintiff has not
alleged that a policy or custom was the moving force behind
the allegedly unconstitutional treatment of his broken hand.
As such, Plaintiff fails to state a claim against Defendant
it necessary to allow Plaintiff to amend his complaint to
name the nurse(s) in her/their individual capacity(ies) who
allegedly did not provide him medical care. See
LaFountain v. Harry, 716 F.3d 944, 951 (6th Cir. 2013)
(“[U]nder Rule 15(a) a district court can allow a
plaintiff to amend his complaint even when the complaint is
subject to dismissal under the [Prison Litigation Reform
Act]”.). Plaintiff states that he broke his hand on
January 25, 2019; his complaint is dated February 7, 2019,
approximately two weeks after the injury. In that span of
time, he was seen twice by a nurse and his hand was x-rayed.
Further, he received ibuprofen for the first five days after
the injury. Although Plaintiff states that he feels like he
will need surgery on his hand, such is only his speculation.
establish an Eighth Amendment violation premised on
inadequate medical care, a prisoner must demonstrate that the
defendant acted, or failed to act, with “deliberate
indifference to serious medical needs.” Farmer v.
Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 835 (1994) (quoting Estelle
v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976)); Terrance v.
Northville Reg'l Psychiatric Hosp., 286 F.3d 834,
843 (6th Cir. 2002). A prisoner claiming an Eighth Amendment
violation must establish both that the deprivation was
sufficiently serious to rise to constitutional levels (an
objective component) and that the state official acted with a
sufficiently culpable state of mind (a subjective component).
Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 298 (1991).
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.” Westlake v. Lucas, 537 F.2d 857, 860 n.5
(6th Cir. 1976). In other words, a court generally will not
find deliberate indifference when some level of medical care
has been offered to the inmate. Christy v. Robinson,
216 F.Supp.2d 398, 413-14 (D.N.J. 2002). Thus, a difference
in judgment between an inmate and prison medical personnel
regarding the appropriate medical diagnosis or treatment is
not enough to state a deliberate-indifference claim. Ward
v. Smith, No. 95-6666, 1996 WL 627724, at *1 (6th Cir.
Oct. 29, 1996).
Plaintiff only evidences a disagreement with his medical
care. See, e.g., Jennings v. Al-Dabagh, 97
Fed.Appx. 548, 550 (6th Cir. 2004) (“[Prisoner's]
personal opinion that his care was substandard . . . raises
claims of state-law medical malpractice, not constitutionally
defective medical care indifferent to [prisoner's]
serious medical needs.”); Durham v.
Nu'Man, 97 F.3d 862, 869 (6th Cir. 1996) (holding
that where the fact that prisoner's arm was broken was
not readily apparent as it was not swollen and prisoner did
receive medical attention in the form of sutures for a cut
above his arm and an examination of his arm, prisoner's
complaints go ...