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Snow v. Kentucky State Reformatory

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky

December 2, 2019




         Plaintiff Ronnie Snow filed the instant pro se 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action proceeding in forma pauperis. This matter is before the Court on the motion to dismiss the action pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) filed by Defendants Correct Care Solutions, LLC (CCS) and Shannon Hardesty (DN 34). Plaintiff filed a motion captioned as a “motion to show cause and reply” (DN 40) to the motion to dismiss. The Court construes the motion as requesting to file a response to the motion to dismiss and will grant the motion. Defendants CCS and Hardesty filed a reply (DN 41). For the reasons stated below, the motion to dismiss will be granted. Because the Court finds that the complaint fails to state constitutional or state-law claims against any Defendant, the Court will dismiss the action against all Defendants by separate Order.


         Plaintiff was a convicted inmate at the Kentucky State Reformatory (KSR) at the time pertinent to the complaint. Upon initial screening of the action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 604 (6th Cir. 1997), overruled on other grounds by Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199 (2007), the Court allowed Plaintiff's § 1983 claims and state-law claims of negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress to proceed against Defendant CCS and Defendant Hardesty, whom Plaintiff identified as an employee of CCS, in her individual and official capacities based on the facts that follow.[1]

         Plaintiff stated that he “signed into effect a ‘do not resuscitate order [DNR]'” with Defendant CCS on July 23, 2014. He asserted that on May 30, 2016, he had a medical alert after he fell out of his wheelchair and was unconscious. He maintained that Defendants Hardesty and Verdi responded and “started performing [cardiopulmonary resuscitation] CPR upon arriving . . . without verifying if Snow had in effect any DNR order or other medical alerts.” Plaintiff stated that Defendant Hardesty contacted Defendant Sisco and advised her that an ambulance was needed immediately and that CPR was being performed on Plaintiff. He stated, “At no time did the defendants verify or check to see if Snow had any DNR order in his medical file.”

         Plaintiff further reported that, after communications among various KSR personnel as detailed in the complaint, an Oldham County EMS ambulance transported Plaintiff to the emergency room of Baptist Hospital, where he was admitted from May 30, 2016, to June 8, 2016. Plaintiff maintained, “At no time during these medical alerts did any of the defendants verify what, if any medical issues Snow had and/or if there were any medical DNR orders in effect all in violation of Snow's rights.”

         Plaintiff further stated that Kentucky Department of Corrections policy did not “insur[]e that the inmate population who sign into effect any DNR under order has in their possession verification that they have in fact signed a DNR order.” He maintained, “The policy only states that a notation will be placed in an inmate's file that a DNR order has been issued. This policy is in violation of Snow's rights to proper medical care due to not meeting the standards that will allow him the medical treatment he is entitled to.” Plaintiff asserted that Defendants did not issue him “any medical alert tag [and]/or medical id card and/or bracelet that would show that he had a DNR order in effect and due to this act and admission of the Defendant Snow's rights to proper medical care has been violated.”

         Plaintiff further stated, “Defendants intentional treatment of Plaintiff caused extreme mental and emotional distress that can not be compensated by any other cause of action in this complaint, and was so beyond the bounds of decency that it exemplifies the tort of outrage.”

         II. STANDARD

         Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), to survive dismissal, “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)). “The defendant has the burden of showing that the plaintiff has failed to state a claim for relief[.]” Wesley v. Campbell, 779 F.3d 421, 428 (6th Cir. 2015) (citing Directv, Inc. v. Treesh, 487 F.3d 471, 476 (6th Cir. 2007)). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). The complaint need not contain “detailed factual allegations, ” yet must provide “more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). In addition, “[a] pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)).

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Eighth Amendment

         Defendants maintain that Plaintiff's claim against Defendant Hardesty in her individual capacity should be dismissed on grounds that Plaintiff failed to state a claim of deliberate indifference to serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment. They argue that Plaintiff's allegations against Defendant Hardesty “are based upon her administering life-saving CPR to him in contravention of a DNR order . . . . Plaintiff has not alleged, nor can he establish, that Nurse Hardesty ha[d] subjective awareness of his DNR order or that she was deliberately indifferent to any serious medical need.” They argue that “it cannot be reasonably asserted that [Defendant Hardesty] acted with deliberate indifference sufficient to state a claim upon which relief can be granted; indeed, performing emergency life-saving treatment is the antithesis of being deliberately indifferent to a serious medical need.”

         A claim of deliberate indifference to serious medical needs under the Eighth Amendment has both an objective and a subjective component. The objective component requires the existence of a sufficiently serious medical need. Turner v. City of Taylor, 412 F.3d 629, 646 (6th Cir. 2005). To satisfy the subjective component, the defendant must possess a “sufficiently culpable state of mind, ” rising above negligence or even gross negligence and being “tantamount to intent to punish.” Horn by Parks v. Madison Cty. Fiscal Court, 22 F.3d 653, 660 (6th Cir. 1994). Put another way, “[a] prison official acts with deliberate indifference if he knows of a substantial risk to an inmate's health, yet ...

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