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Blackwell v. Dooley

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

November 10, 2014

KEITH LAMAR BLACKWELL, Plaintiff,
v.
CHARLIE A. DOOLEY, et al., Defendants.

OPINION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

HENRY EDWARD AUTREY, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court upon review of plaintiff's amended complaint. Plaintiff, Keith Lamar Blackwell (registration no. 195561), an inmate at St. Louis County Justice Center, was granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis in this action on August 11, 2014. For the reasons stated below, Court will partially dismiss the amended complaint and will order the Clerk to issue process or cause process to be issued on the non-frivolous portions of the amended complaint.

28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), the Court must dismiss a complaint filed in forma pauperis if the action is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. An action is frivolous if it "lacks an arguable basis in either law or fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 328 (1989) ; Denton v. Hernandez, 112 S.Ct. 1728, 1733 (1992). An action is malicious if it is undertaken for the purpose of harassing the named defendants and not for the purpose of vindicating a cognizable right. Spencer v. Rhodes, 656 F.Supp. 458, 461-63 (E.D. N.C. 1987), aff'd 826 F.2d 1059 (4th Cir. 1987). A complaint fails to state a claim if it does not plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974 (2007).

To determine whether an action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the Court must engage in a two-step inquiry. First, the Court must identify the allegations in the complaint that are not entitled to the assumption of truth. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1950-51 (2009). These include "legal conclusions" and "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action [that are] supported by mere conclusory statements." Id. at 1949. Second, the Court must determine whether the complaint states a plausible claim for relief. Id. at 1950-51. This is a "context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id. at 1950. The plaintiff is required to plead facts that show more than the "mere possibility of misconduct." Id. The Court must review the factual allegations in the complaint "to determine if they plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief." Id. at 1951. When faced with alternative explanations for the alleged misconduct, the Court may exercise its judgment in determining whether plaintiff's conclusion is the most plausible or whether it is more likely that no misconduct occurred. Id. at 1950, 51-52.

The Amended Complaint

Plaintiff brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Charlie A. Dooley (County Executive); Garry W. Earls (Chief Operating Officer, St. Louis County Justice Center); Herbert Bernsen (Director, St. Louis County Justice Center); Gerald Kramer (7D Floor Manager, St. Louis County Justice Center); Kim Wilbert (Correctional Officer); Dolores Gunn (Director of Health, St. Louis County Justice Center); F. Rottnek (Doctor); Unknown Wenger (Doctor); Unknown Reed (Major, Internal Affairs Manager, St. Louis County Justice Center); A. Moore (Correctional Officer in Charge of Safety, Welfare and Health); Unknown Ellis (Correctional Officer); Unknown Bonner (Correctional Officer); Rita Hendrix (Nurse Manager); Jane Doe Nurse on Duty on August 1, 2014 between the hours of 1:00 am and 6:00 am. Defendants are named in their official and individual capacities.

Plaintiff alleges that the conditions in the St. Louis County Justice Center are unsanitary and that defendants have taken action against him in violation of his civil rights under the 1st, 8th and 14th Amendments[1] of the United States Constitution. Plaintiff also appears to be alleging that defendants have been deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs. The complaint seeks monetary and injunctive relief.

Plaintiff asserts that he suffers from the following medical conditions: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); sleep apnea; bleeding from his rectum/colon problems; an unspecified heart disorder; unspecified swelling in his breasts; gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD); neck and back pain/nerve spasms; "floaters" in his eyes due to glaucoma; and unspecified swelling in his feet/legs.

Plaintiff states that when he entered the Justice Center in November of 2013, he was receiving treatment for some of the aforementioned disorders by way of sleeping with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, sleeping with a "medical wedge" placed under his mattress, taking the medication Advair and using prescription eye drops. Plaintiff claims that despite having medical documentation about his need for these treatments, defendants Gunn, Rottnek and Wenger have been deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs by failing to provide him with a "medical wedge, " failing to provide him with the prescription eye drops and Advair and failing to act quickly when his CPAP machine broke and needed to be fixed/replaced. Plaintiff also states that he was denied appropriate treatment for bleeding from his rectum, including suppositories and surgical follow-up, and he asserts that he was not given pain medication for his neck and back pain. Plaintiff states that when he complained to defendant Rottnek about the poor medical care he was told that if he sued him he would be "transferred to the Downtown Justice Center" where plaintiff would receive "real deliberate indifference."

Plaintiff next asserts that Jane Doe Nurse on Duty on August 1, 2014 between the hours of 1:00 am and 6:00 am was deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs when his CPAP machine malfunctioned while he was sleeping and he awoke to serious breathing problems and a coughing fit. When plaintiff sought assistance from the Nurse, she told him that he would be fine until shift change, without assessing his medical condition. Plaintiff states that he continued to cough and choke as a result of his broken machine.

Plaintiff asserts that although defendant doctors refused to provide him with a "medical wedge, " they prescribed him an extra mattress and extra sheets to be used as a "wedge" for his heart and breathing conditions. Plaintiff claims that when he filed a grievance against defendant correctional officer Moore for his inappropriate conduct in relation to plaintiff, defendant Moore retaliated against him by "destroying" his "make-shift" medical wedge that had been prescribed by the defendant physicians. Plaintiff believes that defendant Moore's actions were in violation of the 1st Amendment.

Plaintiff states that correctional officers Moore and Wilbert engage in verbal abuse of the inmates at the Justice Center. Plaintiff also makes more general allegations against defendants Moore and Wilbert, noting that he believes these defendants have engaged in other Constitutional violations of the inmates' rights.

Plaintiff claims that defendant Kramer, the Floor Manager on 7D, is aware of and has taken his complaints regarding, the unlawful conditions of confinement at the Justice Center. Plaintiff asserts that Kramer knows that the food is served on "dirty trays, " and that the showers are not properly cleaned and contain mold and mildew, and that the sheets and towels contain mold and mildew and are not properly cleaned between uses by the inmates. Plaintiff states that defendant Kramer is also aware that the showers and toilets have not been cleaned properly and result in foot infections. Plaintiff asserts that these conditions have resulted in adverse medical consequences to himself and other inmates at the Justice Center.

Plaintiff alleges that defendants Kramer and Bernsen have interfered with his access to courts by limiting him to 10 pages of free ...


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