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Johnson v. Lombardi

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Central Division

November 3, 2016

GEORGE LOMBARDI, et al., Defendants.


          NANETTE K. LAUGHREY United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Larry Eugene Johnson, an inmate, brings this suit alleging Sixth and Eighth Amendment violations under Section 1983 and a violation of the Missouri Sunshine Law under Mo. Rev. Stat § 610.023.3. Before the Court is Defendant Earnest Jackson's Motion to Dismiss [Doc. 45]. For the following reasons, the motion is granted in part and denied in part.

         I. Background[1]

         Plaintiff Larry Johnson is an inmate at the Algoa Correctional Center in Jefferson City, Missouri. Defendant Earnest Jackson, D.M.D., is a dentist who treats patients at the Algoa Correctional Facility. According to Johnson's amended complaint, the Defendants-all corrections officers, directors, wardens, or other prison staff members-have repeatedly retaliated against Johnson for his attempts to file and pursue inmate grievances, meet in confidence with his attorneys, and defend himself at disciplinary hearings.

         The amended complaint provides several examples of these incidents. First, beginning in 2015, Johnson's meetings and phone calls with his counsel were monitored by corrections officers. Second, Johnson was placed in administrative segregation after he fell in the shower and injured his face. Third, Johnson ordered legal materials in advance of a disciplinary hearing, but these materials were not delivered for four months. Fourth, while Johnson was required to sign a form acknowledging he received a copy of the Missouri Department of Corrections' Offender Rulebook, he did not, in fact, actually receive a copy. Johnson's mail was also searched; when his attorney attempted to send him a copy of the Offender Rulebook, it was found and confiscated. Fifth, Johnson was forced to attend a disciplinary hearing without his attorney. He was given a sentence at this hearing that exceeded the allowable sentence under DOC rules and extended his confinement period by three months.

         Sixth, Johnson was not provided medical care for a serious toothache. He first sought care by filing multiple Medical Service Request forms, which were ignored. Johnson then presented to Dr. Jackson and Defendant Glenn Markley, a correctional officer, in an attempt to receive medical attention. Markley and Dr. Jackson asked Johnson to sign a liability release; when Johnson refused, Markley slammed shut the prison cell's chuckhole door, cutting him in the face.

         On later attempts to receive dental care, Dr. Jackson and his staff rescheduled and delayed Johnson's appointments for “several weeks.” Dr. Jackson told Johnson “that he remembered him from his refusal to sign the release and that he was a ‘trouble maker, '” and “would therefore not be treated until a later date.” [Doc. 40, p. 15]. When the appointment eventually took place, Johnson was forced to sign a waiver and the tooth was then removed in an unnecessarily painful manner.

         II. Discussion

         A. Dr. Jackson's Motion to Dismiss

         To survive a motion to dismiss, 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 Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim has facial plausibility when its allegations rise above the “speculative” or “conceivable, ” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 547, and where “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. Such a complaint will be liberally construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Eckert v. Titan Tire Corp., 514 F.3d 801, 806 (8th Cir. 2008).

         Defendant Dr. Earnest Jackson asks the Court to dismiss the two counts alleged against him: Count IV, which charges Dr. Jackson with an Eighth Amendment violation for failing to provide medical care, and Count V, where Dr. Jackson is charged with failing to implement a constitutionally-adequate administrative grievance process. Dr. Jackson argues that Johnson has not sufficiently pled the elements of either claim.

         1. Count V

         In Count V of his complaint, Johnson alleges that several Defendants, Dr. Jackson among them, implemented and administered a constitutionally-deficient inmate grievance system. Another Defendant, Carey Markley, advanced a similar argument in favor of her Motion to Dismiss, [Doc. 12]. In light of the Court's ruling on ...

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