United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
WALTER W. BROOKINS, Plaintiff,
TODD RENSHAW, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
E. JACKSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on defendants' motion to
dismiss for failure to state a claim for relief, pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Plaintiff has not filed a response in
opposition and the time for doing so has elapsed.
Walter W. Brookins is an inmate at the Eastern Reception,
Diagnostic and Correctional Center (ERDCC). He alleges that
nurses employed at the ERDCC by Corizon Health, Inc.,
violated his rights under the Eighth Amendment by failing to
provide proper medical care. He brings suit pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983 against defendants Corizon Health,
director of nursing Todd Renshaw, assistant medical director
Rebecca Henson, and nurse practitioner Victoria L. Reinholdt.
First Amended Complaint [Doc. # 42]
he was diagnosed with stomach cancer, plaintiff had surgery
and was given a colostomy. He was transferred to the ERDCC
medical facility for a few days and then was returned to the
general population. First Amended Complaint at ¶¶
6(a), 6b. Dr. Emmanuel A. Afuwape provided a medical lay-in
that excused plaintiff from working and from getting up for
headcounts between October 27, 2014 and October 27, 2015.
¶ 6(c). Plaintiff alleges that defendants Reinholdt and
Renshaw made unauthorized changes to the prescribed lay-in to
require him to sit up during counts. ¶¶ 6(d), 6(e).
Dr. Charles Chastain provided a new medical lay-in that was
to begin on June 24, 2015. Dr. Chastain noted that plaintiff
had “EXTENSIVE PROTRUSION OF COLON SINCE CANCER SURGERY
AND HAS TROUBLE RAISING UP TO SIT: NEEDS RECUMBENT FOR
COUNT.” ¶ 6(f) (emphasis in original). Defendants
Reinholdt and Renshaw “continued to unilaterally change
the physician's lay-in restrictions.” When
plaintiff filed a complaint with defendant Henson, she denied
the complaint and discontinued Dr. Chastain's lay-in
restrictions. ¶ 6(g). Plaintiff received several conduct
violations “so that the correctional officers could try
to challenge his need for the recumbent medical lay-in
restriction.” In addition, the correctional officers
harassed plaintiff and threatened to write conduct violations
for failing to sit up during count, knowing that he was
unable to sit without experiencing extreme pain.¶¶
6(h), 7. Defendant Corizon has a “policy, custom and
practice” of changing lay-in restrictions at the
request of correctional officers in order to “protect
its relationship” with the State of Missouri. ¶ 5.
As a result of straining to sit up for headcounts, plaintiff
suffered extreme pain and required an additional surgical
procedure to correct a prolapse. ¶ 7.
purpose of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) is to test
the legal sufficiency of the complaint. Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6). The factual allegations of a complaint are assumed
true and construed in favor of the plaintiff, “even if
it strikes a savvy judge that actual proof of those facts is
improbable.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007) (citing Swierkiewicz v. Sorema
N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 508 n.1 (2002)); Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989) (“Rule 12(b)(6)
does not countenance . . . dismissals based on a judge's
disbelief of a complaint's factual allegations.”);
Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974) (stating
that a well-pleaded complaint may proceed even if it appears
“that a recovery is very remote and unlikely”).
The issue is not whether the plaintiff will ultimately
prevail, but whether the plaintiff is entitled to present
evidence in support of his claim. Scheuer, 416 U.S.
at 236. A viable complaint must include “enough facts
to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570; see
id. at 563 (stating that the “no set of
facts” language in Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S.
41, 45-46 (1957), “has earned its retirement”);
see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-84
(2009) (holding that the pleading standard set forth in
Twombly applies to all civil actions).
“Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to
relief above the speculative level.” Twombly,
550 U.S. at 555.
Eighth Amendment requires state prison officials to provide
inmates with needed medical care. Cullor v. Baldwin,
830 F.3d 830, 836 (8th Cir. 2016) (citation omitted). Prison
officials violate the Eighth Amendment when they are
“deliberately indifferent” to the “serious
medical needs” of inmates. Estelle v. Gamble,
429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976). The deliberate-indifference standard
requires “both an objective and subjective
analysis.” Barton v. Taber, 820 F.3d 958, 964
(8th Cir. 2016) (citations omitted). To meet the objective
component of the deliberate-indifference standard, the
complaint must plead facts sufficient to demonstrate that
plaintiff suffered from an objectively serious medical need.
Id. To be objectively serious, a medical need must
have been “diagnosed by a physician as requiring
treatment” or must be “so obvious that even a
layperson would easily recognize the necessity for a
doctor's attention.” Jackson v. Buckman,
756 F.3d 1060, 1065 (8th Cir. 2014) (citation omitted).
“The subjective component requires a plaintiff to show
that the defendant actually knew of, but deliberately
disregarded, such need.” Vaughn v. Gray, 557
F.3d 904, 908 (8th Cir. 2009). This showing requires a mental
state “akin to criminal recklessness.” Scott
v. Benson, 742 F.3d 335, 340 (8th Cir. 2014) (citation
omitted). Defendants argue that plaintiff has failed to
adequately plead either prong of the deliberate-indifference
existence of an objectively serious medical need is
determined based on “attendant circumstances.”
Barton, 820 F.3d at 965. Plaintiff pleads that he
had surgery resulting in a colostomy, that two physicians
specifically restricted him from sitting up for count, that
he suffered extreme pain by straining to sit up for the
count, and that after being required to sit for counts he
required additional surgery to address a prolapse. The
attendant circumstances as pleaded in the complaint are
sufficient to establish the existence of an objectively
serious medical need.
respect to the subjective prong, plaintiff alleges that
defendants rescinded two medically-ordered restrictions on
his activities at the request of correctional officers. A
decision to alter medical care for non-medical purposes
amounts to more than negligence or an inadvertent failure to
provide adequate medical care. Indeed, the constitutional
obligation to provide medical care to those in custody may be
violated when officials “intentionally deny[ ] or
delay[ ] access to medical care or intentionally
interfer[e] with the treatment once prescribed.”
Dadd v. Anoka Cty., 827 F.3d 749, 756 (8th Cir.
2016) (quoting Estelle, 429 U.S. at 104-05)
(emphasis added). Accepting the truth of plaintiff's
allegations and viewing the facts in the light most favorable
to plaintiff, the Court concludes that he has adequately
stated a claim that defendants violated his Eighth Amendment
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that defendants' motion to dismiss
for failure to ...