United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Northern Division
DAVID J. BAKER, Plaintiff,
DR. RUANE STAMPS, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
PATRICIA L. COHEN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on pro se Plaintiff David
Baker's amended complaint. On January 8, 2019, the Court
granted Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma
pauperis, and ordered him to: (1) pay an initial partial
filing fee and (2) submit an amended complaint. ECF No. 6.
The Court stated it would review the amended complaint
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. After the Court granted
Plaintiff two extensions of time, he filed the amended
complaint. See ECF Nos. 8, 10, & 11. Plaintiff
also moves for the appointment of counsel. ECF No. 12. Upon
reviewing the amended complaint and considering the relevant
circumstances, the Court will appoint counsel under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(1), and provide a deadline for Plaintiff's
counsel to submit a second amended complaint.
Standard on Initial Review
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), the Court is required to dismiss
a complaint filed in forma pauperis if it is
frivolous, is malicious, fails to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a
defendant who is immune from such relief. To state a claim
for relief, a complaint must plead more than “legal
conclusions” and “[t]hreadbare recitals of the
elements of a cause of action [that are] supported by mere
conclusory statements.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A plaintiff must demonstrate a
plausible claim for relief, which is more than a “mere
possibility of misconduct.” Id. at 679.
“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.” Id. at 678. Determining
whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief is a
context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to
draw on its judicial experience and common sense.
Id. at 679.
reviewing a complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915, the Court
accepts the well-pled facts as true. See, e.g.,
White v. Clark, 750 F.2d 721, 722 (8th Cir.
1984) (per curiam) (in reviewing a dismissal of a pro
se prisoner's complaint under § 1915, a court
takes the facts “in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff, and all well-pleaded [factual] allegations are
considered as true”). Furthermore, the Court liberally
construes the allegations in a pro se complaint.
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per
an inmate at Moberly Correctional Center (“MCC”),
brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against two
defendants: Corizon Health Care (“Corizon”), the
medical services provider for the Missouri Department of
Corrections (“MDOC”), and Dr. Ruane Stamps, a
medical doctor employed by Corizon. Plaintiff alleges
Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious
medical needs by intentionally denying or delaying his access
to medical treatment in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
According to Plaintiff, as a result of Defendants'
inadequate response to and delayed treatment of his health
complaints - especially in light of his medical history - he
now has terminal throat cancer. Plaintiff asserts that, when
he first sought medical care at MCC, he had just a small
“peanut size” knot on his neck or throat area.
ECF No. 11 at 4. However, by the time he eventually had
surgery, a 7-inch cancerous mass was removed from his throat
and his prognosis is now terminal. Id. at 4-5.
alleges Dr. Stamps was aware of his history of cancer but she
waited too long before starting treatment for cancer because
she was trying to save money “for the Regional
Office.” Id. at 3. Plaintiff also complains
that, after the surgery to remove the throat mass, Dr. Stamps
would not give him “lay-in from school.”
alleges Corizon “did not and will not have any doctor
that will order [a] test that they know cost[s] a lot of
money.” Id. at 4. Plaintiff asserts that, if
Corizon had not delayed approving the medical tests necessary
to discover the recurrence of his cancer, he might be
“looking at a longer life.” Id.
According to Plaintiff, as a result of Corizon not approving
the “three (3) Test[s] in a timely manner, ” his
cancer is terminal - “[i]n other words they gave [him]
the death sentence.” Id. at 4 & 5.
complains of losing his voice, a throbbing and aching
discomfort, pain all the time, distress of body and mind, and
a shorter life expectancy. For relief, Plaintiff seeks
Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual
punishment protects prisoners from deliberate indifference to
their serious medical needs. Luckert v. Dodge Cty.,
684 F.3d 808, 817 (8th Cir. 2012). To survive initial review,
a plaintiff must plead facts sufficient to state a plausible
claim for deliberate indifference to serious medical needs.
See Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976);
Camberos v. Branstad, 73 F.3d 174, 175 (8th Cir.
1995). Allegations of mere negligence in giving or failing to
supply medical treatment will not suffice. Estelle,
429 U.S. at 106. Nor will a prisoner's “mere
disagreement with treatment decisions” support a claim
of deliberate indifference to a prisoner's serious
medical needs. Jones v. Minnesota Dep't of
Corr., 512 F.3d 478, 482 (8th Cir. 2008).
a prisoner plaintiff must allege that he suffered objectively
serious medical needs and that the defendants actually knew
of, but deliberately disregarded those needs. Dulany v.
Carnahan, 132 F.3d 1234, 1239 (8th Cir. 1997). A
“serious medical need” is “one that has
been diagnosed by a physician as requiring treatment, or one
that is so obvious that even a layperson would easily
recognize the necessity for a doctor's attention.”
Holden v. Hirner, 663 F.3d 336, 342 (8th Cir. 2011).
A prisoner may show a deliberate indifference through an
intentional delay in or denial of access to medical care.
Estelle, 429 U.S. at 104-05.
delay in treatment is alleged to have violated an
inmate's constitutional rights, a court measures the
objective severity of the deprivation “by reference to
the effect of the delay in treatment.”
Jackson v. Riebold, 815 F.3d 1114, 1119 (8th Cir.
2016) (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting
Laughlin v. Schriro, 430 F.3d 927, 929 (8th Cir.
2005)). To support a claim based on a delay in treatment, a
plaintiff must present “verifying medical
evidence” showing that the delay in treatment had
detrimental effects. Id. at 1120. See also
Holden, 663 F.3d at 342 (“[a] prisoner alleging a
delay in treatment must present verifying medical evidence
that . . . [the] delays adversely affected his
prognosis”); Spann v. Roper, 453 F.3d 1007,
1008-09 (8th Cir. 2006) (per curiam) (remanding
after concluding it was “incongruous” that the
district court denied the prisoner plaintiff's
“motion for an expert witness and then granted summary
judgment in part based on [the prisoner plaintiff's]
failure to provide verifying medical evidence that the ...