United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Northern Division
JOHNNY M. ESPARZA, Plaintiff,
WARDEN CHANTAY GODERT and DIRECTOR ANNE L. PRECYTHE, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
RICHARD WEBBER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on review of the file following
plaintiff's filing of his written supplement to the
amended complaint. After careful review of the amended
complaint and the written supplement, the Court will order
the Clerk to issue process or cause process to be issued on
the complaint as to defendant Warden Chantay Godert in her
individual capacity. The Court will dismiss without prejudice
(1) plaintiff's claims against defendant Warden Chantay
Godert in her official capacity, and (2) plaintiff's
claims against Director Anne L. Precythe in both her
individual and official capacities.
August 27, 2018, the Court granted plaintiff's motion to
proceed in forma pauperis, and conducted an initial review of
his complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e). The Court
stated that “[p]laintiff's allegations may state a
plausible claim for deprivation of his Eighth Amendment
rights under § 1983. However, plaintiff lists the
Missouri Department of Corrections as his only defendant in
this § 1983 action.” The Court found the Missouri
Department of Corrections was not a “person”
subject to suit under § 1983, and directed plaintiff to
file an amended complaint.
filed his amended complaint, listing as defendants Chantay
Godert (Warden, Northeast Correctional Center
(“NECC”)) and Anne Precythe (Director, Missouri
Department of Corrections). He checked the box on the form
complaint, however, indicating that he was only suing these
defendants in their official capacities. The Court ordered
plaintiff to file a written supplement to the amended
complaint, stating whether he was suing the named defendants
in their official capacities, individual capacities, or both
individual and official capacities.
April 22, 2019, plaintiff filed his written supplement to the
amended complaint, stating that he is suing defendants in
both their individual and official capacities.
Standard on Initial Review
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), the Court is required to dismiss a
complaint filed in forma pauperis if it is frivolous,
malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted. 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(e), the
Court accepts the well-pled facts as true. Furthermore, the
Court liberally construes the allegations.
formerly an inmate NECC, brings this § 1983 alleging
defendants violated his Eighth Amendment right to be free of
cruel and unusual punishment. Prior to being incarcerated,
plaintiff suffered from throat cancer and had a total
laryngectomy. Since having the procedure, plaintiff breathes
through an opening in his neck known as a stoma. Because of
his stoma, plaintiff is at an increased risk of developing a
states that in April 2018, while housed in Algoa Correctional
Center, he developed an lung infection from using a prison
shower. He was treated and then transferred to NECC.
Plaintiff met with Dr. Rhodes at NECC and asked to be placed
in the Transitional Care Unit (“TCU”) (the
prison's hospital) because he needed use a low-traffic
shower to avoid bacterial infection of his stoma. Plaintiff
states that Dr. Rhoades agreed that the TCU would be the
appropriate place to house plaintiff, but Dr. Rhoades took no
action to have plaintiff placed there. Instead, plaintiff was
placed in the general population where he soon declared a
medical emergency. Plaintiff states fluid was running down
his chest from his stoma, and he was gasping for air.
Plaintiff states he was “pushed to the back of the
17, 2018, plaintiff's throat surgeon wrote to him stating
that “it is critical that you get good humidification
and steam to keep the trachea and stoma clean . . . . The
stoma will colonize with bacteria as well, so keep it as
clean as possible.” See ECF No. 8-1 at 13.
Plaintiff forwarded this letter to the prison's mental
health staff, medical staff, Corizon staff, defendant Godert,
and defendant Precythe.
25, 2018, plaintiff was taken to Jefferson City for medical
treatment because of throat pain. On June 11, 2018, plaintiff
received a lay-in from Dr. Mary E. Chandler at NECC, which
ordered plaintiff to be housed in a cell with its own shower.
Plaintiff states that he immediately took the lay-in to his
functional unit manager, who contacted Warden Godert by
telephone. Shortly after this telephone call, plaintiff
received a letter from Warden Godert, stating that
plaintiff's concerns regarding the prison showers should
be addressed through the prison's grievance process.
Plaintiff states that at some point Dr. Chandler had modified
plaintiff's lay-in to change the requirement that
plaintiff be placed in a cell with its own shower to a
requirement that plaintiff be allowed to use a handicapped
shower. According to plaintiff, this modified lay-in placed
him in a worse position, because the handicapped shower is
the preferred shower of the inmates. But regardless,
plaintiff continues, he is housed in D-wing of 8-house, which
has no handicapped shower. Plaintiff states that he
“deal[t] with it up until mid-July when all of a sudden
everyone is moved off bunks into cells-the cells are over 100
degrees. . . . I have sweat running down my neck into my
hole. I beg for a fan because I don't have money. . . . I