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Seaton v. Johnson County Jail

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

May 8, 2019

RICHARD A. SEATON, SR., Plaintiff,
v.
JOHNSON COUNTY JAIL, ET AL., Defendants.

          OPINION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          HENRY EDWARD AUTREY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on review of plaintiff Richard A. Seaton, Sr.'s amended complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. (Docket No. 9). For the reasons discussed below, this action must be dismissed without prejudice. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         Legal Standard on Initial Review

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), 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 under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must demonstrate a plausible claim for relief, which is more than a “mere possibility of misconduct.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009). “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 upon judicial experience and common sense. Id. at 679. The court must “accept as true the facts alleged, but not legal conclusions or threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements.” Barton v. Taber, 820 F.3d 958, 964 (8th Cir. 2016). See also Brown v. Green Tree Servicing LLC, 820 F.3d 371, 372-73 (8th Cir. 2016) (stating that court must accept factual allegations in complaint as true, but is not required to “accept as true any legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation”).

         When reviewing a pro se complaint under § 1915(e)(2), the Court must give it the benefit of a liberal construction. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). A “liberal construction” means that if the essence of an allegation is discernible, the district court should construe the plaintiff's complaint in a way that permits his or her claim to be considered within the proper legal framework. Solomon v. Petray, 795 F.3d 777, 787 (8th Cir. 2015). However, even pro se complaints are required to allege facts which, if true, state a claim for relief as a matter of law. Martin v. Aubuchon, 623 F.2d 1282, 1286 (8th Cir. 1980). See also Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914-15 (8th Cir. 2004) (stating that federal courts are not required to “assume facts that are not alleged, just because an additional factual allegation would have formed a stronger complaint”). In addition, affording a pro se complaint the benefit of a liberal construction does not mean that procedural rules in ordinary civil litigation must be interpreted so as to excuse mistakes by those who proceed without counsel. See McNeil v. United States, 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993).

         Background

         Plaintiff filed his original complaint on November 29, 2018, along with a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, a motion to appoint counsel, and a motion for preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order. (Dockets No. 1, 2, 4, 5). On December 11, 2018, the Court granted plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis and assessed an initial partial filing fee of $45.56. (Docket No. 8). The Court further denied his motion to appoint counsel and his motion for a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order.

         The Court also ordered plaintiff to file an amended complaint due to defects in his initial complaint. Specifically, the Court noted that plaintiff's claims against a number of defendants in Johnson County, Missouri, were not brought in the proper venue. As to the remaining defendants, the Court explained that plaintiff had failed to allege their direct responsibility for violating his constitutional rights. Specifically, plaintiff's complaint contained a general outline of his medical situation, but then relied on vague and conclusory language to assert liability, rather than demonstrating a nexus between each defendant and the harm he or she personally caused.

         The Court directed the Clerk of Court to send to plaintiff a copy of the Court's civil rights complaint form. Plaintiff was given thirty days in which to file an amended complaint according to the instructions set forth in the order. On January 2, 2019, plaintiff filed an amended complaint, which is subject to review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).

         The Amended Complaint

         At all times relevant to this amended complaint, plaintiff was incarcerated at the Farmington Correctional Center (FCC) in Farmington, Missouri.[1] He brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The amended complaint is handwritten on a Court-provided form and includes a number of grievances and grievance responses that will be treated as part of the pleading.[2] Plaintiff names Corizon Healthcare Services, Dr. Robert Wudel, and Nurse Dawn Wade as defendants. Dr. Wudel and Nurse Wade are sued in both their official and individual capacities. (Docket No. 9 at 2-4).

         Plaintiff alleges that Corizon has denied him the “necessary eye care subscribed by outside physicians” by not permitting Dr. Wudel to treat his eye condition. (Docket No. 9 at 5). He states that this denial amounted to deliberate indifference, causing him “to lose what eyesight he did have left in his left eye.” Plaintiff further alleges that Dr. Wudel “refused to properly treat [him] for his eye condition, ” thereby being “deliberately indifferent to his medical needs.” Finally, plaintiff claims that Nurse Wade “was deliberately indifferent when she failed to process, from diagnosis, the failing condition of plaintiff's eye condition.”

         Based on the documents attached to the complaint, it appears that plaintiff suffers from macular degeneration, for which he has been receiving Avastin injections. (Docket No. 9 at 12, 15). Plaintiff asserts, however, that an outside specialist has prescribed Ranibizumab injections, but that this has not been approved as part of his treatment plan. (Docket No. 9 at 16-17). He alleges that he has not received the Ranibizumab injections because of the high cost. (Docket No. 9 at 7).

         Plaintiff's eye condition existed before he entered FCC. However, he states that the failure of defendants to treat him in the way prescribed by an outside specialist has caused him to “lose what vision he did have before defendants' denial to treat him.” (Docket No. 9 at 5). Plaintiff seeks an order directing defendants to provide him with the eye injections prescribed by his outside ...


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