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Hoffmann v. Precythe

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

August 2, 2019

BRIAN HOFFMANN, Plaintiff,
v.
ANNE PRECYTHE, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          HENRY EDWARD AUTREY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on review of pro se plaintiff Brian Hoffmann's amended complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). For the reasons discussed below, the Court will order plaintiff to file a second amended complaint.

         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 is currently an inmate at the Moberly Correctional Center (MCC) in Moberly, Missouri. On May 23, 2018, he filed a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, naming eleven separate defendants. (Docket No. 1). The complaint did not indicate the capacity in which defendants were sued.

         In the original complaint, plaintiff accused defendants of deliberate indifference to his medical needs as the recipient of a kidney transplant. Specifically, he alleged that there was a delay in dealing with his elevated potassium levels, which led to an enlarged heart. He also claimed that he was infected with Hepatitis C, likely from improper sanitation of the dialysis machine.

         On November 8, 2018, the Court ordered plaintiff to file an amended complaint. (Docket No. 6). The Court noted that plaintiff's assertions regarding the condition of his kidney and heart were serious. However, the complaint plaintiff filed was deficient. In particular, the Court observed that plaintiff's allegations were broad and nonspecific as to the roles and actions of the various defendants, and that several defendants were not mentioned at all in his statement of claim. When plaintiff did name a defendant, his allegations tended to be vague and conclusory. The Court further noted that plaintiff had not indicated the capacity in which defendants were sued. As such, there was a presumption that plaintiff was suing defendants in their official capacities only. However, he had not provided any facts to support official capacity liability.

         The Court directed plaintiff to file an amended complaint according to the instructions set forth in the order. Plaintiff complied by filing an amended complaint on January 28, 2019. (Docket No. 10).

         The Amended Complaint

         Plaintiff's amended complaint is handwritten on a Court-provided 42 U.S.C. § 1983 form. He names the following eleven defendants: Missouri Department of Corrections Director Anne Precythe; MCC Warden Dean Minor; Corizon Medical Service Administrator Bonnie Boley; Dr. William Winklemeyer; Nurse Jenna Williams; Farmington Correctional Center (FCC) Warden Thomas Villmer; Dr. Robert Wudell; Nurse Practitioner Dana Jost; Corizon Medical Director Lisa Spain; Corizon Medical Services; and the Missouri Department of Corrections. (Docket No. 10 at 15-17). With the exception of Corizon and the Missouri Department of Corrections, the defendants are sued in both their individual and official capacities.

         Plaintiff claims that defendants have been deliberately indifferent to his medical needs by denying the necessary prescribed treatment for a kidney transplant recipient. (Docket No. 10 at 4). He also asserts that he has been denied services as a qualified person with a disability, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101, et seq.[1]

         Plaintiff states that during the months of November and December 2015, while incarcerated at FCC, he was sent on court outcounts to Buchanan County. When he arrived back at FCC in January, he went to medical to meet with Nurse Practitioner Dana Jost. (Docket No. 10 at 5-6). Nurse Practitioner Jost advised him that his creatine levels were extremely high, meaning that his kidney was in rejection. (Docket No. 10 at 6). She advised him that ...


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