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Garcia v. Richards

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

October 21, 2019

ERICK GARCIA, Plaintiff,
TODD RICHARDS, et al., Defendants.



         This matter comes before the Court on review of plaintiff Erick Garcia's second amended complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. (Docket No. 14). For the reasons discussed below, the Court will dismiss plaintiffs second amended complaint without prejudice.

         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 plaintiffs 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 (8thCir. 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).


         Plaintiff is currently an inmate at the Northeast Correctional Center (NECC) in Bowling Green, Missouri. He brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff filed his original complaint on June 8, 2018, naming Doctors Todd Richards, John Pope, Unknown Cook, and Unknown Penyugua as defendants. (Docket No. 1 at 1). According to plaintiff, defendants Richards and Pope were on the medical staff at "Cameron Correctional." Meanwhile, defendant Cook was a physician at Capital Region Physicians, and defendant Penyugua was on the medical staff at NECC.

         In the original complaint, plaintiff alleged that during the course of his incarceration, he was subjected to a "system of deliberate [indifference]" with regard to a chronic condition in his right shoulder. (Docket No. 1 at 4; Docket No. 1-1 at 2). Plaintiff stated that he had been misdiagnosed and allowed to endure pain while receiving treatment that medical staff knew was not helping. (Docket No. 1 at 4).

         On September 26, 2018, plaintiff filed a document with the Court construed as a motion to amend. (Docket No. 6). In the motion, plaintiff stated that his claim was "improperly filed" and that the inmate helping him fill out paperwork did so improperly. The motion was granted, and plaintiff was given thirty days to file an amended complaint on a Court-provided form. Plaintiff duly complied with this order and filed an amended complaint on November 13, 2018. (Docket No. 9).

         The amended complaint named the Missouri Department of Corrections as the sole defendant. (Docket No. 9 at 1). Plaintiff alleged that in 2013, he discovered that he had a bone spur and arthritis in his right shoulder. (Docket No. 9 at 5). This was revealed by an x-ray performed at the South Central Correctional Center in Licking, Missouri. Plaintiff asserted that his pain became worse following the x-ray. He also stated that he underwent a CT scan that showed he had a torn labrum. He further claimed that he had been filing health service requests for five years, and that his "doctors in D.O.C." have requested that he see an orthopedist, but that such requests have been denied. Plaintiff stated that his pain has continued to worsen, and that he is experiencing decreased range of motion and muscle atrophy.

         The Court ordered plaintiff to file a second amended complaint on March 25, 2019. (Docket No. 10). In the order, the Court noted that plaintiffs amended complaint was subject to dismissal for several reasons. First, to the extent that he was suing the Missouri Department of Corrections for money damages, he had failed to state a claim, because a state was not a "person" under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. To the extent that plaintiff sought injunctive relief, the Court stated that plaintiff had failed to demonstrate that his constitutional rights were violated due to a Missouri Department of Corrections' policy, custom, or failure to train. Finally, the Court advised plaintiff that his claims regarding medical treatment were vague and conclusory and did not establish that the treatment he received constituted deliberate indifference.

         Plaintiff was directed to file a second amended complaint within thirty days. The Court provided plaintiff instructions as to how to do so properly. Plaintiff complied by filing a second amended complaint on June 3, 2019. (Docket No. 14).

         The Second Amended Complaint

         Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. His second amended complaint names the following defendants: Missouri Department of Corrections (MODOC) Director Anne L. Precythe; Warden Chantay Godert; Corizon; Dr. Lauren Cook; Director Todd A. Richards; Unknown Persons; Unknown Medical Director; Nurse Dawn Wade; Director of Operations J. Cofield; Regional Medical Director T. Bredeman; and Unknown ...

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