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Covington v. Stuckey-Parchmon

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

October 28, 2019

KEVIN COVINGTON, Plaintiff,
v.
CARLINA STUCKEY-PARCHMON, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          AUDREY G. FLEISSIG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant St. Louis County's (“County”) motion (ECF No. 38) to dismiss Plaintiff Kevin Covington's amended complaint, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant the motion in part and deny it in part.

         BACKGROUND

         Taken as true for the purpose of this motion, the facts alleged in the amended complaint are as follows. Plaintiff has been held as a pretrial detainee at the County jail from March 2017 to the present. Throughout this time, he has suffered from epilepsy and hypertension and has therefore been prescribed the following daily medications: Dilantin, Phenobarbital, and Verapamil. On five occasions between May 10 and September 16, 2018, Defendant Carlina Stuckey-Parchmon, a nurse at the jail, refused to give Plaintiff his medications.

         Specifically, on or about May 10, 2018, Stuckey-Parchmon refused to give Plaintiff his medications, stating that Plaintiff “would have to get his medications from someone else.” ECF No. 33 at ¶ 12. Both Plaintiff and the housing unit officer at the time, Officer Robeinson, [1] asked Stuckey-Parchmon the reason for her refusal, but Stuckey-Parchmon did not respond. Robeinson therefore contacted a supervisor, and seven hours later, another nurse brought Plaintiff his medications.

         On June 6, 2018, Stuckey-Parchmon again refused to give Plaintiff medications even though Stuckey-Parchmon was regularly dispensing medications to all other inmates in the unit. Stuckey-Parchmon told Plaintiff and the housing unit manager at the time, Officer Hayden, that she “did not have to give [Plaintiff] shit, ” and did not “have to give a reason why.” Id. ¶ 18. Hayden then informed a supervisor, Lieutenant Beard, who asked Stuckey-Parchmon the reason for her refusal. Stuckey-Parchmon informed Beard that she had no reason but that she just would not serve Plaintiff.[2]

         Following these incidents, on September 14, 15, and 16, 2018, Stuckey-Parchmon again refused to give Plaintiff his medications.[3] On September 14, Plaintiff was not wearing his identification wristband, and Stuckey-Parchmon asked a unit officer to retrieve Plaintiff's booking card to identify Plaintiff. When Plaintiff asked why Stuckey-Parchmon needed to see his booking card when she already knew who he was, Stuckey-Parchmon threw Plaintiff's medications into the trash and left the unit. The following day, when Plaintiff asked for his medications, Stuckey-Parchmon told Plaintiff to “get away from [her]” and called the next inmate in line for medications. Id. ¶ 25. The housing unit officer at the time, Officer Coticchio, instructed Plaintiff to file a grievance and told Plaintiff that he (Coticchio) would “call medical to send someone [else] up to give [Plaintiff] his meds.” Id. ¶ 26. The next day, Stuckey-Parchmon again refused to give Plaintiff his medications, telling Plaintiff to step out of line. Coticchio then told Plaintiff: “You know what you have to do. You file your grievance and I'll file my report.” Id.

         Plaintiff alleges that as a result of failure to timely receive his regular medications, he suffered headaches and loss of sleep, dangerously high blood pressure, and unhealthy blood sugar levels; and he had to increase his dosage of one or more medications due to the irregular administration.

         Following each of these incidents, Plaintiff filed a grievance on the day-of and did not receive any response, notwithstanding that the County Department of Justice Services' Inmate Handbook requires the County to respond to grievances within five days. On September 19, 2018, Plaintiff filed a sixth grievance, complaining that none of his prior grievances had been addressed. Again, Plaintiff did not receive a timely response. He therefore filed a complaint in this Court, pro se, on October 1, 2018. Only after filing this lawsuit did Plaintiff receive a response from the County to his grievance, in the form of a Formal Inmate Grievance Response Form with the purported date of September 22, 2018, responding to Plaintiff's September 19, 2018 grievance.

         On April 22, 2019, the Court granted Plaintiff's motion to appoint counsel, and appointed counsel thereafter sought leave to amend Plaintiff's complaint. On May 31, 2019, the Court granted Plaintiff's motion for leave to amend in part, permitting Plaintiff to add factual allegations against Stuckey-Parchmon and to add municipal liability claims against the County.[4] ECF No. 32.

         Plaintiff's amended complaint contains two counts brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Count I, asserted against Stuckey-Parchmon in her individual capacity and against the County, alleges a violation of Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights based on Stuckey-Parchmon's refusal to dispense Plaintiff's medication. Count II, asserted against the County only, alleges a violation of Plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment rights based on the County's lack of, or disregard of, a grievance process. Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

         The County now moves to dismiss both claims against it for failure to state a claim. The County argues that Count I fails to plausibly allege an underlying constitutional violation or municipal liability under Monell v. Department of Social Services of City of New York, 436 U.S. 658 (1978). As to Count II, the County argues that there is no constitutional right to a prison grievance procedure.

         DISCUSSION

         To survive a motion to dismiss, a plaintiff's claims must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The reviewing court accepts the plaintiff's factual allegations as true and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. Torti v. Hoag, 868 F.3d 666, 671 (8th Cir. 2017). But “[c]ourts are not bound to accept as true a legal ...


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