United States District Court, D. Nebraska
DAVID M. ROBERTSON, Plaintiff,
SCOTT R. FRAKES, ROBERT HOUSTON, MICHAEL KENNEY, DR. RANDY KOHL, FRANK X. HOPKINS, JAMES JENSEN, FRED BRITTEN, BRIAN GAGE, MICHELLE CAPPS, UNKNOWN BUSBOOM, UNKNOWN WEATHERSPOON, CORRECT CARE SOLUTIONS, DR. UNKNOWN STONE, DR. JEFF DAMME, BARBARA LEWIEN, BRAD MCDONNELL, KEN SCHMIDT, EDWARD FABIEN, DR. MARY FLEARL, DR. KATHLEEN OGDEN, MARGARET ANTLEY, WENDY VAN AALST, UNKNOWN SMALLEY, and JOHN AND JANE DOES, All, Known and Unknown, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Richard G. Kopf Senior United States District Judge
matter is before the court on initial review of
Plaintiff's Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e). For the reasons that follow, the court finds that
Plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief can
be granted. However, on its own motion, the court will allow
Plaintiff to file an amended complaint.
APPLICABLE STANDARDS ON INITIAL REVIEW
court is required to review prisoner and in forma pauperis
complaints seeking relief against a governmental entity or an
officer or employee of a governmental entity to determine
whether summary dismissal is appropriate. See 28
U.S.C. §§ 1915(e) and 1915A. The court must dismiss
a complaint or any portion of it that states a frivolous or
malicious claim, that fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted, or that seeks monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B); 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).
plaintiffs must set forth enough factual allegations to
“nudge their claims across the line from conceivable
to plausible, ” or “their complaint must be
dismissed.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 569-70 (2007); see also Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (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.”).
essential function of a complaint under the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure is to give the opposing party ‘fair
notice of the nature and basis or grounds for a claim, and a
general indication of the type of litigation
involved.'” Topchian v. JPMorgan Chase Bank,
N.A., 760 F.3d 843, 848 (8th Cir. 2014) (quoting
Hopkins v. Saunders, 199 F.3d 968, 973 (8th Cir.
1999)). However, “[a] pro se complaint must be
liberally construed, and pro se litigants are held to a
lesser pleading standard than other parties.”
Topchian, 760 F.3d at 849 (internal quotation marks
and citations omitted).
construed, Plaintiff here alleges federal constitutional
claims. To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a
plaintiff must allege a violation of rights protected by the
United States Constitution or created by federal statute and
also must show that the alleged deprivation was caused by
conduct of a person acting under color of state law. West
v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Buckley v.
Barlow, 997 F.2d 494, 495 (8th Cir. 1993).
SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT
asserts this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for
alleged violations of his Eighth Amendment rights. (Filing
No. 1.) Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that prison officials
and staff exhibited deliberate indifference to his serious
Complaint is quite lengthy, and sets forth Plaintiff's
medical history relating to certain medical conditions. In
sum, Plaintiff contends that he suffered from serious
shoulder, back, leg, and knee conditions, but Defendants
deliberately disregarded his need for medical treatment.
claims that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his
medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment. To
establish a § 1983 claim for deprivation of medical
care, Plaintiff must demonstrate that he suffered objectively
serious medical needs, and that officials actually knew of
but deliberately disregarded those needs. Johnson v.
Hamilton, 452 F.3d 967, 972-73 (8th Cir. 2006). Society
does not expect that prisoners will have unqualified access
to health care. Therefore, deliberate indifference to medical
needs amounts to an Eighth Amendment violation only if those
needs are serious. Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1,
9 (1992) (citing Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97,
103-104 (1976)). “Deliberate indifference is equivalent
to criminal-law recklessness, which is ‘more
blameworthy than negligence, ' yet less blameworthy than
purposefully causing or knowingly bringing about a
substantial risk of serious harm to the inmate.”
Schaub v. VonWald, 638 F.3d 905, 914-15 (8th Cir.
2011) (quoting Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 835,
839-40 (1970)). Plaintiff's Complaint fails to state a
cause of action for multiple reasons.
Plaintiff's Complaint names multiple state employees as
defendants. The employees are named as defendants in their
official and individual capacities. The Eleventh Amendment
bars claims for damages by private parties against a state,
state instrumentalities, and an employee of a state sued in
the employee's official capacity. See, e.g., Egerdahl
v. Hibbing Cmty. Coll., 72 F.3d 615, 619 (8th Cir.
1995); Dover Elevator Co. v. Arkansas State Univ.,
64 F.3d 442, 446-47 (8th Cir. 1995). Any award of retroactive
monetary relief payable by the state, including for back pay
or damages, is proscribed by the Eleventh Amendment absent a
waiver of immunity by the state or an override of immunity by
Congress. See, e.g., id.;
Nevels v. Hanlon, 656 F.2d 372, 377-78 (8th Cir.
1981). Sovereign immunity does not, however, bar damages
claims against state officials acting in their personal
capacities, nor does it bar claims brought pursuant to 42
U.S.C. §1983 that seek equitable relief from state
employee defendants acting in their official capacity.
Therefore, to the extent Plaintiff seeks to recover monetary
relief against the employees acting in their official
capacities, the Eleventh Amendment bars his claims.
although Plaintiff has named multiple state employees as
defendants, Plaintiff's Complaint does not identify the
actions taken by each named defendant. “Individual
liability under § 1983 must be based on personal
involvement in the alleged constitutional violation.”
Gallagher v. Shelton,587 F.3d 1063, 1069 (10th Cir.
2009). A complaint that only lists a defendant's name in
the caption without alleging that the defendant was