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Woods v. Correction Care Solutions

United States District Court, D. Nebraska

March 20, 2017

MICHAEL JAMES WOODS, Plaintiff,
v.
CORRECTION CARE SOLUTIONS, Emiley Waltman, LPN; and LANCASTER COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Richard G. Kopf Senior United States District Judge

         Plaintiff filed his Complaint on January 11, 2017. (Filing No. 1.) He has been given leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (Filing No. 7.) The court now conducts an initial review of Plaintiff's Complaint to determine whether summary dismissal is appropriate under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).

         I. SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT

         Plaintiff is a prisoner at Lancaster County Department of Correction in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Filing No. 1 at CM/ECF p. 2.) Plaintiff's Complaint names Correction Care Solutions (“CCS”), Emiley Waltman (“Waltman”), a nurse employed by Correction Care Solutions, and Lancaster County Department of Correction (“LCDC”) as Defendants. (Id.) He sues Waltman in her official capacity. (Id.) Plaintiff brings § 1983 Eighth Amendment and state law medical malpractice claims against Defendants.

         Plaintiff alleges that he broke his collar bone prior to his arrest. (Id. at CM/ECF p. 6.) He informed the booking officer at LCDC of his injury. (Id.) Waltman, the “on call” nurse, checked Plaintiff. (Id.) She did not believe Plaintiff that his collar bone was broken and that he was in pain. (Id. at CM/ECF p. 7.) Plaintiff alleges that, as a result of Waltman's findings, LCDC made him lay on a concrete bench without a blanket and without medication for several hours, causing him further pain and suffering. (Id.) Plaintiff immediately filed a medical request. (Id.) As a result, another nurse ordered x-rays, which confirmed that Plaintiffs collar bone was broken. (Id. at CM/ECF pp. 7-8.) Plaintiff claims that the nurse told him that he “will be deformed in that area - nothing we can do.” (Id. at CM/ECF p. 8.) He was given Tylenol for pain. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that, because of his repeated complaints, the x-rays were sent back to a radiologist with a request for a recommendation. (Id. at CM/ECF pp. 8-9.) Plaintiff had surgery on his collar bone six weeks after he was booked into LCDC. (Id. at CM/ECF p. 9.)

         Upon his return from the hospital, Plaintiff was moved for observation from general population to the infirmary. (Id.) Plaintiff claims that he was not given the full amount of his pain medication after surgery and that he suffered anxiety attacks and nervous breakdowns from listening to other inmates in the infirmary. (Id. at CM/ECF pp. 9-10, 16-17.) In a “Supplement” to his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that a doctor with CCS failed to timely schedule him for a second surgery to have the plate removed that was inserted during his first surgery. (Filing No. 8 at CM/ECF pp. 2-3.) Plaintiff has since had the plate removed during a second surgery. (Id. at CM/ECF p. 1.) Plaintiff seeks an unspecified amount of monetary relief for pain and suffering and for any permanent damage. (Filing No. 1 at CM/ECF p. 12; Filing No. 8 at CM/ECF p. 2.)

         II. APPLICABLE STANDARDS OF REVIEW ON INITIAL REVIEW

         The 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).

         Pro se 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.”).

         “The 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).

         Liberally 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).

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Lancaster County Department of Correction

         The court liberally construes Plaintiff's claims against LCDC as claims against Lancaster County. See Sullivan v. Sarpy County Jail, 2015 WL 5124968 (D. Neb.) (Sarpy County was the proper defendant, not the Sarpy County Jail). As a municipal defendant, Lancaster County may only be liable under section 1983 if its official “policy” or “custom” caused a violation of the plaintiff's constitutional rights. Doe By & Through Doe v. Washington Cnty.,150 F.3d 920, 922 (8th Cir. 1998) (citing Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs.,436 U.S. 658, 694, 98 S.Ct. 2018, 56 L.Ed.2d 611 (1978)). An “official policy” involves a deliberate choice to follow a course of action made from among various alternatives by an official who has the final authority to establish governmental policy. Jane Doe A By & Through Jane Doe B v. Special Sch. Dist. of St. ...


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