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Furby v. Lancaster County Jail

United States District Court, D. Nebraska

July 2, 2018




         Plaintiff filed a Complaint on December 8, 2017. (Filing No. 1-1.)[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) and 1915A.


         Plaintiff is a prisoner currently confined at the Omaha Correctional Center. He brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Lancaster County Jail and Unknown John and Jane Doe Defendants in their official capacities for violations of his Eighth Amendment rights. (Filing No. 1-1.)

         Plaintiff alleges that on December 25, 2014, he was a pretrial detainee confined at the Lancaster County Jail. (Id. at CM/ECF p.7.) On that date, Plaintiff was attacked and beaten by another inmate as Plaintiff and other inmates were returning inside to the day room from an outer yard. The attack occurred in full view of the jail security staff's desk, but Plaintiff alleges security did not intervene to come to his defense for at least fifteen minutes while the inmate punched Plaintiff and beat his head on the concrete floor. Plaintiff alleges he tried to shield his face with his arms but received a blow to his right eye that rendered him momentarily unconscious. When Plaintiff regained his senses, back up security had just arrived. The other inmate was charged for the attack on Plaintiff. (Id. at CM/ECF pp.14-16.)

         After the attack, Plaintiff was escorted to medical where he was given an ice pack, some type of pain reliever, and some gauze for his bleeding nose. Plaintiff alleges that he suffered from migraines, dizziness, and loss of balance every time he stood up, pain in his eye, and constant bleeding from his nose and down his throat. After Plaintiff wrote several “kites” to medical, he was placed in the infirmary for hourly checks and was seen by the doctor only on the first and last day of his stay. (Id. at CM/ECF p.16.) Plaintiff alleges no x-rays were performed and medical staff never treated or found any solution to his issues. (Id. at CM/ECF pp.13, 16.) Plaintiff bonded out of jail eleven days after the attack on January 5, 2015. Plaintiff alleges that he cannot recall for certain if he filed a grievance before he bonded out due to his injuries, but he believes he did and did not receive a response. (Id. at CM/ECF p.9.)

         After Plaintiff left Lancaster County Jail, he visited Bryan LGH West and learned that he had a fractured right eye socket and has since been diagnosed with tendinosis and a labral tear in his left shoulder. Plaintiff continues to suffer vision problems related to his eye injury and is currently seeking treatment for his tendinosis and shoulder injuries. Plaintiff seeks $1, 000, 000 in damages for his medical expenses, pain and suffering, “PTSD from this incident, ” and life-long vision disability. (Id. at CM/ECF p.5.)


         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).


         Plaintiff sues Lancaster County Jail and the Unknown John and Jane Doe medical and security jail staff for failing to protect him and for deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment. As an initial matter, Lancaster County Jail is not a distinct legal entity subject to suit. SeeDan v. Douglas Cty. Dep't of Corr., No. 8:06CV714, 2009 WL 483837, at *4 (D. Neb. Feb. 25, 2009) (“the Department of Corrections and other units within the DCCC and Douglas County lack the legal capacity to sue or be sued in their own names”); see also Owens v. Scott Cty. Jail, 328 F.3d ...

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