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McCoy v. Wooten

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Dublin Division

October 21, 2014

NORRIS RAY McCOY, Plaintiff,
TIFFANY WOOTEN, Nurse, et al., Defendants.


BRIAN K. EPPS, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff, an inmate incarcerated at Telfair State Prison ("TSP") in Helena, Georgia, commenced the above-captioned case pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Because he is proceeding in forma pauperis, Plaintiff's complaint must be screened to protect potential defendants. Phillips v. Mashburn, 746 F.2d 782, 785 (11th Cir. 1984); Al-Amin v. Donald, 165 F.Appx. 733, 736 (11th Cir. 2006).


Plaintiff names the following Defendants: (1) Tiffany Wooten, a nurse at TSP; (2) Ms. Towns, a nurse at TSP; (3) Dr. Cheney, a doctor at TSP; and (4) Ms. Yawen, the Medical Director at TSP. (See doc. no. 1, pp. 1, 4.) Taking all of Plaintiff's factual allegations as true, as the Court must for purposes of the present screening, the facts are as follows.

In November of 2013, Defendant Wooten "committed the act of forgery' when she doctored" Plaintiff's medical files to show that he had received a PPD tuberculosis shot and bloodwork when he had not. (Id. at 5.) He also believes that his medical files have been similarly "doctored" by Defendant Towns to show he is receiving annual physicals even though he has not had a physical since 2010. (Id.) Plaintiff does not claim any health problems arising from these issues with his medical files. Plaintiff also alleges that Defendants Cheney and Yawen have refused to let him view his medical files because he is in lockdown, despite there being no rule prohibiting prisoners in lockdown from viewing their medical files. (Id.) He requests Defendants' "medical licenses be permanently revoked for committing acts unbecoming professional personnel." (Id. at 6.) As to the prison grievance procedure, Plaintiff states he filed a formal grievance but did not receive a response. (Id. at 3.) Although the complaint form directs the prisoner plaintiff to describe his use of the grievance appeal process, Plaintiff does not state that he filed a grievance appeal. (Id. at 4.)


A. Legal Standard for Screening

The complaint or any portion thereof may be dismissed if it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or if it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune to such relief. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A(b). A claim is frivolous if it "lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). "Failure to state a claim under § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is governed by the same standard as dismissal for failure to state a claim under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)." Wilkerson v. H & S, Inc., 366 F.Appx. 49, 51 (11th Cir. 2010) (citing Mitchell v. Farcass, 112 F.3d 1483, 1490 (11th Cir. 1997)).

To avoid dismissal for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the allegations in the complaint must "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). "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." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). That is, "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. While Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure does not require detailed factual allegations, "it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. A complaint is insufficient if it "offers labels and conclusions' or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action, '" or if it "tenders naked assertions' devoid of further factual enhancement.'" Id . (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557). In short, the complaint must provide a "plain statement' possess[ing] enough heft to sho[w] that the pleader is entitled to relief.'" Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).

Finally, the court affords a liberal construction to a pro se litigant's pleadings, holding them to a more lenient standard than those drafted by an attorney. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). However, this liberal construction does not mean that the court has a duty to re-write the complaint. Snow v. DirecTV, Inc., 450 F.3d 1314, 1320 (11th Cir. 2006).

B. Plaintiff Fails to State a Valid § 1983 Claim.

1. No Claim for Violating a Regulation.

Plaintiff's allegations amount to a claim that the named Defendants violated various regulations by "doctoring" medical files to show Plaintiff received treatment or had medical examinations which did not take place and then refusing to let him view his medical records. He has not identified any specific regulations that were violated, and he has alleged no harm or injury from these alleged violations.

This claim fails because a valid § 1983 claim is stated when a violation of the Constitution or federal law occurs, not when there is violation of an administrative regulation. See Parratt v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527, 535 (1981), overruled on other grounds by Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327, 330-31 (1986). An allegation of non-compliance with a prison regulation by prison officials is not, in itself, sufficient to give rise to a claim upon which relief may be granted. See Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 481-82 (1995) (noting that many prison regulations "are primarily designed to guide correctional officers in the administration of a prison" and that "such regulations are not designed to confer rights on inmates"); Mathews v. Moss, 506 F.Appx. 981, 984 (11th Cir. 2013) (district court properly dismissed prisoner's claim concerning prison officials' alleged failure to follow prison procedures with respect to grievances); Taylor v. White, CV 11-0377-CG-N, 2012 WL 404588, at *5 (S.D. Ala. Jan. 10, 2012) ("A claim based on a prison official's failure to follow prison regulations or state regulations, without more, simply does not ...

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