United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Dublin Division
MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
BRIAN K. EPPS, Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff, an inmate incarcerated at Wheeler Correctional Facility ("WCF") in Alamo, Georgia, commenced the above-captioned case pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Because he is proceeding in forma pauperis ("IFP"), Plaintiff's amended 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).
I. SCREENING OF THE COMPLAINT
In his complaint, Plaintiff names as Defendants: (1) Wheeler Correctional Facility, (2) Jason Medlin, Warden; (3) Dr. Hae; (4) T. Ueal, Nurse; (5) Dr. Nicholes; and (6) W. Brown, Nurse. (Doc. no. 15, 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.
On March 19, 2013, Plaintiff had a dental appointment to extract his teeth with Dr. Hae and Nurse T. Ueal. (Id. at 5.) Plaintiff informed Dr. Hae and Nurse Ueal that he was in extreme pain and needed his teeth extracted, and they informed him that he was put on the dentures list but apparently did not extract his teeth. (Id.) Plaintiff did not have any of his teeth extracted until six months later when three of his fractured teeth were extracted at an appointment with Dr. Hae and Nurse Ueal on September 19, 2013. (Id.) Although Plaintiff was told he would have a follow-up visit, no such visit occurred. (Id.) Instead, Plaintiff continued writing to the medical department and was charged five dollars for each visit to the medical department. (Id.) Seven months after his initial appointment with Dr. Hae and Nurse Ueal, Nurse Ueal told Plaintiff that he could receive pain medication and was still on the extraction list. (Id.) On December 16, 2013, Plaintiff put in a sick call to Nurse W. Brown about how he could not eat or sleep due to pain from his teeth. (Id.)
In January of 2014, ten months after his initial appointment, Dr. Nicholes examined Plaintiff and put him on the list again to have his broken teeth extracted. (Id.) Plaintiff put in another sick call on March 5, 2015 to Nurse Brown due to his toothaches and was told again that he was on the waiting list for extraction. (Id. at 6.) On April 15, 2014, Plaintiff put in another sick call and was told by Nurse Ueal that he was on the waiting list for extraction but could receive pain medication for a five-dollar copay. (Id.) Plaintiff's last three teeth were extracted on June 12, 2014 by Dr. Hae and Nurse T. Ueal, and Plaintiff was charged five dollars for this appointment. (Id.) On June 25, 2014, Plaintiff put in a sick call for dentures, and prison staff put him on a soft tray diet due to his raw mouth. (Id.) Even though Plaintiff was placed on a soft tray diet, the prison failed to actually adhere to the diet. (Id.) Due to this, Plaintiff put in a sick call on August 15, 2014 about how he could not chew his food and was forced to swallow it whole. (Id.) Plaintiff was informed by Nurse Ueal and Dr. Hae that dentures were not guaranteed and that he could be put on a soft tray diet if he were to show up for an appointment. (Id.) This was told to him in spite of the fact that he was already on a soft tray diet. (Id.)
Eight days later, an infection developed in Plaintiff's lower right jaw. (Id.) Plaintiff put in a sick call about the infection on August 27, 2014 and was brought in for a dental appointment with Dr. Hae and Nurse Ueal. (Id.) Dr. Hae and Nurse Ueal only gave Plaintiff a mouth rinse and told him once again that he was on the waiting list for dentures. (Id.) After thirteen days of the lower jaw infection, Plaintiff put in another sick call telling the dental department that part of a tooth was left in his lower right jaw. (Id. at 6-7.) Dr. Nicholes and Nurse Brown informed Plaintiff that the tooth would work its way out. (Id. at 7.) On October 2, 2014, Plaintiff put in another sick call for dentures because he could not chew his food properly and was having problems digesting his meals. (Id.) At this appointment, Dr. Nicholes and Nurse Brown once again told him that he was on the waiting list for dentures. (Id.) On January 14, 2015, Plaintiff wrote to medical requesting dentures and asserting that the prison does not adhere to his soft tray diet and was told again that he was on the waiting list. (Id.) Plaintiff has now been on the waiting list for dentures for approximately twenty-three months and has yet to receive them, leading to a raw mouth and problems eating his food. (Id.) Plaintiff requests $500, 000 in compensatory damages for the deliberate indifference shown by prison staff. (Id.)
1. Legal Standard for Screening
The amended 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, of 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, 327 (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 amended complaint must "state a claim for 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. An amended 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 amended 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. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). However, this liberal construction does not mean that the court has a duty to ...