United States District Court, S.D. Georgia
RAMIRO GONZALES, JR., as Administrator of the Estate of Cristian Ivan Bailon Lorenzo, and MARIBEL LORENZO MOLINA, Plaintiffs,
GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, an Administrative Division of the State of Georgia, STANLEY WILLIAMS, Individually and in his Official Capacity as Warden of Smith State Prison, JARROD D. PITTMAN, Individually and in his Official Capacity as Correctional Officer at Smith State Prison, and JOHN DOE #1 and JOHN DOE #2, Individually and in their Official Capacities as Officials of Smith State Prison, Defendants.
J. RANDAL HALL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
case arises out Cristian Ivarj Bailon Lorenzo's death
l at Smith State Prison in Glennville,
Georgia. Following his death, Plaintiffs filed suit on
Lorenzo' Is behalf alleging state-law and constitutional
claims. Defendants move to dismiss all i but
one claim. Because Plaintiffs concede that a number of their
claims fail, and because Plaintiffs failed to plead
sufficient facts to support their claim of deliberate
indifference to Lorenzo's serious medical needs, the
Court GRANTS Defendants' motion to
dismiss (doc. 15).
his death, Lorenzo was incarcerated at Smith State Prison.
(Doc. 1 ¶ 11.) He shared a cell with Richard Duron, a
known murderer. (Id. ¶ 12.) According to
Plaintiffs, Duron threatened Lorenzo, who asked to be
transferred to a different cell. (Id.) The prison
officials/ however, ignored his requests. (Id.
¶ 16.) And on February 12, 2014, Duron murdered Lorenzo.
(Id. ¶ 14.) According to Plaintiffs, Defendant
Pittman entered Lorenzo's cell and handcuffed him.
(Id. ¶ 13.) And while Lorenzo was handcuffed,
Durori, who was unrestrained, stabbed Lorenzo repeatedly with
a metal shank. (Id. ¶ 13-14.)
the administrator of Lorenzo's estate and his mother,
filed suit against: (1) the Georgia Department of
Corrections; (2) Stanley Williams, the warden of Smith State
Prison, individually and in his official capacity; (3) Jarrod
Pittman, a prison official at Smith State Prison,
individually and in his official capacity; and (4) John Does
#1 and #2. In their complaint, Plaintiffs assert claims under
42 U.S.C. § 1983 for alleged violations of Lorenzo's
rights under the Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments
and state-law claims under the Georgia Tort Claims Act. They
allege that Defendants acted with deliberate indifference to
Lorenzo's safety before the stabbing !
and to his medical needs after the stabbing. Defendants now
move to dismiss all but one claim. (Doc. 15.)
considering motions to dismiss under Rule 12(b) (6), courts
test the legal sufficiency of complaints, not
whetherplaintiffs will ultimately prevail on the merits.
Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974). A court
must accept as true all facts alleged in a complaint and
[construe all reasonable inferences in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff. See Hoffman-Pugh v.
Ramsey, 312 F.3d 1222, 1125 (11th Cir. 2002). A court,
however, need not accept a complaint's legal conclusions
as true, only its well-pleaded facts. Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009).
complaint also must "contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, "to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.'" Id. at 678 (citing
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007)). A plaintiff is required to plead "factual
content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged." Id. "The plausibility standard
is not akin to a 'probability requirement, ' but it
asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has
acted unlawfully." Id.
noted, Defendants seek to dismiss all but one claim. More
specifically, Defendants move to dismiss all claims asserted
against the Georgia Department of Corrections, all claims
asserted against Williams and Pittman in their official
capacities, all state-law claims, and the claim that Williams
and Pittman acted with deliberate indifference to
Lorenzo's medical needs. In response to Defendants'
motion to dismiss, Plaintiffs concede that their state-law
claims fail, that their constitutional claims against the
Georgia Department of Corrections and against Williams and
Pittman in their official capacities fail, and that their
claims against the John Doe Defendants fail. Thus, the only
disputed issue before the Court is whether Plaintiffs'
claim against Williams and Pittman based their alleged
deliberate indifference to; Lorenzo's medical needs
state has a "constitutional obligation to provide
minimally adequate medical care to those whom [it is]
punishing by incarceration." Harris v. Thigpen,
941 F.2d 1495, 1504 (11th Cir. 1991). Prisoners, therefore,
are "guaranteed the right under the eighth amendment to
be free from deliberate indifference by correctional
institutions to their serious" medical needs.
Id. To succeed on a claim of deliberate indifference
to serious medical needs, a plaintiff must prove: (1) that he
had serious medical needs; (2) that the prison officials
acted with subjective deliberate indifference to his needs;
and (3) that the prison officials' misconduct caused the
plaintiff's injuries. Goebert v. Lee, 510 F.3d
1312, 1326 (11th Cir. 2007) .
serious medical need "is one that has been diagnosed by
a physician as mandating treatment or one that is so obvious
that even a lay person would easily recognize the necessity
for a doctor's attention." Id. And "
[c]ausation, of course, can be shown by personal
participation in the constitutional violation."
deliberate indifference, a plaintiff must prove (1)
subjective knowledge of a risk of harm and (2) disregard of
that harm (3) "by conduct that is more than [gross]
negligence." Id. at 1327 (alteration in
original) (citation omitted) (internal quotation marks
omitted). Whether a defendant had subjective knowledge of a
risk of harm is typically a factual question "subject to
demonstration in the usual ways, including inference from
circumstantial evidence, and a factfinder may conclude that a
prison official knew of a substantial risk from the very fact
that the risk was obvious." Id. (citation
omitted) (internal quotation marks omitted). Similarly,
“ [d] isregard of the risk is also a question of fact
that can be shown by standard methods." Id. And
"[t]he meaning of 'more than gross negligence'
is not self-evident, " but in cases involving a delay in
care, courts consider: "(1) the seriousness of the
medical need; (2) whether the delay worsened the medical
condition; and (3) the reason for the delay."
contend that Plaintiffs have not sufficiently pleaded that
they acted with deliberate indifference to Lorenzo's
serious medical needs. As an initial matter, the Court is
satisfied that Plaintiffs have adequately pleaded that
Lorenzo had serious medical needs and that Defendants
subjectively knew of a risk of harm: Lorenzo was stabbed in
front of Pittman. Thus, the Court focuses its analysis on
whether Plaintiffs ...