United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Savannah Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
pro se and in forma pauperis, Maurice
Lavell Johnson brings this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action
against a Correct Care medical staff nurse at Chatham County
Detention Center (CCDC). The Court is screening his Complaint
under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
is incarcerated at CCDC. Doc. 1 at 1. He alleges that on
November 11, 2016, he began spitting up blood. He complained
to an officer, who called for medical assistance.
Id. Nurse Monroe responded, but in lieu of
"giving plaintiff appropriate medical assistance"
placed plaintiff on suicide watch. Id. at 5. Johnson
objected that he was not suicidal or suffering from a mental
health issue, but was still taken to the medical unit and
placed in a suicide-hold cell without any care for his
"physical injury." Id. He seeks $250, 000
in "compensation damages" and $250, 000 in
"punitive damages" for this "unlawful
act." Id. at 6.
preliminary matter, dismissal for failure to exhaust
administrative remedies is not proper at this stage. Under
the PLRA exhaustion provision, a prisoner must exhaust all
available administrative remedies before filing an action
that challenges the conditions of his confinement.
See 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). Exhaustion is a
"pre-condition to suit" that must be enforced even
if the available administrative remedies are either
"futile or inadequate." Harris v. Gamer,
190 F.3d 1279, 1285-86 (11th Cir. 1999); see also Jones
v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 199-200 (2007) ("There is no
question that exhaustion is mandatory under the PLRA").
allegations are, at least on preliminary review, sufficient
to satisfy the exhaustion requirement as to his Eighth
Amendment claim for denial of medical care. He says that he
filed a grievance but "wasn't allowed to appeal for
some reason." Doc. 1 at 3-4. In the face of those
allegations, dismissal for failure to exhaust would be
improper. See Cole v. Secretary, Department of
Corrections, 451 F.Appx. 827, 828 (11th Cir. 2011)
("The exhaustion requirement is an affirmative defense,
and a prisoner is not required to plead or demonstrate
exhaustion in his complaint") (citing Jones,
549 U.S. at 216).
fails to allege an Eighth Amendment claim for denial of
medical care against Nurse Monroe. Prison officials'
deliberate indifference "'to an inmate's serious
medical needs' violates the inmate's right to be free
from cruel and unusual punishment." Waldrop v.
Evans, 871 F.2d 1030, 1033 (11th Cir. 1989) (quoting
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 972 104 (1976)); see
Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832-33 (1994) (although
prison conditions may be restrictive and harsh, prison
officials must provide prisoners with food, clothing,
shelter, sanitation, medical care, and personal safety).
Here, however, plaintiff has failed to demonstrate "an
objectively serious need, an objectively insufficient
response to that need, subjective awareness of facts
signaling the need, and an actual inference of required
action from those facts." Taylor v. Adams, 221
F.3d 1254, 1258 (11th Cir. 2000).
best, plaintiff alleges that after reporting some sort of
injury (spitting up blood due to unknown causes), the prison
medical staff initiated an adequate treatment protocol (put
him on suicide watch, under observation by medical staff,
where his symptoms improved (lasting only two hours) and have
not recurred) and refused to conduct some unspecified further
treatment that he considers necessary. Plaintiffs
disagreement with the type of conservative care
provided to him, however, is simply not enough to demonstrate
deliberate indifference to a serious medical need. Hamm
v. DeKalb Cnty., 774 F.2d 1567, 1576 (11th Cir. 1985) (a
prisoner cannot establish a violation simply because he
"may have desired different modes of treatment"
than that which was provided to him); Taylor v.
Adams, 221 F.3d 1254, 1258 (11th Cir. 2000) ("mere
accidental inadequacy, negligence in diagnosis or treatment,
[and] even medical malpractice" do not give rise to
§ 1983 liability); see also Wood v.
Housewright, 900 F.2d 1332, 1334 (9th Cir. 1990) (even
gross negligence is insufficient to establish a
"doctor's decision to take an easier and less
efficacious course of treatment" may constitute
deliberate indifference, Wallace v. Sheriff, 518
F.App'x 621, 622 (11th Cir. 2013), differences of opinion
between an inmate and medical staff in how to treat an injury
do not, Waldrop v. Evans, 871 F.2d 1030, 1033 (11th
Cir. 1989). See Gonzalez v. Sarreck, 2011 WL 5051341
at * 18 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 24, 2011) ("It is well settled
that 'disagreements over medications, diagnostic
techniques, forms of treatment, or the need for specialists
or the timing of their intervention' are insufficient
under § 1983"). At most, plaintiffs claim against
Nurse Monroe -- for not providing more aggressive treatment -
support a medical malpractice claim. Because that's not
actionable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, see Estelle,
429 U.S. at 105, he fails to state a claim under either the
Eighth or Fourteenth Amendments.
Leave to Amend
a pro se prisoner normally should be given an
opportunity to amend his complaint at least once, see,
e.g., Johnson v. Boyd, 568 F.App'x 719, 724 (11th
Cir. 2014); Duff v. Steub, 378 F.App'x 868, 872
(11th Cir. 2010), "a district court need not allow
amendment if the amended complaint would still be subject to
dismissal." Jenkins v. Walker, 620 F.App'x
709, 711 (11th Cir. ...