United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Macon Division
ORDER AND RECOMMENDATION
Charles H. Weigle, United States Magistrate Judge.
accordance with the Court's previous order, pro
se Plaintiff Ernest Cooper, who is presently
incarcerated at the Riverbend Correctional Facility in
Milledgeville, Georgia, has filed an Amended Complaint
seeking relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (ECF No. 9).
For the following reasons, Plaintiff's medical deliberate
indifference claims against Defendants GEO Group, Inc., Head,
Bailey, Coleman, Young, and Harris may proceed for further
factual development. It is RECOMMENDED,
however, that Plaintiff's claims against Defendant Dozier
be DISMISSED without prejudice.
Standard of Review
accordance with the Prison Litigation Reform Act
(“PLRA”), the district courts are obligated to
conduct a preliminary screening of every complaint filed by a
prisoner who seeks redress from a government entity,
official, or employee. See 28 U.S.C. §
1915A(a). Screening is also required under 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e) when the plaintiff is proceeding IFP. Both statutes
apply in this case, and the standard of review is the same.
When conducting preliminary screening, the Court must accept
all factual allegations in the complaint as true. Boxer X
v. Harris, 437 F.3d 1107, 1110 (11th Cir. 2006);
Hughes v. Lott, 350 F.3d 1157, 1159-60 (11th Cir.
2003). Pro se pleadings, like the one in this case,
are “held to a less stringent standard than pleadings
drafted by attorneys and will, therefore, be liberally
construed.” Id. (internal quotation marks
omitted). Still, the Court must dismiss a prisoner complaint
if it “(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seeks monetary
relief from a defendant who is immune from such
relief.” 28 U.S.C. §1915A(b).
is frivolous if it “lacks an arguable basis either in
law or in fact.” Miller v. Donald, 541 F.3d
1091, 1100 (11th Cir. 2008) (internal quotation marks
omitted). The Court may dismiss claims that are based on
“indisputably meritless legal” theories and
“claims whose factual contentions are clearly
baseless.” Id. (internal quotation marks
omitted). A complaint fails to state a claim if it does not
include “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true,
to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). The factual allegations in a complaint
“must be enough to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level” and cannot “merely create a
suspicion [of] a legally cognizable right of action.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (first alteration in
original). In other words, the complaint must allege
enough facts “to raise a reasonable expectation that
discovery will reveal evidence” supporting a claim.
Id. at 556. “Threadbare recitals of the
elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements, do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
state a claim for relief under § 1983, a plaintiff must
allege that (1) an act or omission deprived him of a right,
privilege, or immunity secured by the Constitution or a
statute of the United States; and (2) the act or omission was
committed by a person acting under color of state law.
Hale v. Tallapoosa Cnty., 50 F.3d 1579, 1582 (11th
Cir. 1995). If a litigant cannot satisfy these requirements
or fails to provide factual allegations in support of his
claim or claims, the complaint is subject to dismissal.
See Chappell v. Rich, 340 F.3d 1279, 1282-84 (11th
claims arise from his treatment at the Riverbend Correctional
Facility (“RCF”). Compl. 5, ECF No. 1. According
to Plaintiff, on April 22, 2015, he informed the prison
dental staff that he had an “active dental plan”
and needed dental work done. Id. After waiting for
his promised services for over a year, Plaintiff filed
several grievances requesting care. Id. at 6. At
that time, Plaintiff was informed that “the institution
does not have a dentist” and that he “would have
to get all of [his] teeth extracted if [he] wanted to have
[his] mouth fixed with dentures.” Id.
Plaintiff continued to complain about his lack of treatment,
which by that point was causing him “severe pain and
gum disease and bone disease.” Id. Ultimately,
Plaintiff had to have several teeth extracted. Id.
Amended Complaint, Plaintiff names as Defendants (1) Gregory
Dozier, the Commissioner of the Georgia Department of
Corrections; (2) Frederick Head, the warden at RCF; (3) GEO
Group, Inc., the contract medical provider at RCF; (4) Tammy
Bailey, the medical director at RCF; (5) and Charles Coleman,
Steve Young, and Audrey Harris, all of whom appear to have
served as nursing directors at RCF during the relevant time
period. Am. Compl. 1-7, ECF No. 9. Plaintiff contends that
Defendants' failure to provide him with adequate dental
care violated his constitutional rights, and he seeks
injunctive relief and monetary damages as a result.
Id. at 7.
prisoner who demonstrates that a prison official was
deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs can
state a claim under the Eighth Amendment. Farrow v.
West, 320 F.3d 1235, 1243 (11th Cir. 2003). “In
certain circumstances, the need for dental care combined with
the effects of not receiving it may give rise to a
sufficiently serious medical need to show objectively a
substantial risk of serious harm.” Id. at
1243-44. Plaintiff alleges that he had a “treatment
plan . . . set up for dental care and treatment, ” that
the services ordered in the treatment plan were not provided
to him for a “prolonged period of time, ” and
that he suffered “serious pain, ” bone and gum
disease, and tooth loss as a result of the delay in
treatment. Compl. 5, ECF No. 1. These allegations are
sufficient to establish that Plaintiff had serious medical
needs for purposes of preliminary screening. See, e.g.,
Farrow, 320 F.3d at 1243 (defining a serious medical
need as one that has been diagnosed by a physician as
requiring medical treatment); see also Mann v. Taser
Int'l, 588 F.3d 1291, 1307 (11th Cir. 2009) (holding
that a serious medical need may be “determined by
whether a delay in treating the need worsens the
must also allege facts sufficient to show that each Defendant
was deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs.
Farrow, 320 F.3d at 1243. “To show that a
prison official acted with deliberate indifference to serious
medical needs, a plaintiff must satisfy both an objective and
a subjective inquiry.” Id. A plaintiff must
first “set forth evidence of an objectively serious
medical need, ” and must also “prove that the
prison official acted with an attitude of ‘deliberate
indifference' to that serious medical need.”
Id. In other words, prison officials must both
“know of and then disregard an excessive risk to the
prisoner.” Dunn v. Martin, 178 F. App'x
876, 877 (11th Cir. 2006) (per curiam).
alleges that on multiple occasions, he communicated his need
for treatment and his symptoms, which included “severe
pain, ” to Defendants Bailey, Coleman, Young, and
Harris. Am. Compl. 3-7, ECF No. 9. Plaintiff's
allegations that these Defendants repeatedly ...