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Royalty v. Huffman

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

May 22, 2018




         Plaintiff, currently detained at the Burke County Jail (“the Jail”) in Waynesboro, Georgia, is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis (“IFP”) in this case filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Because he is proceeding IFP, 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 Fed.Appx. 733, 736 (11th Cir. 2006).


         A. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff names the following as Defendants: (1) Chester V. Huffman, a Major at the Jail; (2) John H. Bush, a Major at the Jail; (3) Cassandra Haynes, a Captain at the Jail; (4) Randall Williams, a doctor at the Jail; (5) Krystal/Christy Johnson, a nurse at the Jail; and (6) Heather Ashley, a nurse at the Jail. (See doc. no. 1, pp. 1-3, 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.

         Plaintiff is a pretrial detainee at the Jail who awoke on January 6, 2018, with a sharp pain in his back tooth. (Id. at 5.) Nurse Johnson saw him in the medical department on January 8, 2018, and gave him a seven-day supply of Tylenol, which eased the pain but did not address the underlying problem with his tooth, and his face began to swell.[1] (Id.) On January 15, 2018, Nurse Ashley prescribed a seven-day supply of Amoxicillin, but swelling persisted in his face and jaw. (Id.) Both nurses told Plaintiff he could only receive Tylenol for seven days per month, but they would put him on the list to see a dentist. (Id.)

         By February 11, 2018, Plaintiff had not seen a dentist, but his ear had started hurting. (Id.) Plaintiff could hardly sleep from the pain, but Nurse Johnson only gave him a four-day supply of Tylenol. (Id.) By February 28, 2018, Plaintiff still had not seen the dentist, but he now had blood and puss draining from his ear. (Id.) Nurse Johnson told Plaintiff to put in a sick call slip and buy some Tylenol from the commissary. (Id.) Plaintiff continued to complain about his ear and reported ringing and loss of hearing in his ear. (Id. at 6.) On March 4, 2018, Nurse Ashley looked in Plaintiff's ear, told him it was infected but antibiotics should clear it up, and told him his ear drum was not ruptured. (Id.)

         On March 9, 2018, Plaintiff saw Dr. Williams, who told Plaintiff he had a broken, infected tooth with an exposed root, and two other bad teeth. (Id.) However, Dr. Williams would only order a stronger antibiotic and would not send Plaintiff to the dentist because the broken tooth had to be cut out. (Id.) Dr. Williams also looked in Plaintiff's ear and said his eardrum was ruptured, just days after Nurse Ashley told him the eardrum was not ruptured. (Id. at 6-7.) Plaintiff has offered to pay for going to the dentist, but as of the date of signing the complaint, he still had not been seen by the dentist. (Id. at 7.) Plaintiff is now “completely deaf” in his left ear. (Id.)

         Plaintiff has written letters and grievances to Defendants Huffman, Bush, and Haynes, but they have not made sure that he is seen by a dentist, or done anything about Plaintiff's hearing. (Id. at 6-7.) Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages from each Defendant. (Id. at 7-8.)

         B. DISCUSSION

         1. 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 Fed.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 ...

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