United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Savannah Division
DANIEL L. WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
JOSE MORALES, Warden, and NATHAN DEAL, Governor, Defendants.
Christopher L. Ray, United States Magistrate Judge
se prisoner Daniel Williams was evacuated by bus from
Coastal State Prison (CSP), where he was and remains
incarcerated, in response to a threatened hurricane. Docs. 9
& 21. He fell, and allegedly suffered significant
injuries in that bus ride. Id. After preliminary
screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, the Court
ordered Williams to amend his Complaint to
“briefly detail[ ] the facts of his injury
between its occurrence and the alleged malpractice” he
believes CSP staff committed in his treatment. Doc. 18 at 10.
has amended his Complaint to explain that when he first
complained about falling on the bus on his way to Telfair
State Prison (TSP), he was seen by medical staff and issued
Tylenol. Doc. 18 at 5. He did not see a doctor or receive an
X-ray, and he contends that TSP medical staff should have at
least performed some imaging study to determine the extent of
his injury. Id. When he returned to CSP, Williams
again complained of “having sharp pains in his neck and
back area, ” but was advised by Nurse Burke to
“go back to [his] dormitory and exercise” because
she could not “make any assessments of [his] medical
complaint” to order radiological imaging or increased
pain medication. Id. at 6.
days later, Williams “had a seizure, collapsed to the
floor, and urinated in [his] pants” while “doing
minor exercises.” Id. He was rushed to the
hospital and, after various rounds of diagnostic imaging and
a spinal tap, was diagnosed with “severe[ly] pinched
nerves in his back, spin[e], and neck” and was referred
for surgery. Id. at 6-7. His post-surgical recovery
was miserable, as he was allegedly left unclean in the same
jumpsuit for over a week “in a filthy room on the
hospital floor.” Id. at 8. Williams continues
to suffer from pain and an impaired gait, and seeks over a
million dollars in damages. Id. at 9-10.
Court's initial screening order explained that even if
the alleged facts might support a medical malpractice claim,
such claims do not amount to constitutional violations.
See doc. 9 at 7 (citing Harris v. Thigpen,
941 F.2d 1495, 1505 (11th Cir. 1991) (“Mere incidents
of [medical] negligence or malpractice do not rise to the
level of constitutional violations.”)). An inmate's
right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment is only
violated where a plaintiff both had an objectively serious
medical need and some prison official or officials were
deliberately indifferent to that need. Harper v. Lawrence
County, Ala., 592 F.3d 1227, 1234 (11th Cir. 2010);
see generally Waldrop v. Evans, 871 F.2d 1030, 1033
(11th Cir. 1989) (citing Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S.
97, 104 (1976)); Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825,
832-33 (1994) (although prison conditions may be restrictive
and harsh, prison officials must provide, inter
alia, necessary medical care). Deliberate indifference,
in turn, requires that a defendant “(1) had subjective
knowledge of a risk of serious harm; (2) disregarded that
risk; and (3) acted with more than gross negligence.”
Harper, 592 F.3d at 1234 (citing Burnette v.
Taylor, 533 F.3d 1325, 1330 (11th Cir. 2008)).
complained about pain when he arrived at TSP, and was given
Tylenol. Doc. 21 at 5. Even assuming that such pain
constituted a “serious medical need” within the
meaning of the Eighth Amendment, he has affirmatively pled
that TSP medical staff and Nurse Burke were not
deliberately indifferent to that need. After all, TSP medical
staff responded to his complaints of “sharp pain”
in his shoulder and back by treating him with pain
medication. They may have misapprehended the severity of his
injuries, but they credited his complaints and provided
care. Nurse Burke, too, treated Williams'
complaints of pain. She recommended exercise. Unfortunately,
that exercise “aggravated” plaintiff's
injury. But bad medical advice does not a constitutional
violation make. 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
constitutional violation). At best, Williams has a
malpractice claim for shoddy medical advice. Because
that's not actionable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
see Estelle, 429 U.S. at 105, this claim should be
DISMISSED from the case.
concluded that Williams has not set forth an Eighth Amendment
claim, the Court ought not exert supplemental jurisdiction
over a potential state-law malpractice claim. See 28
U.S.C. § 1367(a) (requiring the existence of some basis
for the Court's “original jurisdiction”
before a Court may exercise jurisdiction over sufficiently
related claims, where it otherwise would have none);
e.g., Lucero v. Trosch, 121 F.3d 591, 5978 (11th
Cir. 1997) (“[Section 1367] reflects a dichotomy
between a federal court's power to exercise
supplemental jurisdiction, § 1367(a), and its
discretion not to exercise such jurisdiction, §
1367(c).”). Williams' state law claims for medical
malpractice and negligence, therefore, should be dismissed as
well. See 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3); Raney v.
Allstate Ins. Co., 370 F.3d 1086, 1089 (11th Cir. 2004)
(“We have encouraged district courts to dismiss any
remaining state claims when, as here, the federal claims have
been dismissed prior to trial.”).
Williams' Amended Complaint should be
DISMISSED without prejudice. He has failed to
allege facts supporting an Eighth Amendment claim for denial
of medical care, and in the absence of any federal claim the
Court should decline to retain jurisdiction over his state
Report and Recommendation (R&R) is submitted to the
district judge assigned to this action, pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1)(B) and this Court's Local Rule 72.3.
Within 14 days of service, any party may file written
objections to this R&R with the Court and serve a copy on
all parties. The document should be captioned
“Objections to Magistrate Judge's Report and
Recommendations.” Any request for additional time to
file objections should be filed with the Clerk for
consideration by the assigned district judge.
the objections period has ended, the Clerk shall submit this
R&R together with any objections to the assigned district
judge. The district judge will review the magistrate
judge's findings and recommendations pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). The parties are advised that
failure to timely file objections will result in the waiver
of rights on appeal. 11th Cir. R. 3-1; see Symonett v.
V.A. Leasing Corp., 648 Fed.Appx. 787, 790 (11th Cir.
2016); Mitchell v. United States, 612 Fed.Appx. 542,
545 (11th Cir. 2015).
REPORTED AND RECOMMENDED.
 A “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.” Farrow v. West, 320
F.3d 1235, 1243 (11th Cir. 2003); see, e.g., Hutchinson
v. N.Y. State Corr. Officers, 2003 WL 22056997 at * 5
(S.D.N.Y. Sept. 4, 2003) (a “condition of urgency, one
that might produce death, degeneration or extreme
pain”). Only “those deprivations denying the
‘minimal civilized measure of life's
necessities' are sufficiently grave to form the basis of
an Eighth Amendment violation.” Hudson v.