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Lewis v. Adams

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

February 27, 2019

GLENN LEWIS, Plaintiff,
WARDEN ROBERT ADAMS, JR., Warden, et al., Defendants.


          Christopher L. Ray, United States Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiff Glenn Lewis filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action after he was deprived of his hypertension medication for six days while held in segregation. Doc. 1 at 8. The Court, having granted his request to pursue his case in forma pauperis, doc. 3, and Lewis having returned the necessary forms, docs. 4 & 5, now screens his Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which requires the immediate dismissal of any pro se Complaint that fails to state at least one actionable claim against a governmental entity or official.[1]

         I. BACKGROUND

         Lewis' allegations are straightforward. After a weapon was found in boots in his cell, he was provided with a copy of a disciplinary report referencing the discovery of the weapon, he was taken to segregation, and his personal items were inventoried and confiscated. His hypertension medication was among the seized items. He requested his medication (Lisinopril and Hetz) and Nurse Peacock gave him one dose and promised Lewis had been “added to the list to receive [his] medication.” Doc. 1 at 7. Six days went by without medication, and Lewis started experiencing chest pains. Doc. 1 at 8. He filled out a sick-call request form, reporting that he was unmedicated and experiencing symptoms. Id. He was taken to medical and a blood pressure check revealed a “blood pressure reading of 176/126 and a heart beat of 98” which he alleges are “extremely high and abnormal posing the risk of a stroke or heart-attack.” Id. Nurse Williams then gave him his medication. Id. At a disciplinary hearing later that afternoon, the weapons charge was dismissed. Id. (an investigation having revealed that Lewis had never been issued boots and camera footage having demonstrated the boots belonged to his cellmate). Lewis later discovered that his sick-call request had been destroyed. Id. at 9.

         Lewis alleges that the Warden failed to train his subordinates, that Captain David Royal wrongfully approved his placement in segregation without proof or an investigation, that Officer Ashley Martin “malicious[ly]” filed a disciplinary report that the weapon was his, and that Jenkins Correctional Center medical staff “failed to provide medication” and thereby “put [Lewis] at risk of a stroke or heart attack.” Doc. 1 at 9. He seeks the appointment of counsel and more than 15 million dollars in damages. Id. at 6.

         II. ANALYSIS

         A. Due Process

         To make out a denial-of-procedural-due-process claim under § 1983[2], a plaintiff must establish three elements: (1) a deprivation of a constitutionally protected liberty or property interest[3]; (2) state action; and (3) constitutionally inadequate process. Grayden v. Rhodes, 345 F.3d 1225, 1232 (11th Cir. 2003); Cryder v. Oxendine, 24 F.3d 175, 177 (11th Cir. 1994). Even assuming that Lewis' placement in segregation pending the outcome of an investigation meets the first two elements, he has not plausibly alleged that he received inadequate process.

[A]n informal, nonadversary evidentiary review [is] sufficient both for the decision that an inmate represents a security threat and the decision to confine an inmate to administrative segregation pending completion of an investigation into misconduct charges against him. An inmate must merely receive some notice of the charges against him and an opportunity to present his views to the prison official charged with deciding whether to transfer him to administrative segregation.

Hewitt v. Helms, 459 U.S. 460, 476 (1983), abrogated on other grounds by Sandin, 459 U.S. 460. Lewis was provided with notice of the charge against him (the disciplinary report) and the ongoing investigation, and was then provided with a hearing to argue his innocence. Doc. 1. “[E]ven if a prisoner is [ ] deprived of his liberty, thus requiring due process, it is well established that the state may cure a procedural deprivation by providing a later procedural remedy; only when the state refuses to provide a process sufficient to remedy the procedural deprivation does a constitutional violation actionable under section 1983 arise.” Baker v. Rexroad, 159 Fed.Appx. 61, 63 (11th Cir. 2005) (quote and cite omitted). Lewis has affirmatively pled that he was provided with meaningful due process. Doc. 1 at 8 (after less than one week, the investigation concluded and the charge against him was dismissed). Plaintiff has failed to state a procedural due process claim.

         B. Denial of Medical Care

         It is well established that “deliberate indifference to serious medical needs of prisoners constitutes the ‘unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain' . . . proscribed by the Eighth Amendment.” Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976) (cites and footnotes omitted). A prisoner states a valid claim, under 42 U.S.C. section 1983, “whether the indifference is manifested by prison doctors in their response to the prisoner's needs . . . or by prison guards in intentionally denying or delaying access to medical care . . . or intentionally interfering with treatment once proscribed.” Id. at 104-05.

         “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.” Farrow v. West, 320 F.3d 1235, 1243 (11th Cir. 2003). First, the plaintiff must prove an objectively serious medical need. Id. Second, the plaintiff must prove that the prison official acted with deliberate indifference to that need. Id.

         “A serious medical need is considered ‘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. (citing Hill v. Dekalb Reg'l Youth Det. Ctr., 40 F.3d 1176, 1187 (11th Cir.1994)). In either case, “the medical need must be one that, if left unattended, pos[es] a substantial risk of serious harm.” Id. (cite and internal quote omitted). Hypertension, of course, meets either of these definitions. Carter v. Broward Cty. Sheriff Office, 710 Fed.Appx. 387, 391-92 (11th Cir. 2017); see generally Jackson v. Pollion, 733 F.3d 786, 789 (7th Cir. 2013) (“Hypertension is a serious condition. Untreated it can result in strokes or heart attacks.”); Hunt v. Uphoff, 199 F.3d 1220, 1222 (10th Cir. 1999) (prisoner who claimed serious medical needs of diabetes and hypertension had sufficiently pleaded facts to allege deliberate ...

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