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Jordan v. Alston

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

February 27, 2019

CARTARVIS JORDAN, Plaintiff,
v.
DR. ALSTON, Augusta State Medical Prison, Defendant.

          MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          ERIAN K. EPPS UNIED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff, an inmate at Augusta State Medical Prison (“ASMP”) in Grovetown, 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).

         I. SCREENING OF THE COMPLAINT

         A. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff names Dr. Alston, Medical Director at ASMP as a Defendant. (Doc. no. 1, pp. 1, 4.) Taking all of Plaintiff's allegations as true, as the Court must for purposes of the present screening, the facts are as follows.

         Plaintiff was stabbed in the pericardium sac, which holds the heart in place and allows it to function properly. (Id. at 5.) Between the inner and outer layers of the pericardium, there is a small amount of fluid, which prevents the layers from rubbing together while the heart pumps blood. (Id.) Plaintiff's last open-heart surgery occurred on May 10, 2018. (Id.) Plaintiff's discharge forms indicated use of a hot, wet compressor heating pad with or without medicated skin cream would help relieve pain. (Id.) Plaintiff never received proper medical treatment for his condition. (Id.)

         On July 23, 2018, Dr. Alston prescribed diclofenac sodium topical gel, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (“NSAID”), for his chest pain. (Id.) People with a history of recent heart surgery should not use the medication. (Id.) Since using the gel, Plaintiff has experienced high blood pressure, shortness of breath, trouble breathing, and flu-like symptoms, which are side-effects of using the gel. (Id.) Plaintiff had two different types of heart surgery last year, is a chronic heart patient, and had a pericardial effusion window implanted into his chest. (Id.) Plaintiff is subject to future heart failure, heart attacks, and strokes, all of which can be caused by the gel. (Id.) Plaintiff believes Dr. Alston should be held accountable for putting his health at risk by giving him the medication. (Id.) As relief, Plaintiff seeks $2, 000, 000 and/or his freedom. (Id. at 6.)

         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, 327 (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 for 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. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). However, this liberal construction does not mean that the court has a duty to re-write the complaint. Snow v. DirecTV, Inc., 450 F.3d 1314, 1320 (11th Cir. 2006).

         2. Plaintiff Fails to State a Deliberate Indifference to a Serious Medical Need Claim against Dr. Alston

         Plaintiff fails to state a claim against Dr. Alston for deliberate indifference to a serious medical need. To state a claim, Plaintiff must allege: (1) he had a serious medical need - the objective component, (2) a defendant acted with deliberate indifference to that need - the subjective component, and (3) his injury was caused by a defendant's wrongful conduct. Goebert v. Lee County, ...


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