United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division
ANTHONY P. MILLS, Plaintiff,
YVONNIE LOCKLEAR, Defendant.
LOUISE W. FLANAGAN, District Judge.
The matter comes before the court on defendant's motion to dismiss (DE 52) pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The motion was fully briefed. Also before the court are plaintiff's unopposed motions for default judgment (DE 56, 61). In this posture, the issues raised are ripe for adjudication. For the following reasons, the court denies plaintiff's motions for default judgment and denies defendant's motion to dismiss; however, the court dismisses plaintiff's mail-related claim as frivolous pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
STATEMENT OF THE CASE
Plaintiff, a state inmate, initially brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against defendant, who is the head nurse at Lumberton Correctional Institution ("Lumberton"), in addition to multiple previously dismissed defendants, specifically Lumberton, North Carolina Department of Public Safety ("DPS"), Secretary Alvin Keller ("Keller"), DPS Director Robert Lewis ("Lewis"), supervisor of the Lumberton medical department Ms. Nichols ("Nichols"), DPS Director of Medical Services Dr. Paula Smith ("Smith"), Lumberton Assistant Superintendent Paul Taylor ("Taylor"), Lumberton Superintendent Sandra Thomas ("Thomas"), and John Does 1-100. Plaintiff then filed two motions to amend in which he provided the identities for several of the John Doe defendants. On June 22, 2012, the court issued an order granting plaintiff's motions to amend. Upon conducting a frivolity review of plaintiff's complaint and amended complaint, the court determined that plaintiff's allegations were difficult to follow and directed him to particularize his complaint.
On November 7, 2012, plaintiff responded to the court's June 22, 2012, order to particularize, and alleged that defendant and previously-dismissed defendants Thomas, Taylor, Nichols, Smith, Keller, and Lewis acted with deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Plaintiff then filed two motions to compel, two motions for entry of default, and a motion for leave to file an amended complaint. In his amended complaint, plaintiff identified John Does 1-100 as defendants Edward Currie ("Currie"), Finesse G. Couch ("Couch"), Lucien Capone, III ("Capone"), Harold L. Pollock ("Pollock"), Matthew Rouse, Jr. ("Rousse"), and Roger Smith, Jr. ("Smith"). Plaintiff simultaneously moved to voluntarily dismiss the newly identified John Doe defendants because it no longer was feasible for him to proceed against these defendants.
On March 20, 2013, the court entered an order construing plaintiff's motion to amend as a motion for voluntary dismissal pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(1), and dismissed Currie, Couch, Capone, Pollock, Rouse, and Smith from this action without prejudice. The court also conducted a frivolity review of plaintiff's particularized complaint and dismissed plaintiff's supervisor liability claims against Thomas, Taylor, Nichols, Smith, Lewis, and Keller. The court allowed plaintiff to proceed with the following four claims against defendant: (1) denial of plaintiff's anticoagulation medication; (2) interference with plaintiff's mail; (3) refusal to monitor plaintiff's anticoagulation; and (4) refusal to treat plaintiff's chronic leg pain and swelling. Finally, the court in its March 20, 2013, order denied plaintiff's motions for entry of default and motion to compel discovery.
On September 24, 2013, defendant filed her motion to dismiss, arguing that plaintiff failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, which was fully briefed. Plaintiff additionally filed two motions for entry of default judgment.
STATEMENT OF THE FACTS
The facts seen in the light most favorable to plaintiff are as follows. Plaintiff suffered a deep vein thrombosis in the late 1990's, and was treated with an inferior vena cava ("IVC") filter. ((DE 1), Ex. A.) Plaintiff subsequently was not consistent with anticoagulation and developed a clot in his IVC, which resulted in "venous insufficiency of the lower extremities with a lot of chronic swelling and pain." (Id.) Plaintiff thereafter was treated by Dr. Richard S. Foulke ("Dr. Foulke"), who maintained plaintiff on anticoagulation medication from 2003 through 2009. (Id.) Plaintiff entered the North Carolina Department of Public Safety's custody on February 24, 2010. www.doc.state.nc.us.
Beginning in July 2010, defendant denied plaintiff blood thinner medication for a couple of months. (Am. Compl. (DE 16), pp. 9-12 and Exs. C-J.) Plaintiff states that the denial of his anticoagulation medication caused "worse damage to his lower legs." ((DE 16), p. 4.)
On January 4, 2011, defendant received a package from Dr. Foulke, which was addressed to plaintiff and marked as legal mail. ((DE 16), p. 7.) Defendant then gave plaintiff his opened legal mail on January 12, 2011. (Id.) Plaintiff asked defendant why his legal mail was opened outside of his presence, and defendant replied that she had received the mail in that condition. (Id.) After opening the package, plaintiff discovered that documents were missing. (Id.) Plaintiff then wrote to Dr. Foulke and obtained copies of the missing documents. (Id. p. 8.)
On August 1, 2011, DPS medical staff scheduled plaintiff for hip replacement surgery. (Id. p. 9.) Defendant knew that plaintiff was scheduled for surgery, but did not put "a stop-or-hold order on plaintiff's blood thinner coumadin." (Id.) "When [plaintiff] was cleared for surgery[, his blood] levels were 1.9 on 6-24-11. From 6-24-11 [un]til Day of surgery which was suppose to be 8-1-11. There is [an] almost six week gap in between blood work being done on 8-1-11[.] Plaintiff's Warfarin level was almost a 5." (Id. pp. 9-10.) Plaintiff states that defendant refused to monitor plaintiff's warfarin levels every three to four weeks as directed by Dr. Foulke, which resulted in a delay in his scheduled hip replacement surgery. (Id. p. 10.)
Because defendant ignored plaintiff's requests for medical assistance and acted with deliberate indifference to his medical needs, plaintiff has "suffered worse damage to his lower legs. Plaintiff's legs are almost black because of the venous insufficiency.... Plaintiff has also suffered because of denying of pain medication." (Id. p. 4.) Plaintiff additionally states ...