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Simmons v. Shelton

United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina

May 14, 2015

ALTER COLUMBUS SIMMONS, Plaintiff,
v.
LT. RANDY SHELTON, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

JOE L. WEBSTER, Magistrate Judge.

This matter is before the Court two motions - a motion to dismiss filed by Defendants Nurses April, Jessica and Marilyn (Docket Entry 20) and a separate motion to dismiss filed by Defendant Lt. Randy Shelton. (Docket Entry 22.) Plaintiff has responded to the motions and the matter is ripe for disposition. For the reasons that follow, Defendants' motions to dismiss should be granted.

I. Background and Plaintiff's Allegations

On July 3, 2013, Plaintiff Walter Columbus Simmons, a former inmate at the Surry County Detention Center, filed this pro se action, naming the following persons as Defendants: Lt. Randy Shelton, and Nurses Marilyn, April and Jessica. Plaintiff filed an amended complaint on September 4, 2013. (Docket Entry 7.) The complaint is on a form that purports to set forth a claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 for a violation of Plaintiff's civil rights, and the factual allegations are in the nature of a claim for deliberate indifference to serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.

Plaintiff's factual allegations, in their entirety, are as follows[1]:

In the month of Oct. 6, 2012 I was housed at Surry County Detention Center. Between the months of Oct. and Nov. 2012 (1) I was seen by Nurse Jessica for a physical. My blood pressure was checked and it was high. I was asked was I taking any medication for it. I told her yes when I was out I took a pink water pill for my high blood pressure. (2) The second time I went to see the Nurse April for other reasons my blood pressure was taken [and] it was still high but was not put on my medication. (3) The third time I was seen by the Nurse Marilyn for other reasons I was checked for high blood pressure it was still high. For all three times I was not given any medication for my high blood pressure. For seven months I [have] been suffering blurry eyes, headaches, dizziness, sweat at night. I [have] been going through this off and on for seven months. In the month of April 30, 2013 I was transferred to Forsyth County Jail. I was seen by the nurses there and my blood was still high so the nurses asked me have I been taking any medication for it. I told her yes a pink water pill for it. So the nurse put me on my blood pressure pink water pill. Ever since things have not been normal. Two weeks later I was transferred back to Surry County on May 15, 2103. The next day I did not receive any medication and I ask why not the nurse told me because it's normal, I fill out a grievance and was seen by one of the staffers for Step 1. Still no medication. I was also seen by Lt. Randy Shelton for Step II he told me to stay away from that medication keep telling me leave that medication alone and you will not get any medication here for sixty eight days I suffer blurry eyes, headaches, dizziness, light sweat and still haven't received my medication. On July 22, 2103, I was transferred to Ashe County. I was seen by the nurses there and they ask me did I have any problems I told her yes high blood pressure so she checked me and ask what I was taking. I told her a pink water pill so the nurse put me on my medication, after I went to two county [sic] and my medication was given. Now Surry County is giving me my medication but permanent damage has obviously been done to my body. The grounds I am suing for are negligence and medical malpractice.

(Am. Compl. at 5, Docket Entry 7.)

In his prayer for relief, Plaintiff asks for damages for negligence, mental anguish and pain and suffering. ( Id. at 6.)

II. Motion to Dismiss Standard

Defendants argue that dismissal is appropriate pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). A motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of the complaint. Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 243 (1999). A complaint that does not "contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face'" must be dismissed. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic 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." Id .; see also Simmons & United Mortg. & Loan Invest., 634 F.3d 754, 768 (4th Cir. 2011) ("On a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a complaint must be dismissed if it does not allege enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face."). The "court accepts all well-pled facts as true and construes these facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, " but does not consider "legal conclusions, elements of a cause of action, ... bare assertions devoid of factual enhancement[, ]... unwarranted inferences, unreasonable conclusions, or arguments." Nemet Chevrolet, Ltd. v. Consumeraffairs.com, Inc., 591 F.3d 250, 255 (4th Cir. 2009) (citations omitted). In other words, the standard requires a plaintiff to articulate facts, that, when accepted as true, demonstrate the plaintiff has stated a claim that makes it plausible he is entitled to relief. Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 193 (4th Cir. 2009) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, and Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).

Pro se complaints are to be liberally construed in assessing sufficiency under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). However, even under this liberal construction, "generosity is not fantasy, " and the court is not expected to plead a plaintiff's claim for him. Bender v. Suburban Hosp., Inc., 159 F.3d 186, 192 (4th Cir. 1998).

III. Discussion

A. Motion to Dismiss as to Defendant Lt. Randy Shelton

Plaintiff purports to bring a claim of deliberate indifference to serious medical needs based on Defendant Shelton's alleged failure to give Plaintiff blood pressure medicine. It is well settled that not "every claim by a prisoner that he has not received adequate medical treatment states a [constitutional] violation." Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 105 (1976). The Eighth Amendment only proscribes acts or omissions by prison officials that are "sufficiently harmful to evidence deliberate indifference to serious medical needs." Id. at 106. Since Estelle, courts have developed a two-part test for evaluating Section 1983 claims alleging Eighth Amendment violations as to medical care; courts first evaluate whether there was evidence ...


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