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Corpening v. Hargrave

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Statesville Division

June 22, 2015

WENDELL HARGRAVE, et al., Defendants.


FRANK D. WHITNEY, Chief District Judge.

THIS MATTER is before the Court on initial review of Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, filed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, (Doc. No. 21). See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2); 1915A. On August 6, 2014, the Court entered an order waiving the initial filing fee and directing monthly payments to be made from Plaintiff's prison account. (Doc. No. 8). Thus, Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis.


On July 14, 2014, pro se Plaintiff Calvin Corpening, Jr., filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. No. 1). Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint on November 13, 2014. (Doc. No. 21). North Carolina Department of Public Safety Records show that Plaintiff was released from custody on November 13, 2014, and he is no longer in prison. Plaintiff was incarcerated at Alexander Correctional Institution when he filed this action, and he has named as Defendants the following seven individuals: (1) Wendell Hargrave, identified as the Former Superintendent of Alexander; (2) Susan R. White, identified as the Current Superintendent of Alexander; (3) Ben Carver, identified as a Former Unit Manager at Alexander; (4) FNU Tate, identified as a Current Acting Unit Manager and Former Assistant Unit Manager at Alexander; (5) Vickie Coffey, identified as the Lead Registered Nurse at Alexander; (6) FNU Meyers, identified as a Case Analyst/Manager at Alexander; and (7) Candace Dalton, identified as a Social Worker at Alexander.[1] (Id. at 2-3).

In this action, Plaintiff alleges that he is suffering from various disabilities that severely limit him in the jobs that he is able to perform in prison. Plaintiff purports to bring a claim against Defendants under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., based on the fact that he was found to be capable of performing certain jobs while incarcerated at Alexander that his disability actually prevents him from performing. More specifically, Plaintiff alleges that he is disabled and that he had been told by prison officials at Mountain View Correctional Institution, before he was transferred to Alexander:

that my restrictions prevented me from having any employment within [NCDPS]. Mr. Meyers informed me that I would be put on the list for a library position in early April once the position was vacated. However, we later determined my restrictions would also prevent that. Our last option was to look for a class or program anywhere within [NCDPS] to allow for gain time. After weeks and months of searching we were still unable to find anything that I qualified for.... At a scheduled medical visit with the staff family nurse practitioner Mr. Guinn, he agreed that my assigned activity level was a #2, was not appropriate because I am unable to work 6-8 hours a day. That day he changed the activity level to a 4, which restricted most movement and instructed me to reapply for the retroactive gain time.

(Id. at 3-4). Plaintiff alleges that officials at Mountain View told Plaintiff that "no jobs with incentive wages and no programs at facilities that would house me because of my medical restrictions were available [and] that the retroactive gain time was the only way I would be able to receive the sentence reduction credit that I needed." (Id. at 5). Plaintiff alleges that once he was transferred to Alexander, and "[a]fter the [ADA] application was received, I was informed that it would be denied and a position fold[ing] socks in the laundry room for 30 minutes a day was created for me. I was not told I had to take the job, but I was however told if I didn't accept it my release would be December 2014 instead of November 2014;." (Id.). According to Plaintiff, "[w]ith the ADA gain time it would have been September 30, 2014." (Id.). Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Nurse Coffey changed Plaintiff's approved activity level without his knowledge to determine that Plaintiff was capable of performing the job. (Id.).

Plaintiff also alleges that, when he was transferred to Alexander, officials at the prison refused to provide Plaintiff with a diet that his team of surgeons and providers had ordered for him while he was at Mountain View. (Id. at 4). Plaintiff also alleges that officials at Alexander refused to honor changes that had been made as to Plaintiff's scheduled times for insulin shots. (Id.). Plaintiff additionally complains that, while incarcerated at Alexander, prison officials allowed theft of some of Plaintiff's personal property without taking any disciplinary action against the thieves, thus "promoting a hazardous environment." (Id. at 6). As relief, Plaintiff seeks various forms of injunctive and declaratory relief, as well as compensatory damages. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that "[a]t this time my release will be 44 days past my flat minimum release date." (Id. at 9). Plaintiff seeks $6600.00, or "$150.00 per day for every day I am held past my flat minimum release date." (Id.). He also seeks $22, 000.00 "for discrimination of my ADA application and accommodations." (Id.).


Because Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, the Court must review the Complaint to determine whether it is subject to dismissal on the grounds that it is "frivolous or malicious [or] fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Furthermore, § 1915A requires an initial review of a "complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity, " and the court must identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. In its frivolity review, this Court must determine whether the Complaint raises an indisputably meritless legal theory or is founded upon clearly baseless factual contentions, such as fantastic or delusional scenarios. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327-28 (1989).


The Eighth Amendment protects prisoners from inhumane methods of punishment and from inhumane conditions of confinement. Williams v. Benjamin, 77 F.3d 756, 761 (4th Cir. 1996). "Prison conditions may be harsh and uncomfortable without violating the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment." Dixon v. Godinez, 114 F.3d 640, 642 (7th Cir. 1997). Rather, extreme deprivations are required, and "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. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 9 (1992) (quoting Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 298 (1991) (internal quotation omitted)). The plaintiff must allege facts sufficient to support a claim that prison officials knew of and disregarded a substantial risk of serious harm. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 847 (1994). A plaintiff must also generally allege "a serious or significant physical or emotional injury resulting from the challenged conditions." Strickler v. Waters, 989 F.2d 1375, 1381 (4th Cir. 1993).

To state a claim for deliberate indifference to a serious medical need, an inmate must establish two requirements: (1) a sufficiently serious deprivation occurred, resulting "in the denial of the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities, " and (2) the prison official had a sufficiently culpable state of mind. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. at 834 (internal quotation marks omitted). In the medical context, an inmate "must demonstrate that the officers acted with deliberate indifference' (subjective) to the inmate's serious medical needs' (objective)." Iko v. Shreve, 535 F.3d 225, 241 (4th Cir. 2008) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976)).

With regard to the objective prong, 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." Iko, 535 F.3d at 241 (quoting Henderson v. Sheahan, 196 F.3d 839, 846 (7th Cir. 1999)). With regard to the subjective prong, a prison official is deliberately indifferent if he has actual knowledge of and disregards "the risk posed by the serious medical needs of the inmate." Iko, 535 F.3d at 241 (citing Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837); see also Makdessi v. Fields, No. 13-7606, 2015 WL 1062747, at *9 (4th Cir. Mar. 12, 2015) (holding that the subjective prong "may be proven by circumstantial evidence that a risk was so obvious that it had to have been known"). To be liable under this ...

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