United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division
JOE L. SHOLTZ, Plaintiff,
BUNCOMBE CO. JAIL, SOUTHEAST CORRECTIONAL MEDICAL GROUP, Defendants.
D. Whitney Chief United States District Judge.
MATTER is before the Court on initial review of
Plaintiff's Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e) and § 1915A, (Doc. No. 1). On November 20, 2017,
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.
Plaintiff Joe L. Sholtz is a federal prisoner currently being
detained at the Buncombe County Detention Center in
Asheville, North Carolina. Plaintiff filed this action on
September 20, 2017, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Plaintiff has named the following two entities as Defendants:
(1) “Buncombe County Jail”; (2) and
“Southeast Correctional Medical Group.” Plaintiff
purports to bring an Eighth Amendment claim against
Defendants, whom he describes in the Complaint as
“medical staff” at the jail, for deliberate
indifference to serious medical needs based on
Defendants' refusal to provide him with medical care and
to acknowledge his serious medical needs while incarcerated
at the jail. Plaintiff seeks damages and injunctive and
STANDARD OF REVIEW
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).
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 based on an alleged lack of or
inappropriate medical treatment fall within the Eighth
Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual
punishment. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104
(1976). To state a claim under the Eighth Amendment, a
plaintiff must show a “deliberate indifference to
serious medical needs” of the inmate. Id.
“Deliberate indifference requires a showing that the
defendants actually knew of and disregarded a substantial
risk of serious injury to the detainee or that they actually
knew of and ignored a detainee's serious need for medical
care.” Young v. City of Mt. Ranier, 238 F.3d
567, 575-76 (4th Cir. 2001) (citations omitted). “To
establish that a health care provider's actions
constitute deliberate indifference to a serious medical need,
the treatment must be so grossly incompetent, inadequate, or
excessive as to shock the conscience or to be intolerable to
fundamental fairness.” Miltier v. Beorn, 896
F.2d 848, 851 (4th Cir. 1990).
that might be sufficient to support negligence and medical
malpractice claims do not, without more, rise to the level of
a cognizable § 1983 claim. Estelle, 429 U.S. at
106; Grayson v. Peed, 195 F.3d 692, 695 (4th Cir.
1999) (“Deliberate indifference is a very high
standard-a showing of mere negligence will not meet
it.”). To be found liable under the Eighth Amendment, a
prison official must know of and consciously or intentionally
disregard “an excessive risk to inmate health or
safety.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 837
(1994); Johnson v. Quinones, 145 F.3d 164, 167 (4th
Cir. 1998). “[E]ven if a prison doctor is mistaken or
negligent in his diagnosis or treatment, no constitutional
issue is raised absent evidence of abuse, intentional
mistreatment, or denial of medical attention.”
Stokes v. Hurdle, 393 F.Supp. 757, 762 (D. Md.
1975), aff'd, 535 F.2d 1250 (4th Cir. 1976). The
constitutional right is to medical care. No right exists to
the type or scope of care desired by the individual prisoner.
Id. at 763. Therefore, a disagreement “between
an inmate and a physician over the inmate's proper
medical care [does] not state a § 1983 claim unless
exceptional circumstances are alleged.” Wright v.
Collins, 766 F.2d 841, 849 (4th Cir. 1985) (dismissing
the plaintiff's § 1983 claim against a defendant
physician for allegedly discharging the plaintiff too early
from a medical clinic, as such claim did not rise to the
level of deliberate indifference but would, “at most,
constitute a claim of medical malpractice”).
Court finds that Plaintiff must amend his Complaint to name
the proper Defendants or this action will be dismissed
without prejudice and without further notice to Plaintiff.
First, the “Buncombe County Jail” is not a
distinct legal entity capable of being sued, nor is it a
“person” within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. §
1983. See Monell v. Dep't. of Soc. Servs., 436
U.S. 658, 688 & n.55 (1978) (noting that, for purposes of
Section 1983 action, a “person” includes
individuals and “bodies politic and corporate”);
Fed.R.Civ.P. 17(b). Additionally, as to Defendant Southeast
Correctional Medical Group, which is also not a
“person” subject to suit under Section 1983,
Plaintiff has alleged no facts whatsoever against this named
Defendant, and it also appears that it may be a private
entity not subject to suit under Section 1983, which states,
in pertinent part:
Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance,
regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or
the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be
subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person
within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any
rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution
and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action
at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for
redress, except that in any action brought against a judicial
officer for an act or omission taken in such officer's
judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted
unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory
relief was unavailable.
42 U.S.C. § 1983. As its language indicates, Section
1983 applies only to persons acting under color of state law.
Court finds that Plaintiff must amend his Complaint or this
action will be subject to dismissal without prejudice and
without further notice to Plaintiff. In his Amended
Complaint, Plaintiff needs to provide more specific
allegations-that is, he needs to allege facts with specific
dates and the specific individuals at the jail who are
allegedly ignoring his serious medical needs.