United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division
D. Whitney Chief United States District Judge.
MATTER comes before the Court on initial review of
Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, (Doc. No. 11).
se Plaintiff Mitchell Martin's Complaint, (Doc. No.
1), passed initial review on a claim of deliberate
indifference to a serious medical need by Detective Chad
Murry for failing to provide medical treatment for
Plaintiff's broken hand. Plaintiff was granted leave to
file an Amended Complaint to attempt to cure deficiencies
with regards to his remaining claims. (Doc. No. 10).
Amended Complaint, Plaintiff names the following Defendants
who all work for Rutherford County Sheriff's Department:
Detective Chad Murray, Booking/Intake Sergeant Patterson,
Jail Administrator Lydia Waddell, and Nurse Rachel Ruppe.
the Amended Complaint liberally and accepting the allegations
as true, Plaintiff was arrested after a fist fight on July
19, 2017, during which he broke his left hand. Detective
Murray knew about Plaintiff's broken hand, refused to
transport Plaintiff for health treatment, and instead took
him to the detention facility. Sergeant Patterson booked
Plaintiff at the Rutherford County Detention Facility.
Plaintiff informed her that he had fractured his hand, which
was painful and visibly swollen, but she failed to get him
any care and placed him in the general population. Four days
passed during which time Plaintiff received no medical
treatment for his hand. He was examined by Nurse Ruppe on
July 22, and he told her that he had injured his hand in a
fight several days earlier and had been suffering from
swelling and pain ever since. She ordered an x-ray, ace
bandage, and ibuprofen for pain. Plaintiff's hand was
x-rayed on July 24, 2017, which showed a severe fracture.
Nurse Ruppe's failure to tell Plaintiff about the x-ray
results allowed the bones to fuse while they were misaligned,
which required surgery.
filed a grievances on August 20, and September 20, 2017,
which informed Defendant Waddell that he was not receiving
appropriate medical care for his injured hand. Plaintiff did
not receive any response from Waddell, who knew or should
have known that Plaintiff required outside medical treatment.
seeks nominal, compensatory, and punitive damages, and
injunctive relief. (Doc. No. 11 at 17).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Plaintiff is a prisoner proceeding in forma
pauperis, the Court must review the Complaint to
determine whether it is subject to dismissal on the grounds
that it is “(i) frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to
state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks
monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such
relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). In its
frivolity review, a 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). A complaint
should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim
“unless ‘after accepting all well-pleaded
allegations in the plaintiff's complaint as true and
drawing all reasonable factual inferences from those facts in
the plaintiff's favor, it appears certain that the
plaintiff cannot prove any set of facts in support of his
claim entitling him to relief.'” Veney v.
Wyche, 293 F.3d 726, 730 (4th Cir. 2002)
(quoting Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231,
244 (4th Cir. 1999)).
pro se complaint must be construed liberally.
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972) (a pro se
complaint, however inartfully pled, must be held to less
stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers); see also Smith v. Smith, 589 F.3d 736, 738
(4th Cir. 2009) (“Liberal construction of
the pleadings is particularly appropriate where …
there is a pro se complaint raising civil rights
issues.”). However, the liberal construction
requirement will not permit a district court to ignore a
clear failure to allege facts in his complaint which set
forth a claim that is cognizable under federal law.
Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387
(4th Cir. 1990). A pro se complaint must
still contain sufficient facts “to raise a right to
relief above the speculative level” and “state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 570
(2007); see Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009)
(the Twombly plausibility standard applies to all
federal civil complaints including those filed under §
1983). This “plausibility standard requires a plaintiff
to demonstrate more than a sheer possibility that a defendant
has acted unlawfully.” Francis v. Giacomelli,
588 F.3d 186, 193 (4th Cir. 2009) (internal
quotation marks omitted). He must articulate facts that, when
accepted as true, demonstrate he has stated a claim entitling
him to relief. Id.
Eighth Amendment's prohibition against ‘cruel and
unusual punishments' [extends] to the treatment of
prisoners by prison officials, ” Hill v. Crum,
727 F.3d 312, 317 (4th Cir. 2013), and
“forbids the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain,
” id. (internal quotation marks omitted). As
the Supreme Court has explained, “deliberate
indifference to serious medical needs of prisoners
constitutes the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain
proscribed by the Eighth Amendment.” Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976) (citation and internal
quotation marks omitted).
deliberate indifference standard has two components. The
plaintiff must show that he had serious medical needs, which
is an objective inquiry, and that the defendant acted with
deliberate indifference to those needs, which is a subjective
inquiry. See Iko v. Shreve, 535 F.3d 225, 241
(4th Cir. 2008). 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.” Id. at 241
(internal quotation marks omitted). A mere delay or
interference with treatment can be sufficient to constitute a
violation of the Eighth Amendment. Smith v. Smith,
589 F.3d 736, 739 (4th Cir. 2009). However,
allegations 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 ...