United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Statesville Division
D. Whitney, Judge
MATTER is before the Court on initial review of
Plaintiff's Amended Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e) and § 1915A. (Doc. No. 12). Also pending
is Plaintiff's Motion to Appoint Counsel. (Doc. No. 13).
On April 26, 2018, the Court entered an order waiving the
initial filing fee and directing monthly payments to be made
from Plaintiff's prison account. (Doc. No. 9). Thus,
Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis.
Plaintiff Arthur Jay Goulette is a North Carolina prisoner
incarcerated at the Alexander Correctional Institution in
Taylorsville, North Carolina. Plaintiff filed this action on
March 16, 2018, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff
filed an Amended Complaint on May 24, 2018. (Doc. No. 12).
Plaintiff has named as the two Defendants Marta M. Kalinski,
identified as a doctor at Alexander at all relevant times,
and Benjamin M. Anderson, identified as the Chief Medical
Officer/Assistant Superintendent of Alexander. Plaintiff
purports to bring an Eighth Amendment claim against
Defendants for deliberate indifference to serious medical
needs based on Defendants' refusal to provide him with
proper medical care related to his injured neck and back.
Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief and compensatory damages.
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 Section 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, assuming that Plaintiff's allegations
are true, and drawing all reasonable inferences in his favor,
Plaintiff's claim against Defendants for deliberate
indifference to serious medical needs is not clearly
as to Plaintiff's motion to appoint counsel, there is no
absolute right to the appointment of counsel in civil actions
such as this one. Therefore, a plaintiff must present
“exceptional circumstances” in order to require
the Court to seek the assistance of a private attorney for a
plaintiff who is unable to afford counsel. Miller v.
Simmons, 814 F.2d 962, 966 (4th Cir. 1987). In support
of the motion to appoint counsel, Plaintiff states that he
cannot afford counsel; his imprisonment will greatly limit
his ability to litigate the issues; the issues are complex;
he has no access to a law library and limited knowledge of
the law; he suffers from a traumatic brain injury; this case
will likely involve conflicting testimony; and he has
repeatedly tried to obtain an attorney to no avail. (Doc. No.
13 at 2). Notwithstanding Plaintiff's contentions to the
contrary, this case does not present exceptional
circumstances that justify appointment of counsel. Therefore,
Plaintiff's motion to appoint counsel is denied.
reasons stated herein, Plaintiff has alleged a claim for
deliberate indifference to serious medical needs against
Defendants sufficient to survive this Court's initial
review. IT IS, THEREFORE, ORDERED that:
1. Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, (Doc. No. 12), survives
initial review under 28 ...