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Barnett v. Patane

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

June 12, 2019

JEFFREY DEAN PATANE, et al., Defendants.


          Frank D. Whitney Chief United States District Judge.

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on initial review of pro se Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, (Doc. No. 12). Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis. (Doc. No. 9).

         I. BACKGROUND

         Pro se Plaintiff filed a civil rights suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, addressing incidents that allegedly occurred at the Mountain View Correctional Institution in September 2018. He names Defendants Physician Assistant Jeffrey Dean Patane, Licensed Practical Nurse Keisha W. O'Keefe, and Registered Nurse Tamara L. Allen in their individual capacities.

         Construing the Amended Complaint liberally and accepting it as true, Plaintiff suffers from idiopathic ischemic stuttering priapism, a serious and painful medical condition. Plaintiff alleges that, between September 5 and 7, 2018 Plaintiff had a prolonged erection and urinary retention for about 24 hours which caused him extreme pain and rendered him unable to sleep, eat, exercise, read, or walk.

         Defendant Patane knew that Plaintiff was suffering and experiencing severe and extreme pain yet left him in his housing cell for more than 10 hours without any medical treatment or pain medication. Defendant Patane refused to come into Plaintiff's cell or have him brought to the medical exam room to examine and evaluate him for urinary retention and stuttering priapism or provide him with treatment or send him to the local ER. Patane prescribed Amitrypteline - which is not a pain medication - on September 6 but discontinued the order on September 7 and Plaintiff never received or took this medication. Patane also refused to give Plaintiff any medication to lower his blood pressure.

         Defendant O'Keefe refused to examine and evaluate Plaintiff for urinary retention and stuttering priapism and refused to refer her to the medical provider who was on-site in the medical department. O'Keefe falsified his medical records which seriously interfered with his medical treatment. Plaintiff's blood pressure was 142/124 but O'Keefe falsely recorded it as 148/106 in Plaintiff's medical chart. She also inaccurately recorded the amount of time since he had urinated. She wrote “other” instead of recording the specific areas where Plaintiff was experiencing pain. She falsely put in the chart that he refused to be assessed and that the swelling went down on its own. O'Keefe also falsely stated that Plaintiff was not in distress. Plaintiff thinks the false statements are O'Keefe's way of carrying out her promise that Plaintiff would not win in the suit that Plaintiff said he was going to file against her. O'Keefe left him in his cell to continue to suffer.

         Defendant Allen was present in the cell during Plaintiff's interaction with O'Keefe. Defendant Allen refused verbally and physically to step in and override O'Keefe, whom she outranked, or examine and evaluate Plaintiff herself when O'Keefe's refused to examine and evaluate him. O'Keefe was smiling when she told Plaintiff she would not examine and evaluate him and refused to refer Plaintiff to the medical provider on site. Allen had the authority to step in and examine and evaluate Plaintiff when O'Keefe refused but Allen did not do anything. When Plaintiff asked Allen whether she was going to examine and evaluate him after O'Keefe's refusal, Allen smiled and shook her head and said no. Allen left Plaintiff in his cell untreated to let him suffer. The incidents between Plaintiff and Defendant Patane were witnessed by Nurse Tommy Hughes and the incidents between Plaintiff and Defendants O'Keefe and Allen were witnessed by Correctional Officer Phillips.

         Defendants' actions and inactions caused Plaintiff extreme pain and nerve and tissue damage. Plaintiff was finally taken to a local ER where he was given a catheter, bloodwork, and morphine.

         Plaintiff seeks $275, 000 in punitive damages from each Defendant and any other relief the Court deems just, proper and equitable.


         Because 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)).

         A pro se complaint must be construed liberally. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); 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.

         III. ...

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