United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Statesville Division
GREGORY H. JONES, Plaintiff,
FNU RICKMAN, et al., Defendants.
D. WHITNEY, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
MATTER is before the Court on initial review of
Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, filed under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. [Doc. 16]. See 28 U.S.C. §§
1915(e)(2); 1915A. On January 3, 2019, the Court received
Plaintiff's filing fee.
Plaintiff Gregory H. Jones (“Plaintiff”), a North
Carolina state inmate currently incarcerated at Alexander
Correctional Institution in Taylorsville, North Carolina,
filed his original Complaint on November 13, 2018, pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On initial review of the original
Complaint, this Court found that Plaintiff's Complaint
suffered from numerous deficiencies and allowed Plaintiff 30
days to file an Amended Complaint to cure those deficiencies.
14, 2019, the Plaintiff timely filed his Amended Complaint.
[Doc. 16]. In the Amended Complaint, the Plaintiff names as
Defendants, in their individual and official capacities: (1)
FNU Rickman, identified as a dentist employed by the North
Carolina Department of Public Safety (NCDPS); (2) FNU
Townsend, identified as a dentist employed by the NCDPS; (3)
FNU Abreu, identified as a dentist employed by the NCDPS; and
(4) Eric Hooks, identified as the Secretary of the
NCDPS. Plaintiff claims that these Defendants
violated his Eighth Amendment rights by their deliberate
indifference to his serious medical needs. Specifically,
Plaintiff alleges that between December 2016 and November
2018, while incarcerated at Alexander Correctional
Institution and Mountain View Correctional Institution, he
was denied necessary dental care by Defendants Rickman,
Townsend, and Abreu pursuant to NCDPS policy, adopted by
Defendant Hooks, that provides for long outdated and
inadequate dental care. [Doc. 16 at 15-16; Doc. 16-1 at 1-3].
Plaintiff alleges that the denial of adequate dental care is
motivated by cost alone without regard to modern medical
standards. [Id. at 13-16]. As a result of the
inadequate care provided by the Defendant dentists, Plaintiff
claims to have suffered tooth abscess, broken teeth,
significant pain, and other injury so extensive that he
cannot be treated with a partial plate. Rather, Plaintiff
must now have his remaining teeth extracted and wait over a
year for dentures. Plaintiff seeks injunctive and declaratory
relief and damages. [Id. at 5].
STANDARD OF REVIEW
any filing fee … that may have been paid, ” 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
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”).
Plaintiff's allegations as true and drawing all
reasonable inferences therefrom, the Court finds that the
Plaintiff has stated a claim against Defendants for
deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's serious medical
needs in violation of Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment right
to be free from cruel and unusual punishment.