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Ballard v. Hatley

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

October 25, 2019

FNU HATLEY, et al., Defendants.


          Frank D. Whitney, Chief United States District Judge.

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on Defendant Regina S. Hooks' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint. [Doc. 54].

         I. BACKGROUND

         Pro se Plaintiff Robert Ballard (“Plaintiff”) is a North Carolina prisoner who filed this action on July 7, 2017, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, based on events alleged to have occurred while Plaintiff was incarcerated at Lanesboro Correctional Institution in Polkton, North Carolina.[1]Pursuant to an order from the Court, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint on March 2, 2018, naming the following persons as Defendants: (1) Mr. Herring, Superintendent, Lanesboro Correctional; (2) J. Bennett, Assistant Superintendent, Lanesboro Correctional; (3) Mr. Thompson, Nurse Supervisor, Lanesboro Correctional; (4) Mr. Rogers, Assistant Superintendent, Lanesboro Correctional; (5) Mr. D. Hatley, Unit Manager, Lanesboro Correctional; (6) Capt. Aaron, Captain, Lanesboro Correctional; (7) Sergeant Simmons, Sergeant, Lanesboro Correctional; (8) Nurse Parks, Nurse, Lanesboro Correctional; and (9) First Shift Nurses, Lanesboro Correctional. Plaintiff alleges that, while he was incarcerated at Lanesboro, Defendants violated his constitutional rights by deliberately ignoring his serious medical needs and by subjecting him to unconstitutional conditions of confinement.

         Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that he was transferred to Lanesboro on May 9, 2017. [Doc. 12 at 8]. Plaintiff alleges that he is confined to a wheelchair and needs a handicapped cell but was transferred to Lanesboro even though it is not a medical hospital. [Id. at 5, 7]. Plaintiff alleges that he should be classified as acuity level A-3, “medical unstable chronic disease requiring a chronic CARE unit same as plaintiff has been housed since 2012.” [Id. at 5]. Plaintiff alleges that level A-1 represents someone in good health. [Id. at 7]. Plaintiff alleges that Lanesboro is for prisoners classified as A-1 and A-2 only. [Id.].

         Plaintiff alleges that for numerous days he was denied the use of a shower, hot water, and lights in his cell; that various Defendants denied him needed medications; he was denied clean clothing and underwear, pants, shirts, and bedding for nine days; he was chained (by Defendants Aaron, Simmons, and three other officers) with a waist chain and handcuffs (black box); and his leg was cut in response to him knocking on his cell door to receive medical assistance when having chest pains, and he was forced to use the bathroom on the floor. Plaintiff alleges that he wrote a letter to Defendant Rogers, Assistant Superintendent, about not receiving a shower or clean clothes. Defendant Rogers told Plaintiff he could receive a shower and clean clothes, but it did not happen.

         As for the first shift nurses, Plaintiff specifically alleges that:

Plaintiff has heart meds, blood thinners, blood pressure, and several other medications that are due at 7 AM (scheduled)[.] Medical nursing staff on 1st shift is less than 25 ft. from Plaintiff; took anywhere from 9 AM to as late as 630 PM to bring plaintiff his medications - less than 25 ft. away from medical staff.

[Doc. 12 at 6]. Plaintiff also alleges that he was “housed in a cell in medical for 21 days.” [Id. at 4]. Plaintiff filed grievances with Defendant Herring, Superintendent of Lanesboro, about his medications not being given to him. He also alleges that Defendant Thompson changed Plaintiff's acuity level from A-3 to A-1. Plaintiff further alleges that Defendant Hatley has denied Plaintiff a handicap cell while at Lanesboro. Finally, Plaintiff alleges that “each and every named Defendant has personal knowledge and involvement in the above actions, decisions.” [Doc. 12 at 7]. Plaintiff does not provide a timeline of all the alleged conduct, although it is apparent that Plaintiff's complaints span from on or around May 9, 2017, when he arrived at Lanesboro, to July 7, 2017, when Plaintiff filed his original Complaint in this matter. For relief, Plaintiff states that he seeks injunctive relief and compensatory and punitive damages. [Id. at 8].

         On August 2, 2018, the Court conducted a frivolity review of Plaintiff's Amended Complaint and allowed Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claims against various Defendants to proceed. [Doc. 13]. The Court directed the Plaintiff that the “First Shift Nurses” could not be personally served unless and until the Plaintiff identifies them. [Id. at 5]. On September 10, 2018, Plaintiff moved to substitute party names, identifying the First Shift Nurse Defendants. Defendant Hooks was among those identified. [Doc. 16]. On November 20, 2018, the Court granted Plaintiff's motion file a second amended complaint. [Doc. 23]. Plaintiff, however, has not filed a second amended complaint. The parties are currently in discovery, with dispositive motions due on December 6, 2019. [Docs. 36, 62].

         Defendant Hooks, a nurse at Lanesboro at all relevant times, has now filed the pending motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, arguing that Plaintiff has not sufficiently stated a claim for deliberate indifference to serious medical needs against her. On July 25, 2019, this Court entered an order giving Plaintiff notice of his right to respond to the motion to dismiss. [Doc. 59]. On August 20, 2019, the Court granted Plaintiff's motion for additional time to respond, making Plaintiff's response to Defendant Hooks' motion to dismiss due on October 8, 2019. The time for Plaintiff to respond has passed, Plaintiff has not responded, and this motion is now ripe for adjudication.


         On a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the Court must accept the factual allegations of the claim as true and construe them in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Coleman v. Maryland Ct. of Appeals, 626 F.3d 187, 189 (4th Cir. 2010). To survive the motion, the “complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, ‘to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). To be “plausible on its face, ” a plaintiff must demonstrate more than “a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. A plaintiff therefore must “articulate facts, when accepted as true, that ‘show' that the plaintiff has stated a claim entitling [it] to relief, i.e., the ‘plausibility of entitlement to relief.'” Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 193 (4th Cir. 2009) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 at 678).

         III. ...

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