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Johnson v. Porter

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division

June 9, 2016

CLIFTON EUGENE JOHNSON, Plaintiff,
v.
NURSE PORTER, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          James R. Spencer Senior U.S. District Judge

         Clifton Eugene Johnson, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action.[1] In his Particularized Complaint ("Complaint, " ECF No. 19), Johnson contends that Defendant Nurse Porter denied him adequate medical care during his incarceration in the Riverside Regional Jail ("RRJ"). The matter is before the Court on the Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendant Porter. (ECF No. 27.) Johnson has responded. For the reasons stated below, the Court will GRANT Defendant Porter's Motion to Dismiss.

         I. STANDARD FOR MOTION TO DISMISS

         "A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of a complaint; importantly, it does not resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of defenses." Republican Party of N.C. v. Martin, 980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th Cir. 1992) (citing 5 A Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1356 (1990)). In considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, a plaintiffs well-pleaded allegations are taken as true and the complaint is viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Mylan Labs., Inc. v. Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993); see also Martin, 980 F.2d at 952. This principle applies only to factual allegations, however, and "a court considering a motion to dismiss can choose to begin by identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009).

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure "require[ ] only 'a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ' in order to 'give the defendant fair notice of what the ... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (second alteration in original) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). Plaintiffs cannot satisfy this standard with complaints containing only "labels and conclusions" or a "formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." Id. (citations omitted). Instead, a plaintiff must allege facts sufficient "to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, " id. (citation omitted), stating a claim that is "plausible on its face, " id. at 570, rather than merely "conceivable." Id. "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Bell Atl. Corp., 550 U.S. at 556). In order for a claim or complaint to survive dismissal for failure to state a claim, therefore, the plaintiff must "allege facts sufficient to state all the elements of [his or] her claim." Bass v. E.I DuPont de Nemours & Co., 324 F.3d 761, 765 (4th Cir. 2003) (citing Dickson v. Microsoft Corp., 309 F.3d 193, 213 (4th Cir. 2002); Iodice v. United States, 289 F.3d 270, 281 (4th Cir. 2002)). Lastly, while the Court liberally construes pro se complaints, Gordon v. Leehe, 51A F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978), it does not act as the inmate's advocate, sua sponte developing statutory and constitutional claims the inmate failed to clearly raise on the face of his complaint. See Brock v. Carroll, 107 F.3d 241, 243 (4th Cir. 1997) (Luttig, J., concurring); Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985).

         II. SUMMARY OF ALLEGATIONS

         In his Complaint, Johnson alleges that Defendant Porter denied him adequate medical care, in violation of the Eighth Amendment, [2] when she failed to check his blood sugar on one occasion on December 21, 2014. Johnson alleges:[3]

At 8:00 p.m. on 12-21-2014, it was announced diabetic call.... When the Pod Officer Jarman left out he came back [and] I told him I need to go, so he took me out his self because he knows I go every night. I told him it's low because the last time I checked it at 4:00 PM it was high, 443, [and] I took 14 units regular which is a fast reaction. When I got up front to the unit control where the diabetic call was being held, Nurse Porter said I was not on her list at night. I tell her that Dr. Stairs had change[d] me to 4 times a day on 10-19-14 ... . Sgt Armistead overheard the conversation and told her that Mr. Johnson comes out every night, I know he's on the list to get his shot or check. Ms. Porter still said I only get check twice a day. She still deprived me of medical attention. I know my sugar was low because I took 14 units of regular 4 hours ago and I was shaking, sweating, and I was weak. . . . She also stated that she has to go by what's in the computer system....
On December 22, 2014, 1 went to the diabetic call at 5:30 a.m. I ask Nurse manning to give me a copy of my medical sheet to show how many times I get check[ed] and she gave me a copy and I have it showing 4 times daily, 5:30 a.m., 10:00 a.m., 4 p.m., 8 p.m. by Dr. Stairs ..
By me being a[n] insulin dependent diabetic, I should never be denied to because of my health. That's cruel and unusual punishment. Since I been here, I always get check at least 3 times daily, never twice.

(Compl. 1-2.) Johnson fails to identify what relief he seeks.

         III. ANALYSIS

         To allege an Eighth Amendment claim, an inmate must allege facts that indicate (1) that objectively the deprivation suffered or harm inflicted "was 'sufficiently serious, ' and (2) that subjectively the prison officials acted with a 'sufficiently culpable state of mind.'" Johnson v. Quinones, 145 F.3d 164, 167 (4th Cir. 1998) (quoting Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 298 (1991)). With respect to the denial of adequate medical care, "a prisoner must allege acts or omissions sufficiently harmful to evidence deliberate indifference to serious medical needs." Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). A medical need is "serious" if it '"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.'" Iko v. Shreve, 535 F.3d 225, 241 (4th Cir. 2008) (quoting Henderson v. Sheahan, 196 F.3d 839, 846 (7th Cir. 1999)).

         In the context of delayed medical care, the objective-prong analysis does not end there. In addition to demonstrating that a medical need that was objectively serious, a plaintiff must also establish that the delay in the provision of medical care '"resulted in substantial harm.'" Mata v. Saiz,427 F.3d 745, 751 (10th Cir. 2005) (quoting Oxendine v.Kaplan,241 F.3d 1272, 1276 (10th Cir. 2001)); see Webb v. Hamidullah, 281 F.App'x 159, 165 (4th Cir. 2008). "[T]he substantial harm requirement may be satisfied by lifelong handicap, permanent loss, or considerable pain." Shabazz v.Priso ...


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