United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
E. Conrad, Chief United States District Judge
Keith Ball, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, filed this
civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
alleging that a jail nurse provided him with an incorrect
medication. Upon review of the complaint, the court finds
that the action must be summarily dismissed.
states that he is incarcerated as a pretrial detainee at the
Central Virginia Regional Jail ("the jail") in
Orange, Virginia. He alleges that during the evening pill
pass around 9:00 p.m. on March 23, 2016, Christina Furrow,
LPN, handed Ball a paper cup, supposedly containing his
evening dose of the medication prescribed for his chronic
headaches. Ball thought the crushed medication in the cup
looked different in color than his medication usually
appeared. He asked Furrow twice what the medication was, and
both times she said it was the medication he took every
night. Ball ingested most of the medication before he noticed
a different taste and numbness to his tongue that he did not
normally experience when taking his prescribed medicine.
Thereafter, he filed a request form, stating that Furrow had
given him the wrong medication and asking for a grievance
15 or 20 minutes of taking the medication, Ball started
"experiencing drainage and sever[e] chronic cough
reaction." (Compl. 7, ECF No. 1.) Close to midnight,
Ball filed an inmate request form seeking medical attention
for a cough, tightness in his chest, and "itching all
over." (Id.) Ball also alleges that he suffered
nausea after taking the medication Furrow delivered to him on
March 23, 2016.
sues Furrow for negligence and for deliberate indifference to
a serious medical need in violation of his constitutional
rights. He also sues the jail authority and the jail
superintendant, seeking monetary damages for his pain and
28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), the court is required to review
prisoner complaints for compliance with the basic rules of
pleading, and during this review, must either identify a
claim in the complaint on which relief may be granted or
summarily dismiss the complaint. A viable complaint must
allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face." Giarrantano v. Johnson.
521 F.3d 298, 302 (4th Cir. 2008) (Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).
government official violates the constitutional rights of a
pretrial detainee when she knows of but disregards a serious
risk of harm to the detainee. See Parrish ex rel. Lee v.
Cleveland. 372 F.3d 294, 302 (4th Cir.2004) (citing
Farmer v. Brennan. 511 U.S. 825, 837 (1994)).
"[T]o be liable under this standard, 'the official
must both be aware of facts from which the inference could be
drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and
[s]he must also draw the inference.'" Id.
(quoting Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837). "It is not
enough that the officer[ ] should have recognized [a
substantial risk of harm]; [she] actually must have perceived
the risk." Id. Mere negligence or medical
malpractice does not rise to a constitutional level.
Estelle, 429 U.S. at 105-106.
this analysis, Ball's complaint does not state a
constitutional claim against anyone. His allegations do not
support a reasonable inference that Nurse Furrow knew the
crushed medication in the cup was not Ball's prescribed
medication or that she knew the medication posed a
substantial risk of harm to Ball. At the most, Ball's
complaint presents a claim that Furrow negligently failed to
follow the standard of care required of nurses-to dispense
medication to patients as prescribed by their physicians.
Such allegations of merely negligent conduct by the nurse do
not implicate any constitutionally protected right and are
not actionable under § 1983.
also sues the jail authority and jail superintendant, but
does not state any facts whatsoever connecting these
defendants or their policies to the medication incident. See
Monell v. New York City Pent, of Social Services.
436 U.S. 658, 690 (1978) ("Local governing bodies ...
can be sued directly under §1983 for monetary,
declaratory, or injunctive relief where ... the action that
is alleged to be unconstitutional implements or executes a
policy statement, ordinance, regulation, or decision
officially adopted and promulgated by that body's
officers"). In addition, the superintendant was lawfully
entitled to rely on the nurse's medical judgment in
matters related to Ball's course of medical treatment,
Shakka v. Smith, 71 F.3d 162, 167 (4th Cir. 1995),
and cannot be vicariously liable for the nurse's actions.
See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 676 (2009).
stated reasons, the court summarily dismisses Ball's
§ 1983 claims without prejudice under § 1915A(b)(l)
for failure to state a claim. Moreover, because Ball states
no actionable § 1983 claim, the court declines to
exercise supplemental jurisdiction over his related state law
claims, see 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3), and will summarily
dismiss the entire case without prejudice. An appropriate
order will issue this day.
Clerk is directed to send copies of this memorandum opinion