United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
E. Conrad, Senior United States District Judge
Michael Duchelle Green, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se,
filed this civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Green alleges that after he was injured by a sliding door, he
did not receive appropriate medical care from the jail's
medical staff. Having reviewed Green's submissions, the
court concludes that the action must be summarily dismissed
for failure to state a claim.
claims arose while he was incarcerated at the Amherst County
Adult Detention Center ("ACADC"). On May 1, 2018,
an officer was escorting Green back to his housing unit after
visitation, when a sliding door (operated remotely by a
control booth officer), caught against Green's left
shoulder and pinned him to the door frame. A nurse assessed
him later that day for complaints of shoulder pain. She noted
no bruising, swelling, or open areas, but started him on
"[p]ain protocol." Compl. 3, ECF No. 1. He was seen
the next day for the same complaints. The nurse then notified
a jail doctor, who referred Green to a specialist. On May 3,
2018, Green was transported to the local Orthopedic Center
and x-rays were taken. He was given an injection and a
prescription to treat "rotator cuff impingement" in
the left shoulder. Id.
ACADC, Green's pain complaints continued. A nurse
assessed him and restarted pain protocol on May 5, 2018. He
was moved to the medical unit on May 9, 2018, so staff could
monitor his pain. A jail doctor examined Green on May 14,
2018, and ordered an MRI of his shoulder.
signed and dated his § 1983 complaint on May 26, 2018,
suing ACADC, the Blue Ridge Regional Jail Authority
("BRRJA"), and four supervising officers at the
jail: Lt. Walker, Major Schmitt, Capt. Rivers, and Tim Trent,
seeking monetary damages for the injury and the
dissatisfactory medical care.
therafter supplemented the complaint with copies of request
forms and grievances he had filed in May and June 2018-about
his pain, the delay of the MRI, and his desire for a clearer
explanation of the MRI results and the condition of his
shoulder. His submissions indicate that jail officials
responded to each of his filings. The MRI was performed on
May 29, 2018. A jail doctor met with Green about the results
on May 31, 2018, and referred him to the Orthopedic Center
for follow up care. See Add'l Evid. 5, ECF No. 3.
42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(1), the court must dismiss a
prisoner's civil action concerning prison conditions
"if the court is satisfied that the action is frivolous,
malicious, [or] fails to state a claim upon which relief can
be granted. ..." A viable complaint must allege
"enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face." Giarratano v. Johnson,
521 F.3d 298, 302 (4th Cir. 2008) (citing Bell Atl. Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). To state a cause
of action under §1983, a plaintiff must establish that
he has been deprived of rights guaranteed by the Constitution
or laws of the United States and that this deprivation
resulted from conduct committed by a person acting under
color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48
initial matter, Green cannot pursue § 1983 claims
against ACADC. The jail, as a building, is not a
"person" subject to suit under § 1983.
McCoy v. Chesapeake Corr, Ctr., 788 F.Supp. 890,
893-94 (E.D. Va. 1992). Green also has not alleged facts
stating any actionable § 1983 claim against the BRRJA.
To prove that a governmental entity, such as a local jail
authority, is liable under § 1983 for constitutional
violations committed by its employees, the plaintiff must
show that the entity's policy was "the moving force
of the constitutional violation." Polk County v.
Dodson, 454 U.S. 312, 326 (1981). The plaintiff must
show that the allegedly unconstitutional acts
"implement[ed] or execute[ed] a policy statement,
ordinance, regulation, or decision officially adopted and
promulgated by" jail authority administrators.
Monell v. New York City Dep't of Soc. Serv., 436
U.S. 658, 690 (1978). Green does not link the door
operator's actions on May 1, 2018, or medical decisions
he challenges, to any specific policy or decision
"officially adopted" by the governing body of the
jail authority. For the stated reasons, the court must
summarily dismiss without prejudice Green's claims
against the jail and the jail authority, pursuant to §
1997e(c)(1), for failure to state a claim upon which relief
could be granted.
individuals whom Green has named as defendants may be persons
subjected to suit under § 1983. However, his allegations
do not state any constitutional claim against any of them. He
sues them only because he believes they were "in
charge" at the time when he was seeking medical
treatment. Compl. 7, ECF No. 1. Officials cannot be held
automatically liable under § 1983 for actions of their
employees, however. See Vinnedge v. Gibbs, 550 F.2d
926, 928 (4th Cir. 1977) (finding that "liability will
only lie where it is affirmatively shown that the official
charged acted personally in the deprivation of the
plaintiff['s] rights"). To prove supervisory
liability, a plaintiff must show: (1) that the supervisor had
actual or constructive knowledge that his subordinate was
engaged in conduct that posed "a pervasive and
unreasonable risk" of constitutional injury; (2) that
the supervisor's response to that knowledge was so
inadequate as to show "deliberate indifference to or
tacit authorization of the alleged offensive practices,
"; and (3) that there was an "affirmative causal
link" between the supervisor's inaction and the
particular constitutional injury suffered by the plaintiff.
Shaw v. Stroud, 13 F.3d 791, 799 (4th Cir. 1994).
Green fails to state facts showing that either the sliding
door incident, or the alleged shortcomings in his medical
care at the jail, were caused in any way by actions,
inactions, or policies of the supervisory jail officials he
has named as defendants.
Green's submissions do not reflect that any of the
defendants has medical expertise. Rather, these officials
were entitled to rely on the professional medical judgments
of the jail's nurses and doctors to determine the
appropriate course of medical care for Green's medical
needs. Miltier v. Beorn, 896 F.2d 848, 854 (4th Cir.
1990), overruled in part on other grounds by Farmer v.
Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 837 (1994)). A non-medical jail
official may be liable only if a plaintiff shows that the
official was personally involved with a denial of treatment,
deliberately interfered with a prison doctor's treatment,
or tacitly authorized or was deliberately indifferent to the
medical provider's misconduct when even a lay person
would have understood that the provider's care was
inadequate. Id. at 854. Green has made no such
Green's allegations do not support a claim that any of
the medical staff at ACADC violated his constitutional rights
related to his medical needs. Only "[d]eliberate
indifference to an inmate's serious medical needs
constitutes cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth
Amendment." Jackson v. Lightsey, 775 F.3d 170,
178 (4th Cir. 2014) (citing Estelle v. Gamble, 429
U.S. 97, 105 (1976)). "[O]fficials evince deliberate
indifference by acting intentionally to delay or deny the
prisoner access to adequate medical care or by ignoring an
inmate's known serious medical needs." Sharpe v.
South Carolina Dept. of Corrections, 621 Fed.Appx. 732,
733 (4th Cir. 2015) (citations omitted). To prove deliberate
indifference, Green must show that the defendant prison
official had "actual... knowledge of both the
inmate's serious medical condition and the excessive risk
posed by the official's [own] action or inaction."
Jackson. 775 F.3d at 178 (citing Farmer,
511 U.S. at 837). This component requires proof of intent
beyond mere negligence, errors in judgment, inadvertent
oversights, or disagreements between doctor and patient about
the prisoner's treatment plan. See Estelle. 429
U.S. at 105-06 ("Medical malpractice does not become a
constitutional violation merely because the victim is a
prisoner."). "Questions of medical judgment are not
subject to judicial review." Russell v.
Sheffer, 528 F.2d 318, 319 (4th Cir. 1975).
submissions do not indicate that anyone ignored his medical
needs. He began receiving medical care on the day he was
injured. A nurse assessed him and started pain medication.
When his pain continued, the nurse consulted a doctor, who
referred Green to an orthopedist. Two days after the injury
occurred, the specialist conducted X-rays, reached a
diagnosis, and provided particularized treatment for that
condition: an injection and prescriptions. Within the month,
jail staff moved Green to the medical unit to monitor and
treat his pain; and the jail doctor ordered an MRI that was
conducted two weeks later; and the doctor then referred Green
for follow up from the orthopedist. Green's complaints
reflect his apparent belief he should have had different
medications or dosages, or that he should have received an
MRI more quickly after the injury. ...