United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division
February 4, 2015
THEODORE O. FRANCIS,
PAULA MILLWEE, ET AL.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
MARK L. HORNSBY, Magistrate Judge.
In accordance with the standing order of this court, this matter was referred to the undersigned Magistrate Judge for review, report and recommendation.
STATEMENT OF CLAIM
Before the court is a civil rights complaint filed in forma pauperis by pro se plaintiff Theodore O. Francis ("Plaintiff"), pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This complaint was received and filed in this court on January 20, 2012. Plaintiff is incarcerated at the David Wade Correctional Center in Homer, Louisiana, and claims his civil rights were violated by prison officials. He names Paula Millwee, Angie T., Nurse Williams, and the David Wade Correctional Center as defendants.
Plaintiff claims that when he was transferred to David Wade Correctional Center, his property was taken from him to check for contraband. He claims he was forced to shower without shoes. He claims he developed a rash on his feet that caused pain, itching, and swelling.
Plaintiff claims Nurse Williams denied him medical treatment for this rash on January 20, 2011 and September 9, 2011. He claims that on January 20, 2011, Nurse Williams responded to his cell for his sick-call request, but provided him with no medical treatment. Plaintiff claims that on September 9, 2011, Nurse Williams again responded to his cell for his sick-call request, but provided him with no medical treatment. Plaintiff claims that if he had been provided cream the first time he requested it, his condition would not have worsened.
Plaintiff claims the rash was clearly visible and developed into knots. He claims the rash was painful and itched. Plaintiff claims the rash caused dry discolored areas on his left heel, the back of his left knuckle, the middle of his right hand, the back of his right knee, and his right elbow.
Plaintiff admits that on November 7, 2011 and February 23, 2012, Nurse Bill prescribed medications for him. He admits that he received treatment after he wrote the medical department and filed a grievance in the administrative remedy procedure. Plaintiff admits that in June of 2012, he saw Dr. Hearne in the infirmary and was prescribed a stronger medication. Plaintiff claims in July of 2012, he saw Dr. Hearne in the infirmary.
As relief, Plaintiff seeks to have the medical department replaced and monetary compensation.
LAW AND ANALYSIS
Plaintiff filed this claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 of the Civil Rights Act which provides redress for persons "deprived of any rights, privileges or immunities" by a person acting under color of state law. The particular right protected under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in matters which concern alleged denial of or inadequate medical care is the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.
The lack of proper inmate medical care rises to the level of a constitutional deprivation under the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution only if the evidence shows that the prison officials showed "deliberate indifference to serious medical needs." Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106, 97 S.Ct. 285, 292 (1976); See also Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 835, 114 S.Ct. 1970, 1978 (1994). It is only deliberate indifference, "an unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain" or an act "repugnant to the conscience of mankind, " that constitutes conduct proscribed by the Eighth Amendment. Estelle, 429 U.S. at 105-06, 97 S.Ct. at 292; See also Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153, 96 S.Ct. 2909 (1976). Further, the plaintiff must establish that the defendants possessed a culpable state of mind. See Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 297-302, 111 S.Ct. 2321, 2323-27 (1991); Farmer, 511 U.S. at 838-47, 114 S.Ct. at 1979-84. A delay in medical care will violate the Eight Amendment only if the delay is based on deliberate indifference and results in substantial harm. Mendoza v. Lynaugh, 989 F.2d 191, 195 (5th Cir. 1993). In addition, disagreement with the diagnostic measures or methods of treatment afforded by prison officials does not state a claim for Eighth Amendment indifference to medical needs. See Norton v. Dimazana, 122 F.3d 286, 292 (5th Cir. 1997).
After a thorough review of Plaintiff's complaint, read in a light most favorable to him, the court finds that the facts alleged do not support a finding of deliberate indifference to serious medical needs. To the contrary, the record demonstrates that Defendants were attentive to the medical needs of Plaintiff. It has been consistently held that an inmate who has been examined by medical personnel fails to set forth a valid showing of deliberate indifference to serious medical needs. Norton v. Dimazana, 122 F.2d 286, 292 (5th Cir. 1997); Callaway v. Smith County, 991 F.Supp. 801, 809 (E.D. Tex. 1998); Spears v. McCotter, 766 F.2d 179 (5th Cir. 1985); Mayweather v. Foti, 958 F.2d 91 (5th Cir. 1992). Plaintiff admits Nurse Williams responded to his cell on January 20, 2011 and September 9, 2011 after he filed sick-call requests.
Plaintiff's complaint is devoid of factual allegations that would tend to show Defendants acted with a culpable state of mind or that their actions were "unnecessary and wanton." Furthermore, Plaintiff does not allege how the delay in receiving treatment for his rash was based on deliberate indifference and resulted in any substantial harm. Plaintiff waited more than seven months to file a second sick-call request regarding the rash after filing his initial sick-call request on September 9, 2011. Plaintiff also did not demonstrate that the rash on his knuckle, hand, knee and elbow were caused by the delay in treatment of the rash on his heel. In fact, Plaintiff admits that even after receiving medication, his rash did not initially improve.
Plaintiff disagrees with the treatment plan that Defendants provided him. He claims he should have been prescribed cream and pain medication on his initial examinations. As previously discussed, disagreement with the diagnostic measures or methods of treatment afforded by prison officials does not state a claim for Eighth Amendment indifference to medical needs.
Plaintiff's allegations, if accepted as true, may amount to a state law claim for negligence, a tort. However, mere negligence, neglect or medical malpractice does not amount to a denial of a constitutional right as these actions on the part of Defendants do not rise to the level of a constitutional tort. See Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327, 329-30, 106 S.Ct. 662, 664 (1986); Estelle, 429 U.S. at 106, 97 S.Ct. at 292; Lewis v. Woods, 848 F.2d 649, 651 (5th Cir. 1988). The fact that Plaintiff does not believe that his medical treatment was as good as it should have been is not a cognizable complaint under the Civil Rights Act. See Spears v. McCotter, 766 F.2d 179, 181 (5th Cir. 1985). Prisoners are not constitutionally entitled to the best medical care that money can buy. See Mayweather v. Foti, 958 F.2d. 91 (5th Cir. 1992).
Accordingly, Plaintiff's claim should be dismissed with prejudice as frivolous.
Because Plaintiff filed this proceeding in forma pauperis ("IFP"), if this court finds Plaintiff's complaint to be frivolous, it may dismiss the complaint as such at any time, before or after service of process, and before or after answers have been filed. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e); Green v. McKaskle, 788 F.2d 1116, 1119 (5th Cir. 1986); Spears v. McCotter, 766 F.2d 179, 181 (5th Cir. 1985). District courts are vested with extremely broad discretion in making a determination of whether an IFP proceeding is frivolous and may dismiss a claim as frivolous if the IFP complaint lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact. See Hicks v. Garner, 69 F.3d 22 (5th Cir. 1995); Booker v. Koonce, 2 F.3d 114 (5th Cir. 1993); Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 109 S.Ct. 1827 (1989).
For the reasons heretofore stated, it is recommended that Plaintiff's complaint be DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE as frivolous under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e).
Under the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b), parties aggrieved by this recommendation have fourteen (14) days from service of this Report and Recommendation to file specific, written objections with the Clerk of Court, unless an extension of time is granted under Fed.R.Civ.P. 6(b). A party may respond to another party's objection within ten (10) days after being served with a copy thereof. Counsel are directed to furnish a courtesy copy of any objections or responses to the District Judge at the time of filing.
A party's failure to file written objections to the proposed findings, conclusions and recommendations set forth above, within fourteen (14) days after being served with a copy shall bar that party, except upon grounds of plain error, from attacking, on appeal, the proposed factual findings and legal conclusions that were accepted by the district court and that were not objected to by the aforementioned party. See Douglas v. U.S.A.A., 79 F.3d 1415 (5th Cir. 1996) (en banc).