Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Cole v. Vannoy

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

January 25, 2018

BRYAN COLE (#475537)



         Please take notice that the attached Magistrate Judge's Report has been filed with the Clerk of the United States District Court.

         In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), you have fourteen (14) days after being served with the attached Report to file written objections to the proposed findings of fact, conclusions of law and recommendations therein. Failure to file written objections to the proposed findings, conclusions, and recommendations within 14 days after being served will bar you, except upon grounds of plain error, from attacking on appeal the unobjected-to proposed factual findings and legal conclusions of the Magistrate Judge which have been accepted by the District Court.



         Before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (R. Doc. 7). This Motion is opposed.

         Pro se Plaintiff, an inmate incarcerated at the Louisiana State Penitentiary (''LSP''), Angola, Louisiana, filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Warden Darrel Vannoy, Ass't Warden Tracy Falgout and Dr. Randy Lavespere, complaining that Defendants have violated his constitutional rights by exhibiting deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs.

         In the instant Motion, Defendants first seek dismissal on jurisdictional grounds, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, of Plaintiff's claim asserted against them in their official capacities for monetary damages.[1] In this regard, Defendants are correct that § 1983 does not provide a federal forum for a litigant who seeks monetary damages against either a state or its officials acting in their official capacities, specifically because these officials are not seen to be “persons” within the meaning of § 1983. Will v. Michigan Department of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989). In addition, in Hafer v. Melo, 502 U.S. 21 (1991), the United States Supreme Court addressed the distinction between official capacity and individual capacity lawsuits and made clear that a suit against a state official in an official capacity for monetary damages is treated as a suit against the state and is therefore barred by the Eleventh Amendment. Id. at 25. Accordingly, Plaintiff's claim asserted against Defendants in their official capacity for monetary damages is subject to dismissal. In contrast, Plaintiff's claim for monetary damages asserted against Defendants in their individual capacities remains theoretically viable because a claim against a state official in an individual capacity, seeking to impose personal liability for actions taken under color of state law, is not treated as a suit against the state. Id. at 29. In addition, a claim for injunctive relief asserted against state officials in their official capacities is not barred by the Eleventh Amendment because such a claim is also not seen to be a claim asserted against the state. See Will v. Michigan Department of State Police, supra, 491 U.S. at 71 n. 10; 15 Am. Jur. 2d Civil Rights § 101.

         Turning to Plaintiff's claims that are not subject to dismissal on the basis of Eleventh Amendment immunity, Defendants next assert, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, that Plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. In Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), the Supreme Court addressed the standard of pleading that a plaintiff must meet in order to survive a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). Specifically, “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, supra, at 555. “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, supra, 556 U.S. at 678, quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, supra. “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.” Id. It follows that, “where the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged - but it has not ‘show[n]' - ‘that the pleader is entitled to relief.'” Id. at 679. “Where a Complaint pleads facts that are ‘merely consistent with' a defendant's liability, it ‘stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.'” Id. at 678 (internal quotation marks omitted).

         On a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court “must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the Complaint.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). Further, “[a] document filed pro se is ‘to be liberally construed' ... and ‘a pro se Complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.'” Id. (citation omitted). Even a pro se complainant, however, must plead “factual matter” that permits the court to infer “more than the mere possibility of misconduct.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, supra, 556 U.S. at 678. The court need not accept “a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation, ” Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986), or “naked assertions [of unlawful conduct] devoid of further factual enhancement.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, supra, 556 U.S. at 678 (internal quotation marks omitted).

         In his Complaint, and by reference to documentation attached thereto, it appears that Plaintiff has suffered with bladder and bowel deficiencies since birth. As a result, he is required to wear adult diapers at all times, and he allegedly experiences severe constipation, skin rashes and acid reflux. He acknowledges that he has been seen and treated by physicians at LSP, and he has apparently been followed by the gastroenterology clinic at the LSU medical facility in New Orleans, Louisiana. He complains, however, that whereas he has been provided with diapers, with self-administered disposable enemas, and with laxatives and skin creams, the treatment and supplies are not adequate to address his condition and complications. Specifically, he asserts that the harshness of the prescribed laxatives and enemas has caused him to suffer with ulcerative colitis and that the brand of diapers provided does not adequately protect him from leakage and severe diaper rash. He asserts that a different brand of diapers, a milder form of enema, and a private room at the prison medical facility should be provided. He further asserts that he should be provided with baby oil and baby wipes for his skin and with a “nursing bottle” to help him with nightly acid reflux. Finally, he complains that leakage from his diapers has caused him to be subjected to un-hygienic conditions. He prays for compensatory damages and to be provided with the medical care and supplies that he believes to be warranted.

         In response to Plaintiff's allegations, Defendants assert that they are entitled to qualified immunity in connection with Plaintiff's claims. Specifically, Defendants contend that Plaintiff's allegations are insufficient to establish that any of them has participated in a violation of Plaintiff's constitutional rights.

         The qualified immunity defense is a familiar one and, employing a two-step process, operates to protect public officials who are performing discretionary tasks. Huff v. Crites, 473 Fed.Appx. 398 (5th Cir. 2012). Taking the facts as alleged in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, the Court considers whether Defendants' conduct violated Plaintiff's constitutional rights and whether the rights allegedly violated were clearly established at the time that the violation occurred. See Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 236 (2009) (concluding that the rigid protocol mandated in Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194 (2001) B that called for consideration of the two-pronged analysis in a particular order B should not be ''regarded as an inflexible requirement''). Under Pearson v. Callahan, courts have discretion to decide which of the two prongs of the analysis to address first. This inquiry, the Court stated, is undertaken in light of the specific context of the case, not as a broad, general proposition. Saucier v. Katz, supra, 194 U.S. at 201. The relevant, dispositive inquiry in determining whether a constitutional right was clearly established is whether it would have been clear to a reasonable state official that his conduct was unlawful in the situation that he confronted. Id. at 202.

         Undertaking the qualified immunity analysis with respect to Plaintiff's claims, the Court concludes that Defendants' Motion to Dismiss should be granted. In this regard, it is well-settled that to prevail on an Eighth Amendment claim for the deprivation of medical care, a prisoner must be able to show that appropriate care has been denied and that the denial has constituted ''deliberate indifference to serious medical needs.'' Thomas v. Carter, 593 Fed.Appx. 338, 342 (5th Cir. 2014), citing Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97 (1976). Whether Plaintiff has received the treatment or accommodation that he believes he should have is not the issue because a prisoner's mere disagreement with his medical treatment, absent exceptional circumstances, does not support a claim of deliberate medical indifference. Gobert v. Caldwell,463 F.3d 339, 346 (5th Cir. 2006). Nor do negligence, neglect, medical malpractice, misdiagnosis or unsuccessful medical treatment give rise to a ' 1983 cause of action. See Zaunbrecher v. Gaudin,641 Fed.Appx. 340 (5th Cir. 2016). Rather, ''subjective recklessness as used in the criminal law'' is the appropriate definition of ''deliberate indifference'' under the Eighth Amendment. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 839-30 (1994). A prison official acts with deliberate indifference only if the official (1) ''knows that inmates face a substantial risk of serious bodily harm, '' and (2) ''disregards that risk by failing to take reasonable measures to abate it.'' Gobert v. Caldwell, supra, 463 F.3d at 346, quoting Farmer v. Brennan, supra, 511 U.S. at 847. The deliberate indifference standard sets a very high bar. Plaintiff must be able to establish that Defendants Arefused to treat him, ignored his complaints, intentionally treated him incorrectly, or engaged in any similar ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.