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Cooper v. Medical Staff Nurses

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division

August 24, 2018


         SECTION P



          Karen L. Hays United States Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff Chad Cooper, a detainee at Concordia Parish Correctional Facility I proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed the instant proceeding on June 28, 201');">1');">1');">18, under 42 U.S.C. § 1');">1');">1');">1983. He names Franklin Parish Detention Center and “Sheriffs Dept. Franklin Parish” as Defendants.[1');">1');">1');">1" name="FN1');">1');">1');">1" id= "FN1');">1');">1');">1">1');">1');">1');">1] For the following reasons, it is recommended that Plaintiff's claims be DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.


         Plaintiff alleges that, on May 25, 201');">1');">1');">17, at the Franklin Parish Detention Center (“FPDC”), he was removed from a cell in which he had a bottom bunk and relocated to another cell where he had to sleep on a mattress placed on a concrete floor. [doc. #s 1');">1');">1');">1, p. 3');">p. 3; 1');">1');">1');">11');">1');">1');">1, pp. 1');">1');">1');">1-2]. He writes that he has a “back condition in the lumbar area” or, more specifically, a “ruptured L1');">1');">1');">1 and L2 disc and [a] sciatica condition . . . .” Id. Medical records reveal that, in October of 201');">1');">1');">15, a physician diagnosed him with “sciatica, right side” and “Spondylosis without myelopathy or radiculopathy, lumbosacral region.” [doc. #s 5, p. 2; 1');">1');">1');">11');">1');">1');">1-1');">1');">1');">1, p. 4]. According to Plaintiff, “[M]edical knew of [his] condition but refuse[d]” to ensure that he received an elevated bed. [doc. # 1');">1');">1');">1, p. 3');">p. 3].

         Plaintiff filed an administrative remedy grievance on June 7, 201');">1');">1');">17, in which he asked for a bottom bunk due to his back problems, stated, “the nurse knows about my condition [and] should automatically place me in a bottom bunk, ” and complained that his back was in “a lot of pain due to the concrete . . . .” [doc. # 1');">1');">1');">11');">1');">1');">1-1');">1');">1');">1, p. 8]. On June 9, 201');">1');">1');">17, Assistant Warden Michael Emfinger responded: “Ask[ed] nurse about your back and she stated you do not have a back problem. Have noticed you can't live in dorm which leaves a holding cell which I can't promise a bed in. Try living in dorm [sic].” Id.

         Plaintiff filed a second grievance on June 7, 201');">1');">1');">17, repeating his request for a bottom bunk and complaining that water from the “shower area” leaked on his mattress and blanket, dirt from the floor flew in his eyes when others walked by, and his cell contained mice, insects, and mold. Id. at 1');">1');">1');">10. Assistant Warden Emfinger responded on June 9, 201');">1');">1');">17: “As with the previous 6 ARP you wrote you can't live in dorm you tell us, so holding cell is next option I can't promise a bed. Try living in dorm [sic].”[2] Id.

         On June 8, 201');">1');">1');">17, before any official responded to Plaintiff's first and second grievance, Plaintiff filed a third grievance, alleging that he received no response to a “sick call form” he filed earlier that day. Id. at 9. In his “sick call form, ” to which he did not receive a response, he reiterated that he had pain in his lower back and needed a bottom bunk. Id. Assistant Warden Emfinger answered the June 8, 201');">1');">1');">17 grievance the next day, but he declined to address Plaintiff's concerns because Plaintiff did not file the grievance with the required “pink copy” or “sheet to answer.” Id.

         Plaintiff was detained at FPDC from July 27, 201');">1');">1');">16, to June 1');">1');">1');">11');">1');">1');">1, 201');">1');">1');">17. [doc. # 1');">1');">1');">11');">1');">1');">1, p. 2].

         Plaintiff claims that FPDC is responsible for his injuries because: (1');">1');">1');">1) its medical staff told Assistant Warden Emfinger that Plaintiff did not have any back injuries and (2) the medical staff refused to answer his request for care. Id. at 3. He claims further that FPDC and “Sheriffs Dept. Franklin Parish” are responsible for his overall conditions of confinement, and that Assistant Warden Emfinger is responsible for failing to consider his June 8, 201');">1');">1');">17 grievance. Id.

         Plaintiff's “back condition has worsened, ” he “can't stand for long periods, ” his hips hurt more often, his leg “goes numb, ” and his feet feel “like they're being touched by needles.” Id. He seeks $5, 000.00 for his pain and suffering. Id. at 1');">1');">1');">1, 3.

         Law and Analysis

         1');">1');">1');">1. Preliminary Screening

         Plaintiff is a detainee who has been permitted to proceed in forma pauperis. As a detainee seeking redress from an officer or employee of a governmental entity, his complaint is subject to preliminary screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1');">1');">1');">191');">1');">1');">15A.[3] See Martin v. Scott, 1');">1');">1');">156 F.3d 578, 579-80 (5th Cir.1');">1');">1');">1998) (per curiam). Because he is proceeding in forma pauperis, his Complaint is also subject to screening under § 1');">1');">1');">191');">1');">1');">15(e)(2). Both § 1');">1');">1');">191');">1');">1');">15(e)(2) (B) and § 1');">1');">1');">191');">1');">1');">15A(b) provide for sua sponte dismissal of the complaint, or any portion thereof, if the Court finds it is frivolous or malicious, if it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or if it seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.

         A complaint is frivolous when it “lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 1');">1');">1');">19');">490 U.S. 31');">1');">1');">19, 325 (1');">1');">1');">1989). A claim lacks an arguable basis in law when it is “based on an indisputably meritless legal theory.” Id. at 327. Courts are also afforded the unusual power to pierce the veil of the factual allegations and dismiss those claims whose factual contentions are clearly baseless. Id.

         A complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted when it fails to plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007); accord Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Likewise, a complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if it appears that no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proven consistent with the allegations of the complaint. Of course, in making this determination, the court must assume that all of the plaintiff's factual allegations are true. Bradley v. Puckett, 1');">1');">1');">157 F.3d 1');">1');">1');">1022');">1');">1');">1');">157 F.3d 1');">1');">1');">1022, 1');">1');">1');">1025 (5th Cir. 1');">1');">1');">1998).

         A civil rights plaintiff must support his claims with specific facts demonstrating a constitutional deprivation and may not simply rely on conclusory allegations. Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at 662; Schultea v. Wood, 1');">1');">1');">1427');">47 F.3d 1');">1');">1');">1427, 1');">1');">1');">1433 (5th Cir. 1');">1');">1');">1995). Nevertheless, a district court is bound by the allegations in a plaintiff's complaint and is “not free to speculate that the plaintiff ‘might' be able to state a claim if given yet another opportunity to ...

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