United States District Court, D. New Mexico
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
the Court is Plaintiff's civil rights complaint. (Doc.
1). Plaintiff is incarcerated, appears pro se, and
is proceeding in forma paperis. After reviewing the
complaint sua sponte under 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), the Court will dismiss
the complaint and grant Plaintiff thirty (30) days from the
entry of this Order to amend his pleading.
Governing Sua Sponte Review
Court has discretion to dismiss an in forma pauperis
complaint sua sponte under § 1915(e)(2)
“at any time if … the action … is
frivolous or malicious; [or] fails to state a claim on which
relief may be granted.” The Court may also dismiss a
complaint sua sponte under Rule 12(b)(6) if
“it is patently obvious that the plaintiff could not
prevail on the facts alleged, and allowing [plaintiff] an
opportunity to amend [the] complaint would be futile.”
Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir.
1991) (quotations omitted). The plaintiff must frame a
complaint that contains “sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to ‘state a claim for relief that is
plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)).
“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.
Plaintiff is pro se, his “pleadings are to be
construed liberally and held to a less stringent standard
than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.”
Hall, 935 F.2d at 1110. While pro se
pleadings are judged by the same legal standards that apply
to represented litigants, the Court can overlook the
“failure to cite proper legal authority, …
confusion of various legal theories, … poor syntax and
sentence construction, or … unfamiliarity with
pleading requirements.” Id. Further, pro
se plaintiffs should ordinarily be given the opportunity
to cure defects in the original complaint, unless amendment
would be futile. Id. at 1109.
asserts the Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his
medical needs in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the
Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. He alleges that on October
28, 2016, he slipped and fell on water leaking from a poorly
maintained drinking fountain at the Northwest New Mexico
Correctional Facility (“NNMCF”). See
Doc. 1, p. 2. Officer Chino completed an incident report and
transferred Plaintiff to NNMCF's medical unit.
Id. However, the nurse turned Plaintiff away,
stating “he would see [Plaintiff] after Med-line”
(i.e., the queue of inmates waiting for medical
care). Id. Plaintiff was not examined until 18 days
later, after he filed a formal grievance and his counselor
intervened with the medical unit. Id. The medical
providers ordered x-rays of Plaintiff's knee and lower
back, but they did not provide any treatment. Id.
the fall, Plaintiff underwent an unrelated surgery to remove
his gallbladder. Id. Centurion Correctional
Healthcare staff deprived Plaintiff of pain medication for at
least 24 hours after the surgery in retaliation for his
earlier grievance. Id. at p. 3.
to Plaintiff, this behavior is consistent with NNMCF's
and Defendants' overall failure to provide adequate care
and other programs to inmates. Plaintiff alleges that: (1)
NNMCF's medical staff received sub-standard training; (2)
the prisoners are being used as test subjects; (3) Defendants
refuse to follow policies and procedures governing prison
conditions; and (4) there are “woefully few jobs and
programs available to inmates.” Id. at p. 5-6.
Plaintiff also complains that NNMCF “was a women's
facility before male inmates were brought [there].”
Id. at p. 5. He asserts that “NNMCF is not
prepared to house male inmates, who have a greater propensity
to act out violently when they are treated badly.”
seeks $15 million in damages from the New Mexico Department
of Corrections, Centurion Correctional Healthcare, LLC, and
Core Civil for the alleged civil rights violations.
Id. at p. 7.
cause of action under section 1983 requires the deprivation
of a civil right by a ‘person' acting under color
of state law.” McLaughlin v. Bd. of Trustees,
215 F.3d 1168, 1172 (10th Cir. 2000). The plaintiff must
allege that each government official, through the
official's own individual actions, has personally
violated the Constitution. See Trask v. Franco, 446
F.3d 1036, 1046 (10th Cir. 1998). There must also be a
connection between the official conduct and the
constitutional violation. Fogarty v. Gallegos, 523
F.3d 1147, 1162 (10th Cir. 2008); Trask, 446 F.3d at
complaint does not meet this standard, as he does not appear
to name a defendant subject to liability. The Tenth Circuit
has explicitly held that the “New Mexico Department of
Corrections is not a ‘person' subject to suit under
§ 1983.” See Blackburn v. Department of
Corrections, 172 F.3d 62 (10th Cir. Feb. 25, 1999)
(unpublished). Further, a private corporation acting under
the color of state law is only liable under § 1983 when
the corporation's official policy or custom caused a
deprivation of constitutional rights. See Hinton v. City
of Elwood, Kan., 997 F.2d 774, 782 (10th Cir. 1993) (A
private corporation performing a government function can be
held liable under § 1983 only where a plaintiff shows
“1) the existence of a...policy or custom, and 2) that
there is a direct causal link between the policy or custom
and the injury alleged.”). Plaintiff has not alleged
that Centurion Correctional Healthcare, LLC or Core Civil
deprived him of his constitutional rights pursuant to an
official corporate policy or custom. The complaint therefore
does not state a claim against the entity defendants.
reference to “any and all staff members involved”
is also not sufficient to bring any particular person into
this action. See Doc. 1, p. 2. A successful §
1983 complaint must “make clear exactly who is
alleged to have done what to whom, to provide each
individual with fair notice as to the basis of the claim
against him or her.” Robbins v. Oklahoma, 519
F.3d 1242, 1249-50 (10th Cir. 2008) (emphasis in the
foregoing reasons, the Court will dismiss the complaint and
permit Plaintiff to file an amended complaint within 30 days
of entry of this order. The Court notes that even if
Plaintiff identifies the individuals involved, the
allegations must still state a claim under § 1983. That
section requires the alleged deprivation to be objectively
serious, and the prison official to have “a
sufficiently culpable state of mind.” Craig v.
Eberly,164 F.3d 490, 495 (10th Cir.1998) (quotations
omitted) (setting out the two-part test). In the healthcare
context, the medical need must be “one that has been
diagnosed by a physician as mandating treatment or one that
is so obvious that even a lay person would easily recognize
the necessity for a doctor's attention. ”
Oxendine v. Kaplan, 241 F.3d 1272, 1276 (10th Cir.
2001). The ...