Newman v. NRADC Medical Department et al, No. 7:2012cv00188 - Document 5 (W.D. Va. 2012)

Court Description: MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by District Judge Michael F. Urbanski on 5/11/12. (tvt)
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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA ROANOKE DIVISION DENNIS LOYD NEWMAN, Plaintiff, v. NRADC MEDICAL DEPARTMENT, et al., Defendants. ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) Civil Action No. 7:12-cv-00188 MEMORANDUM OPINION By: Hon. Michael F. Urbanski United States District Judge Dennis Loyd Newman, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, filed a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 with jurisdiction vested in 28 U.S.C. § 1343. Plaintiff names the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center ( NRADC ) Medical Department and Dr. as defendants. Plaintiff is not satisfied with the medical treatment he received at the NRADC. This matter is before the court for screening, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. After reviewing plaintiff s submissions, the court dismisses the complaint without prejudice for failing to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. I. Plaintiff simply alleges in the verified complaint that Medical at NRADC refuses to justify a medical bottom bunk with medical records stating torn cartilage in right knee, even though I have explained the pain of climbing to a top bunk. (Compl. 2.) Plaintiff s attached grievances reveal that he allegedly suffered a knee injury in August 2009 and received numerous consultations with medical personnel before arriving at the NRADC. Plaintiff underwent physical therapy and was previously scheduled for arthroscopic surgery. Plaintiff did not have the surgery because he was transferred, and the medical personnel at the new facility did not believe surgery was necessary. II. The court must dismiss any action or claim filed by an inmate if the court determines that the action or claim is frivolous or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A(b)(1); 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c). The first standard includes claims based upon an indisputably meritless legal theory, claims of infringement of a legal interest which clearly does not exist, or claims where the factual contentions are clearly baseless. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989). The second standard is the familiar standard for a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), accepting a plaintiff s factual allegations as true. A complaint needs a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief and sufficient [f]actual allegations . . . to raise a right to relief above the speculative level. . . . Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (internal quotation marks omitted). A plaintiff s basis for relief requires more than labels and conclusions. . . . Id. Therefore, a plaintiff must allege facts sufficient to state all the elements of [the] claim. Bass v. E.I. Dupont de Nemours & Co., 324 F.3d 761, 765 (4th Cir. 2003). Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief is a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, ___, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1950 (2009). Thus, a court screening a complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) can identify pleadings that are not entitled to an assumption of truth because they consist of no more than labels and conclusions. Id. Although the court liberally construes pro se complaints, Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972), the court does not act as the inmate s advocate, sua sponte developing statutory and constitutional claims the inmate failed to clearly raise on the face of the complaint. See Brock v. Carroll, 107 F.3d 2 241, 243 (4th Cir. 1997) (Luttig, J., concurring); Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985). See also Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978) (recognizing that a district court is not expected to assume the role of advocate for a pro se plaintiff). To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the violation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States, and must show that the alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). Neither the NRADC nor its Medical Department are persons for purposes of § 1983. See McCoy v. Chesapeake Corr. Ctr., 788 F. Supp. 890 (E.D. Va. Apr. 13, 1992) (reasoning jails are not appropriate defendants to a § 1983 action); Ferguson v. Morgan, No. 1:90-cv-06318, 1991 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8295, 1991 WL 115759, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. June 20, 1991) (concluding that the Otisville Correctional Facility Medical Staff is not a person for purposes of § 1983). A plaintiff must show that a defendant acted with deliberate indifference to a serious medical need to state a claim under the Eighth Amendment for the unconstitutional denial of medical assistance. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976). Deliberate indifference requires a state actor to have been personally aware of facts indicating a substantial risk of serious harm, and the official must have actually recognized the existence of such a risk. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 838 (1994). A medical need serious enough to give rise to a constitutional claim involves a condition that places the inmate at a substantial risk of serious harm, such as loss of life or permanent disability, or a condition for which lack of treatment perpetuates severe pain. Sosebee v. Murphy, 797 F.2d 179, 181-83 (4th Cir. 1986). 3 Claims of medical malpractice and negligent diagnosis are not cognizable in a § 1983 proceeding. Estelle, 429 U.S. at 105-06. See Sosebee, 797 F.2d at 181; Johnson v. Quinones, 145 F.3d 164, 168-69 (4th Cir. 1998) (noting that treating doctors must actually draw the inference that an inmate s symptoms signify the presence of a particular condition and that a failure to draw such an inference may present a claim for negligence, but not a claim under the Eighth Amendment). A prisoner s disagreement with medical personnel over the course of treatment does not state a § 1983 claim. Wright v. Collins, 766 F.2d 841, 849 (4th Cir. 1985); Russell v. Sheffer, 528 F.2d 318, 319 (4th Cir. 1975) (per curiam). Plaintiff fails to state an Eighth Amendment claim even after liberally construing plaintiff s claims against the NRADC Medical Department as against defendant Dr. Plaintiff does not explain how Dr. was personally aware of, and recognized, facts indicating a substantial risk of serious harm. Plaintiff also fails to describe a serious medical need. See, e.g., Veloz v. New York, 339 F. Supp. 2d 505, 525-26 (S.D.N.Y. 2004) (plaintiff s chronic back pain and mild to moderate degenerative arthritis did not establish a serious medical need); Phillips v. Goord, 08-cv-0957, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 29322, 2009 WL 909593, at *6 (W.D.N.Y. Apr. 1, 2009) (allegations of chronic pain do not support a claim that plaintiff had a serious medical condition). Accordingly, plaintiff presently fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, and I dismiss the complaint without prejudice. 4 III. For the foregoing reasons, the court dismisses the complaint without prejudice for failing to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1). The Clerk is directed to send copies of this Memorandum Opinion and the accompanying Order to plaintiff. Entered: May 11, 2012 /s/ Michael F. Urbanski Michael F. Urbanski United States District Judge 5