Boyd v. Daniels et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER directing that the individual defendants' 21 MOTION TO DISMISS is GRANTED; All official capacity claims in the complaint against Warden Daniels, Sgt. Watson, and Lt. Brumley are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE; Coun ts 1-4 against Warden Daniels, Sgt. Watson, and Lt. Brumley in their individual capacities are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE, and Counts 5-6 against Warden Daniels, Sgt. Watson, and Lt. Brumley in their individual capacities are DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. Signed by Honorable Judge Mark E. Fuller on 3/24/14. (Attachments: # 1 civil appeals checklist)(djy, ).
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
DURWIN C. BOYD,
LEEPOSY DANIELS, et al.,
CASE NO. 2:13-cv-354-MEF
(WO – Do Not Publish)
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff Durwin Boyd (“Boyd”) brings suit against Defendants Corizon, Inc.
(“Corizon”), Warden Leeposy Daniels (“Warden Daniels”), Sergeant Watson (“Sgt.
Watson”), and Lieutenant Brumley (“Lt. Brumley”) for violations of his constitutional rights
under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985(3), and 1986, and for various state law claims. Before the
Court is a Motion to Dismiss (Doc. #21) filed by Warden Daniels, Sgt. Watson, and Lt.
Brumley (collectively, the “Individual Defendants”) for failure to state a claim under Rule
12(b)(6) and on the basis of qualified immunity.1 For the reasons discussed below, the
Individual Defendants’ motion is due to be GRANTED as to all federal claims and the
pendent state law claims are due to be DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.
I. JURISDICTION AND VENUE
The Court has subject matter jurisdiction over this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331,
Corizon filed an answer on June 13, 2013 (Doc. #9) and, as such, has not joined in this
1343(a), and 1367. Additionally, the Individual Defendants have not argued that the Court
lacks personal jurisdiction over them. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b), venue is appropriate
in this district.
II. STANDARD OF REVIEW
In considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the court accepts the plaintiff’s
allegations as true and reads them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Duke v.
Cleland, 5 F.3d 1399, 1402 (11th Cir. 1993) (citation omitted). Further, a district court must
favor the plaintiff with “all reasonable inferences from the allegations in the complaint.”
Stephens v. Dep’t of Health and Human Servs., 901 F.2d 1571, 1573 (11th Cir. 1990).
To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) 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, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotations omitted). A complaint states
a facially plausible claim for relief “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the
court to draw a reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Id. A complaint does not state a facially plausible claim for relief if it shows only “a sheer
possibility that the defendant acted unlawfully.” Id. While a complaint need not contain
detailed factual allegations to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, “[a] pleading that offers labels
and conclusions or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.”
Id. (internal quotation and citations omitted). Absent the necessary factual allegations,
“unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation[s]” will not suffice. Id.
Courts are also not “bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual
allegation.” Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986).
III. STATEMENT OF FACTS
Since this case is before the Court on a Motion to Dismiss, the Court accepts the
following allegations in Boyd’s complaint as true:
At all relevant times, Boyd was an inmate at the Elmore Correctional Facility in
Elmore, Alabama. Corizon is the contract health care service provider for the Alabama
Department of Corrections (“ADOC”). Corizon employs doctors and nurses at both the
Elmore Correctional Facility and Staton Correctional Facility.
On or about May 23, 2011, while on work release, Boyd’s right thumb was crushed
by a garbage truck clamp, which was inadvertently lowered by another inmate. Boyd’s
thumb was split in half and his finger nail was detached.
After the injury, Boyd was immediately returned to the Elmore Correctional Facility
for treatment. Upon arriving, Boyd was forced to wait approximately thirty minutes before
being taken to the Staton Infirmary Facility, located at Staton Correctional Facility, which
is also in Elmore, Alabama. Once at the Staton Infirmary Facility, a Corizon nurse tended
to Boyd’s wound, and, after several hours of waiting, Boyd was seen by a Corizon doctor.
The doctor subsequently sent Boyd back to the Elmore Correctional Facility to await further
treatment by a specialist. Boyd was not given any antibiotics or pain relievers.
Over night, Boyd’s thumb bled profusely onto his clothes and bedding. The next
morning, May 24, 2011, Boyd was taken to see a specialist, Dr. Kenneth Taylor (“Dr.
Taylor”). Dr. Taylor scheduled emergency surgery for the next morning, May 25, 2011.
Boyd was given prescription antibiotics and pain relievers after the surgery and returned to
the Elmore Correctional Facility. Two days after surgery, Boyd made a formal request to
receive proper treatment because his surgical dressing had not been changed, and he had not
been given pain relief medication or antibiotics. Corizon’s Nurse Rudley denied this request.
On June 1, after five days of not receiving proper treatment following his surgery, a
Corizon nurse finally changed Boyd’s surgical dressing and administered his medicine.
Boyd was in “severe pain” and his thumb was “oozing green and yellow mucus/fluids.”
Later that day, Boyd returned to Dr. Taylor for a follow up appointment. Boyd informed Dr.
Taylor that he was receiving improper treatment by the Corizon nurses. To combat the
infection caused by the nurses’ failure to change his bandages and to administer antibiotics,
Dr. Taylor ordered a stronger antibiotic and directed the Corizon nurses to change Boyd’s
surgical dressing and to administer his antibiotics and pain relievers on a daily basis. Despite
Dr. Taylor’s admonition, the Corizon nurses did not properly treat Boyd’s injury. Boyd went
without his daily dose of antibiotics and pain relievers, and he was forced to buy bandages
from other inmates. According to Boyd, his family called Warden Daniels “on several
occasions” throughout this ordeal, and Warden Daniels told them that Boyd was “in good
hands and was doing fine.”
Sgt. Watson and Lt. Brumley ordered Boyd to return to work release “within weeks”
of his surgery. Boyd was again required to work garbage truck detail, the same job detail that
he was working when he was injured. Because he is an inmate, Boyd was forced to accept
his work assignment in spite of his protests. Boyd alleges that his thumb is now permanently
deformed and does not operate properly because of the medical care he received while at
Elmore Correctional Facility and because he was prematurely forced to return to work on
garbage truck detail before his injury fully healed. Boyd further alleges that he was in
continuous fear of the high risk of contracting a serious infection as a result of working near
garbage when his thumb was not fully healed.
Boyd brings a Fourteenth Amendment claim against the Individual Defendants2
alleging violations of his substantive due process right to bodily integrity based on (1) their
failure to properly care for and to treat his injured thumb,3 (2) Warden Daniels’s negligent
training and supervision, and (3) Sgt. Watson and Lt. Brumley’s order that Boyd return to
garbage truck detail before his wound fully healed (Count 1). Boyd also brings an Eighth
Amendment claim against the Individual Defendants for deliberate indifference arising from
the same conduct alleged in his Fourteenth Amendment claim (Count 2) as well as claims for
neglect to prevent civil conspiracy under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1985(3) and 1986 (Count 3) and
invidiously discriminatory animus under 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3) (Count 4). Finally, Boyd
asserts state law wantonness (Count 5) and negligence (Count 6) claims.
Official Capacity Claims
Boyd asserts his claims against the Individual Defendants in both their individual and
Boyd also brings these claims against Corizon.
Boyd makes clear in his response brief that he “is not claiming any Defendant is
responsible for the [thumb] injury itself.” (Doc. #29.)
official capacities, but he only seeks monetary relief and attorney’s fees for his claims. There
is no dispute that the Individual Defendants are all officials with ADOC, a state agency.
Because the Eleventh Amendment bars suits for monetary relief against a state or its
instrumentalities by its own citizens, Boyd’s official capacity claims against the Individual
Defendants are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. See Alabama v. Pugh, 438 U.S. 781, 782
(1978); Reeves v. Thigpen, 879 F. Supp. 1153, 1178 (M.D. Ala. 1995) (citing Toney v.
Alabama, 784 F. Supp. 1542, 1545 (M.D. Ala. 1992)) (“Clearly, the Department is a state
agency, and therefore its officials, the DOC Defendants, are protected by the Eleventh
Amendment from suits seeking damages from Alabama’s treasury.”).
Individual Capacity Claims
Section 1985(3) and 1986 Claims (Counts 3 and 4)
Boyd’s §§ 1985(3) and 1986 claims are due to be dismissed because Boyd has
abandoned those claims. Courts in the Eleventh Circuit and beyond have held that the failure
of a party to respond to or oppose a pending motion to dismiss constitutes abandonment of
those claims. See, e.g., Black v. Panola Sch. Dist., 461 F.3d 584, 588 n.1 (5th Cir. 2006)
(finding that plaintiff abandoned claim by failing to defend it in response to a motion to
dismiss); Coalition for the Abolition of Marijuana Prohibition v. City of Atlanta, 219 F.3d
1301, 1326 (11th Cir. 2000) (finding that a party’s failure to brief and to argue an issue
before the district court is grounds for declaring it abandoned); Hooper v. City of
Montgomery, 482 F. Supp. 2d 1330, 1334 (M.D. Ala. 2007) (concluding that a plaintiff’s
failure to respond to claims in a defendant’s motion to dismiss resulted in dismissal of those
claims as abandoned). Boyd has failed to respond in any way to the Individual Defendants’
request for dismissal of his §§ 1985 and 1986 claims. This inaction, in the Court’s opinion,
equates to abandonment of those claims. See Lyles v. City of Riviera Beach, Fla., 126 F.3d
1380, 1388 (11th Cir. 1997) (explaining that “the onus is upon the parties to formulate
arguments”); Resolution Trust Corp. v. Dunmar Corp., 43 F.3d 587, 599 (11th Cir. 1995)
(“There is no burden upon the district court to distill every potential argument that could be
made based upon the materials before it.”). Accordingly, Boyd’s §§ 1985(3) and 1986
claims (Counts 3 and 4) are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
Fourteenth Amendment Substantive Due Process Claim (Count 1)
Boyd claims that the Individual Defendants violated his Fourteenth Amendment
substantive due process rights to bodily integrity by failing to properly care for the severe
thumb injury he received while on work release and by forcing him to return to garbage truck
detail before his injury finished healing. Boyd also alleges that Warden Daniels’s negligent
training and supervision exacerbated his injury in violation of his right to bodily integrity.
The Supreme Court has made clear that “[w]here a particular Amendment provides an
explicit textual source of constitutional protection against a particular government behavior,
that Amendment, not the more generalized notion of substantive due process, must be the
guide for analyzing these claims.” See Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 273 (1994) (citations
omitted). The Eighth Amendment provides explicit constitutional protection for claims by
prisoners against correctional officers for deliberate indifference. See Jones v. Taylor, 2010
WL 5638567, at *6 (M.D. Ga. Dec. 10, 2010) (citing Harris v. Coweta County, 21 F.3d 388,
393 n.6 (11th Cir. 1994)); see also Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 394 (1989) (describing
the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment as one of two “primary
sources of constitutional protection against physically abusive governmental conduct”).
In light of these directives, because Boyd was imprisoned at the time of the alleged
violations, his claims are properly brought for deliberate indifference to serious medical
needs under the Eighth Amendment. He is not entitled to bring an independent claim under
the Fourteenth Amendment for violations of his substantive due process rights based on the
same alleged conduct. See Edwards v. Gilbert, 867 F.2d 1271, 1274 (11th Cir. 1989) (citing
Whitley v. Albers, 475 U.S. 312, 372 (1986)) (holding that “[i]f [plaintiff] is entitled to
protection under the eighth amendment, then [plaintiff] is afforded ‘no greater [substantive]
protection’ by the due process clause”). Accordingly, Boyd’s Fourteenth Amendment claim
(Count 1) is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
Eighth Amendment Claim (Count 2)
To sufficiently state a claim for § 1983 individual liability, a plaintiff must allege that
(1) he was deprived of a right secured by the United States Constitution or a federal statute,
and (2) the act or omission causing the deprivation was committed by an individual acting
under color of state law. Wideman v. Shallowford Cmty. Hosp., Inc., 826 F.2d 1030, 1032
(11th Cir. 1987).
The Individual Defendants move to dismiss Boyd’s Eighth Amendment claim on the
grounds of qualified immunity. (Doc. #21.) “Qualified immunity offers complete protection
for government officials sued in their individual capacities as long as their conduct violates
no clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would
have known.” Lee v. Ferraro, 284 F.3d 1188, 1193–94 (11th Cir. 2002) (citations and
internal quotations omitted). The doctrine aims to focus government officials on “‘their
discretionary duties without fear of personal liability or harassing litigation, protecting from
suit all but the plainly incompetent or who is knowingly violating federal law.’” Hoyt v.
Cooks, 672 F.3d 972, 977 (11th Cir. 2012) (quoting Lee, 284 F.3d at 1194).
The examination of a qualified immunity defense involves a three-part analysis. First,
the official must establish that he was performing discretionary acts. If the government
official was acting within his discretionary authority, the burden shifts to the plaintiff to show
that the official is not entitled to qualified immunity. Skop v. City of Atlanta, Ga., 485 F.3d
1130, 1136–37 (11th Cir. 2007). At this point, the court must grant the official qualified
immunity unless the plaintiff’s alleged facts, accepted as true, show (1) that there was a
violation of the constitution or federal law and (2) that the illegality of the officer’s actions
was clearly established at the time of the incident. Hoyt, 672 F.3d at 977 (citing Lee, 284
F.3d at 1194). In Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 236 (2009), the Supreme Court
instructed lower federal courts to use their sound discretion to decide which prong of the
qualified immunity to address first.
At the outset, Boyd disputes whether the Individual Defendants were acting within
the scope of their discretionary authority when they engaged in conduct that allegedly
violated Boyd’s constitutional rights. In order for the Individual Defendants to establish they
were acting within the scope of their discretionary authority, they must show “objective
circumstances which would compel the conclusion that [their] actions were undertaken
pursuant to the performance of [their] duties and within the scope of [their] authority.” Rich
v. Dollar, 841 F.2d 1558, 1564 (11th Cir. 1988) (quoting Barker v. Norman, 651 F.2d 1107,
1121 (5th Cir. 1981)).
Thus, the term “discretionary authority” includes “all actions of
governmental official[s] that (1) ‘were undertaken pursuant to the performance of [their]
duties’ and (2) were ‘within the scope of [their] authority.’” Jordan v. Doe, 38 F.3d 1559,
1566 (11th Cir. 1994) (quoting Rich, 841 F.2d at 1564). “Determination that an officer was
acting within his discretionary authority is quite a low hurdle to clear.”
Montgomery Cnty. Bd. of Educ., 996 F. Supp. 1390, 1401 (M.D. Ala. 1998).
The Court finds that Warden Daniels, Sgt. Watson, and Lt. Brumley were acting
within the scope of their discretionary authority at all times relevant to these proceedings.
Making decisions regarding the level of medical care an inmate receives and when and under
what circumstances an inmate returns to work release are undeniably part of their normal job
duties. Having established that the Individual Defendants were acting within the scope of
their discretionary authority, the Court turns to the issue of whether Boyd has met his burden
of showing the existence of a constitutional violation and that the illegality of the officers’
actions was clearly established at the time of the incident. Since the Court finds that, under
the facts alleged by Boyd, the Individual Defendants did not violate his constitutional rights
under the Eighth Amendment, the Court addresses only the first prong of the qualified
Boyd alleges that the Individual Defendants violated his rights under the Eighth
Amendment by providing inadequate medical care in relation to his thumb injury and by
requiring him to return to work before the injury fully healed. Specifically, Boyd alleges (1)
that Sgt. Watson and Lt. Brumley acted with reckless disregard for his life or safety when
they ordered him to return to garbage truck detail while he was still recovering from surgery
and a serious infection, and (2) that Warden Daniels acted with deliberate indifference to his
serious medical need by failing to ensure he was receiving proper medical care after his
surgery and by negligently training and supervising prison officials and Corizon staff.
Deliberate indifference to a prisoner’s serious medical needs is a violation of the
Eighth Amendment. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976) (“[D]eliberate indifference
to [the] serious medical needs of [a] prisoner  constitutes the unnecessary and wanton
infliction of pain . . . proscribed by the Eighth Amendment.”). In order to establish deliberate
indifference to a serious medical need, a plaintiff must show (1) a serious medical need, (2)
defendants’ deliberate indifference to that need, and (3) causation between that indifference
and the plaintiff’s injury. Mann v. Taser Int’l, Inc., 588 F.3d 1291, 1306–07 (11th Cir.
2009). “[N]ot every claim by a prisoner that he has not received adequate medical treatment
states a violation of the Eighth Amendment.” Farrow v. West, 320 F.3d 1235, 1242 (11th
Cir. 2003) (citations omitted). Medical treatment violates the Eighth Amendment only when
it is “so grossly incompetent, inadequate, or excessive as to shock the conscience or to be
intolerable to fundamental fairness.” Rogers v. Evans, 792 F.2d 1052, 1058 (11th Cir. 1986).
Therefore, negligent acts or malpractice are insufficient to form a basis of a claim for
deliberate indifference. See, e.g., Estelle, 429 U.S. at 106 (“Medical malpractice does not
become a constitutional violation merely because the victim is a prisoner.”). “[A]n official’s
failure to alleviate a significant risk that he should have perceived but did not, while no cause
for commendation, cannot under our cases be condemned as the infliction of punishment.”
Farmar v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 838 (1994). Moreover, a difference of opinion between
an inmate and prison medical staff or prison officials relating to a diagnosis or treatment
regiment is not a constitutional violation. See Waldrop v. Evans, 871 F.2d 1030, 1033 (11th
“Because society does not expect that prisoners will have unqualified access to health
care, deliberate indifference to medical needs amounts to an Eighth Amendment violation
only if those needs are serious.” Hill v. Dekalb Regional Youth Detention Ctr., 40 F.3d 1176,
1186 (11th Cir. 1994) (internal citations and quotations omitted). In the Eleventh Circuit,
a serious medical need is “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.” Id. at 1187 (quotation marks and citations omitted). “In either of these
situations, the medical need must be one that, if left unattended, poses a substantial risk of
serious harm.” Farrow, 320 F.3d at 1243 (internal citations and quotations omitted).
Deliberate indifference to an inmate’s serious medical need occurs when “the official
knows of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate health or safety; the official must both
be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious
harm exists, and he must also draw the inference.” Farmar, 511 U.S. at 837. Put differently,
to establish deliberate indifference a prisoner must show “an objectively serious need, an
objectively insufficient response, subjective awareness of facts signaling the need and an
actual inference of required action from those facts.” Taylor v. Adams, 221 F.3d 1254, 1258
(11th Cir. 2000); McElligott v. Foley, 182 F.3d 1248, 1255 (11th Cir. 1999). Thus,
“[d]eliberate indifference has three components: (1) subjective knowledge of a risk of serious
harm; (2) disregard of that risk; (3) conduct that is more than mere negligence.” McElligott,
182 F.3d at 1255.
Sgt. Watson and Lt. Brumley
Boyd claims that Sgt. Watson and Lt. Brumley violated his Eighth Amendment rights
by forcing him to return to work release before his thumb injury had properly healed. Boyd’s
complaint fails to state a plausible claim of deliberate indifference against Sgt. Watson and
Lt. Brumley because it does not allege that Sgt. Watson and Lt. Brumley had any subjective
knowledge that returning him to work release “within weeks of surgery” would pose a risk
of serious harm. For example, Boyd never alleges that he was not medically cleared to return
to work at the time he was re-assigned, that Sgt. Watson and Lt. Brumley knew Boyd was
not medically cleared to return to work at the time he was re-assigned, that Sgt. Watson and
Lt. Brumley inferred from those facts that prematurely returning Boyd to work would
threaten a serious injury, such as a high risk of infection, and that they subsequently
disregarded that risk and required Boyd to return to work release anyway. See Taylor, 221
F.3d at 1258; Farmar, 511 U.S. at 837. Moreover, Boyd’s claim fails to the extent Sgt.
Watson and Lt. Brumley relied on the judgment of Corizon medical professionals in
determining when Boyd could return to work release. Prison officials “are entitled to rely
on medical judgments made by medical professionals responsible for medical care.”
Cameron v. Allen, 525 F. Supp. 2d 1302, 1307 (M.D. Ala. 2007) (citations omitted). Sgt.
Watson and Lt. Brumley did not act with deliberate indifference merely because they
required Boyd to return to work release earlier than he wanted. See Waldrop, 871 F.2d at
1033 (difference of opinion between an inmate and prison medical staff or prison officials
does not constitute deliberate indifference). Because Boyd’s complaint does not satisfy the
subjective element of the deliberate indifference standard, his Eighth Amendment claims
against Sgt. Watson and Lt. Brumley (Count 2) fail and are DISMISSED WITH
Boyd alleges that Warden Daniels violated his Eighth Amendment rights by failing
to ensure his injury was properly treated and by negligently training and supervising prison
officials and Corizon staff. In his complaint, Boyd alleges that “Warden [Daniels] was aware
of Plaintiff’s injury, surgery, and the order from Dr. Taylor” stating that Corizon nurses were
required to change Boyd’s wound dressing daily and to administer pain medication and
antibiotics. Moreover, Boyd alleges that his family called Warden Daniels on several
occasions and that Warden Daniels told them that Boyd was “in good hands and was doing
fine.” Boyd alleges that Warden Daniels’s acts and omissions caused him “to anguish for
endless hours in severe pain” and that his thumb is now permanently damaged as a result.4
Boyd’s complaint, however, fails to state a plausible claim of deliberate indifference against
Warden Daniels because it does not allege that Warden Daniels was aware of a serious risk
of harm posed by the alleged inadequate care of Boyd’s thumb.
For Warden Daniels to be deliberately indifferent, there must be allegations that he
knew of facts indicating that significant risk of harm existed because of the prison staff’s
inadequate medical care, that from those facts he drew the inference that the significant risk
of harm existed, and that he disregarded that risk by failing to act. See Taylor, 221 F.3d at
1258. None of Boyd’s allegations, taken as true, state a plausible claim that Warden Daniels
subjectively knew of facts from which he could infer that Boyd’s treatment, or lack thereof,
posed a serious risk to his health. While Warden Daniels may have been aware of Boyd’s
injury and course of treatment, there are no allegations that he was aware that the treatment
was being administered inadequately. There are no allegations that Warden Daniels knew
the Corizon nurses had not been changing Boyd’s dressing every day, that he was not
receiving his pain medication or antibiotics for five days, or that his wound was oozing green
and yellow mucus.5 In fact, Warden Daniels’s statement that Boyd was “in good hands and
It appears Boyd’s sole argument is that Warden Daniels was deliberately indifferent to the
serious risk posed by prison officials and Corizon nurses’ inadequate treatment of his injury after
his emergency surgery on May 25, 2011. Boyd does not argue that Warden Daniels was deliberately
indifferent to his medical needs prior to that time, and the Court finds this supported by the facts
alleged in Boyd’s complaint.
In his response brief, Boyd states that he believes his surgeon personally told Warden
Daniels over the telephone that Boyd’s dressing was to be changed on a daily basis and that Boyd
should receive antibiotics and pain relievers every day as well. Factual allegations newly introduced
was doing fine” suggests instead that it was Warden Daniels’s understanding that Boyd was
receiving proper treatment for his injury and that the treatment was being administered
adequately. Moreover, Warden Daniels is entitled to rely on the medical judgments made
by medical professionals responsible for Boyd’s care. See Cameron, 525 F. Supp. 2d at 1307
(citations omitted) (“The law does not impose upon correctional officials a duty to directly
supervise health care personnel, to set treatment policy for the medical staff or to intervene
in treatment decisions where they have no actual knowledge that intervention is necessary
to prevent constitutional wrong.”). And, the allegations of the medical treatment Boyd did
receive, namely, visits with multiple nurses, doctors, and a specialist, and emergency surgery,
all of which the Warden was allegedly aware of, makes it implausible that Warden Daniels
had actual knowledge that Boyd was receiving constitutionally deficient treatment at the
hands of prison staff or Corizon nurses.6
To the extent Boyd alleged facts suggesting that Warden Daniels should have known
that Boyd’s inadequate treatment or premature return to work release posed a serious risk of
in Boyd’s brief cannot be considered for purposes of a motion to dismiss. See Milburn v. United
States, 734 F.2d 762, 765 (11th Cir. 1984) (“Consideration of matters beyond the complaint is
improper in the context of a motion to dismiss . . .”). Even if the Court could consider this fact as
true, the complaint would still fail to state a claim because even though Warden Daniels knew of the
treatment regiment, there is no indication that he was aware the regiment was not being followed
by prison staff.
Furthermore, there are no allegations that Warden Daniels was aware Boyd had been
returned to work release, let alone allegations that Warden Daniels was subjectively aware of facts
from which he could infer that returning to work release posed a significant risk of harm to Boyd’s
health. Therefore, Boyd has not alleged facts showing that Warden Daniels was deliberately
indifferent to Boyd’s serious medical needs with regards to Brumley and Watons’s decision to return
Boyd to work release.
harm, these allegations do not rise to the level of deliberate indifference and, therefore, do
not state a claim for a constitutional violation. See Farmar, 511 U.S. at 838 (“[A]n official’s
failure to alleviate a significant risk that he should have perceived but did not, while no cause
for commendation, cannot under our cases be condemned as the infliction of punishment.”);
Campbell v. Sikes, 169 F.3d 1353, 1364 (11th Cir. 1999) (citing Farmar, 511 U.S. at 838).
Boyd also alleges that Warden Daniels is responsible for the negligent supervision and
training of other correctional officers and Corizon staff. It is well-settled that Warden
Daniels, in his role as supervisor, cannot be liable under § 1983 for the actions of his
subordinates under a theory of respondeat superior or vicarious liability. Monell v. Dept. of
Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978); Cottone v. Jenne, 326 F.3d 1352, 1360 (11th Cir.
2003); Harris v. Ostrout, 65 F.3d 912, 917 (11th Cir. 1995); Belcher v. City of Foley, 30 F.3d
1390, 1396 (11th Cir. 1994); LaMarca v. Turner, 995 F.2d 1526, 1538 (11th Cir. 1993);
Greason v. Kemp, 891 F.2d 829, 836 (11th Cir. 1990). Supervisors can only be held liable
for their own unconstitutional acts or omission. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 676
(2009); Cottone, 326 F.3d at 1360. Thus, Warden Daniels is only liable for the medical
treatment provided to Boyd if he “personally participate[d] in the alleged unconstitutional
conduct or [if] there is a causal connection between [his] actions . . . and the alleged
constitutional violation.” Cottone, 326 F.3d at 1360. Warden Daniels could also be liable
to Boyd in his capacity as a supervisor if he personally instigated or adopted a policy that
violated Boyd’s constitutional rights. Hill, 40 F.3d at 1192 (citing Ancata v. Prison Health
Servs., Inc., 769 F.2d 700, 705 (11th Cir. 1985)). Boyd, however, has alleged no facts upon
which a plausible claim could be based that Warden Daniels personally participated in the
alleged unconstitutional conduct. There are no allegations that Warden Daniels designed or
administered any of Boyd’s medical treatment or that Warden Daniels interfered with the
proper administration of Boyd’s treatment. Nor are there allegations that he instigated or
adopted a policy that violated Boyd’s constitutional rights. Rather, it is clear from the
allegations in the complaint that Corizon nurses and physicians and other prison officials
made the challenged medical decisions.
Warden Daniels could also be liable to Boyd for decisions of medical personnel and
prison officials if his actions bear a causal relationship to the purported violation of Boyd’s
constitutional rights. To demonstrate a causal connection, Boyd must alleged facts which
establish either (1) “a custom or policy [that] result[s] in the deliberate indifference to
constitutional rights or . . . facts [that] support an inference that the supervisor directed
subordinates to act unlawfully or knew that the subordinates would act unlawfully and failed
to stop them from doing so,” or (2) “a history of widespread abuse [that] put  the
responsible supervisor on notice of the need to correct the alleged deprivation, and he fails
to do so.” Cottone, 326 F.3d at 1360 (internal quotations and citations omitted) (second
alteration in original). Again, Boyd has not alleged a plausible claim that Warden Daniels
adopted a custom or policy that resulted in deliberate indifference to his constitutional rights,
that Warden Daniels directed subordinates to act unlawfully or knew subordinates would act
unlawfully and failed to stop them from doing so, or that there were incidences of widespread
Accordingly, there are no allegations that Warden Daniels was aware of specific facts
from which an inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of harm was posed to Boyd
because of the prison officials’ or Corizon’s care for Boyd’s thumb, that Warden Daniels
actually drew such an inference, and that he subsequently ignored it. Nor are there sufficient
allegations to state a claim against Warden Daniels for any constitutional violations arising
from Warden Daniels’s role as supervisor. Therefore, Boyd has failed to establish that
Warden Daniels was deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs and his Eighth
Amendment claim against Warden Daniels (Count 2) is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
State Law Claims
Only Boyd’s state law claims for wantonness (Count 5) and negligence (Count 6)
remain. The Court has supplemental subject matter jurisdiction over these claims pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1367. Section 1367(c)(3) provides that a “district court may decline to
exercise supplemental jurisdiction over a claim if . . . the district court has dismissed all
claims over which it has original jurisdiction.” Because the federal claims against the
Individual Defendants over which this Court had original jurisdiction have been resolved
against Boyd, the Court declines to exercise its supplemental jurisdiction over the state law
claims against the Individual Defendants and, instead, dismisses them without prejudice. See
28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3); Raney v. Allstate Ins. Co., 370 F.3d 1086, 1088–89 (11th Cir. 2004)
(“We have encouraged district courts to dismiss any remaining state claims when, as here,
the federal claims have been dismissed prior to trial.”). This dismissal should not work to
Boyd’s disadvantage if he chooses to bring these claims in State court because the statute of
limitations for these claims are tolled during the pendency of this action. See 28 U.S.C. §
Based on the foregoing, it is hereby ORDERED that the Individual Defendants’
Motion to Dismiss (Doc. #21) is GRANTED. All official capacity claims in the complaint
against Warden Daniels, Sgt. Watson, and Lt. Brumley are DISMISSED WITH
PREJUDICE. Counts 1–4 against Warden Daniels, Sgt. Watson, and Lt. Brumley in their
individual capacities are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE, and Counts 5–6 against Warden
Daniels, Sgt. Watson, and Lt. Brumley in their individual capacities are DISMISSED
DONE this the 24th day of March, 2014.
/s/ Mark E. Fuller
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?