Johnson v. Whitman et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge L Scott Coogler on 5/26/2015. (PSM)
2015 May-26 PM 04:39
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
JERRY WAYNE JOHNSON,
JAMES WHITMAN, et al.,
Memorandum of Opinion
Plaintiff Jerry Wayne Johnson (“Johnson”) brought this action under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. Johnson alleges that Defendants violated his Eighth Amendment rights when
they were deliberately indifferent in providing medical treatment for a broken wrist
Johnson suffered while incarcerated at the Winston County Jail. Johnson also brings
a state law claim for negligence. Before the Court is Defendants George A. Lyrene,
M.D. (“Lyrene”), Denise Cummings, (“Cummings”), Amber Thompson
(“Thompson”), and Adam Whitehead’s (“Whitehead”) motion to dismiss Johnson’s
second amended complaint for failure to state a claim. (Doc. 40.) Also before the
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Court is Defendants James Whitman (“Whitman”) and Rick Harris’s (“Harris”)
motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. (Doc. 44.) Whitman and Harris also raise
the defense of qualified immunity.
The issues have been fully briefed by the parties and are ripe for review. For the
reasons set out below, Defendants’ motions to dismiss are due to be granted.
Johnson was incarcerated at the Winston County Jail (“Jail”) in the summer
of 2013. Defendant Harris was the Sheriff of Winston County, Alabama, during all
times relevant to this suit, while Defendant Whitman was employed as a corrections
officer at the Jail. Correctional Managed Care Consultants, LLC (“CMCC”) was a
private corporation that the County contracted with to provide medical care to
prisoners at the Jail. Defendant Lyrene, a physician employed by CMCC, served as
director of the medical program at the Jail. Defendants Cummings, Thompson, and
Whitehead were also employed by CMCC, and provided nursing services for Jail
inmates. CMCC was paid a flat fee of $5000.00 a month for providing medical
services to inmates at the Jail.
In ruling on a motion to dismiss, this Court must accept the plaintiff’s factual allegations
as true and construe them in his favor. See Baloco ex rel. Tapia v. Drummond Co., 640 F.3d 1338, 1345
(11th Cir. 2011) (citing Edwards v. Prime, Inc., 602 F.3d 1276, 1291 (11th Cir. 2010)).
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On July 8, 2013, Johnson fractured his right wrist while an inmate at the Jail. On
July 12, 2013, Cummings examined Johnson’s wrist. She noted bruising and swelling,
and treated the wrist injury with an ice pack. Though Johnson told Cummings that he
believed the wrist to be broken, Cummings took no further action at that time.2 On
July 13, 2013, Defendant Thompson examined Johnson’s wrist. Johnson indicated that
he experienced pain when trying to move the wrist, and Thompson prescribed
naproxen and acetaminophen for pain.3 Thompson discussed Johnson’s wrist with Dr.
Lyrene, but no x-rays were ordered at the time. On July 18, 2013, Thompson saw
Johnson again for an unrelated medical condition. Johnson’s injured wrist was not
discussed during this visit.
On August 29, 2013, Lyrene personally examined Johnson’s wrist due to
Johnson’s continued complaints. Lyrene ordered x-rays to be taken. However, Dr.
Lyrene noted at the time that, while he would look at the x-ray results, any damage to
Johnson’s wrist was likely already chronic. See Doc. 37, at ¶ 5. On September 11, 2013,
Johnson was taken to an off-site hospital where he had his wrist x-rayed. On
The previous complaint alleged that Cummings referred Johnson to another member of
medical staff to further examine the injury. Johnson has removed this allegation from the second
Johnson argues that this pain medication was in fact prescribed for another, unrelated
condition. However, the facts as pled indicate that Johnson was prescribed pain medication following
a medical exam during which Johnson complained about pain in his wrist.
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September 18, 2013, Dr. Lyrene again examined Johnson’s wrist. Reviewing
Johnson’s x-rays, Lyrene diagnosed Johnson with a fractured wrist and indicated that
he would discuss Johnson’s condition with an orthopedist. On October 17, 2013,
Lyrene saw Johnson again for a leg issue. During this visit, Lyrene noted that
Johnson’s right wrist did not flex or grip normally. However, Lyrene did not prescribe
any additional treatment for the wrist injury at that time.
On November 13, 2013, Johnson was again examined by Dr. Lyrene for his wrist
fracture. Johnson indicated that the wrist injury was still painful, and asked whether
surgery was an option. Lyrene told Johnson that, after reviewing the x-rays with the
orthopedist, he had determined that it was “too late” for surgery. Johnson’s fracture
ultimately healed in an malunion position. Johnson was released from the Jail in
March of 2014, and had surgery to repair the malunion in his right wrist in May of
Johnson filed his complaint in this Court on April 16, 2014. Johnson originally
brought claims against only Whitman and Harris, but amended his complaint on
October 29, 2014 to include claims against the Lyrene, Cummings, Thompson,
Whitman, and CMCC. Defendants Lyrene, Cummings, Thompson, Whitman, and
CMCC filed a motion to dismiss the amended complaint. On March 2, 2015, this
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Court issued an order and memorandum of opinion finding that Johnson’s first
amended complaint failed to state a claim for deliberate indifference against the
medical Defendants. The Court gave Johnson leave to amend his complaint with
respect to the claims against CMCC and the medical staff.
Johnson filed his second amended complaint on March 12, 2015. Johnson has
conceded that claims against Defendant Whitehead are due to be dismissed, but
maintains that the other medical Defendants violated his Eight Amendment rights
when they were deliberately indifferent in treating his broken wrist. Johnson also
asserts supervisory liability claims against Defendants Harris, Whitman, and Lyrene.
Lastly, Johnson brings state-law claims against CMCC, Lyrene, Cummings, and
Thompson for negligence/wantonness.
The CMCC Defendants filed a motion to dismiss on March 22, 2015, and
Defendants Harris and Whitman filed a motion to dismiss on March 26, 2015. Harris
and Whitman also assert the defense of qualified immunity.
Standard of Review
A pleading that states a claim for relief must contain “a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P.
8(a)(2). However, the facts alleged in the complaint must be specific enough that the
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claim raised is “plausible.” See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (“To
survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.”) (internal
quotations omitted) (emphasis added). “To be plausible on its face, the claim must
contain enough facts that ‘allow the court to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.’” Pouyeh v. Univ. of Ala. Dep’t of
Ophthamology, No. CV-12-BE-4198-S, 2014 WL 2740314, at *3 (N.D. Ala. June 16,
2014) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678) (alteration in original). Conclusory statements
of law may “provide the framework of a complaint,” but the plaintiff is required to
support them with “factual allegations.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.
The process for evaluating the sufficiency of a complaint has two steps. This
Court “begin[s] by identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than
conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth.” Id. Conclusory statements
and recitations of a claim’s elements are thus disregarded for purposes of determining
whether a plaintiff is entitled to access discovery. See Randall v. Scott, 610 F.3d 701,
709 (11th Cir. 2010) (citing Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 687). Next, this Court “assume[s] [the]
veracity” of “well-pleaded factual allegations” and “determine[s] whether they
plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. A complaint’s
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factual matter need not be detailed, but it “must . . . raise a right to relief above the
speculative level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007).
In reviewing the complaint, this Court “draw[s] on its judicial experience and
common sense.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. Nonetheless, “[a] well-pleaded complaint
may proceed even if it strikes a savvy judge that actual proof of [the facts alleged] is
improbable.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556. This Court considers only “the face of the
complaint and attachments thereto” in order to determine whether Plaintiff states a
claim for relief. Starship Enters. of Atlanta, Inc. v. Coweta Cnty., Ga., 708 F.3d 1243,
1252 n.13 (11th Cir. 2013). Generally, the complaint should include “enough
information regarding the material elements of a cause of action to support recovery
under some ‘viable legal theory.’” Am. Fed’n of Labor & Cong. of Indus. Orgs v. City
of Miami, Fla., 637 F.3d 1178, 1186 (11th Cir. 2011) (quoting Roe v. Aware Woman Ctr.
for Choice, Inc., 253 F.3d 678, 683-84 (11th Cir. 2001)).
Deliberate Indifference Claims
The United States Supreme Court has held that it is only deliberate indifference
to serious medical needs that is actionable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 105 (1976). To recover under this cause of action, a plaintiff
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must establish (1) a serious medical condition that poses a substantial risk of harm if
left unattended; and (2) prison officials’ deliberate indifference to that condition. See
Bingham v. Thomas, 654 F.3d 1171, 1176 (11th Cir. 2011). Defendants do not dispute
that a fractured wrist can be a “serious” medical condition, leaving this Court to
consider only whether the individual Defendants’ alleged conduct amounts to
To satisfy the requirement of deliberate indifference, a plaintiff must show that
prison officials (1) had subjective knowledge of a risk of serious harm; and (2)
demonstrated intentional disregard of that risk. See id. at 1175–76. Delay in access to
medical treatment can violate the Eighth Amendment when it is “tantamount to
unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain.” Brown v. Hughes, 894 F.2d 1533, 1537
(11th Cir. 1990) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). Furthermore,
“when the need for medical care is obvious, medical care that is so cursory as to
amount to no treatment at all may constitute deliberate indifference.” Adams v. Poag,
61 F.3d 1537, 1543 (11th Cir. 1995) (internal citations omitted). However, an accidental
failure to provide medical care, or negligent diagnosis or treatment of a medical
condition, will not sustain a claim for an Eighth Amendment violation. See Ramos v.
Lamm, 639 F.2d 559, 575 (10th Cir. 1980); see also Estelle, 429 U.S. at 106 (stating that
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“[m]edical malpractice does not become a constitutional violation merely because the
victim is a prisoner”). Finally, a mere difference of opinion between inmate and
medical staff as to the type of treatment to be administered does not give rise to a
cause of action under the Eighth Amendment. See Smart v. Villar, 547 F.2d 112, 114
(10th Cir. 1976); see also Estelle, 429 U.S. at 106–08.
Johnson argues that the Defendants acted with deliberate indifference when
they delayed ordering an x-ray of his wrist, and later when they denied Johnson
surgery for the injury. In its previous order, this Court emphasized that, as pled,
Johnson’s deliberate indifference claims—essentially alleging that the Defendants
failed to a conduct a timely x-ray of Johnson’s injured wrist, consequently missing an
opportunity to prevent the fractured wrist from healing in a malunion
position—sounded more in negligence law than in constitutional law. In addition, the
Court noted that Johnson’s assertions that he should have received surgery once his
injury was diagnosed was a dispute concerning course of treatment, which is generally
not actionable under the Eighth Amendment.
Deliberate Indifference Claim Against Lyrene
Johnson’s second amended complaint does not correct the previous
complaint’s deficiencies. First Johnson’s second amended complaint still fails to show
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that Defendant Lyrene had subjective knowledge that an x-ray was needed to diagnose
or prevent a malunion. The complaint contains only one meaningful additional
allegation with respect to Dr. Lyrene’s conduct, as Johnson now alleges that, after
examining Johnson’s wrist personally on August 29th and agreeing to administer an
x-ray, Dr. Lyrene acknowledged the likelihood that “any changes [to Johnson’s wrist]
at this point were likely to be chronic.” See Doc. 37, at ¶ 16. Such an allegation does
nothing to indicate that, prior to personally examining Johnson’s wrist, Dr. Lyrene
was aware an x-ray was a medically necessary procedure. In fact, the complaint itself
suggests that Dr. Lyrene had ample reason to believe that the pain medication given
on July 13th, 2013 was an effective treatment of Johnson’s symptoms while his wrist
healed, since Johnson admits that he did not raise his wrist injury as a concern when
he visited the medical ward for an unrelated complaint on July 18, 2013. See Doc. 37
at ¶ 15.
As with the previous complaint, the second amended complaint presents
allegations that essentially amount to a disagreement over the correct course of
treatment. Johnson admits that he was seen by medical staff for his wrist at least seven
times between July 12, 2013, and November 13, 2013. Johnson’s injury was first
treated with an ice pack and pain medication. Following Johnson’s renewed
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complaints, an x-ray was administered and Dr. Lyrene conferred with an off-site
orthopedist concerning the possibility of surgery. Simply put, nowhere does the
complaint suggest that medical staff disregarded Johnson’s injury to such an extent
that their conduct could be considered “unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain.”
See Brown, 894 F.2d at 1537.
However, Johnson asserts that, once medical staff was made aware of the pain
and restricted motion in his injured wrist, an x-ray should have been administered
without delay. In other words, Johnson does not allege a total disregard for his wrist
injury, but instead takes issue with the conservative course of treatment chosen. Such
disagreements are not actionable under the Eighth Amendment. See Estelle, 429 U.S.
97, 107 (1976). Indeed, Estelle is instructive in the present case. In Estelle, the plaintiff
injured his back during a prison work assignment. Prison medical staff declined to
perform an x-ray of the plaintiff’s injured back, and instead opted for a course of
treatment that consisted of pain medication and bed rest. Id. After three months of
this conservative treatment, the plaintiff filed a deliberate indifference claim. The
plaintiff argued in part that medical staff’s failure to perform an x-ray or other
diagnostic techniques, despite the plaintiff’s continued complaints of pain, constituted
cruel and unusual punishment. While the district court dismissed plaintiff’s claims,
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the Court of Appeals reversed, stating in part that the plaintiff’s assertions concerning
the doctors’ failure to perform an x-ray was conduct sufficient to support a deliberate
However, the Supreme Court decided that the Court of Appeals erred in
finding that the plaintiff’s allegations stated a claim for deliberate indifference. In
making this determination, the Supreme Court stated that:
[Plaintiff’s] complaint is “based solely on the lack of diagnosis and
inadequate treatment of his back injury.” . . . [Plaintiff ] contends that
more should have been done by way of diagnosis and treatment, and
suggests a number of options that were not pursued. The Court of
Appeals agreed, stating that “Certainly an x-ray of [Plaintiff’s] lower
back might have been in order and other tests conducted that would have
led to appropriate diagnosis for the daily pain and suffering he was
experiencing.” But the question of whether an X-ray or additional
diagnostic techniques or forms of treatment is indicated is a classic
example of a matter of medical judgment. A medical decision not to
order an x-ray, or like measures, does not represent cruel and unusual
punishment. At most it is medical malpractice . . . .
Id. (internal citations omitted); see also McCall v. Cook, 495 F. App’x 29, 30 (11th Cir.
2012)(finding, albeit at the summary judgment stage, that the defendant doctor was
not deliberately indifferent to a prisoner’s back and hip pain when the doctor
prescribed pain medicine but refused to order an x-ray, even though a serious medical
condition was later discovered after tests were run at a different facility).
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Similar to the treatment decisions made in Estelle, Dr. Lyrene’s decision to
delay in ordering an x-ray after Johnson first presented his wrist injury to CMCC staff
was an issue of medical judgment and therefore is not actionable under the Eighth
Amendment. While Johnson may be correct in asserting that CMCC staff could have
prevented Johnson’s fractured wrist from healing in a malunion had an x-ray been
ordered sooner, such allegations are insufficient to establish a deliberate indifference
claim. See Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 838 (1994) (stating that “an 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 [i.e., deliberate indifference to a serious medical need]”).
Johnson also alleges that, once the malunion was discovered following the x-ray,
Lyrene’s refusal to approve surgery to reset the poorly healed break in Johnson’s wrist
constituted deliberate indifference. Again, Johnson’s allegations attempt to turn an
issue of medical judgment into grounds for an Eighth Amendment violation.
According to the Johnson’s own allegations, Dr. Lyrene conferred with an off-site
orthopedist concerning the proper course of treatment, but ultimately felt that it was
“too late” for surgery. Furthermore, the allegation that another physician performed
surgery on Johnson’s wrist following Johnson’s release from the Jail shows only that
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a difference of opinion existed between two physicians; it does nothing to suggest that
Lyrene’s refusal to perform surgery constituted deliberate indifference. See Waldrop
v. Evans, 871 F.2d 1030, 1033 (11th Cir. 1989) (stating that neither malpractice nor a
“simple difference in medical opinion” is sufficient to show deliberate indifference).
Furthermore, Johnson’s conclusory allegations that the medical Defendants’
decisions were motivated by a concern to reduce healthcare costs will not act to make
an otherwise insufficient deliberate indifference claim actionable. See Ancata v. Prison
Health Servs., 769 F.2d 700, 704–05 (11th Cir. 1985) (stating only that medical
personal cannot refuse treatment that they know to be necessary due to non-medical
considerations); see also Reynolds v. Wagner, 128 F.3d 166, 175 (3d Cir. 1997) (stating
that “the deliberate indifference standard of Estelle does not guarantee prisoners the
right to be entirely free from the cost considerations that figure in the medical-care
decisions made by most non-prisoners in our society”);Winslow v. Prison Health
Servs., 406 F. App’x 671, 675 (3d Cir. 2011) (dismissing at the 12(b)(6) stage a
deliberate indifference claim based on prison medical staff’s refusal to treat the
plaintiff’s hernia with surgery , and noting that the plaintiff’s allegation that the course
of treatment was “motivated by non-medical factors, principally cost,” was
insufficient to save his claim).
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Deliberate Indifference Claims Against Thompson and
Johnson’s complaint also remains deficient with respect to the claims brought
against Cummings and Thompson. As with the previous complaint, Defendant
Thompson is alleged merely to have examined Johnson’s wrist, administered pain
medication, and consulted with Dr. Lyrene, her supervisor, concerning whether an xray was necessary. Again, such actions show that Thompson was responsive to
Johnson’s complaints, and that her conduct fell well short of what is required to
sustain a deliberate indifference claim.
Similarly, Johnson still fails to state a claim with respect to Defendant
Cummings. Cummings was the first nurse to examine Johnson’s wrist. Johnson
described his symptoms to Cummings and told her that he believed his hand to be
broken. In the previous complaint, Johnson alleged that, after hearing this
information, Cummings gave Johnson an ice pack to apply to his wrist and referred
Johnson to another member of the medical staff to determine whether x-rays were
needed. In finding that Johnson failed to state a claim against Cummings, this Court
stated that “Johnson’s own allegations show that Cummings responded promptly to
[ Johnson’s] complaint, and the mere fact that Cummings may have had subjective
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knowledge [of Johnson’s broken wrist] cannot be used to impute knowledge to the
other Defendants.” See Doc. 36, at 9 n.4 (citations omitted).
In an effort to avoid dismissal of his deliberate indifference claim against
Cummings, Johnson has removed the allegation that Cummings referred Johnson to
another member of the medical staff to conduct further examination of his wrist. In
doing so, Johnson’s complaint essentially alleges that, other than administering an ice
pack, Cummings took no action to address Johnson’s injured wrist. However, the
current complaint still alleges that Johnson was seen by Nurse Thompson for a followup examination the day after his initial examination with Cummings, and that,
following this second examination, Johnson’s condition was discussed with Dr.
Lyrene. In other words, Johnson’s own complaint shows that Cummings’s inaction
did not result in any significant harm to Johnson, as his complaints were nonetheless
brought to Dr. Lyrene for review in a timely manner. See Mendoza v. Lynaugh, 989
F.2d 191, 195 (5th Cir. 1993) (stating that an Eighth Amendment violation occurs only
when there has been “deliberate indifference that results in substantial harm”
(emphasis added)); see also Goebert v. Lee Cnty., 510 F.3d 1312, 1326 (11th Cir. 2007)
(stating that, “as with any tort claim, [a plaintiff in a deliberate indifference action]
must show that the injury was caused by the defendant’s wrongful conduct”).
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Finally, the Court notes that, even assuming that an x-ray was a necessary
procedure—and that failure to administer an x-ray was an act of deliberate
indifference—Johnson has pled no facts showing that either Cummings or Thompson
in particular had any authority concerning whether to administer such diagnostic tests
over the objections of their supervisor, Dr. Lyrene. See Hale v. Tallapoosa Cnty., 50
F.3d 1579, 1582 (11th Cir. 1995) (stating in the context of a deliberate indifference
claim that a plaintiff must allege facts showing that defendants were “personally
involved in acts or omissions that resulted in the constitutional deprivation” (emphasis
Supervisory § 1983 Claims Against Harris, Whitman, and
Johnson’s deliberate indifference claims against Harris and Whitman are not
based on any personal interaction. Instead, Johnson alleges that Harris and Whitman,
acting as Jail supervisors, encouraged a policy or custom of delaying or refusing certain
courses of treatment in an effort to save money. The supervisory claim against Lyrene
apparently stems from his alleged involvement in carrying out this policy of
considering costs when devising courses of treatment for inmates at the Jail.
An official may be liable in a supervisory capacity under § 1983 when there is
a causal connection between his subordinates’ unconstitutional conduct and the
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official’s own actions. Harper v. Lawrence Cnty., Ala., 592 F.3d 1227, 1236 (11th Cir.
2010). Other than personal participation on behalf of the defendant, the plaintiff may
establish the necessary causal connection by showing (1) that there was “a history of
widespread abuse,” thereby putting the supervisor on notice of the constitutional
violation; (2) that the supervisor imposed “a custom or policy . . . resulting in
deliberate indifference to constitutional rights”; or (3) that the supervisor “directed
the subordinates to act unlawfully or knew [they] would act unlawfully and failed to
stop them from doing so.” See id. (quoting Cottone v. Jenne, 326 F.3d 1352, 1360–61
(11th Cir. 2003)).
Johnson’s supervisory liability claims against Whitman, Harris, and Lyrene fail
for the simple reason that Johnson has not shown that he suffered a constitutional
violation at the hands of the CMCC medical staff. Supervisory liability under § 1983
provides a means for the plaintiff to impose liability on a supervisory official if the
plaintiff can establish that the supervisory official’s actions contributed towards a
constitutional violation. As a result, a prerequisite for establishing a § 1983 claim based
on an allegedly unconstitutional policy or custom is a showing that the policy actually
resulted in a violation of the plaintiff’s constitutional rights. See Rooney v. Watson, 101
F.3d 1378, 1381 (11th Cir. 1996) (stating in the context of a municipal liability claim
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that “an inquiry into a governmental entity’s custom or policy is relevant only when
a constitutional deprivation has occurred”).
In sum, Johnson has failed to plead facts showing that he suffered a violation of
his Eighth Amendment rights. As a result, Johnson has no basis for asserting that the
Defendants’ allegedly unconstitutional “policy or custom” caused him constitutional
Defendants Whitman and Harris have raised the defense of qualified immunity.
An official acting within the scope of his employment is “shielded from suit against
him in his individual capacity if, while performing a discretionary function, his
conduct did not violate a clearly established right of which a reasonable person would
have known.” Chandler v. Sec’y of Fla. Dep’t of Transp., 695 F.3d 1194, 1198 (11th Cir.
2012) (citing Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818 (1982)). Having decided that
Johnson has failed to state a constitutional violation against either Harris or Whitman,
this Court need not consider whether the constitutional right in question was “clearly
established” to hold that Whitman and Harris are entitled to qualified immunity.
However, even if a constitutional violation were to have occurred, neither
Harris nor Whitman could have been on notice that the medical care provided to
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Johnson was so grossly inadequate as to amount to no treatment at all. See Williams
v. Limestone Cnty., Ala., 198 F. App’x 893, 898 (11th Cir. 2006) (stating that
supervisory, non-medical prison officials are generally “entitled to rely on medical
judgments made by medical professionals responsible for prisoner care”). Finally,
Johnson’s allegations that costs were considered when making treatment decisions
does nothing to turn otherwise constitutionally permissible conduct into a
constitutional violation. Even if such allegations were to establish a potential
supervisory claim, it would fall well short of a violation of “clearly established” law
in this circuit. See Craig v. Floyd Cnty., Ga., 643 F.3d 1306, 1312 (11th Cir. 2011)
(stating in dicta that it was “a highly questionable assumption” that a policy of using
the least costly means to treat prisoners would, on its own, establish a claim for
There is no independent basis for federal jurisdiction over Johnson’s
negligence/wantonness claims, and thus the Court must determine whether to
exercise supplemental jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1367 (2012). Section 1367
“reflects a dichotomy between a district court’s power to exercise supplemental
jurisdiction, § 1367(a), and its discretion not to exercise such jurisdiction, § 1367(c).”
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Parker v. Scrap Metal Processors, Inc., 468 F.3d 733, 742 (11th Cir. 2006). While this
court has the power to decide state law claims that form “part of the same case or
controversy” as the federal anchor claim, the Court may decline to do so if:
(1) the claim raises a novel or complex issue of State law,
(2) the claim substantially predominates over the claim or
claims over which the district court has original
(3) the district court has dismissed all claims over which it
has original jurisdiction, or
(4) in exceptional circumstances, there are other
compelling reasons for declining jurisdiction.
28 U.S.C. § 1367(c).
While Johnson may potentially have viable malpractice claims against the
CMCC Defendants, his complaint fails to state a federal claim that can survive a Rule
12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. Consequently, this Court will dismiss Johnson’s
negligence/wantonness claims without prejudice so he can pursue them in state court
if appropriate. See 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3); see also Raney v. Allstate Ins. Co., 370 F.3d
1086, 1089 (11th Cir. 2004) (“We have encouraged district courts to dismiss any
remaining state law claims when, as here, the federal claims have been dismissed prior
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For the foregoing reasons, Defendants’ motions to dismiss (Docs. 40, 44) are
due to be granted. Johnson’s deliberate indifference claims are due to be dismissed
with prejudice. Johnson’s state law claims are due to be dismissed without prejudice.
Done this 26th day of May 2015.
L. SCOTT COOGLER
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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