Stuart v. King et al
ORDER: case dismissed without prejudice. Signed by Honorable Susan O. Hickey on March 9, 2018. (cnn)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
GERRAL SCHRAY STUART
Civil No. 4:17-cv-4119
NURSE KING, NURSE CHELSEA,
CAPTAIN ADAMS, and OFFICER
The case is before the Court for preservice screening under the provisions of the Prison
Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”). Pursuant to the PLRA, the Court must screen any complaint in
which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a
governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a).
On December 20, 2017, Plaintiff Gerral Schray Stuart filed his Complaint. (ECF No. 1).
On January 8, 2018, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 7). He alleges that his
constitutional rights were violated while he was incarcerated in the Miller County Jail. Plaintiff
seeks compensatory and punitive damages and asserts two claims against Defendants in both their
official and individual capacities.
For his first claim, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants King, Chelsea, Camble, and Adams, 1
denied him medical care on November 28, 2017. Specifically, he alleges that the staff and guards
knew he was sick and knew he was unable to place a proper medical request, so Plaintiff was
Defendants King and Chelsea are nurses at the Miller County Jail. Defendants Camble and Adams are officers at
the Miller County Jail.
therefore refused medical aid. (Id. at 4). In the section where Plaintiff is asked to describe the
custom or policy which he believes violated his constitutional rights, Plaintiff alleges that
Defendant Adams “took his kiosk offline” so he could not file a medical request. (Id. at 5).
For his second claim, Plaintiff similarly alleges that on November 28, 2017, Defendants
King, Chelsea, Camble, and Adams denied him medical care. Plaintiff alleges that he was refused
medical care when he could not submit a sick call because Defendant Adams “took his kiosk
offline,” and Camble threw his handwritten documents in the trash. (Id. at 5). In the section where
Plaintiff is asked to describe the custom or policy which he believes violated his constitutional
rights, Plaintiff alleges he was not able to file a proper medical request due to the neglect of medical
staff and the poor judgment of Camble and Adams. (Id. at 6).
Under the PLRA, the Court must screen this case prior to the issuance of service of process.
The Court must dismiss a complaint, or any portion of it, if it contains claims that: (1) are frivolous,
malicious, or fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seeks monetary relief
from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).
A claim is frivolous if “it lacks an arguable basis either in law or fact.” Neitzke v. Williams,
490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). A claim fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted if it
does not allege “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). “In evaluating whether a pro se plaintiff has asserted
sufficient facts to state a claim, we hold ‘a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded . . . to less
stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.’” Jackson v. Nixon, 747 F.3d 537,
541 (8th Cir. 2014) (quoting Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)). Even a pro se plaintiff
must allege specific facts sufficient to support a claim. Martin v. Sargent, 780 F.2d 1334, 1337
(8th Cir. 1985).
Plaintiff’s bare allegations that Defendants denied him medical care fail to state a plausible
claim. The Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment prohibits deliberate
indifference to prisoners’ serious medical needs. Luckert v. Dodge Cnty., 684 F.3d 808, 817 (8th
Cir. 2012). To prevail on his Eighth Amendment claim, Plaintiff must prove that Defendants acted
with deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106
The deliberate indifference standard includes “both an objective and a subjective
component: The [Plaintiff] must demonstrate (1) that [he] suffered [from] objectively serious
medical needs and (2) that the prison officials actually knew of but deliberately disregarded those
needs.” Jolly v. Knudsen, 205 F.3d 1094, 1096 (8th Cir. 2000) (internal quotation marks omitted).
To show that he suffered from an objectively serious medical need, Plaintiff must show
that he “has been diagnosed by a physician as requiring treatment” or has an injury “that is so
obvious that even a layperson would easily recognize the necessity for a doctor’s attention.”
Schaub v. VonWald, 638 F.3d 905, 914 (8th Cir. 2011) (internal quotations and citations omitted).
For the subjective prong of deliberate indifference, “the prisoner must show more than negligence,
more even than gross negligence.” Popoalii v. Correctional Med. Servs., 512 F.3d 488, 499 (8th
Cir. 2008) (internal citation omitted). “Deliberate indifference is akin to criminal recklessness,
which demands more than negligent misconduct.” Id.
It is well-settled that a “prisoner’s mere difference of opinion over matters of expert
medical judgment or a course of medical treatment fail[s] to rise to the level of a constitutional
violation.” Nelson v. Shuffman, 603 F.3d 439, 449 (8th Cir. 2010) (internal quotation marks and
citations omitted). An “inmate must clear a substantial evidentiary threshold to show the prison’s
medical staff deliberately disregarded the inmate’s needs by administering inadequate treatment.”
Id. Despite this, issues of fact exist when there is a question of whether or not medical staff
exercised independent medical judgment and whether the decisions made by medical staff fell so
far below the reasonable standard of care as to constitute deliberate indifference. See Smith v.
Jenkins, 919 F.2d 90, 93 (8th Cir. 1990).
Deliberate indifference may also be manifested by “prison guards in intentionally denying
or delaying access to medical care or intentionally interfering with the treatment once prescribed.”
Estelle, 429 U.S. at 104-05. However, the “Constitution does not require jailers to handle every
medical complaint as quickly as each inmate might wish.” Jenkins v. Cnty. of Hennepin, Minn.,
557 F.3d 628, 633 (8th Cir. 2009). “A prisoner alleging a delay in treatment must present verifying
medical evidence that the prison officials ignored an acute or escalating situation or that these
delays adversely affected his prognosis.” Holden v. Hirner, 663 F.3d 336, 342 (8th Cir. 2011)
(internal quotations omitted). Unless, however, the need for medical attention is obvious to a
layperson, in which case the plaintiff need not submit verifying medical evidence to show the
detrimental effects of delay. See Schaub, 638 F.3d at 919 (citing Roberson v. Bradshaw, 198 F.3d
645, 648 (8th Cir. 1999); Aswegan v. Henry, 49 F.3d 461, 464 (8th Cir. 1995); cf. Boyd v. Knox,
47 F.3d 966, 969 (8th Cir. 1995) (noting that a delay in treatment, coupled with knowledge that an
inmate is suffering, can support a finding of an Eighth Amendment violation).
Plaintiff’s allegations fail to meet the objective component of the deliberate indifference
standard. Plaintiff alleges only that he was denied medical care because he was not permitted to
file a medical request. He alleges that he was ill but does not allege that he had an objectively
serious medical need that was diagnosed by a physician. In addition, Plaintiff does not describe
or identify any symptoms of his alleged illness. His allegations, therefore, do not permit an
inference that he had an objectively serious medical need that was so obvious that even a layperson
would easily recognize the necessity for a doctor’s attention. Thus, Plaintiff cannot satisfy both
components of the deliberate indifference standard. Moreover, Plaintiff does not allege or offer
any verifying medical evidence that any Defendant ignored an acute or escalating situation with
his alleged illness, or that his overall health prognosis was made worse by any possible delay in
treatment. As a result, Plaintiff cannot establish deliberate indifference through a delay in
In sum, Plaintiff’s allegations fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
Pursuant to the PLRA, the Court must dismiss any portion of a prisoner’s section 1983 complaint
that fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). Accordingly,
the Court finds that Plaintiff’s case should be and hereby is DISMISSED WITHOUT
IT IS SO ORDERED, this 9th day of March, 2018.
/s/ Susan O. Hickey
Susan O. Hickey
United States District Judge
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