Jordan v. Karas Health Care et al
OPINION AND ORDER granting 9 Motion to Dismiss. Signed by Honorable P. K. Holmes, III on September 28, 2016. (rg)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
TONY JORDAN, JR.
KARAS HEALTH CARE;
JANE DOE NURSE; GUARD
TYRONE CURTIS; and
OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff Tony Jordan, Jr. filed this civil rights case pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff
proceeds pro se and in forma pauperis. He is incarcerated in the Washington County Detention
Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Before the Court is a motion to dismiss (Doc. 9) filed by Separate Defendants Guard
Tyrone Curtis and Corporal Chris Carter (the Washington County Defendants). Plaintiff has not
responded to the motion.
On June 9, 2016, at approximately 7:25 p.m., Plaintiff alleges he was given six or seven
pills instead of his usual two or three. Plaintiff states that the six or seven pills were not prescribed
to him and that he began feeling “real funny.” He indicates his heart was pounding, his eye was
twitching, he felt off balance, and he was weak. He asserts he was not given any of his correct
medication. At 7:51, Plaintiff states he went back out to see the nurse about having received the
wrong medication. Plaintiff alleges that the nurse admitted she had given the Plaintiff the wrong
medication. The nurse took Plaintiff's blood pressure which was 150/100. Plaintiff alleges this
was very high but they refused to get him “better help.” Instead, Plaintiff was told to go lay down
and sleep it off. Plaintiff alleges he told them that he suffered from high blood pressure and an
enlarged heart. Plaintiff testified that Guard Curtis and Corporal Carter were present when he was
seeking help. Plaintiff alleges they did nothing to get him help even though he asked over and
over to go to the hospital. Plaintiff states he was not taken seriously.
Plaintiff alleges the Defendants used excessive force when they were “pointing fingers at
[him] blaming [him] for taking the pills.” He asserts the Defendants were being rude, loud, and
unprofessional. Plaintiff states Guard Curtis demanded that he lay down and not say anything.
Plaintiff alleges Corporal Carter blamed him instead of the nurse for the mess up.
Rule 8(a) contains the general pleading rules and requires a complaint to present “a short
and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P.
8(a)(2). “In order to meet this standard, and survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), ‘a
complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim for relief that is
plausible on its face.’” Braden v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 588 F.3d 585, 594 (8th Cir. 2009) (quoting
Ashcroft v. Iqbal,556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)).
“The plausibility standard requires a plaintiff to show at the pleading stage that success on
the merits is more than a ‘sheer possibility.’” Braden, 588 F.3d at 594 (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
678). The standard does “not impose a probability requirement at the pleading stage; it simply
calls for enough fact to raise a reasonable expectation,” or reasonable inference, that the “defendant
is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; see also Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d
912, 914 (8th Cir. 2004) (While pro se complaints are liberally construed, they must allege
sufficient facts to support the claims.).
The Washington County Defendants argue they are entitled to dismissal because their
alleged conduct does not give rise to a claim. Section 1983 provides a federal cause of action for
the deprivation, under color of law, of a citizen’s “rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the
Constitution and laws” of the United States. In order to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
plaintiff must allege that the defendant acted under color of state law and that he violated a right
secured by the Constitution. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42 (1988); Dunham v. Wadley, 195 F.3d
1007, 1009 (8th Cir.1999). The deprivation must be intentional; mere negligence will not suffice
to state a claim for deprivation of a constitutional right under § 1983. Daniels v. Williams, 474
U.S. 327 (1986); Davidson v. Cannon, 474 U.S. 344 (1986).
Denial of Medical Care
“[T]he treatment a prisoner receives in prison and the conditions under which he is
confined are subject to scrutiny under the Eighth Amendment.” Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S.
25, 31 (1993). To prevail on a denial of medical care claim, a plaintiff must show: (1) the existence
of an objectively serious medical need, (2) that the defendants knew of and deliberately
disregarded. Vaughn v. Gray, 557 F.3d 904, 908-09 (8th Cir. 2009).
“Liability under section 1983 requires a causal link to, and direct responsibility for, the
deprivation of rights.” Clemmons v. Armontrout, 477 F.3d 962, 967 (8th Cir. 2007) (quoting
Mayorga v. Missouri, 442 F.3d 1128, 1132 (8th Cir. 2006)); see also Keeper v. King, 130 F.3d
1309, 1314 (8th Cir. 1997) (no evidence that the defendants were doctors or were personally
involved in making medical decisions about treatment); Mark v. Nix, 983 F.2d 138, 139-40 (8th
Cir. 1993) (section 1983 liability requires some personal involvement or responsibility). Here,
neither of the Washington County Defendants were medical personnel. Plaintiff was being seen
by jail medical staff, and the Washington County Defendants are not liable for the jail medical
staff’s treatment decisions. Camberos v. Branstad, 73 F.3d 174, 176 (8th Cir. 1995) (“[B]ecause
Burt and Ault lacked medical expertise, they cannot be liable for the medical staff's diagnostic
decision not to refer [the Plaintiff] to a doctor to treat his shoulder injury”). Plaintiff has
established no causal link or direct responsibility of the Washington County Defendants for the
alleged deliberate indifference to a serious medical need. No plausible claim is stated.
“Verbal threats do not constitute a constitutional violation.” Martin v. Sargent, 780 F.2d
1334, 1339 (8th Cir. 1985). Similarly, taunts, name calling, and the use of offensive language does
not state a claim of constitutional dimension. McDowell v. Jones, 990 F.2d 433, 434 (8th Cir.
1993) (inmate’s claims of general harassment and of verbal harassment were not actionable under
§ 1983); O’Donnell v. Thomas, 826 F.2d 788, 790 (8th Cir. 1987) (verbal threats and abuse by jail
officials did not rise to the level of a constitutional violation); Martin, 780 F.2d at 1338-1339
(being called an obscene name and threatened with adverse consequences unless he cut his hair
and shaved does not state a claim of constitutional dimension); Black Spotted Horse v. Else, 767
F.2d 516, 517 (8th Cir. 1985) (use of racially offensive language in dealing with a prisoner does
not, by itself, state a claim). Cf. Burton v. Livingston, 791 F.2d 97, 100-101 (8th Cir. 1986) (A
claim was stated where the prisoner alleged “that a prison guard, without provocation, and for the
apparent purpose of retaliating against the prisoner’s exercise of his rights in petitioning a federal
court for redress, terrorized him with threats of death.”). The Washington County Defendants’
alleged rude and unprofessional conduct does not state a claim of constitutional dimension. See
Doe v. Gooden, 214 F.3d 952, 955 (8th Cir. 2000) (abusive language or verbal harassment is not,
by itself, unconstitutional and will not support a civil rights cause of action).
The law is clear that a pretrial detainee cannot be punished. See e.g. Bell v. Wolfish, 441
U.S. 520, 535 (1979). “However, not every disability imposed during pretrial detention amounts
to ‘punishment’ in the constitutional sense.” Smith v. Copeland, 87 F.3d 265, 268 (8th Cir. 1996);
see also May v. Sheahan, 226 F.3d 876, 884 (7th Cir. 2000) (“The Due Process Clause of the
Fourteenth Amendment prohibits the use of bodily restraints in a manner that served to punish a
The Supreme Court in a case decided on June 22, 2015, addressed the standard to be applied
in analyzing excessive force claims brought by pretrial detainees. The Court held that a pretrial
detainee need only show that an officer’s use of force was objectively unreasonable to prevail on
an excessive force claim. Kingsley v. Hendrickson, --U.S.--, 135 S. Ct. 2466, 2473 (2015). In
determining whether a given use of force was reasonable or excessive, the Court said the following
may bear on the issue:
the relationship between the need for the use of force and the amount of force used;
the extent of the plaintiff’s injury; any effort made by the officer to temper or to
limit the amount of force; the severity of the security problem at issue; the threat
reasonably perceived by the officer; and whether the plaintiff was actively resisting.
Id. at *6. The Court noted that the list was not exclusive but instead only illustrated the “types of
objective circumstances potentially relevant to a determination of excessive force. Id.
Here, neither of the Washington County Defendants resorted to the use of physical force
on the Plaintiff. Rather, they merely pointed their fingers at the Plaintiff. No plausible claim is
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Separate Defendants Tyrone Curtis and Chris
Carter’s motion to dismiss (Doc. 9) is GRANTED and Plaintiff’s claims against them are
DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e).
Judgment will be entered accordingly.
IT IS SO ORDERED this 28th day of September, 2016.
/s/P. K. Holmes, III
P.K. HOLMES, III
CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
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