Corona-Cervantes v. Karas et al
OPINION granting motion 9 and all claims against Separate Defendant Deputy Hammond are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. Signed by Honorable P. K. Holmes, III on May 3, 2017. (rg)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
J. FELIX FERNANDO CORONACERVANTES
Civil No. 5:16-cv-05235
DR. ROBERT KARAS;
SAM CAUDLE; DENTIST
TRUANG LE; and DEPUTY
Plaintiff filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He proceeds pro se and in forma
pauperis. Currently before the Court is the motion to dismiss (Doc. 9) for failure to state a claim filed
by Separate Defendant Deputy Hammonds pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. Plaintiff has not responded to the motion to dismiss.
The events that are the subject of this lawsuit occurred while Plaintiff was incarcerated in the
Washington County Detention Center. Plaintiff alleges his constitutional rights were violated when he
was denied adequate medical and dental care, subjected to constant heat due to the lack of a working
air-conditioning system, and denied his breakfast. With respect to the latter claim, Plaintiff maintains
Deputy Hammonds denied him breakfast on August 29, 2016, “because [Deputy Hammonds] was
trying to run through his duties and he refuses to listen to anybody.”
Plaintiff proceeds against Deputy Hammonds in his individual capacity only. Plaintiff seeks
to recover compensatory and punitive damages.
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 to 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) (internal quotations omitted)). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff
pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at 678. While the Court will liberally construe a pro
se plaintiff’s complaint, the plaintiff must allege sufficient facts to support his claims. See Stone v.
Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914 (8th Cir. 2004).
Deputy Hammonds contends the complaint fails to state facts showing that Plaintiff suffered a
constitutional injury. At most, Deputy Hammonds argues the facts alleged suggest negligence on his
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 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).
“[W]hen the State takes a person into its custody and holds him there against his will, the
Constitution imposes upon it a corresponding duty to assume some responsibility for his safety and
general well-being.” County of Sacramento v. Lewis, 523 U.S. 833, 851 (1998) (citation omitted). The
Constitution does not mandate comfortable prisons, but neither does it permit inhumane ones. See
Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994).
Here, Plaintiff was a pre-trial detainee at the time of the alleged incident; however, the Eighth
Circuit applies the same deliberate indifference standard to pretrial detainees as applied to convicted
inmates. See Butler v. Fletcher, 465 F.3d 340, 345 (8th Cir. 2006) (deliberate indifference standard of
the Eighth Amendment applies to claims, brought by pretrial detainees and convicted inmates, that
prison officials failed to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, etc.).
The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the imposition of cruel and
unusual punishment. U.S. Const. amend. VIII.
The Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause of the
Eighth Amendment forbids conditions involving “wanton and unnecessary infliction of pain,” or that
are “grossly disproportionate to the severity of the crime.” Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 347
A prisoner alleging an Eighth Amendment violation must prove both an objective and
subjective element. See Revels v. Vincenz, 382 F.3d 870, 875 (8th Cir. 2004) (citing Wilson v. Seiter,
501 U.S. 294, 298 (1991)). “The defendant’s conduct must objectively rise to the level of a
constitutional violation by depriving the plaintiff of the minimal civilized measure of life’s necessities.
The defendant's conduct must also reflect a subjective state of mind evincing deliberate indifference to
the health or safety of the prisoner” Revels, 382 F.3d at 875 (citations and internal quotation marks
Deliberate indifference is established when the Plaintiff shows “the defendant was
substantially aware of but disregarded an excessive risk to inmate health or safety.” Revels, 382 F.3d
at 875. The standards against which a court measures prison conditions are “the evolving standards of
decency that mark the progress of a maturing society.” Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 102 (1976).
The Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment is violated if an
inmate is not provided with meals adequate to maintain his health. See e.g., Keenan v. Hall, 83 F.3d
1083, 1091 (9th Cir. 1996); Campbell v. Cauthron, 623 F.2d 503, 508 (8th Cir. 1980)(prisoners are
guaranteed a reasonably adequate diet). “The deprivation of food constitutes cruel and unusual
punishment only if it denies a prisoner the ‘minimal civilized measure of life’s necessities.’” Talib v.
Gilley, 138 F.3d 211, 214 n. 3 (5th Cir. 1998)(expressing doubt that Talib who missed about fifty meals
in five months and lost fifteen pounds met this threshold)(quoting Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 298
(1991)). “Whether the deprivation of food falls below this threshold depends on the amount and
duration of the deprivation.” Green v. Ferrell, 801 F.2d 765, 770 (5th Cir. 1986). One missed meal is
clearly insufficient to state a claim of constitutional dimension. See e.g., Jaros v. Illinois Dept. of
Correction, 684 F.3d 667 (7th Cir. 2012)(occasional missed meal that did not endanger the inmate did
not state a claim); Palmer v. Johnson, 193 F.3d 346, 352(5th Cir. 1999)(“That [the inmate] may have
missed one meal . . . does not rise to the level of a cognizable injury”).
For these reasons, Separate Defendant Deputy Hammond’s motion to dismiss (Doc. 9) is
GRANTED, and all claims against him are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
IT IS SO ORDERED this 3rd day of May, 2017.
P. K. HOLMES, III
CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
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