Williams (ID 0113715) v. Kansas Department of Corrections et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ENTERED: This matter is dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Signed by U.S. Senior District Judge Sam A. Crow on 06/07/17. Mailed to pro se party Timothy L. Williams, Jr. by regular mail. (smnd)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF KANSAS
TIMOTHY L. WILLIAMS JR.,
KANSAS DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, et al.,
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is a civil rights action filed pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983.
By order of April 19, 2017, the undersigned
directed Plaintiff to show cause why this matter should not be
dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be
In lieu of a response, Plaintiff filed an amended
complaint on May 30, 2017.
Rule 15 of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure provides that a party may amend its pleading
once as a matter of course within 21 days of service of the
Because this is Plaintiff’s first amended
complaint and because the original complaint has not been served
on Defendants, Plaintiff is in compliance with Rule 15, and the
Court will consider his amended complaint.
Statutory Screening of Prisoner Complaints
prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or an
officer or employee of such entity to determine whether summary
dismissal is appropriate.
28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a).
with any litigant, such as Plaintiff, who is proceeding in forma
determine its sufficiency.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).
completion of this screening, the Court must dismiss any claim
that is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary damages from a
To survive this review, the plaintiff must plead “enough
facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
applying the Twombly standard, the Court must assume the truth
of all well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint and
construe them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.
Leverington v. City of Colo. Springs, 643 F.3d 719, 723 (10th
construed, Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007), pro se
status does not relieve the plaintiff of “the burden of alleging
sufficient facts on which a recognized legal claim could be
Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991).
(10th Cir. 1990).
Bryson v. City of Edmond, 905 F.2d 1386, 1390
“[A] plaintiff’s obligation to provide the
grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels
and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a
(internal quotation marks omitted).
“To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the
violation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of the
United States, and must show that the alleged deprivation was
committed by a person acting under color of state law.” West v.
Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Northington v. Jackson, 973 F.2d
1518, 1523 (10th Cir. 1992).
In addressing a claim brought
under § 1983, the analysis begins by identifying the specific
constitutional right allegedly infringed.
U.S. 386, 393-94 (1989).
Graham v. Connor, 490
The validity of the claim then must
be judged by reference to the specific constitutional standard
which governs that right. Id.
In his amended complaint, Plaintiff names two defendants:
Officer M. Steen and Corizon Healthcare (“Corizon”).
alleges that on September 18, 2016, he was struck in the chest
by a sally port door as a result of the actions of Defendant
Plaintiff had been in the medication line at the time,
and Defendant Steen was operating the control system for the
He directed the prisoners in line to proceed through the
Plaintiff was walking through the door when it began to
close, striking Plaintiff in the center of the chest.
backed up into the housing unit to avoid further contact with
When he brought the incident to Defendant Steen’s
aggressive, irate, and defensive, yelling at him that he “should
have waited until the door was completely opened.”
complained to the shift sergeant, who was present, and later
filed a formal grievance.
After being advised by the Court that negligent acts cannot
alleges Defendant Steen intentionally caused the door to close
Plaintiff did not otherwise change his description of
complains that no x-rays were taken of his chest.
Plaintiff alleges that he suffers from chronic chest and
back pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, and a phobia of sally
port doors as a result of the incident.
He requests damages in
the amount of $133,666.13.
The Court has reviewed Plaintiff’s amended complaint with
the standards set out above in mind.
While Plaintiff has cured
some of the deficiencies noted in the order to show cause, he
still fails to state an actionable § 1983 claim.
Count I of Plaintiff’s amended complaint is based on the
incident where Defendant Steen closed the sally port door on
The Eighth Amendment prohibits the infliction
of “cruel and unusual” punishment.
See U.S. Const. amend. VIII.
A prison guard's use of force is “cruel and unusual” only if it
Whitley v. Albers, 475 U.S. 312, 319 (1986).
The force must
have been applied “maliciously and sadistically to cause harm.”
Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 7 (1992).
Plaintiff alleged in his initial complaint that Defendant
Steen was negligent in his actions.
As discussed in the order
to show cause, negligence on the part of a prison guard, even
Davidson v. Cannon, 474 U.S. 344, 347
(1986), citing Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327, 333 (1986).
In his amended complaint, Plaintiff alleges at one point
However, his description of the event continues to
Defendant Steen’s “negligence” (Doc. #7, pp. 1, 3) and “poor
attention to detail” (Doc. #7, p.3).
Plaintiff also mentions
“[alleviate] the problem in the future” (Doc. #7, p. 3).
addition, he describes Defendant Steen’s initial response when
confronted as telling Plaintiff he should have waited until the
door was completely open to attempt to pass through, when the
door had been completely open and was closing.
Defendant Steen did not even see the incident occur.
has not provided any additional facts to make the allegation of
intent plausible, such as a history of conflict with Defendant
Plaintiff's allegations do not contain facts supporting
a plausible claim that Defendant Steen acted wantonly.
Defendant Steen’s part is taken as true, Plaintiff has still
failed to state an Eighth Amendment claim.
acts are not necessarily wanton acts rising to the level of a
See Barber v. Grow, 929 F. Supp. 820,
823 (E.D. Pa. 1996) (guard intentionally pulling chair out from
under inmate is not wanton behavior).
Furthermore, the Eighth
Amendment “excludes from constitutional recognition de minimis
uses of physical force, provided that the use of force is not of
a sort repugnant to the conscience of mankind.” Hudson, 503 U.S.
at 9–10 (citations and internal quotations omitted).
malevolent touch by a prison guard gives rise to a federal cause
Hudson, 503 U.S. at 9.
The Court questions whether
a prison guard allowing a door to close as a prisoner attempts
to walk through even qualifies as a “use of force.”
event, it is at most a de minimis use of force.
v. Kober, 2015 WL 6511659, at *9 (W.D. Okla. Oct. 6, 2015),
report and recommendation adopted, 2015 WL 6511725 (W.D. Okla.
Oct. 28, 2015), aff'd, 642 F. App'x 914 (10th Cir. 2016) (claim
that guard pushed a steel door hard and that the door hit the
plaintiff’s left side did not state Eighth Amendment violation);
Mitchell v. Nutall, 2012 WL 967567, at *3 (S.D. Ill. Mar. 21,
2012) (“Plaintiff's isolated incident of being hit by an exit
punishment”); McCall v. Crosthwait, 336 F. App’x. 871, 872 (11th
Cir. 2009) (no constitutional violation occurred where officer
pushed detainee out of jail's elevator causing inmate to hit
partially open steel door and fall against plexiglass window
thereby suffering bruised shoulder and elbow); Johnson v. Moody,
206 F. App’x. 880, 885 (11th Cir. 2006) (officer's pushing or
kicking metal tray door on inmate's hand was de minimis use of
force which did not constitute Eighth Amendment violation); Hill
v. Kelly, 1997 WL 638402, at *4 (E.D. Pa. Oct. 16, 1997) (guard
closing door on plaintiff’s thumb is the kind of de minimis
imposition with which the Constitution is not concerned).
The Court finds Plaintiff's allegations fail to plausibly
excessive force claim should be dismissed for failure to state a
violation of his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel
and unusual punishment.
Defendant Corizon failed to provide him with adequate medical
examined soon after the incident.
The nurse on duty advised
Plaintiff to take some ibuprofen and apply an ice pack to his
Plaintiff was experiencing worse pain in his chest the
next morning, so he returned to the clinic.
The nurse on duty
prescribed the same course of treatment as the first nurse.
Plaintiff’s primary complaint is that neither nurse took “x-rays
(Doc. #7, p. 4).
In order for a prisoner to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. §
1983 for medical mistreatment, Plaintiff must allege “acts or
indifference to serious medical needs.”
U.S. 97, 106 (1976).
Estelle v. Gamble, 429
The “deliberate indifference” standard
includes an objective and a subjective component, both of which
must be met to prevail under § 1983 on a claim of medical
Martinez v. Garden, 430 F.3d 1302, 1304 (10th Cir.
“The subjective component is met if a prison official
knows of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate health or
Colorado, 218 F.3d 1205, 1209 (10th Cir. 2000)).
In this case, Plaintiff has not alleged
his injury was
Instead, he disagrees with the method
subjective component of the deliberate indifference standard “is
not satisfied, absent an extraordinary degree of neglect, where
Self v. Crum, 439 F.3d 1227, 1232-33 (10th Cir. 2006).
Circuit has found that where a health care provider exercises
medical judgment in prescribing one course of treatment over
serious medical need.
See Toler v. Troutt, 631 F. App’x. 545,
identifies no decision clearly establishing the proposition that
treatment over another constitutes deliberate indifference to a
serious medical need.
He cannot identify such precedent because
our controlling precedent clearly establishes the law to the
As with Count I, Plaintiff is attempting to make what are
negligent failure to provide adequate medical care, even one
Corrections, 165 F.3d 803, 811 (10th Cir. 1999).
Another problem with Count II is that Plaintiff names only
Corizon as a defendant.
Corizon is a private corporation that
under color of state law cannot be held liable under a theory of
respondeat superior for the actions of its individual employees.
Dubbs v. Head Start, Inc., 336 F.3d 1194, 1216 (10th Cir. 2003).
It can be held liable under § 1983 only for unconstitutional
policies and practices.
Plaintiff has not described any
explained how it was applied to him in a manner that caused his
sufficient to state a claim against Corizon.
should be dismissed.
For the reasons set forth, the Court concludes this matter
1915(e)(2)(B) for failure to state a claim upon which relief may
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that this matter is dismissed for
failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
This 7TH day of June, 2017, at Topeka, Kansas.
s/ Sam A. Crow______
SAM A. CROW
U.S. Senior District Judge
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