Martin v. Corrections Corporation of America
ORDER ADOPTING FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 19 in full. This dismissal counts as a strike pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Section 1915(g). Any appeal of this decision would not be taken in good faith. Signed by Judge Brian Morris on 1/11/2018. Mailed to Martin (TAG)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MONTANA
GREAT FALLS DIVISION
JASON BRYAN MARTIN,
CORRECTIONS CORPORATION OF
Plaintiff Jason Martin filed an Amended Complaint alleging that he slipped
and fell on a wet floor at Crossroads Correctional Center (“CCC”). (Doc. 19 at 1.)
Martin further alleges that CCC denied him medical care for his injured ankle. Id.
United States Magistrate Judge John Johnston entered Findings and
Recommendations in this matter on September 20, 2017. Id. The Court granted
Martin until November 20, 2017, to file any objections to Judge Johnston’s
Findings and Recommendations. (Doc. 22.) Martin timely filed an objection on
November 16, 2017. (Doc. 24.) The Court reviews de novo Findings and
Recommendations to which a party timely objects. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). The
Court reviews portions of Judge Johnston’s Findings and Recommendations not
specifically objected to for clear error. McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Commodore
Bus. Mach., Inc., 656 F.2d 1309, 1313 (9th Cir. 1981).
Slip and Fall
Judge Johnston determined that Martin’s Amended Complaint failed to state
a federal claim for relief and should be dismissed. (Doc. 19 at 1.) Martin clarified
in his Amended Complaint that he seeks relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for
violations of the Eight Amendment to the United States Constitution. Id. at 2.
Martin alleges that he slipped and fell on a prison floor that recently had been
mopped. Id. at 3. Judge Johnston determined that no federal constitutional liability
arises from a slip and fall in a prison. Jackson v. State of Ariz., 885 F.2d 639, 641
(9th Cir. 1989). Exceptions exist in unique circumstances where officials have
notice of a significant risk of inmate harm. Frost v. Agnos, 152 F.3d 1124, 1129
(9th Cir. 1998). Judge Johnston concluded that Martin did not allege that the
Defendants were aware of the dangerous condition and ignored the danger. (Doc.
19 at 5.) Federal courts uniformly have rejected prisoner’s slip and fall claims as
insufficient to state a constitutional violation. Id. at 6.
Judge Johnston determined that Martin failed to allege sufficient facts to
plausibly suggest that Defendants displayed deliberate indifference to his medical
need. Id. at 8. In order to prove a § 1983 claim for the violation of the Eighth
Amendment based on inadequate medical care, a plaintiff must show “acts or
omissions sufficiently harmful to evidence deliberate indifference to serious
medical needs.” Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). Martin must show
that his medical needs were objectively serious, and that the Defendants possessed
a sufficiently culpable state of mind. Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 299 (1991);
McKinney v. Anderson, 959 F.2d 853, 854 (9th Cir. 1992) (on remand). Defendants
must show “deliberate indifference” to satisfy the requisite state of mind for a
medical claim. Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 5 (1992).
Judge Johnston determined that the facts alleged by Martin in his Amended
Complaint do not plausibly suggest a deliberate indifference by the Nurse who
examined him on August 9, 2015. (Doc. 19 at 9.) Martin insisted that he injured his
ankle, but other than his own complaints nothing existed to alert the Nurse to the
alleged serious damage to the ankle. Id. Judge Johnston determined that a failure
by the Nurse to diagnosis an ankle injury within hours of the incident does not
establish deliberate indifference. Id.
Judge Johnston further concluded that Martin does not allege sufficient facts
to establish that the Nurse acted with a culpable state of mind. Id. Judge Johnston
determined that even if the Nurse negligently had failed to diagnosis and treat
Martin’s ankle injury, negligence does not establish indifference. See Farmer v.
Brennan, 511 U.S. 825 (1994). Judge Johnston additionally determined that Martin
only has alleged a delay in medical treatment for his ankle. (Doc. 19 at 10.) The
mere delay of treatment, “without more, is insufficient to state a claim of deliberate
medical indifference.” Shapley v. Nev. Bd. of State Prison Comm’rs, 766 F.2d 404,
407 (9th Cir. 1985).
Judge Johnston determined that Martin did not plead sufficient factual
allegation to suggest the deliberate indifference of Dr. Berdecia. (Doc. 19 at 11.)
Dr. Berdecia ordered an x-ray of Martin’s ankle and prescribed crutches, ice, and
Motrin. Id. Judge Johnston further concluded that Martin has not alleged that the
delay of the MRI caused substantial further harm. Id. at 12.
Martin objects to Judge Johnston’s finding that Martin did not plead
sufficient factual allegations to establish the deliberate indifference of the Nurse
that examined him. (Doc. 24 at 2.) Martin contends that sufficient facts existed to
suggest that the Nurse should have known serious damage had occurred to his
ankle. Id. Martin further contends the Court should consider not whether “there
was serious damage to the ankle,” but, rather, whether “there may have been
serious damage to the ankle.” Id. at 4.
Martin argues that the underlying issue “is not the nurse’s failure to
diagnosis the ankle injury, but, rather, the nurse’s decision to “instruct Mr. Martin
to walk back to the unit.” Id. at 6. Martin further argues that the Nurse became
deliberately indifferent because she purposefully and knowingly disregarded her
professional requirement to presume Martin’s complaint as true, thereby, ignoring
the excessive risk of significant injury to him. Id. at 7. Martin contends that Judge
Johnston incorrectly determined that Martin failed to allege that the Nurse’s
conduct caused substantial further harm. Id. at 11.
Judge Johnston correctly determined that the culpable state of mind requires
more than mere negligence. The Court agrees with Judge Johnston’s determination
that the allegations do not indicate that the Nurse knew of, or purposefully ignored,
an excessive risk of significant injury to Martin. The Nurse negligently may have
failed to diagnosis and treat Martin’s ankle injury. Simple negligence, however,
does not establish deliberate indifference. The Court agrees that Martin alleged a
delay in medical treatment for his ankle injury. The delay of treatment, on its own,
does not state a claim of deliberate medical indifference. See Shapley, 766 F.2d at
407. Martin alleged, at most, that the Nurse performed her job negligently.
The Court has reviewed Judge Johnston’s Findings and Recommendations
regarding the medical care by the Nurse de novo. The Court has reviewed the
remaining portions of Judge Johnston’s Findings and Recommendations for clear
error. The Court finds no error in Judge Johnston’s Findings and
Recommendations, and adopts them in full.
IT IS ORDERED that Judge Johnston’s Findings and Recommendations
(Doc. 19), are ADOPTED IN FULL.
IT IS ORDERED this matter be DISMISSED for failure to state a claim.
IT IS ORDERED that the Clerk of Court shall close this matter and enter
judgment in favor of the Defendant pursuant to Rule 58 of the Federal Rules of
IT IS ORDERED that the Clerk shall have the docket reflect that the Court
certifies pursuant to Rule 24(a)(3)(A) of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure
that any appeal of this decision would not be taken in good faith. No reasonable
person could suppose an appeal would have merit. The record makes plain the
Amended Complaint lacks arguable substance in law or fact.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Clerk shall have the docket reflect that
this dismissal counts as a strike pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g) because Martin
failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.
DATED this 11th day of January, 2018.
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