Aiken v. Hall et al
ORDER that Plaintiff's Complaint survives initial review under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), as to Defendant Nurse Lind LNU, but the remaining Defendants will be dismissed from this action. Signed by Chief Judge Frank D. Whitney on 12/1/2017. (Pro se litigant served by US Mail.)(khm)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA
JAY JUNIOR AIKEN,
CHIP L. HALL, et al.,
THIS MATTER is before the Court on initial review of Plaintiff’s Complaint pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) and § 1915A, (Doc. No. 1). On October 31, 2017, the Court entered an
order waiving the initial filing fee and directing monthly payments to be made from Plaintiff’s
prison account. (Doc. No. 9). Thus, Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis.
Pro se Plaintiff Jay Junior Aiden is a Georgia prisoner incarcerated at Central State Prison
in Macon, Georgia. Plaintiff filed this action on April 3, 2017, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
naming the following four Defendants: (1) Chip Hall, identified as the Sheriff of Jackson
County, North Carolina; (2) Linda LNU, identified as a nurse at the Jackson County Detention
Center, in Sylva, North Carolina; (3) Charlie LNU, identified as an officer at the Jackson County
Detention Center; and (4) John Buchanan, identified as a captain at the Jackson County
Detention Center. Plaintiff appears to allege that, while he was incarcerated as a pre-trial
detainee at the Jackson County Detention Center, Defendants violated his constitutional rights by
deliberately ignoring his serious medical needs and by subjecting him to unconstitutional
conditions of confinement.
Plaintiff alleges the following facts in the Complaint to support his claims against
Starting from the date arrested I had (5) give grand mal seizures which I had to be
taken to the hospital and placed in I.C.U. unit until I return to Jackson County
Detention Center. I have had one heart attack at Jackson County Detention
Center and nurse Linda RN refused to take or call an ambulance for medical
emergency. Since then I have had two more in Georgia where I had 2 triple
bypass open heart surgery by Dr. Fady S. Wanna, MR, in Macon Georgia at
center called Navicent Health under cardiothoracic surgery center. At Jackson
Detention Center my heart beat was very slow, and my blood pressure was 38
over 57. Their E.K.G. machine did not work and after two hours in the medical
room I was return[ed] to the holding cell in booking.
On May 1, 2016 to May 10, 2016 I begged to officers for a shower. I asked both
shifts for (9) nine days. I had to speak to the captain Mr. John Buchanan for help
while he was standing in booking. He Captain Buchanan advise officer Steve to
get me some clean cloth[es] and to give me a shower. For over a month, starting
March of 2016 to May of 2016 staff at Jackson County Detention Center refused
me proper hygiene, clothing, chemicals to clean my cell room in booking and
number two (2).
I was moved to G pod which only after two weeks I had five more seizures where
officer Moose demanded for a ambulance because I was throwing up and severely
shaking. I had had over 25 seizures at the Jackson County Detention Center but
only sent to the hospital twice (2) two times. The main issue of this 42 U.S.C.
1983 is I was truly treated like an animal while housed at Jackson County
Detention Center . . . .
(Doc. No. 1 at 3-4). For relief, Plaintiff states that he asks
that the court look into the treatment of inmates at this facility that I be allowed to
bring my complaint in a trial for the cruel and unusual treatment I received while
housed at Jackson County Detention Center. Also I be rewarded a judgment of 1
million dollars for pain and suffering. That a trial be ordered by this honorable
court so I can present my case.
(Id. at 4).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Because Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, the Court must review the Complaint
to determine whether it is subject to dismissal on the grounds that it is “frivolous or malicious
[or] fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Furthermore,
§ 1915A requires an initial review of a “complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks
redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity,” and the
court must identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint,
if the complaint is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted; or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. In its
frivolity review, this Court must determine whether the Complaint raises an indisputably
meritless legal theory or is founded upon clearly baseless factual contentions, such as fantastic or
delusional scenarios. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327-28 (1989).
Although Plaintiff does not cite to any specific constitutional amendment, he alleges in
the Complaint that he was subjected to “cruel and unusual” treatment, apparently referencing the
Eighth Amendment. See (Doc. No. 1 at 4). Because Plaintiff was a pre-trial detainee at all
relevant times, the Fourteenth Amendment applies to his claims of deliberate indifference and
unconstitutional conditions of confinement, but the analysis is the same as claims raised under
the Eighth Amendment. See City of Revere v. Mass. Gen. Hosp., 463 U.S. 239 (1983); but see
Kingsley v. Hendrickson, 135 S. Ct. 2466, 2473, 2475 (2015) (holding that the test for excessive
force claims brought by pretrial detainees under the Fourteenth Amendment differs from the test
for excessive force claims brought by convicted prisoners under the Eighth Amendment).
Therefore, Eighth Amendment cases are instructive in analyzing pre-trial detainees’ claims of
deliberate indifference and unconstitutional conditions of confinement.
To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 based on an alleged lack of or inappropriate
medical treatment, a plaintiff must show a “deliberate indifference to serious medical needs” of
the inmate. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976). “Deliberate indifference requires a
showing that the defendants actually knew of and disregarded a substantial risk of serious injury
to the detainee or that they actually knew of and ignored a detainee’s serious need for medical
care.” Young v. City of Mt. Ranier, 238 F.3d 567, 575-76 (4th Cir. 2001) (citations omitted).
“To establish that a health care provider’s actions constitute deliberate indifference to a serious
medical need, the treatment must be so grossly incompetent, inadequate, or excessive as to shock
the conscience or to be intolerable to fundamental fairness.” Miltier v. Beorn, 896 F.2d 848, 851
(4th Cir. 1990).
Allegations that might be sufficient to support negligence and medical malpractice claims
do not, without more, rise to the level of a cognizable Section 1983 claim for a federal
constitutional violation. Estelle, 429 U.S. at 106; Grayson v. Peed, 195 F.3d 692, 695 (4th Cir.
1999) (“Deliberate indifference is a very high standard—a showing of mere negligence will not
meet it.”). To be found liable for a constitutional violation, a prison official must know of and
consciously or intentionally disregard “an excessive risk to inmate health or safety.” Farmer v.
Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 837 (1994); Johnson v. Quinones, 145 F.3d 164, 167 (4th Cir. 1998).
“[E]ven if a prison doctor is mistaken or negligent in his diagnosis or treatment, no constitutional
issue is raised absent evidence of abuse, intentional mistreatment, or denial of medical attention.”
Stokes v. Hurdle, 393 F. Supp. 757, 762 (D. Md. 1975), aff’d, 535 F.2d 1250 (4th Cir. 1976).
The constitutional right is to medical care. No right exists to the type or scope of care desired by
the individual prisoner. Id. at 763. Therefore, a disagreement “between an inmate and a
physician over the inmate’s proper medical care [does] not state a § 1983 claim unless
exceptional circumstances are alleged.” Wright v. Collins, 766 F.2d 841, 849 (4th Cir. 1985)
(dismissing the plaintiff’s § 1983 claim against a defendant physician for allegedly discharging
the plaintiff too early from a medical clinic, as such claim did not rise to the level of deliberate
indifference but would, “at most, constitute a claim of medical malpractice”).
As to Plaintiff’s claim alleging unconstitutional conditions of confinement, the Eighth
Amendment (and the Fourteenth Amendment for pre-trial detainees) protects prisoners from
inhumane methods of punishment and from inhumane conditions of confinement. Williams v.
Benjamin, 77 F.3d 756, 761 (4th Cir. 1996). “Prison conditions may be harsh and uncomfortable
without violating the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.”
Dixon v. Godinez, 114 F.3d 640, 642 (7th Cir. 1997). Rather, extreme deprivations are required,
and “only those deprivations denying the minimal civilized measure of life’s necessities are
sufficiently grave to form the basis of an Eighth Amendment violation.” Hudson v. McMillian,
503 U.S. 1, 9 (1992) (quoting Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 298 (1991) (internal quotation
omitted)). The plaintiff must allege facts sufficient to support a claim that prison officials knew
of and disregarded a substantial risk of serious harm. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 847
(1994). A plaintiff must also generally allege “a serious or significant physical or emotional
injury resulting from the challenged conditions.” Strickler v. Waters, 989 F.2d 1375, 1381 (4th
The Court finds that, assuming that Plaintiff’s allegations are true, and drawing all
reasonable inferences in his favor, Plaintiff’s claim for deliberate indifference to serious medical
needs is not clearly frivolous as to Nurse Linda LNU. As to the remaining Defendants, however,
the Complaint simply does not allege enough facts to state a cognizable claim of any
constitutional violation against them. First, as to Defendant Buchanan, Plaintiff alleges only that
“I had to speak to the captain Mr. John Buchanan for help while he was standing in booking. He
Captain Buchanan advise officer Steve to get me some clean cloth[es] and to give me a shower.”
(Doc. No. 1 at 4). Contrary to showing that Buchanan contributed to the alleged unconditional
conditions of confinement, the only allegations as to Defendant Buchanan reflect that he was
trying to help Plaintiff get clean clothes and a shower. As to Defendant “Charlie LNU,” Plaintiff
has not alleged any personal participation by this Defendant in the factual allegations in
Plaintiff’s Complaint. Individual liability under Section 1983 must be based on personal
participation in the constitutional violation. See Monell v. Dep’t of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658,
694 (1978) (stating that under Section 1983, liability is personal in nature, and the doctrine of
respondeat superior does not apply). Moreover, as to Defendant Sheriff Hall, Plaintiff also has
not alleged any personal participation against Defendant Hall, and he cannot be held liable for
the alleged acts of other persons based merely on his supervisory position. 1 Thus, the action will
not go forward as to Defendants Captain Buchanan, Charlie LNU, or Sheriff Hall on initial
For the reasons stated herein, Plaintiff has alleged a claim for deliberate indifference to
serious medical needs sufficient to survive this Court’s initial review as to Defendant Nurse
Linda LNU, but the remaining three Defendants will be dismissed from this action.
IT IS, THEREFORE, ORDERED that:
Plaintiff’s Complaint survives initial review under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), as to
A supervisor may be liable for acts of his subordinates if (1) the supervisor is actually or
constructively aware of pervasive, unreasonable risk of harm from a specified source, (2) the
official is deliberately indifferent to that risk, and (3) there exists an affirmative causal link
between the supervisor’s inaction and the constitutional injury. Shaw v. Stroud, 13 F.3d 791,
799 (4th Cir. 1994). Plaintiff does not allege any facts to support a finding of supervisor liability
based on these three elements.
Defendant Nurse Lind LNU, but the remaining Defendants will be dismissed from
The Clerk shall send Plaintiff summons forms to fill out so that service may be
made on Defendant Nurse Linda LNU. Once the Court receives the summons
forms, the U.S. Marshal shall effectuate service on Defendant in accordance with
Rule 4 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Signed: December 1, 2017
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