Davis v. McFadden et al
ORDER on initial review of Plaintiff's 1 Complaint filed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff shall have thirty (30) days in which to amend his Complaint in accordance with the terms of this Order. If Plaintiff fails to so amend his Complaint, the matter will be dismissed without prejudice. (Amended Pleadings due by 12/18/2021). Signed by Chief Judge Martin Reidinger on 11/18/2021. (Pro se litigant served by US Mail.)(kby)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA
DAKOTA REESE DAVIS,
GARRY L. MCFADDEN, et al.,
THIS MATTER is before the Court on initial review of Plaintiff’s
Complaint [Doc. 1] filed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)
and 1915A. Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis. [Docs. 4, 8].
Pro se Plaintiff Dakota Reese Davis (“Plaintiff”) is a pretrial detainee
currently held at Mecklenburg County Jail (the “Jail”) in Charlotte, North
Carolina. He filed this action on August 25, 2021 pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983, claiming that his medical needs are not being properly addressed at
the Jail in violation of his Eighth Amendment rights. [Doc. 1]. Plaintiff names
Garry L. McFadden, identified as the Mecklenburg County Sheriff, and
Wellpath Medical, which Plaintiff alleges is synonymous with “Mecklenburg
County Jail Medical,” as Defendants in this matter. [Id. at 1, 2]. He sues
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these Defendants in their official capacities only. [Id. at 2]. Plaintiff alleges
I was brought into Mecklenburg County Jail on
2/28/20 and explained my medical problems that I
am going through with physical pains and
discomforts and heart and chest pain troubles and
my stomach pain and discomfort troubles that the
medical staff is NOT treating me for. I have been in
constint [sic] pain and discomfort since my arrival
2/28/20 and my needs are not being met.
[Id. at 5]. Plaintiff does not allege any injuries other than the aforementioned
pain and discomfort. [See id.].
For relief, Plaintiff seeks monetary damages. [Id.].
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, under § 1915A
the Court must conduct an initial review and identify and dismiss the
complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if it 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 to such relief.
In its frivolity review, this Court must determine whether the Complaint
raises an indisputably meritless legal theory or is founded upon clearly
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baseless factual contentions, such as fantastic or delusional scenarios.
Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327-28 (1989). Furthermore, a pro se
complaint must be construed liberally. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520
However, the liberal construction requirement will not permit a
district court to ignore a clear failure to allege facts in his Complaint which
set forth a claim that is cognizable under federal law. Weller v. Dep’t of Soc.
Servs., 901 F.2d 387 (4th Cir. 1990).
“To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the
violation of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States
and must show that the deprivation of that right was committed by a person
acting under color of state law.” West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).
Plaintiff here claims that he has been denied adequate medical care by
Defendant Wellpath. [See Doc. 1 at 1, 2]. Plaintiff makes no allegations
against Defendant McFadden, who Plaintiff sues in his official capacity only.
Suits against sheriffs in their official capacity are in substance claims
against the office of the sheriff itself. Gannt v. Whitaker, 203 F.Supp.2d 503,
508 (M.D.N.C. Feb. 26, 2002). To succeed on such a claim, Plaintiff must
allege that a Sheriff’s Office policy or custom resulted in the violation of
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federal law. See Monell v. New York City Dept. of Social Services, 436 U.S.
658, 694, 98 S. Ct. 2018, 2037-38 (1978) (holding that in an official capacity
suit, the entity’s “policy or custom” must have played a part in the violation of
federal law); Oklahoma City v. Tuttle, 471 U.S. 808, 818-20, 105 S. Ct. 2427,
2433-34 (1985) (discussing same). Plaintiff makes no such claim here. As
such, Plaintiff has failed to state a claim against Defendant McFadden in his
official capacity and Defendant McFadden will be dismissed as a Defendant
in this matter.
Defendant Wellpath Medical
As noted, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Wellpath Medical is
synonymous with or a part of the Mecklenburg County Jail.
Plaintiff makes no allegations against individual healthcare providers, only
that “medical staff” is not treating Plaintiff for his medical problems. Plaintiff
has failed to state a claim for relief based on his medical care. A jail is not a
“person” subject to suit under § 1983. Brooks v. Pembroke Jail, 722 F.Supp.
1294, 1301 (E.D.N.C. 1989). Moreover, even if the Jail were subject to §
1983 liability, Plaintiff has not stated a claim for relief under the Eighth
Amendment.1 Plaintiff alleges only that he was not treated properly for
Claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 based on an alleged lack of or inappropriate medical
treatment fall within the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual
punishment. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976). Because Plaintiff was a pretrial
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certain unidentified medical conditions. He does not allege a specific serious
medical need, nor does he allege that any prison official or employee evinced
deliberate difference to any such need.2 See Young, 238 F.3d at 575-76.
The Court, therefore, will dismiss Defendant Wellpath Medical as a
detainee at the relevant times, his deliberate indifference claims are properly brought
under the Fourteenth Amendment, rather than the Eighth Amendment. See City of
Revere v. Mass. Gen. Hosp., 463 U.S. 239 (1983); see also Martin v. Gentile, 849 F.2d
863 (4th Cir. 1988) (applying the Fourteenth Amendment to arrestee’s deliberate
indifference claims). However, the Fourth Circuit has long applied the Eighth Amendment
deliberate indifference standard to pretrial detainees’ deliberate indifference claims. See
e.g., Young v. City of Mt. Rainer, 238 F.3d 567, 575 (4th Cir. 2001); Martin, 849 F.2d at
863. In Kingsley v. Hendrickson, the United States Supreme Court held that, to state an
excessive force claim, a pretrial detainee must only show that the force “purposefully and
knowingly used against him was objectively unreasonable” because, although prisoners
may not be punished cruelly or unusually, pretrial detainees may not be punished at all.
576 U.S. 389 (2015). Some circuits have held, in light of Kingsley, that an objective
reasonableness standard should apply in custodial contexts beyond excessive force. See
e.g., Hardeman v. Curran, 933 F.3d 816 (7th Cir. 2019) (extending the objective standard
to conditions of confinement cases): Darnell v. Pineiro, 849 F.3d 17, 35 (2d Cir. 2017)
(same); Castro v. City of Los Angeles, 833 F.3d 1060, 1069-70 (9th Cir. 2016) (en banc)
(extending the objective reasonableness standard to failure to protect claims). The Fourth
Circuit has not yet addressed this question. See e.g. Duff v. Potter, 665 Fed. App’x 242,
244-45 (4th Cir. 2016) (applying the Kingsley standard to a detainee’s excessive force
claim but declining to disturb the district court’s ruling on plaintiff’s claim of deliberate
indifference to a serious medical need for procedural reasons). The Court will apply the
deliberate indifference standard in this case, as the relevant Fourth Circuit case law has
not been overruled and the Fourth Circuit has not expressed any intention to do so. See
e.g., Shover v. Chestnut, 798 Fed. App’x 760, 761-62 (4th Cir. 2020) (applying the
deliberate indifference standard to a pretrial detainee’s medical claim without discussing
“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).
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The Court, however, will allow Plaintiff to amend his Complaint to state
a claim for relief, if the facts support such an amendment.
For the foregoing reasons, the Court concludes that Plaintiff’s
Complaint fails initial review. The Court will allow Plaintiff thirty (30) days to
amend his Complaint, if he so chooses, to properly state a claim upon which
relief can be granted against a proper defendant. Any amended complaint
will be subject to all timeliness and procedural requirements and will
supersede the Complaint. Piecemeal amendment will not be permitted.
Should Plaintiff fail to timely amend his Complaint in accordance with this
Order, the Court will dismiss this action without prejudice.
IT IS, THEREFORE, ORDERED that Plaintiff shall have thirty (30)
days in which to amend his Complaint in accordance with the terms of this
If Plaintiff fails to so amend his Complaint, the matter will be
dismissed without prejudice.
The Clerk is respectfully instructed to mail Plaintiff a blank prisoner §
Signed: November 18, 2021
IT IS SO ORDERED.
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