Lindamood v. Jordan et al

Filing 6

OPINION AND ORDER by District Judge Ronald A. White: Defendant State of Oklahoma is dismissed without prejudice. Defendant United States of America is dismissed. Defendant Choctaw County Jail is dismissed. Within twenty-one (21) days of the entry of this Order, Plaintiff must file an amended complaint on this Court's form(acg, Deputy Clerk)

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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF OKLAHOMA JAMES KEVIN LINDAMOOD, Plaintiff, v. SUZANNE JORDAN, et al., Defendants. ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) No. CIV 24-046-RAW-JAR OPINION AND ORDER Plaintiff is a pro se state prisoner in the custody of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections who is incarcerated at John Lilley Correctional Center in Boley, Oklahoma. He filed this civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, seeking monetary relief for alleged constitutional violations at the Choctaw County Jail in Hugo, Oklahoma (Dkt. 1). The defendants are Suzanne Jordan, Choctaw County Jail Administrator; Terry Park, Choctaw County Sheriff; the Choctaw County Jail; the State of Oklahoma; and the United States of America. I. Plaintiff’s Claims In Claim One of the complaint, Plaintiff alleges in an Eighth Amendment claim that in November 2023, Defendant Suzanne Jordan failed to pick up his prescribed blood pressure medication at the Hugo Clinic. In November 2023, Plaintiff allegedly had a stroke that resulted in the loss of vision in his left eye. (Dkt. 1 at 5). Plaintiff claims in Claim Two that from November 17 to December 12, 2023, he was denied medical care when he repeatedly requested to see a doctor as he slowly lost vision in his left eye. He contends his blindness could have been avoided if he had been provided care in time. Id. In Claim Three, Plaintiff complains he was subjected to deliberate indifference with the delayed treatment of his diagnosed conditions, and Defendant Jordan failed to get his prescribed medication. He asserts he still experiences extreme headaches and blindness. Id. at 6. Plaintiff again complains in Claim Four that the delayed or denied medical treatment at the jail resulted in his loss of vision. Id. After review of the complaint, the Court finds Plaintiff must file an amended civil rights complaint on the Court’s form, as set forth below. II. Screening/Dismissal Standards Federal courts must engage in a preliminary screening of cases in which prisoners seek redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must identify any cognizable claims and dismiss any claims that are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). The pleading standard for all civil actions was articulated in Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007). See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 684 (2009). To avoid dismissal for failure to state a claim under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), a complaint must present factual allegations, assumed to be true, that “raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. The complaint also must contain “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 570. A court must accept all the well-pleaded allegations of the complaint as true, even if doubtful in fact, and must construe the allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Id. at 555-56. “So, when the allegations in a complaint, however true, could not raise a claim of entitlement to relief,” the cause of action should be dismissed. Id. at 558. The Court applies the same standard of review for dismissals under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) that is employed for Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim. Kay v. Bemis, 500 F.3d 1214, 1217-18 (10th Cir. 2007). See also Turley v. Rednour, 729 F.3d 645, 649 (7th Cir. 2013) (holding that § 1915A dismissals are reviewed under the Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) standard for stating a claim for relief). A pro se plaintiff’s complaint must be broadly construed under this standard. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). The generous construction given to the pro se litigant’s allegations, however, “does not relieve the plaintiff of the burden of alleging sufficient facts on which a recognized legal claim could be based.” Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991). Notwithstanding a pro se plaintiff’s various 2 mistakes or misunderstandings of legal doctrines or procedural requirements, “if a court can reasonably read the pleadings to state a valid claim on which the plaintiff could prevail, it should do so . . . .” Id. A reviewing court need not accept “mere conclusions characterizing pleaded facts.” Bryson v. City of Edmond, 905 F.2d 1386, 1390 (10th Cir. 1990). “While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, 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 cause of action will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (quotations and citations omitted). The Court “will not supply additional factual allegations to round out a plaintiff’s complaint or construct a legal theory on a plaintiff’s behalf.” Whitney v. New Mexico, 113 F.3d 1170, 1173-74 (10th Cir. 1997). III. Improper Defendants A. Defendant State of Oklahoma The Eleventh Amendment prevents Plaintiff from suing the State of Oklahoma without its unequivocal consent, and this prohibition encompasses suits against state agencies. See Guttman v. Khalsa, 669 F.3d 1101, 1110 (10th Cir. 2012) ( “Although a state may waive the sovereign immunity granted to it under the Eleventh Amendment, we require a showing of unequivocal intent to do so.”); Muscogee (Creek) Nation v. Okla. Tax Comm’n, 611 F.3d 1222, 1227 (10th Cir. 2010) (noting that the Eleventh Amendment’s protection encompasses States and state agencies). “Oklahoma has not waived sovereign immunity against § 1983 claims in federal district court.” Callahan v. Poppell, 471 F.3d 1155, 1159 (10th Cir. 2006). See also Okla. Stat. tit. 51 § 152.1. Therefore, the State of Oklahoma is dismissed without prejudice pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A(b) and 1915(e)(2)(B). See Wauford v. Richardson, 450 F. App’x 698, 699 (10th Cir. 2011) (holding that claims dismissed under the Eleventh Amendment “should have been dismissed without prejudice”). B. Defendant United States of America. The United States of America also is an improper defendant. Section 1983 states in pertinent 3 part that: Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress . . . . 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (emphasis added). Because the United States of America is not a “person” under section 1983, it is not a proper defendant in this lawsuit. Therefore, Defendant United States of America is dismissed from this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A(b) and 1915(e)(2)(B), and it may not be named as a defendant in the amended § 1983 complaint. . C. Defendant Choctaw County Jail The Choctaw County Jail also is not a proper defendant. While the Oklahoma courts have not addressed in a published opinion the issue of whether a jail or prison has capacity to be sued, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has held in an unpublished opinion that “the Creek County Criminal Justice Center is not a suable entity under § 1983.” Hinton v. Dennis, 362 F. App’x 904, 907 (10th Cir. Jan. 25, 2010) (citing Martinez v. Winner, 771 F.2d 424, 444 (10th Cir. 1985)). Therefore, Defendant Choctaw County Jail is dismissed from this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1) for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. IV. Amended Complaint Within twenty-one (21) days of the entry of this Order, Plaintiff must file an amended complaint on this Court’s form. The amended complaint must set forth the full name of each person he is suing under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Further, the names in the caption of the amended complaint must be identical to those contained in the body of the amended complaint, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 10(a). Plaintiff also is responsible for providing sufficient information for service of process. See Lee v. Armontrout, 991 F.2d 487, 489 (8th Cir. 1993) (pro se plaintiff was responsible for providing correct names and proper addresses for service of process). 4 The amended complaint must include a short and plain statement of when and how each named defendant violated Plaintiff’s constitutional rights and that Plaintiff is entitled to relief from each named defendant. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). Plaintiff also shall identify a specific constitutional basis for each claim. See id. He is admonished that simply alleging that a defendant is an employee or supervisor of a state agency is inadequate to state a claim. Plaintiff must go further and state how the named defendant’s personal participation violated his constitutional rights. The “denial of a grievance, by itself without any connection to the violation of constitutional rights alleged by the plaintiff, does not establish personal participation under § 1983.” Gallagher v. Shelton, 587 F.3d 1063, 1069 (10th Cir. 2009) (citations omitted). The Court only will consider claims “based upon the violation of a plaintiff’s personal rights, and not the rights of someone else.” Archuleta v. McShan, 897 F.2d 495, 497 (10th Cir. 1990). The Tenth Circuit has explained that when a § 1983 plaintiff includes a “government agency and a number of government actors sued in their individual capacities,” then “it is particularly important . . . that the complaint make clear exactly who is alleged to have done what to whom, to provide each individual with fair notice as to the basis of the claims against him or her, as distinguished from collective allegations against the state.” Robbins v. Oklahoma, 519 F.3d 1242, 1249-50 (10th Cir. 2008) (emphasis in original). When a plaintiff instead uses “either the collective term ‘Defendants’ or a list of defendants named individually but with no distinction as to what acts are attributable to whom, it is impossible for any of these individuals to ascertain what particular unconstitutional acts they are alleged to have committed.” Id. at 1250 (citation omitted). An amended complaint completely replaces the original complaint and renders the original complaint of no legal effect. See Miller v. Glanz, 948 F.2d 1562, 1565 (10th Cir. 1991); Gilles v. United States, 906 F.2d 1386, 1389 (10th Cir. 1990). See also Local Civil Rule 9.2(c). The amended complaint must include all claims and supporting material to be considered by the Court. See Local Civil Rule 9.2(c). It must be complete in itself, including exhibits, and may not reference or attempt to incorporate material from the original complaint or exhibits. Id. It may not include 5 defendants or claims that are dismissed by this Order. Pursuant to Local Civil Rule 5.2(a), the amended complaint must be clearly legible, only one side of the paper may be used, and additional sheets of paper shall have margins of no less than one (1) inch on the top, bottom, and sides. The Court Clerk is directed to send Plaintiff a form for filing an amended complaint. ACCORDINGLY, 1. Defendant State of Oklahoma is dismissed without prejudice. 2. Defendant United States of America is dismissed. 3. Defendant Choctaw County Jail is dismissed. 4. Within twenty-one (21) days of the entry of this Order, Plaintiff must file an amended complaint on this Court’s form. 5. The Court Clerk is directed to send Plaintiff a copy of this Court’s form for filing an amended civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. 6. Failure to comply with this Order will result in dismissal of this action without further notice. IT IS SO ORDERED this 8th day of May 2024. ______________________________________ RONALD A. WHITE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 6

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