Krantz v. Boeckman et al
ORDER Dismissing Case. Signed by Chief Judge Karen E. Schreier on 2/3/2012. (KC)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF SOUTH DAKOTA
MISTY JOHNSON, Medical Staff,
Mike Durfee State Prison;
DR. GILCREST, Medical Staff, Mike
Durfee State Prison; and
ORDER GRANTING LEAVE TO
PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS
AND DISMISSING CASE
Plaintiff, Todd Krantz, moves for leave to proceed in forma pauperis in
his pro se lawsuit against defendants. Krantz is incarcerated at the Yankton
Trustee Unit in Yankton, South Dakota. Krantz filed a civil rights lawsuit
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that defendants have violated the
Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment because
they refuse to prescribe him Enbrel for his psoriasis.
The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), 28 U.S.C. § 1915, requires
prisoners to make an initial partial filing payment where possible, even if in
forma pauperis status is sought. When an inmate seeks in forma pauperis
status, the only issue is whether the inmate pays the entire fee at the
initiation of the proceedings or over a period of time under an installment
plan. Henderson v. Norris, 129 F.3d 481, 483 (8th Cir. 1997) (internal
citations omitted). Determination of the partial filing fee is calculated
according to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1), which requires a payment of 20 percent
of the greater of:
the average monthly deposits to the prisoner’s account; or
the average monthly balance in the prisoner’s account for the 6month period immediately preceding the filing of the complaint or
notice of appeal.
Krantz has indicated the average of the monthly deposits to his account is
$147.02, and the average monthly balance of his account is $35. Krantz must
make an initial partial filing fee of $29.41, which is 20 percent of $147.02.
Accordingly, Krantz is granted in forma pauperis status.
But the inquiry does not end there. The PLRA also requires this court to
“screen” Krantz's complaint to determine whether it should be dismissed.
Section 1915 provides an action must be dismissed if the court determines
the claim “(i) is frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief
may be granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is
immune from such relief.”
STANDARD OF REVIEW
The court must assume as true all facts well pleaded in the complaint.
Estate of Rosenberg by Rosenberg v. Crandell, 56 F.3d 35, 37 (8th Cir. 1995).
Also, “although liberally construed, a pro se complaint must contain specific
facts supporting its conclusions.” Allen v. Purkett, 5 F.3d 1151, 1153 (8th Cir.
1993) (citations omitted). A plaintiff’s complaint “does not need detailed
factual allegations . . . [but] requires more than labels and conclusions, and a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). If it does not contain
these bare essentials, dismissal is appropriate. Beavers v. Lockhart, 755 F.2d
657, 663 (8th Cir. 1985). Twombly requires that a complaint’s factual
allegations must be “enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative
level on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true.” Id.
at 1965; Abdullah v. Minnesota, No. 06-4142, 2008 WL 283693 (8th Cir.
Feb. 4, 2008) (citing Twombly and noting complaint must contain either direct
or inferential allegations regarding all material elements necessary to sustain
recovery under some viable legal theory).
It has long been recognized that “civil rights pleadings should be
construed liberally.” Frey v. City of Herculaneum, 44 F.3d 667, 671 (8th Cir.
1995). The complaint, however, must at the very least contain facts that state
a claim as a matter of law and must not be conclusory. Id. Broad and
conclusory statements unsupported by factual allegations are not sufficient.
Ellingburg v. King, 490 F.2d 1270 (8th Cir. 1974). Finally, although pro se
complaints are to be construed liberally, “they must still allege facts sufficient
to support the claims advanced.” Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914 (8th Cir.
2004). The court is not required to supply additional facts for a pro se
plaintiff, nor construct a legal theory that assumes facts which have not been
pleaded. Id. To state a claim for relief under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege
sufficient facts to show (1) that the defendants acted under color of state law,
and (2) that the alleged wrongful conduct deprived the plaintiff of a
constitutionally protected federal right. Zutz v. Nelson, 601 F.3d 842, 848 (8th
Cir. 2010) (internal citations omitted).
It is well established that deliberate indifference to a prisoner’s serious
medical needs is prohibited by the Eighth Amendment. See Estelle v. Gamble,
429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). “A prisoner’s Eighth Amendment rights are violated
if prison officials show ‘deliberate indifference’ to the prisoner’s ‘serious
medical needs.’ ” Olson v. Bloomberg, 339 F.3d 730, 735 (8th Cir. 2003)
(quoting Estelle, 429 U.S. at 106). The Eighth Circuit has interpreted this
standard to mean that a plaintiff must demonstrate: “(1) that he suffered from
objectively serious medical needs and (2) that the prison officials actually
knew of but deliberately disregarded those needs.” Jolly v. Knudsen, 205 F.3d
1094, 1096 (8th Cir. 2000). “A serious medical need is one that has been
diagnosed by a physician as requiring treatment or one that is so obvious
even a layperson would easily recognize the necessity for a doctor's attention.”
Coleman v. Rahija, 114 F.3d 778, 784 (8th Cir. 1997). “Deliberate indifference
may be manifested by prison doctors in responding to the prisoner’s needs or
by prison officials in intentionally denying or delaying access to medical care
or intentionally interfering with prescribed treatment.” Meloy v. Bachmeier,
302 F.3d 845, 849 (8th Cir. 2002).
Krantz claims that defendants violated the Eighth Amendment when
they refused to prescribe him Enbrel to treat his psoriasis. Krantz asserts that
he utilized the informal resolution and administrative remedies process to
complain, but that defendants replied that “the medicine that they have
administered for me is adequate.”
“[I]nmates have no constitutional right to receive a particular or
requested course of treatment and prison doctors remain free to exercise their
independent judgment.” Dulany v. Carnahan, 132 F.3d 1234, 1239 (8th Cir.
1997) (citing Long v. Nix, 86 F.3d 761, 765 (8th Cir. 1996)). “A prisoner’s mere
difference of opinion over matters of expert medical judgment or a course of
medical treatment fails to rise to the level of a constitutional violation.” Taylor
v. Bowers, 966 F.2d 417, 421 (8th Cir. 1992). The facts Krantz has pleaded
are insufficient to show a constitutional violation occurred. Rather, all they
show are his disagreement with the course of prescribed treatment. Thus,
Krantz has failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted and his
complaint is dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. Therefore, it is
ORDERED that Krantz’s motion to proceed in forma pauperis (Docket
3) is granted. Krantz will make an initial partial filing fee of $29.41 before
February 21, 2012, made payable to the Clerk, U.S. District Court.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the institution having custody of the
plaintiff is directed that whenever the amount in plaintiff’s trust account
exceeds $10, monthly payments that equal 20 percent of the funds credited to
the account the preceding month will be forwarded to the United States
District Court Clerk’s office pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2), until the filing
fee of $350 is paid in full.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Krantz’s complaint (Docket 1) is
dismissed without prejudice for failure to state a claim upon which relief may
be granted pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915.
Dated February 3, 2012.
BY THE COURT:
/s/ Karen E. Schreier
KAREN E. SCHREIER
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