Caskey v. South Dakota State Penitentiary et al
ORDER directing service in part and dismissing complaint in part; granting 9 Motion to Amend Complaint. Signed by U.S. District Judge Karen E. Schreier on 11/9/2017. (JLS)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF SOUTH DAKOTA
CODY RAY CASKEY,
SOUTH DAKOTA STATE
PENITENTIARY; WARDEN DOOLEY, in
his individual and official capacity; DR.
ADAMS, in his individual and official
capacity; DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH;
and JANE and JOHN DOE.
ORDER DIRECTING SERVICE
IN PART AND DISMISSING
COMPLAINT IN PART
Plaintiff, Cody Ray Caskey, is an inmate at the South Dakota State
Penitentiary (SDSP) in Sioux Falls. He filed a pro se civil rights lawsuit under
42 U.S.C. § 1983. Docket 1. The court screened Caskey’s complaint under
28 U.S.C. § 1915A and granted him leave to amend his complaint. Docket 8.
Caskey now moves to amend his Complaint and add additional defendants.
The court has now screened Caskey’s proposed amended complaint (Docket 10)
under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. The court dismisses his complaint in part and
directs service in part.
Caskey alleges that he has “taken Testosterone Blockers (spironolactone
25 mg) and estrogen pills (Prem[a]rin 1.25)” since he was fourteen years old.
Docket 10 at 1. Caskey alleges he began by taking his mother’s estrogen pills.
Id. And when he was old enough, he began ordering medications online under
either his female alias, Kasey Rene, or his biological name, Cody Caskey.
Caskey alleges that he medicated himself for years. Id. This protocol helped
him feel comfortable in his body. Id.
Caskey alleges that he has now been off hormones for five years, and
that he suffers severe suicidal tendencies and severe headaches. Id. Caskey
repeatedly reported these symptoms to Medical. Id.
Caskey alleges that his gender dysphoria is well documented. Id. at 2.
But it was only recently acknowledged and has not yet been treated. Id. Caskey
alleges that the SDSP makes no attempt to treat his gender dysphoria and that
this lack of treatment causes his suicidal tendencies, including his suicide
Caskey claims that Dr. Adams initially denied Caskey “continuation of
hormonal therapy because I was unable to provide medical records[.]” Id. at 3.
Caskey alleges that Dr. Adams is aware of the gender dysphoria and
symptoms, but Dr. Adams does nothing. Id. After this lawsuit was filed, Dr.
Adams recommended that Caskey see an endocrinologist. Id. The Department
of Health denied the request. Id. at 1. And now the request is being reviewed by
the Medical Director. Id. Caskey alleges that this is only an attempt by
defendants to buy time. Id.
Caskey alleges that the Department of Health “is responsible for the
actions of all their staff, including Dr. Adams and … the medical director[.]”
Id. at 3. Additionally the Department of Health denied Caskey an appointment
with an endocrinologist for his gender dysphoria. Id.
Caskey alleges that “Warden Dooley has retaliated against him because
of [Warden Dooley’s] relationship with Dennis Lauseng, a former captain for
SDSP,” who Caskey previously sued. Id. at 2. And Caskey alleges that Warden
Dooley is “responsible for his staff and their actions against [Caskey].” Id. at 3.
Caskey alleges that Warden Dooley denied Caskey’s grievances regarding his
hormone therapy and denied Caskey an appointment with an endocrinologist.
The court must accept the well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as
true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party.
Schriener v. Quicken Loans, Inc., 774 F.3d 442, 444 (8th Cir. 2014). Civil rights
and pro se complaints must be liberally construed. Erickson v. Pardus, 551
U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (citation omitted); Bediako v. Stein Mart, Inc., 354 F.3d 835,
839 (8th Cir. 2004). Even with this construction, “a pro se complaint must
contain specific facts supporting its conclusions.” Martin v. Sargent, 780 F.2d
1334, 1337 (8th Cir. 1985); Ellis v. City of Minneapolis, 518 F. App’x 502, 504
(8th Cir. 2013). Civil rights complaints cannot be merely conclusory. Davis v.
Hall, 992 F.2d 151, 152 (8th Cir. 1993); Parker v. Porter, 221 F. App’x 481, 482
(8th Cir. 2007).
A 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 Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007). “If a plaintiff cannot make the requisite showing, dismissal is
appropriate.” Abdullah v. Minnesota, 261 F. App’x 926, 927 (8th Cir. 2008);
Beavers v. Lockhart, 755 F.2d 657, 663 (8th Cir. 1985). Under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A, the court must screen prisoner complaints and dismiss them if they
are “(1) frivolous, malicious, or fail to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted; or (2) seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from
such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).
I. Amended Complaint
Caskey filed a complaint (Docket 1) and a proposed amended complaint
(Docket 10). The complaint includes a request for relief but the amended
complaint fails to request relief. Caskey may have intended that his amended
complaint supplement, rather than supplant his initial complaint. Thus, the
court construes these together as constituting Caskey’s complaint. Kirr v. N.D.
Pub. Health, 651 Fed.Appx. 567, 568 (8th Cir. 2016) (amendment “intended to
supplement, rather than to supplant, the original complaint,” should be read
together with original complaint as plaintiff’s complaint).
II. Eighth Amendment
Caskey claims that defendants violated his Eighth Amendment rights by
denying him treatment for gender dysphoria, including but not limited to
hormone-replacement therapy and an appointment with an endocrinologist. “A
prima facie case alleging . . . deliberate indifference requires the inmate4
plaintiff to demonstrate that [he] suffered from an objectively serious medical
need and that prison officials actually knew of, but deliberately disregarded,
that need.” Reid v. Griffin, 808 F.3d 1191, 1192 (8th Cir. 2015) (citation
Reid, the prisoner plaintiff, sought hormone-replacement therapy and
raised claims similar to Caskey’s. Id. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals
upheld the district court’s grant of summary judgment because Reid did not
establish that the defendants’ conduct constituted deliberate indifference. Id.
Although Reid was decided under the summary judgment standard not
applicable here, the court found that because Reid was evaluated by mental
health professionals and was not diagnosed with gender identity disorder nor
denied treatment completely, her allegations amounted to a mere
disagreement over diagnoses and treatment decisions and were therefore not
actionable under § 1983. Id. The court stated that Reid was not entitled to
hormone-replacement therapy under the law. Id. at 1193.
The crux of Reid was whether the plaintiff alleged denial of treatment or
mere disagreement with a medical professional’s diagnosis or treatment
decision. Other district courts in the Eighth Circuit have decided claims based
on this same determination. Compare Derx v. Kelley, No. 5:17CV00040-JMJJV, 2017 WL 2874627, at *4 (E.D. Ark. June 19, 2017), report and
recommendation adopted, No. 5:17CV00040-JM, 2017 WL 2874314 (E.D. Ark.
July 5, 2017) (dismissing claims when prisoner was treated but disagreed with
the doctors’ decision to deny hormone therapy specifically), with Brown v.
Dep't of Health & Human Servs., No. 8:16CV569, 2017 WL 944191, at *4 (D.
Neb. Mar. 9, 2017) (finding that plaintiff may state a claim by “generally
allege[ing] that she suffer[ed] from an objectively serious medical need”
because defendants “refused evaluation and treatment for [her] condition”).
Here, Caskey claims Dr. Adams and Warden Dooley denied him
treatment for his gender dysphoria. He does not merely allege that defendants
denied him hormone-replacement therapy. Caskey alleges, “I have well
documented Gender Dysphoria that has only recently been acknowledged and
it has yet to be treated.” Docket 10 at 2. Thus, Caskey’s Eighth Amendment
claim against Dr. Adams and Warden Dooley survives screening.
Caskey claims that Warden Dooley violated his First Amendment rights
by denying him treatment for gender dysphoria in retaliation for a previous
lawsuit. To state a claim for retaliation in violation of the First Amendment,
Caskey “must ‘show (1) he engaged in a protected activity, (2) the government
official took adverse action against him that would chill a person of ordinary
firmness from continuing in the activity, and (3) the adverse action was
motivated at least in part by the exercise of the protected activity.’ ” Spencer v.
Jackson Cty. Mo., 738 F.3d 907, 911 (8th Cir. 2013) (citing Revels v. Vincenz,
382 F.3d 870, 876 (8th Cir. 2004)).
Caskey alleges that he filed and settled a civil case, CIV:14-4010,
against Dennis Lauseng, “a former captain for SDSP.” Docket 10 at 3. The
filing of an inmate lawsuit is protected activity. Lewis v. Jacks, 486 F.3d 1025,
1029 (8th Cir. 2007). Caskey alleges that Warden Dooley and his staff rejected
Caskey’s requests for hormone therapy and an appointment to see an
endocrinologist. Docket 10 at 3. The denial of medical attention would chill a
person of ordinary firmness from continuing in a protected activity. Caskey
also alleges that Warden Dooley’s denials were in retaliation for filing his civil
complaint. Therefore, Caskey states a retaliation claim against Warden Dooley
that survives screening.
a. SDSP and South Dakota Department of Health
Caskey fails to state a claim against the SDSP and the South Dakota
Department of Health. The Supreme Court has explained that Congress, in
passing 42 U.S.C. § 1983, did not abrogate states’ Eleventh Amendment
immunity from suit in federal court. Will v. Mich. Dept. of State Police, 491 U.S.
58, 65 (1989) (citations omitted). “Eleventh Amendment immunity extends to
states and ‘arms' of the state[.]” Thomas v. St. Louis Bd. of Police Comm’rs, 447
F.3d 1082, 1084 (8th Cir. 2006) (citation omitted). Thus, Caskey’s claims
against the SDSP and the Department of Health, state entities, are barred by
the Eleventh Amendment.
b. Jane and John Doe
Caskey seeks to add Jane and John Does “[f]or those names and actions
I am [unaware] of at this time.” Docket 10 at 3. Caskey makes no factual
allegations and states no cause of action against Jane and John Does.
Therefore, Caskey fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Jane
and John Does are dismissed.
Thus, it is ORDERED
1. Caskey’s motion to amend (Docket 9) is granted.
2. Caskey fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted
against South Dakota State Penitentiary, South Dakota Department
of Health, and Jane and John Does and they are dismissed without
prejudice under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) and 1915A(b)(1).
3. The remainder of Caskey’s claims survive screening under 28 U.S.C.
4. The Clerk shall send blank summons forms to Caskey so he may cause the
summons and complaint to be served upon the remaining defendants.
5. Caskey shall complete and send the Clerk of Courts a separate summons
and USM-285 form for each defendant. Upon receipt of the completed
summons and USM-285 forms, the Clerk of Court will issue the
summonses. If the completed summonses and USM-285 forms are not
submitted as directed, the complaint may be dismissed.
6. The United States Marshal shall serve a copy of the complaint (Docket 1),
amended complaint (Docket 10), Summons, and this Order upon
defendants as directed by Caskey. All costs of service shall be advanced by
the United States.
7. Defendants will serve and file an answer or responsive pleading to the
remaining claims in the complaint on or before 21 days following the date
of service or 60 days if the Defendants fall under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(a)(2) or
8. Caskey will serve upon defendants, or, if appearance has been entered by
counsel, upon their counsel, a copy of every further pleading or other
document submitted for consideration by the court. He will include with
the original paper to be filed with the clerk of court a certificate stating the
date and that a true and correct copy of any document was mailed to
defendants or their counsel.
9. Caskey will keep the court informed of his current address at all times. All
parties are bound by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and by the
court’s Local Rules while this case is pending.
Dated November 9, 2017.
BY THE COURT:
/s/ Karen E. Schreier
KAREN E. SCHREIER
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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