Caskey v. South Dakota State Penitentiary et al
ORDER Granting Leave to Amend re 1 Complaint - Prisoner Civil Rights (42:1983), filed by Cody Ray Caskey. Signed by U.S. District Judge Karen E. Schreier on 7/27/2017. (JLS)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF SOUTH DAKOTA
CODY RAY CASKEY,
LEAVE TO AMEND
SOUTH DAKOTA STATE
PENITENTIARY, WARDEN DOOLEY,
Plaintiff, Cody Ray Caskey, is an inmate at the South Dakota State
Penitentiary in Sioux Falls. He filed a pro se civil rights lawsuit under 42
U.S.C. § 1983. Docket 1. The court has now screened Caskey’s complaint
under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, and for the reasons stated below, grants him leave
to amend his complaint.
Caskey alleges that he requested “hormonal replacement” and
defendants told him he “would not be prescribed hormones” because he did
not have medical records showing he had received this treatment in the past.
Docket 1 at 4. He alleges that this denial negatively affected his mental health.
Id. He alleges that Dr. Adams denied his requested treatment, and Warden
Dooley “signed grievances refusing to allow” the treatment. Id. at 2.
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).
Caskey alleges that defendants violated his Eighth Amendment rights by
denying him hormone-replacement therapy. “A prima facie case alleging . . .
deliberate indifference requires the inmate-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 omitted).
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 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 decide claims based on
this determination. Compare Derx v. Kelley, No. 5:17CV00040-JM-JJV, 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 fails to state a claim. He merely alleges that defendants
denied him hormone-replacement therapy. He does not allege that defendants
denied him all treatment or that defendants denied him hormone-replacement
therapy without evaluation as in Brown. His complaint is also silent as to
whether defendants treated him in any way as plaintiffs in Reid and Derx were
treated. Caskey fails to state a claim, but this may be because his complaint
merely does not contain all of the facts of the matter and he is proceeding pro
se. Therefore, the court will grant him leave to amend his complaint.
Thus, it is
ORDERED that Caskey shall amend his complaint by August 28, 2017,
if he wishes to proceed. If he fails to do so, his complaint will be dismissed.
Dated July 27, 2017.
BY THE COURT:
Karen E. Schreier
KAREN E. SCHREIER
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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