United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Northeastern Division
OWEN BOWDRE CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
magistrate judge entered a report on April 11, 2017,
recommending all claims in this action, except the Fourth
Amendment excessive force claims against defendants Prosser,
Rutherford, and Letson in their individual capacities, be
dismissed without prejudice pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915A(b) for failing to state a claim upon which relief can
be granted. (Doc. 9). The magistrate judge further
recommended the remaining excessive force claims be referred
back to the magistrate judge for further proceedings.
(Id. at 13).
plaintiff filed objections to the report and recommendation.
(Doc. 10). In his objections, the plaintiff sets forth
additional facts in support of his claim for deliberate
indifference to serious medical needs. (Id.).
Because these facts were not pled in the complaint, the
objections will be considered as an amendment to the
plaintiff contends Sgt. Letson “influenced” the
Emergency Room staff of the Decatur General Hospital
“to omit x-rays and other measures that could have
detected” his fractured hand by
“insinuating” the process “would be too
time consuming for him and his officers.” (Doc. 10).
The plaintiff contends the medical staff “catered to
Sgt. Letson's agenda” because, absent Sgt.
Letson's interference, medical staff would have provided
proper treatment and discovered the fracture. (Id.).
extent the plaintiff is attempting to state a Fourteenth
Amendment claim against any defendant except Sgt. Letson, the
claim is due to be dismissed as conclusory and speculative.
In short, no specific facts infer the exchange between Sgt.
Letson and medical personnel was characteristic of some
municipal policy. Neither does the plaintiff allege
defendants Prosser and/or Rutherford were present in the
Emergency Room, much less that these defendants not only
pressured medical personnel but did so pursuant to some
Sgt. Letson's actions, “deliberate indifference to
[the] serious medical needs of [an arrestee or detainee]
constitutes the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain . .
. proscribed by the Eighth Amendment.” Farrow v.
West, 320 F.3d 1235, 1243 (11th Cir. 2003) (quotation
marks omitted); Brown v. Johnson, 387 F.3d 1344,
1351(11th Cir. 2004) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429
U.S. 97, 104-05 (1976) (“An arrestee or detainee states
a valid § 1983 claim when officers ‘intentionally
deny or delay access to medical care . . . or
intentionally interfer[e] with treatment once
Eleventh Circuit has explained:
Deliberate indifference to a detainee's serious medical
needs requires 1) an objectively serious medical need and 2)
a defendant who acted with deliberate indifference to that
need. A “serious medical need” is “one that
is diagnosed by a physician as requiring treatment or one
that is so obvious that a lay person would recognize the need
for medical treatment.”
Pourmoghani-Esfahani v. Gee, 625 F.3d 1313, 1317
(11th Cir. 2010) (internal citations omitted). “In
either case, ‘the medical need must be one that, if
left unattended, poses a substantial risk of serious
harm.'” Brown, 387 F.3d at 1351
(alterations incorporated) (quoting Farrow, 320 F.3d
plaintiff claiming deliberate indifference to a serious
medical need must prove: (1) subjective knowledge of a risk
of serious harm; (2) disregard of that risk; (3) by conduct
that is more than mere negligence.” Mellon v.
Alston, 841 F.3d 1207, 1223 (11th Cir. 2016) (quoting
McElligott v. Foley, 182 F.3d 1248, 1255 (11th Cir.
Subjective knowledge of the risk requires that the defendant
be “aware of facts from which the inference could be
drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he
must also draw the inference.” Caldwell v. Warden,
FCI Talladega, 748 F.3d 1090, 1099-1100 (11th Cir.
2014). “[I]mputed or collective knowledge cannot serve
as the basis for a claim of deliberate indifference. Each
individual defendant must be judged separately and on the
basis of what that person kn[ew].” Burnette v.
Taylor, 533 F.3d 1325, 1331 (11th Cir. 2008) (citations
Dang by & through Dang v. Sheriff, Seminole Cty.
Florida, 856 F.3d 842, 850 (11th Cir. 2017).
“[D]eliberate indifference to a substantial risk of
serious harm to a prisoner is the equivalent of recklessly
disregarding that risk.” Comstock v. McCrary,
273 F.3d 693, 703 (6th Cir. 2001) (citing Farmer v.
Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 836 (1994)).
plaintiff does not reveal why the defendants decided to take
him to the Emergency Room. Neither does the plaintiff
describe the condition of his hand upon arrest; he does not
describe any disfigurement, swelling, or bruising.
Accordingly, the plaintiff's allegations lack specificity
as to the obviousness of the injury such that a
layperson-specifically, Sgt. Letson-would know that his hand
was fractured or otherwise seriously injured. This failure
means the plaintiff cannot show Sgt. Letson intentionally-as
opposed to inadvertently or negligently-interfered with or
denied access to medical attention.
Letson's alleged “insinuation” to medical
personnel does not change this conclusion because the
plaintiff does not reveal what Letson actually said or did or
otherwise explain why it was suggestive. Neither does the
plaintiff reveal how medical personnel responded to Sgt.
Letson's “insinuation.” Accordingly, the
plaintiff has not presented specific facts giving rise to an
inference that Stg. Letson prevented medical personnel from
conducting diagnostic tests. Likewise, the plaintiff has not
presented facts giving rise to an inference that medical
personnel decided against conducting diagnostic tests because
of anything ...