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Ambrose v. Smith

United States District Court, District of Minnesota

November 6, 2014

DR. JOANNE C. SMITH, Mercy Hospital -- Moose Lake MN; DR. MANDAC, Moose Lake Healthcare Provider; FARIBAULT HEALTH SERVICES STAFF; and FARIBAULT PRISON, all defendants to be sued in their individual and official capacity, Defendants

Louis Ambrose, Plaintiff, Pro se, Faribault, MN.


Jeffrey J. Keyes, United States Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Louis Ambrose, a Minnesota state prisoner, commenced this action by filing a complaint seeking relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He did not pay the filing fee for this case, but instead filed an application seeking leave to proceed in forma pauperis (" IFP"). ECF No. 2. On October 14, 2014, this Court ordered Ambrose to pay the initial partial filing fee required under 28 U.S.C. § 1915. See ECF No. 3. Ambrose has now paid the initial partial filing fee for this case, and this Court can now consider whether to grant Ambrose's IFP application.

An IFP application will be denied, and the action will be dismissed, when an IFP applicant has filed a complaint that fails to state a cause of action on which relief may be granted. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii); Atkinson v. Bohn, 91 F.3d 1127, 1128 (8th Cir. 1996) (per curiam). In reviewing whether a complaint states a claim on which relief may be granted, this Court must accept as true all of the factual allegations in the complaint and draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Aten v. Scottsdale Ins. Co., 511 F.3d 818, 820 (8th Cir. 2008). Although the factual allegations in the complaint need not be detailed, they must be sufficient to " raise a right to relief above the speculative level . . . ." Bell A. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007). The complaint must " state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 570. In assessing the sufficiency of the complaint, the court may disregard legal conclusions that are couched as factual allegations. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009). Pro se complaints are to be construed liberally, but they still must allege sufficient facts to support the claims advanced. See Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914 (8th Cir. 2004).

Ambrose alleges that on August 27, 2013, he suffered a stroke while in prison. See Compl. at 4 [ECF No. 1]. Prison officials sent Ambrose that same day to Mercy Hospital in Moose Lake, Minnesota, but medical staff at that hospital failed to diagnose the stroke, and Ambrose was returned to prison. Id. The next day, Ambrose suffered a second stroke and was sent to a different hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota, where Ambrose's condition was correctly diagnosed. Id. at 4-5. As a result of the initial incorrect diagnosis, says Ambrose, he now suffers from several ailments, including loss of vision, altered speech, nerve damage, and severe headaches. Id. at 5. Ambrose alleges that these maladies resulted from defendants' deliberate indifference to his medical needs.

As this Court previously warned Ambrose, his complaint fails to state a viable claim for relief against any of the defendants named in this action. First, state prisons are unamenable to suit under § 1983. See Celia v. N. Cent. Corr. Facility, No. C13-3003-MWB, 2014 WL 4961450, at *1 n.1 (N.D. Iowa Oct. 3, 2014) (compiling cases). Ambrose therefore cannot bring § 1983 claims against defendant Faribault Prison, and that defendant must be dismissed from the case.

Second, and most fundamentally, Ambrose has failed to allege facts showing that anyone was deliberately indifferent to his medical needs. " [T]o demonstrate deliberate indifference, a plaintiff must allege more than 'an inadvertent failure to provide adequate medical care' or negligence 'in diagnosing or treating a medical condition.'" Steele v. Meade Cnty. Jail Officials, Civ. No. 06-5087-AWB, 2008 WL 4449924, at *2 (D.S.D. Sept. 18, 2008) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 105-06, 97 S.Ct. 285, 50 L.Ed.2d 251 (1976)). Ambrose does not allege any of the defendants entirely shirked their responsibility to provide him with medical care, or that any defendant failed to act with diligence in treating his condition. Instead, Ambrose alleges only that doctors at Mercy Hospital made a mistaken diagnosis. But " medical malpractice is not deliberate indifference." Fourte v. Faulkner Cnty., Ark., 746 F.3d 384, 389 (8th Cir. 2014). There is no indication whatsoever from the complaint that any defendant acted with deliberate indifference Ambrose's medical needs. Prison officials transferred Ambrose to a hospital the same day he suffered each of the strokes, and the doctors tasked with examining Ambrose performed their duties the same day that Ambrose arrived at the hospital. Those doctors may have performed their duties poorly, and that poor performance may create the basis for a state-law claim of negligence or medical malpractice, but it is not a sufficient basis for a constitutional deliberate-indifference claim.[1]

Third, 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a) " requires immediate dismissal of all claims brought by inmates with respect to prison conditions . . . under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 or any other federal law until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted." Gibson v. Weber, 431 F.3d 339, 341 (8th Cir. 2005). Ambrose alleges in his complaint that there is a prisoner grievance procedure at the prison where he is incarcerated, but that he has not presented attempted to avail himself of that grievance procedure. See Compl. at 3. Nor has Ambrose provided any explanation for his failure to exhaust administrative remedies in this case, despite this Court's previous warning that failure to exhaust administrative remedies may warrant dismissal of this case. See ECF No. 3 at 3 n.2. Accordingly, § 1997e(a) provides an independent basis for dismissing this action.

For those reasons, this Court recommends that Ambrose's complaint be summarily dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) and that his application to proceed IFP be denied as moot. Ambrose will remain responsible for the unpaid portion of the filing fee in this case, notwithstanding the dismissal of his complaint..


Based upon the foregoing, and on all of the files, records, and proceedings herein, IT IS


1. This action be SUMMARILY DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).
2. Plaintiff Louis Ambrose's application to proceed in forma pauperis [ECF No. ...

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