United States District Court, D. Minnesota
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
A. Magnuson United States District Court Judge
matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss or for Summary Judgment and Plaintiff's Motion to
Amend Complaint. Plaintiff seeks to amend his Complaint for
the third time to address deficiencies raised by
Defendants' dispositive Motion, but because
Plaintiff's underlying allegations do not rise to the
level of a constitutional violation, any amendment would be
futile. The Court has, however, considered the allegations in
the proposed Third Amended Complaint when evaluating whether
Plaintiff has sufficiently raised a constitutional claim. For
the following reasons, the Court denies the Motion to Amend
and grants the Motion to Dismiss.
William Moore is currently incarcerated at the Federal Prison
Camp in Duluth, Minnesota. (2d Am. Compl. ¶ 2.) In 2013,
Moore injured his left knee while working at the Federal
Correctional Institution in Sandstone, Minnesota. The
institution referred Moore to a specialist (3d Am. Compl.
¶ 8) who recommended that Moore undergo surgery to
repair his knee. (Id. ¶ 9.) Shortly after the
injury, Moore was transferred to the Federal Correctional
Institution in Oxford, Wisconsin. (Id. ¶ 10.)
The medical director at FCI-Oxford, Dr. Gupta, a Defendant
here, referred him to another specialist, who recommended
that Moore undergo total knee replacement. (Id.
2015, Moore was again transferred, this time to FPC-Duluth.
(Id. ¶ 15.) Defendant Dr. Benjamin Rice is the
medical director at FPC-Duluth. (2d Am. Compl. ¶ 4.)
Moore alleges that Dr. Rice denied him effective pain
medication and referred him once again to specialists. (3d
Am. Compl. ¶¶ 16-17.) According to Moore, both
specialists recommended that he undergo total knee
replacement. (Id. ¶¶ 18-19.)
Rice submitted a request for Moore's surgery to the
Bureau of Prisons. (Id. ¶ 23.) The BOP's
Chief of Health Programs, Dr. Jeffrey Allen,  ultimately denied
the request (id. ¶ 24), because Moore's
Body Mass. Index (“BMI”) was above the
recommended level for knee-replacement surgery. (2d Am.
Compl. ¶ 10.)
claims that his BOP physicians failed to provide for his
medical needs and that this amounts to deliberate
indifference in violation of the Eighth Amendment and 42
U.S.C. § 1983. (Id. ¶¶ 19-21; 3d Am.
Compl. ¶¶ 30-32.) He seeks compensatory damages of
$500, 000 against each Defendant, a declaration that
Defendants are violating his rights, and an injunction
requiring the BOP to allow Moore to have the recommended knee
surgery. (2d Am. Compl. ¶¶ 25-27.)
evaluating a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court
assumes the facts in the complaint to be true and construes
all reasonable inferences from those facts in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff. Morton v. Becker, 793
F.2d 185, 187 (8th Cir. 1986). However, the Court need not
accept as true wholly conclusory allegations, Hanten v.
Sch. Dist. of Riverview Gardens, 183 F.3d 799, 805 (8th
Cir. 1999), or legal conclusions that the plaintiff draws
from the facts pled. Westcott v. City of Omaha, 901
F.2d 1486, 1488 (8th Cir. 1990).
the Court liberally construes pro se pleadings, a pro se
complaint must contain “enough facts to state a claim
to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 545 (2007). The
complaint need not contain “detailed factual
allegations, ” it must contain facts with enough
specificity “to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level.” Id. at 555.
“Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements, ” will
not pass muster under Twombly. Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). In sum, this standard
“calls for enough fact[s] to raise a reasonable
expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of [the
claim].” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556.
party submits evidence outside the pleadings in support of a
motion to dismiss, as Defendants have done here, the Court
may convert the motion into a motion for summary judgment.
Casazza v. Kiser, 313 F.3d 414, 417-18 (8th Cir.
2002). Indeed, Defendants seek summary judgment as an
alternative to dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6), and have
submitted several affidavits describing Moore's
treatment. Moore responds not by requesting additional
discovery, but rather by contending that he should be allowed
to amend his complaint. Because it is apparent that discovery
will not advance Moore's claims or support his opposition
to Defendants' Motion, and because Moore has been
afforded a meaningful opportunity to respond to the facts
Defendants raise, the Court will consider Defendants'
Motion as one for summary judgment.
order for any Defendant to be liable for deliberate
indifference to Moore's serious medical needs, Moore must
establish both a violation of his constitutional rights and
that qualified immunity does not protect Defendants from
suit. Put another way, if Moore cannot establish a violation
of a constitutional right, Defendants are entitled to
qualified immunity. Brockington v. City of Sherwood,
503 F.3d 667, 671 (8th Cir. 2007).
establish a claim under the Eighth Amendment, Moore must
demonstrate both that he had an objectively serious medical
need and that Defendants knew of this need but deliberately
disregarded it. Schaub v. VonWald, 638 F.3d 905, 914
(8th Cir. 2011). A difference of opinion on the proper course
of treatment does not amount to deliberate indifference, nor
can a plaintiff establish a constitutional violation for
conduct that is merely negligent. Bender v. Regier,
385 F.3d 1133, 1137-38 (8th Cir. 2004); Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). Medical providers
“do not violate the Eighth Amendment when, in the
exercise of their professional judgment, they refuse to
implement a prisoner's requested course of
treatment.” Long v. Nix, 86 F.3d 761, 765 (8th
believes that only a total knee replacement will relieve his
pain and solve his mobility issues, and that Defendants'
refusal to authorize the surgery amounts to deliberate
indifference to his pain and mobility issues. He does not,
and indeed cannot, dispute that the BOP has a neutral policy
in place regarding surgeries such as knee replacements that
requires any prisoner undergoing such a procedure to have a
BMI under 35. (Rice Decl. (Docket No. 39) ¶ 10;
id. Ex. G at 3 (Docket No. 39-7) (BOP's Clinical
Practice Guideline “Evaluation and Management of
Osteoarthritis of the Hip and Knee”).) Nor can he
dispute that this policy is grounded in sound medical
science. As Defendants point out, the Medicare standards for
elective joint replacement surgery similarly establish a BMI