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Ricketts v. Maggard

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

August 5, 2019

David E. Ricketts, Plaintiff,
v.
Officer Maggard, B. Birkolz, Jessica Feda, and Dr. Nassaralla, Defendants.

          ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Wilhelmina M. Wright United States District Judge

         This matter is before the Court on the March 21, 2019 Report and Recommendation (R&R) of United States Magistrate Judge Hildy Bowbeer. (Dkt. 8.) The R&R recommends dismissing without prejudice the claims of Plaintiff David E. Ricketts against Defendant Dr. Nassaralla and denying Ricketts's motion for a preliminary injunction.[1]Ricketts filed timely objections to the R&R. For the reasons addressed below, the Court adopts the R&R, denies Ricketts's motion for a preliminary injunction, and dismisses without prejudice Ricketts's claims against Dr. Nassaralla.

         BACKGROUND

         Ricketts currently is incarcerated at Federal Medical Center-Rochester. In this civil rights action, Ricketts alleges three counts against Defendants Officer Maggard, B. Birkolz, Jessica Feda, and Dr. Nassaralla: (1) failure to protect in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution, (2) retaliation, and (3) deliberate indifference to Ricketts's serious medical need in violation of the Eighth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Because the R&R concludes that Ricketts's complaint contains insufficient factual allegations against Dr. Nassaralla, the R&R recommends dismissing Ricketts's complaint against Dr. Nassaralla for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), (b)(1) (authorizing a district court to dismiss a prisoner's civil action if the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted). The R&R also recommends that the Court deny Ricketts's preliminary injunction motion without prejudice.

         After the R&R was issued, Ricketts filed a self-styled “Bivens Action Motion TORT CLAIM, ” (Dkt. 15), and a “Motion to Amend - Addendum Capacity Clarification, ” (Dkt. 16). On April 22, 2019, the magistrate judge issued an order acknowledging these and other submissions filed after the R&R was issued. (Dkt. 18.) In the April 22, 2019 Order, the magistrate judge construed Ricketts's “Bivens Action Motion TORT CLAIM” as an amended complaint and as the operative pleading in this case. The amended complaint includes the allegations and claims contained in the original complaint as well as additional allegations and claims, some of which are against Dr. Nassaralla. The March 21, 2019 R&R remains pending.

         ANALYSIS

         Ricketts objects to the R&R's recommendation that the Court dismiss his claims against Dr. Nassaralla.[2] A district court reviews de novo those portions of the R&R to which specific objections are made. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). In doing so, the district court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations of the magistrate judge. Id.; accord Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(3); LR 72.2(b)(3).

         Ricketts's complaint is subject to review under Title 28, United States Code, Section 1915A(a), which provides that “[t]he court shall review . . . a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.” The Court shall dismiss any complaint that fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

         When determining whether a complaint states a claim upon which relief may be granted, a district court must accept as true all of the factual allegations in the complaint and draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Blankenship v. USA Truck, Inc., 601 F.3d 852, 853 (8th Cir. 2010). The factual allegations need not be detailed, but they must be sufficient to “raise a right to relief above the speculative level” and “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 570 (2007). A claim is plausible if the facts alleged in the complaint, when taken as true, allow a district court to draw a reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the alleged misconduct. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

         The R&R concludes that Ricketts fails to state a claim against Dr. Nassaralla because Ricketts's original complaint contains no specific factual allegations against Dr. Nassaralla. But Ricketts's original complaint is no longer the operative pleading, and in conducting a de novo review of the R&R's recommendation to dismiss Ricketts's claims against Dr. Nassaralla, the Court must consider the allegations in Ricketts's amended complaint.

         When read liberally, the amended complaint appears to claim deliberate indifference to Ricketts's serious medical needs by Dr. Nassaralla in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Inmates do not have a constitutional right to receive a particular or requested course of treatment. Dulany v. Carnahan, 132 F.3d 1234, 1239 (8th Cir. 1997). To plead a deliberate indifference claim, a plaintiff must allege that he had an objectively serious medical need, that prison officials actually knew of this need, and prison officials deliberately disregarded this serious medical need. Id. Deliberate indifference is “an onerous standard, ” Martinson v. Leason, 22 F.Supp.3d 952, 960 (D. Minn. 2014) (internal quotation marks omitted), that requires a highly culpable state of mind, Choate v. Lockhart, 7 F.3d 1370, 1374 (8th Cir. 1993).

         The facts in the amended complaint as to Dr. Nassaralla are as follows: (1) Dr. Nassaralla was Ricketts's primary care giver, (2) Dr. Nassaralla acted “ ‘under color of Federal Law, ” (3) Ricketts told Dr. Nassaralla during his appointments that he was at risk of developing pressure sores, (4) Dr. Nassaralla had the ability to order medical devices and tests for Ricketts, and (5) Dr. Nassaralla was deliberately indifferent to Ricketts's medical needs when Dr. Nassaralla failed to order the medical devices and tests that Ricketts requested. These allegations do not plausibly allege that Dr. Nassaralla knew of and, with a “highly culpable state of mind approaching actual intent, ” deliberately disregarded Ricketts's serious medical needs. See Choate, 7 F.3d at 1374. The amended complaint, which is more detailed than the original complaint, nonetheless fails to cure the pleading deficiencies identified in the R&R as to Dr. Nassaralla. For these reasons, the Court overrules Ricketts's objections and adopts the R&R.[3]

         ORDER

         Based on the foregoing analysis and all the files, records and ...


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