United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division
COMPLAINT AND DIRECTING FURTHER PROCEEDINGS
JANE MAGNUS-STINSON, District Judge.
Plaintiff Aubrey Lynn Eady, a prisoner at the Federal Correctional Institution in Terre Haute, Indiana, filed this civil action pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Federal Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). He alleges that the Warden and five medical care providers are deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment. He seeks injunctive relief and money damages.
The plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis [dkt. 2] is granted. The plaintiff is assessed an initial partial filing fee of Forty Seven Dollars and Seventy-Seven Cents ($47.77). He shall have through November 25, 2014, in which to pay this sum to the clerk of the district court.
The complaint is subject to the screening requirement of 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). Pursuant to this statute, "[a] complaint is subject to dismissal for failure to state a claim if the allegations, taken as true, show that plaintiff is not entitled to relief." Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 215 (2007). In determining whether the complaint states a claim, the Court applies the same standard as when addressing a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). See Lagerstrom v. Kingston, 463 F.3d 621, 624 (7th Cir. 2006). To survive dismissal under federal pleading standards,
[the] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Thus, a "plaintiff must do better than putting a few words on paper that, in the hands of an imaginative reader, might suggest that something has happened to her that might be redressed by the law." Swanson v. Citibank, N.A., 614 F.3d 400, 403 (7th Cir. 2010) (emphasis in original).
As presented the complaint fails to state a plausible claim for relief against any defendant. The constitutional provision pertinent to Eady's claim is the Eighth Amendment's proscription against the imposition of cruel and unusual punishment. Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 31 (1993). Specifically, the Eighth Amendment imposes a duty on prison officials to provide medical care to inmates. Vance v. Peters, 97 F.3d 987, 991 (7th Cir. 1996), cert. denied, 520 U.S. 1230 (1997). In order for an inmate to state a claim for medical mistreatment or denial of medical care, the prisoner must allege "acts or omissions sufficiently harmful to evidence deliberate indifference to serious medical needs." Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). Deliberate indifference exists only when an official "knows of and disregards an excessive risk to an inmate's health; the official must both 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." Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 837 (1994) (construing Estelle ).
Prison officials may exhibit deliberate indifference to a known condition through inaction, Gayton v. McCoy, 593 F.3d 610, 623-24 (7th Cir. 2010); Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 832 (7th Cir. 2009), or by persisting with inappropriate treatment, Gonzalez v. Feinerman, 663 F.3d 311, 314 (7th Cir.2011); Greeno v. Daley, 414 F.3d 645, 653-54 (7th Cir. 2005). Prison officials might also show their deliberate indifference by delaying necessary treatment and thus aggravating the injury or needlessly prolonging an inmate's pain. Gomez v. Randle, 680 F.3d 859, 865 (7th Cir. 2012). It is well-settled, however, that while incarcerated, an inmate is not entitled to the best possible care or to receive particular treatment of his choice. See Forbes v. Edgar, 112 F.3d 262, 267 (7th Cir. 1997). Negligence, even gross negligence, is insufficient to establish deliberate indifference under the Eighth Amendment. See Farmer, 511 U.S. at 835; Mathis v. Fairman, 120 F.3d 88, 92 (7th Cir. 1997); Snipes v. DeTella, 95 F.3d 586, 590 (7th Cir. 1996).
A corollary to the element of deliberate indifference is that a defendant can only be liable for the actions or omissions in which he personally participated. Sanville v. McCaughtry, 266 F.3d 724, 734 (7th Cir. 2001). "Because vicarious liability is inapplicable to... § 1983 suits, a plaintiff must plead that each Government-official defendant, through the official's own individual actions, has violated the Constitution." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1948 (2009). "[A]n official meets the personal involvement requirement when she acts or fails to act with a deliberate or reckless disregard of plaintiff's constitutional rights, or if the conduct causing the constitutional deprivation occurs at her direction or with her knowledge and consent." Black v. Lane, 22 F.3d 1395, 1401 (7th Cir. 1994) (quoting Smith v. Rowe, 761 F.2d 360, 369 (7th Cir. 1985)) (citations and internal quotations omitted). Without such an allegation, there can be no recovery. Burks v. Raemisch, 555 F.3d 592, 593-94 (7th Cir. 2009) ("Liability depends on each defendant's knowledge and actions, not on the knowledge or actions of persons they supervise....").
Given these principles of liability the claims against each of the named defendants are legally insufficient and must be dismissed. The court reaches this conclusion because there is no allegation that these defendants "acted with a sufficiently culpable state of mind." Walker v. Benjamin, 293 F.3d 1030, 1037 (7th Cir. 2002) (citation omitted). See also Potter v. Clark, 497 F.2d 1206, 1207 (7th Cir. 1974)("Where a complaint alleges no specific act or conduct on the part of the defendant and the complaint is silent as to the defendant except for his name appearing in ...