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Parker v. Matchett

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division

August 13, 2018

TERRY ALTON PARKER, Plaintiff,
v.
MATCHETT, Defendant.

          ENTRY ON SELECTED MATTERS

          Hon. William T. Lawrence, Judge

         This action is before the Court for resolution of several motions by Plaintiff Terry Parker.

         I. Motion for Leave to Amend Complaint

         Mr. Parker is an inmate confined at the U.S. Penitentiary at Terre Haute, Indiana. The action has proceeded to this point with a single claim: that the Defendant Ashley Matchett, a physical therapist, was deliberately indifferent to Mr. Parker's serious foot injury when she met with him on April 13, 2017.

         Mr. Parker now seeks to amend his complaint to add additional defendants, including two private companies and their owners and employees. Indeed, the proposed amended complaint indicates that Ms. Matchett is an owner or employee of Terre Haute Physical Therapy, PC-not an employee of the federal government.

         Because Mr. Parker is a prisoner, his proposed amended complaint is subject to the screening requirement of 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), the Court must dismiss a complaint if it is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim for relief, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. In determining whether a 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,

[the] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim for 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). Pro se pleadings such as Mr. Parker's are construed liberally and held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Obriecht v. Raemisch, 517 F.3d 489, 491 n.2 (7th Cir. 2008).

         The amended complaint asserts claims of inadequate medical care provided by private actors. Medical malpractice is a cause of action arising from state law-not from civil rights protected by federal law. The Court allowed the original complaint to proceed under the theory recognized in Bivens v. Six Unknown Federal Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), on the possibility that Ms. Matchett was a federal employee. But the proposed amended complaint indicates that this is not the case. And Bivens only authorizes suits against federal employees or agents-not private citizens or entities. See Corr. Servs. Corp. v. Malesko, 534 U.S. 61 (2001); Holz v. Terre Haute Regional Hosp., 123 Fed.Appx. 712, 713 (7th Cir. 2005) (holding that a prisoner cannot bring a Bivens claim against a private hospital or nurse who works at that hospital because a “Bivens claim cannot be brought against a private entity (or individual), even if it is a federal contractor”).

         As presented, the proposed amended complaint does not include any allegations that would raise a legal issue arising from the Constitution or laws of the United States as required by 28 U.S.C. § 1331. See Williams v. Aztar Ind. Gaming Corp., 351 F.3d 294, 298 (7th Cir. 2003) (explaining federal courts may exercise federal-question jurisdiction when a plaintiff's right to relief is created by or depends on a federal statute or constitutional provision). Nor does it include any facts from which the Court could infer diversity of citizenship under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. See Denlinger v. Brennan, 87 F.3d 214, 217 (7th Cir. 1996) (holding that failure to include allegations of citizenship requires dismissal of complaint based on diversity jurisdiction). In short, the Court would not have any basis to exercise jurisdiction over the claims presented in the proposed amended complaint.

         Because the Court would have to dismiss all claims in the proposed amended complaint, Mr. Parker's motion for leave to amend, Dkt. No. 29, is denied. This action shall continue to proceed with the complaint, Dkt. No. 2, as the operative pleading.

         II. Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment

         Mr. Parker's motion for summary judgment, Dkt. No. 31, is denied because it concerns claims asserted in the proposed amended complaint.

         III. Motion to ...


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