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Little v. Musick

United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia, Huntington Division

October 1, 2017

STEVEN JAMES LITTLE, Plaintiff,
v.
ERIC MUSICK, Correctional Officer, WESTERN REGIONAL JAIL, CORRECTIONAL OFFICER DAMRON, CORRECTIONAL OFFICER WILLIAMSON, CORPORAL DIAMOND, CORRECTIONAL OFFICER ADKINS, CORRECTIONAL OFFICER AKERS, CORRECTIONAL OFFICER SPARKS, CORRECTIONAL OFFICER WILLIAM RACER, CORRECTIONAL OFFICER MARTIN, CORRECTIONAL OFFICER PEDACRUE, and PRIMECARE MEDICAL INC., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          ROBERT C. CHAMBERS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This action, brought pro se, was referred to a United States Magistrate Judge for proposed findings of fact and recommendation for disposition (“PF&R”) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). Now pending before the Court are Defendants' Motions to Dismiss (ECF Nos. 39, 41, 46). By a PF&R entered August 10, 2017, the Magistrate Judge recommends that Defendants' Motions to Dismiss be granted and that Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (ECF No. 67) be dismissed (ECF No. 71). Plaintiff filed objections to the PF&R on August 16, 2017 (ECF No. 73). For the reasons set forth below, the Court rejects Plaintiff's objections, accepts the Magistrate Judge's proposed findings, and adopts the Magistrate Judge's recommendations.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint with this Court on September 22, 2016 (ECF No. 6) and a Second Amended Complaint on July 28, 2017 (ECF No. 67). First, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Eric Musick, a Correctional Officer at the Western Regional Jail, “lifted [Plaintiff] off the ground and slam[m]ed [Plaintiff] to the concrete” even though Plaintiff was not doing anything aggressive (ECF No. 6 at 7-9). As a result, Plaintiff claims that he was the victim of “unnecessary force” (ECF No. 6 at 9).

         Second, Plaintiff alleges that he received inadequate medical attention from Defendant PrimeCare Medical, Inc. following the alleged incident with Officer Musick (ECF No. 6 at 11). He claims that he suffered injury to his back as a result of the altercation and that the injury persisted even after PrimeCare staff performed an X-ray of Plaintiff's back and found that no bones had been broken (ECF No. 6 at 3). His Amended Complaint states, “PrimeCare Medical has refused any further care that would include going to an actual hospital for [an] MRI” (ECF No. 6 at 9). Plaintiff asks the Court to grant him further medical testing and treatment to remedy this alleged wrong (ECF No. 67).

         Finally, Plaintiff alleges that he was “wrongfully [denied] recreational time” from July 27, 2016 to August 15, 2016 (ECF No. 6 at 4). He asserts this claim against Defendants Western Regional Jail, Correctional Officer Williamson, Corporal Diamond, Correctional Officer Akers, Correctional Officer Racer, and Correctional Officer Martin (“the Regional Jail Defendants”). Plaintiff seeks relief for this alleged injury in the form of monetary compensation (ECF No. 67).

         All Defendants filed motions to dismiss Plaintiff's claims. Officer Musick filed a Motion to Dismiss on November 16, 2016 in which he asserted that Plaintiff's claims against him should be dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies (ECF No. 46).

         PrimeCare filed a Motion to Dismiss on November 15, 2016 in which it alleged five grounds for dismissal: (1) Plaintiff failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted; (2) Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies; (3) Plaintiff failed to comply with the notice requirements of the Medical Professional Liability Act (“MPLA”); (4) PrimeCare is not a person subject to suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983; and (5) Plaintiff's allegations do not meet the legal threshold for a viable Eighth Amendment claim (ECF No. 39).

         The Regional Jail Defendants filed a motion to dismiss on November 15, 2016, asserting that: (1) Plaintiff's Section 1983 claim against Western Regional Jail should be dismissed because “a jail is not a ‘person' for purposes of § 1983;” (2) each individual Regional Jail Defendant is protected by sovereign immunity and is therefore immune from Plaintiff's suit; (3) Plaintiff failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted; and (4) Plaintiff's claims against Correctional Officers Williamson, Diamond, Akers, Racer, and Martin must be dismissed because these individual defendants are protected by qualified immunity (ECF No. 42). The Regional Jail Defendants filed an Amended Memorandum of Law in Support of their Motion to Dismiss on July 28, 2017 in which they added that Plaintiff's claims against them should be dismissed for failure to exhaust (ECF No. 68).

         II. Magistrate Judge's Proposed Findings and Recommendations

         After consideration of the record, the Magistrate Judge proposes that the Court find that Plaintiff failed to exhaust the available administrative remedies for his claims against Officer Musick, PrimeCare, and the Regional Jail Defendants (ECF No. 71 at 8-9). Regarding Plaintiff's claims against PrimeCare, the Magistrate Judge further proposes that the Court find that Plaintiff failed to comply with the MPLA and that Plaintiff failed to assert a “plausible federal constitutional claim against PrimeCare” (ECF No. 71 at 12-16).

         In consideration of Plaintiff's claims against the Regional Jail Defendants, the Magistrate Judge proposes that the Court find that Plaintiff's claims against the defendants in their official capacities are barred by sovereign immunity and that Plaintiff failed to state a “plausible claim for relief” against the Regional Jail Defendants (ECF No. 71 at 16-21). Pursuant to his proposed findings, the Magistrate Judge recommends that the Court grant the motions to dismiss filed by Officer Musick, PrimeCare, and the Regional Jail Defendants and dismiss this civil action (ECF No. 71 at 22).

         III. Plaintiff's Objections to PF&R

         On August 16, 2017, Plaintiff raised eight objections to the present PF&R. First, Plaintiff objects to the Magistrate Judge's proposed finding that Plaintiff “fail[ed] to allege any serious injury or harm as a result of the alleged deprivation of outdoor recreation for a period of 17 days” (ECF No. 71 at 21) (ECF No. 73, Objection 1). Plaintiff asserts in his objection that he suffered from depression, panic attacks, and anxiety as a result of the deprivation of his outdoor time (ECF No. 73, Objection 1). Second, Plaintiff objects to the Magistrate Judge's proposed finding that Plaintiff failed to state a claim against PrimeCare upon which relief can be granted (ECF No. 73, Objection 2). Plaintiff also asserts in his objections that there is evidence that the Regional Jail Defendants are responsible for denying him recreation time (ECF No. 73, Objection 3).

         Plaintiff next objects to the Magistrate Judge's proposed finding that Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies (ECF No. 73, Objections 4 and 5). Plaintiff alleges that the administrative process was unavailable to him because prison administrators failed to respond to his complaints (ECF No. 73, Objection 4). Plaintiff further alleges that the grievance procedure's appeal process was not made ...


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