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Estepp v. McKeen

United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia, Elkins

May 4, 2018

DONALD ESTEPP, Plaintiff,
v.
SGT. McKEEN, et al., Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          ROBERT W. TRUMBLE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         On July 27, 2015, Donald Estepp (“Plaintiff”), a state prisoner, filed the instant pro se Complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, asserting various claims against the above named defendants in their individual and personal capacities. Because Plaintiff's Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the undersigned recommends that Plaintiff's Complaint be dismissed with prejudice.

         II. PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT

         Liberally construed, Plaintiff's Complaint[1] sets forth two allegations: First, Plaintiff claims that Sgt. McKeen (“Defendant McKeen”) and CO II Hummel (“Defendant Hummel”) violated Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights by delaying Plaintiff's treatment for a serious medical condition. Complaint, ECF No. 1 at 7-8. Second, Plaintiff claims that Warden Karen Psycolkowski (“the Warden”) violated Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights by negligently and intelligently understaffing the Northern Correctional Facility, which caused the delay in Plaintiff's medical treatment. Id. at 8. Because of this delay, Plaintiff claims he has suffered severe pain, blood loss, physical disability, and physical and emotional scars. Id. at 9. He has also endured several medical procedures and treatments and must take long-term medication. Id. In relief, Plaintiff requests proper medical attention, medical expenses, attorneys' fees, and monetary and punitive damages. Id.

         The undersigned addresses each claim, in turn, below.

         IV. DISCUSSION

         A. Legal Standard

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, courts are required to 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.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). When conducting said review, the court “must identify ‘cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion [thereof, that] is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.'” McLean v. United States, 566 F.3d 391, 394 (4th Cir. 2009) (alteration in original) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1)); see also Brown v. Brock, 632 Fed. App'x 744, 746 (4th Cir. 2015) (“[A] prisoner's complaint seeking redress from the Government that is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim may be dismissed sua sponte.”).

         A complaint is frivolous if it “lacks an arguable basis either in law or fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). “Even when a complaint is not frivolous, however, it is subject to dismissal under § 1915A when it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Massey v. Wriston, No. 2:13-cv-08842, 2016 WL 5172811, at *3 (S.D. W.Va. Sept. 21, 2016); see also 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1). “In making this determination, courts employ the same standard that is used when reviewing a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.” Massey v. Wriston, 2016 WL 5172811, at *3 (citing De'lonta v. Johnson, 708 F.3d 520, 524 (4th Cir. 2013); Richards v. Jones, 31 F.Supp.3d 630, 633 (D. Del. 2014)). Therefore, “[d]ismissal is proper only if the plaintiff has failed to ‘present factual allegations that state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Jehovah v. Clarke, 798 F.3d 169, 176 (4th Cir. 2015) (quoting Jackson v. Lightsey, 775 F.3d 170, 178 (4th Cir. 2014)).

         “Th[e] plausibility standard requires only that the complaint's factual allegations ‘be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.'” Houck v. Substitute Tr. Servs., Inc., 791 F.3d 473, 484 (4th Cir. 2015) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). “Where, as here, a pro se complaint raises civil rights issues, liberal construction of the pleadings is ‘particularly appropriate.'” Massey v. Wriston, 2016 WL 5172811, at *3 (quoting Smith v. Smith, 589 F.3d 736, 738 (4th Cir. 2009)).

         Because Plaintiff is a prisoner seeking redress from an officer or employee of a governmental entity, the Court must review the Complaint to determine whether it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. For the reasons that follow, the undersigned concludes that Plaintiff's Complaint does not plausibly claim that his constitutional rights were violated and should be dismissed.

         B. Plaintiff's Complaint Fails to State a Claim Upon Which Relief Can be Granted

         (i) Defendant McKeen ...


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