United States District Court, D. Columbia
December 22, 2005.
SHAHID TURNER-BEY, Plaintiff,
DIRECTOR OF MEDICAL SERVICES (CCHP), et al., Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROYCE LAMBERTH, District Judge
This matter is before the Court on consideration of a motion
for judgment on the pleadings filed on behalf of defendants
Milling and Kornegay, and on Center for Correctional Health &
Policy Study, Inc.'s response to the Court's order to show cause.
Having considered these submissions, plaintiff's responses, and
the entire record of the case, the Court will grant the motion
and dismiss this action.
At all times relevant to the complaint, plaintiff was
incarcerated at the District of Columbia's Correctional Treatment
Facility ("CTF"), which is operated by the Corrections
Corporation of America ("CCA").*fn1 On February 23, 2004,
plaintiff "sliped [sic] and fell on [his] back directly falling
on [his] (tail-bone) located on [his] lower-back." Comp., ¶¶
1-2.*fn2 Believing that he had "suffered some muscel [sic] strain," he took a hot
shower and went to bed. Id., ¶¶ 5-6. When he "attempted to get
out of bed," he "found that he could'nt [sic] with-out [sic]
great difficulty and un-bearable [sic] pain" in his lower back.
Id., ¶ 6. Plaintiff asked Corrections Officer Kornegay for
medical assistance. Id., ¶¶ 7-8. Officer Kornegay contacted
Unit Manager Milling, who completed an incident report before
plaintiff was taken to the medical department. Id., ¶¶ 9-10.
Plaintiff "was seen by the medical department, and was told that
an appointment for an X, Ray [sic] would be made." Id., ¶ 12.
Medical staff provided plaintiff with ibuprofen and muscle
relaxers, and sent him back to his housing unit. Id., ¶ 12.
Plaintiff alleges that he has received no further medical
treatment for his injury, either at CTF or at the federal
facility to which he was transferred. Compl., ¶¶ 13-15. He
continues to experience pain which has affected "his Mental
Health ability to function daily." Id., ¶ 15.
Plaintiff brings this action against CCA's Director of Medical
Services, Unit Manager Milling and Corrections Officer Kornegay.
See Compl. at 1. He demands monetary damages totalling
$200,000. Id. at 3. The Court construes the complaint as a
civil rights claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, charging defendants
with inflicting cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the
Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution for their
alleged failure to provide plaintiff adequate medical
treatment.*fn3 II. DISCUSSION
A. Center for Correctional Health & Policy Studies, Inc.
The Center for Correctional Health & Policy Studies, Inc.
("CCHPS") is "the medical contractor that provides medical and
mental healthcare for the inmates at DC Detention Facility. [It]
is a separate corporate entity from the Correctional Corporation
of America (C.C.A.)." Resp. to Order to Show Cause, ¶ 3. CCHPS
has no "duty or responsibility for the institutional care for the
prisoners, as its duties are related to the medical and mental
healthcare for the inmates." Id.
According to the Complaint, plaintiff brings this action
against the "Director of Medical Services (CCHP)," an individual
employed as the "Medical Director at (C.C.A.) Correctional
Corporation of America." Compl. at 1-2 (Caption and Sec. III of
preprinted form). The Complaint neither states the Medical
Director's name, nor provides an address, nor makes any
allegation of fact regarding his or her personal involvement with
plaintiff's treatment. The Complaint does not name CCHPS as a
defendant, and does not appear to sue an employee of
CCHPS.*fn4 The Court concludes, then, that plaintiff intends
to sue CCA, which is the party allegedly responsible for the
"mis-manegment [sic] of his health care." Compl., ¶ 15. CCA,
however, is not named as a defendant. A. Defendants Milling and Kornegay
Defendants Milling and Kornegay move for judgment on the
pleadings. Under Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure, the Court may grant a motion for judgment on the
pleadings "if the moving party demonstrates that no material fact
is in dispute and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law." Peters v. Nat'l R.R. Passenger Corp., 966 F.2d 1483, 1485
(D.C. Cir. 1992) (quoting Jablonski v. Pan Am. World Airways,
Inc., 863 F.2d 289, 290 (3d Cir. 1988)). Defendants cannot
succeed on a motion for judgment on the pleadings, however, "if
there are allegations in the complaint which, if proved, would
provide a basis for recovery." Haynesworth v. Miller,
820 F.2d 1245, 1254 (D.C. Cir. 1987).
A successful Eighth Amendment claim must satisfy both parts of
a two-pronged test. See Pryor-El v. Kelly, 892 F.Supp. 261, 266
(D.D.C. 1995). A plaintiff first must show that the alleged
deprivation is sufficiently serious to be considered cruel and
unusual. A medical need is serious if it either is diagnosed by a
physician as mandating treatment or is so obvious that a lay
person easily would recognize the necessity of a doctor's
attention. Cox v. District of Columbia, 834 F. Supp. 439, 441
(D.D.C. 1992). A plaintiff next must allege that a government
official acted with a sufficiently culpable state of mind. See
Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294 (1991). A claim of deliberate
indifference under the Eighth Amendment must allege that the
defendant subjectively was aware of the excessive risk to
plaintiff's health or safety posed by his action or inaction. A
"prison official cannot be found liable under the
Eighth Amendment . . . unless the official knows of and disregards an
excessive risk to inmate health or safety." Farmer v. Brennan,
511 U.S. 825, 837 (1994).
In light of the liberal pleading standards applied to pro se
complaints, see Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), the Court presumes without
deciding that plaintiff's back injury is a serious medical need.
He fails to allege an actionable Eighth Amendment claim for
deprivation of medical care, however. Plaintiff's own complaint
credits CCA officials with prompt action: Officer Kornegay
contacted Unit Manager Milling, who in turn completed an incident
report "needed for the plaintiff to be seen by the Medical Dept."
Comp., ¶ 9. He further states that he was treated on the same
date as the incident, and that x-rays of his left hip and lumbar
spine were taken a few days later. Id., ¶ 12 & Ex. (CCA
Inmate/Resident Grievance Form, Grievance Officer's Report).
Defendants' actions negate any assertion that they acted or
failed to act with deliberate indifference to plaintiff's medical
Even if plaintiff had stated an Eighth Amendment claim and had
named CCA as a party defendant, his complaint fails to allege
defendants' liability. A municipality cannot be held liable for
monetary, declaratory or injunctive relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
unless "the action that is alleged to be unconstitutional
implements or executes a policy statement, ordinance, regulation,
or decision officially adopted and promulgated by that body's
officers." Monell v. New York City Dep't of Social Services,
436 U.S. 658, 690 (1978). Nor is a municipality liable under §
1983 on a respondeat superior theory simply because of the
action or inaction of persons in its employ. Id. at 691. In
this circumstance, because CCA is operating a correctional
facility that the District of Columbia ordinarily would operate,
CCA is treated as if it were a municipality. See Gabriel v.
Corrections Corp. of America, 211 F.Supp.2d 132, 138 (D.D.C.
2002) (concluding that private corporation operating prison under
contract with District of Columbia government is "state actor"
for purposes of § 1983). CCA cannot be held liable for monetary,
declaratory or injunctive relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 unless
the constitutional violations of which plaintiff complains are the result of a CCA policy or custom. Monell,
436 U.S. at 690; Gabriel, 211 F.Supp.2d at 138. Plaintiff's
complaint is deficient for its failure to allege that the
deprivation of his constitutional rights was caused by a CCA
policy or custom. See Carter v. District of Columbia,
795 F.2d 116, 122 (D.C. Cir. 1986) (citing Oklahoma City v. Tuttle,
471 U.S. 808, 817 (1985)) (plaintiff must show a course deliberately
pursued by the city establishing affirmative link between city's
policy and alleged constitutional violation). Nothing in the
complaint articulates such a policy or custom or its connection
to the injuries plaintiff allegedly suffered.
Accordingly, the Court will grant defendants' motion for
judgment on the pleadings, and will dismiss this civil action
without prejudice. An Order consistent with this Memorandum
Opinion will be issued separately on this same date.
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