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Jones v. United States

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

July 24, 2019

Hugh Jones, Plaintiff,
v.
United States of America, et. al., Defendants.

          ORDER REGARDING AMENDMENT OF COMPLAINT

          PAIGE J. GOSSETT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         The plaintiff, Hugh Jones, a self-represented federal prisoner, brings this civil rights and personal injury action. The Complaint has been filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. This matter is before the court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2) (D.S.C.). Having reviewed the Complaint in accordance with applicable law, the court finds this action is subject to summary dismissal if Plaintiff does not amend the Complaint to cure the deficiencies identified herein.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         Plaintiff, an inmate at the Federal Correctional Institution in Estill, South Carolina, indicates that he injured his wrist while exercising in the prison. (Compl., ECF No. 1 at 3.) Initially, Plaintiff did not seek medical treatment, but due to increased pain and inability to use his hand, Plaintiff reported his injury to medical staff on April 18, 2019. (Id.) Plaintiff claims that the nurse, Jade Lloyd, falsely noted on Plaintiff's medical file that he had no swelling, inflammation, or “clicking and popping.” (Id.) On May 16 and 22, 2017, Plaintiff was then seen by a doctor, D. Garcia, but the doctor falsely noted that Plaintiff “denied injury, ” “denied falling, ” and failed to show any concern or interest in Plaintiff's injury. (Id. at 4.) Plaintiff claims the actions of the nurse and doctor show “a concerted effort” to deny Plaintiff medical care, or to save money. (Id. at 5.) Plaintiff claims that as a result, he has not recovered from his injury. (Id. at 8.) He expressly raises claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deliberate indifference to medical needs, and the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2671-2680, 1346(b) for negligence, and he seeks damages. (Id. at 2-3, 8.)

         II. Discussion

         A. Standard of Review

         Under established local procedure in this judicial district, a careful review has been made of the pro se Complaint pursuant to the procedural provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), Pub. L. No. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321 (1996), which requires the court to review a complaint filed by a prisoner that seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. See McLean v. United States, 566 F.3d 391 (4th Cir. 2009). Section 1915A requires a district court to dismiss the case upon a finding that the action is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

         In order to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the plaintiff must do more than make mere conclusory statements to state a claim. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Rather, the complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim that is plausible on its face. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. The reviewing court need only accept as true the complaint's factual allegations, not its legal conclusions. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.

         This court is required to liberally construe pro se complaints, which are held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); King v. Rubenstein, 825 F.3d 206, 214 (4th Cir. 2016). Nonetheless, the requirement of liberal construction does not mean that the court can ignore a clear failure in the pleading to allege facts which set forth a claim cognizable in a federal district court. See Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387 (4th Cir. 1990); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 684 (2009) (outlining pleading requirements under Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for “all civil actions”).

         B. Analysis

         Plaintiff raises two claims here, both of which are subject to summary dismissal as pled. First, Plaintiff raises a claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deliberate indifference to medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Second, Plaintiff raises a claim of negligence pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act.

         1. 42 U.S.C. § 1983

         A legal action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 allows “a party who has been deprived of a federal right under the color of state law to seek relief.” City of Monterey v. Del Monte Dunes at Monterey, Ltd.,526 U.S. 687, 707 (1999). To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated, and (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). Here, the United States is not amenable to suit pursuant to § 1983 because it does not act under color of state law. Hindes v. F.D.I.C., 137 F.3d 148, 159 (3d Cir. 1998); but see Bivens v. Six Unkown Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971) (establishing a remedy for plaintiffs alleging certain constitutional violations by federal officials to obtain ...


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