United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma
JOSEPH Z. WOMBLE, Plaintiff,
JERRY CHRISMAN, et al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
H. Payne, United States District Judge
matter comes before the court on Defendants Tommy Sharp and
Jerry Chrisman's motion to dismiss or for summary
judgment. The court has before it for consideration
plaintiff's amended complaint (Docket No. 50), the
defendants' motion (Docket No. 73), and plaintiff's
response to the motion (Docket No. 75). After receiving the
defendants' motion, plaintiff filed a motion to
supplement (Docket No. 77). No response was filed to said
an inmate in the custody of the Oklahoma Department of
Corrections (DOC), is currently incarcerated at the Lawton
Correctional Center (LCC). Plaintiff asserts claims under 42
U.S.C. § 1983, seeking relief for alleged constitutional
violations during his incarceration while he was housed at
the Mack Alford Correctional Center (MACC). Plaintiff alleges
this action arises from the extreme overcrowding at MACC. He
claims in Count 1 of the complaint that Defendants Sharp and
Chrisman, acting as Deputy Warden and Warden, respectively,
directed rationing of his food starting in May of 2014 and
that Chrisman ordered funds be diverted from the food budget
to a security budget due to the overcrowding. Plaintiff
further alleges he informed Sharp and Chrisman that he was
getting sick from the food “because of the rationed
food portions, and the spoiled nature of the food and the
infestation of cockroaches in the kitchen.” Docket No.
50, at p. 6, ¶ 10.
Count 2 plaintiff asserts Defendants Sharp and Chrisman have
approved the placement of extra inmates in the Alpha South
dayroom at MACC without properly screening the
inmates. Plaintiff claims he was exposed to
communicable disease while housed in this dayroom and that he
has frequently been sick as a result of the overcrowded
conditions. Further, plaintiff states he was forced to be
housed in dormitories with mentally and physically ill
inmates causing him physical and emotional injuries.
count 3 plaintiff alleges maintenance problems were not
timely fixed from May of 2014 until August of 2015 and
Defendants Sharp and Chrisman refused to order non-working
showers to be fixed. Plaintiff claims the bottom shower on
A-South flooded in August of 2015 causing him unspecified
injuries. Finally, plaintiff claims, due to the overcrowding,
there was not enough toilets causing him “stomach
damage, severe emotional damage in the form of embarassment
(sic) and anxiety” (id., at p. 8, ¶ 2)
and that he was somehow exposed to feces. Originally,
plaintiff was seeking damages, declaratory, and injunctive
relief. In his response, however, plaintiff advises “he
is no longer moving for injunctive relief, but for damages
only” (Docket No. 75, at p. 1).
request dismissal of this action pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6) and 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). To avoid dismissal
for failure to state a claim under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), a
complaint must present factual allegations, assumed to be
true, that “raise a right to relief above the
speculative level.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). The complaint must
contain “enough facts to state a claim to relief that
is plausible on its face.” Id. at 570.
“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, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009). A
court must accept all the well-pleaded allegations of the
complaint as true, even if doubtful in fact, and must
construe the allegations in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff. Id. at 555. However, “when the
allegations in a complaint, however true, could not raise a
[plausible] claim of entitlement to relief, ” the cause
of action should be dismissed. Id. at 558.
pro se plaintiff's complaint must be broadly
construed under this standard. Erickson v. Pardus,
551 U.S. 89, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200 (2007); Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). The generous
construction to be given the pro se litigant's
allegations “does not relieve the plaintiff of the
burden of alleging sufficient facts on which a recognized
legal claim could be based.” Hall v. Bellmon,
935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991). A reviewing court need
not accept “mere conclusions characterizing pleaded
facts.” Bryson v. City of Edmond, 905 F.2d
1386, 1390 (10th Cir. 1990); see also Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555 (“While a complaint attacked by a Rule
12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual
allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the
grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than
labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action will not do.” (quotations
and citations omitted)). The court “will not supply
additional factual allegations to round out a plaintiff's
complaint or construct a legal theory on a plaintiff's
behalf.” Whitney v. New Mexico, 113 F.3d 1170,
1173-1174 (10th Cir. 1997). Conclusory allegations without
supporting facts are insufficient to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted. Hall v. Bellmon,
has sued Defendants Sharp and Chrisman in both their official
and individual capacities. A suit against a state official in
his official capacity, however, is no different than a suit
against the State itself. Will v. Michigan Dept. of State
Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989). Neither a State nor its
officials acting in their official capacities are
“persons” under §1983. Id.
Moreover, claims against state officials, such as Defendants
Sharp and Chrisman, in their official capacity constitutes a
suit for monetary damages against the sate and are barred by
sovereign immunity. Trujillo v. Williams, 465 F.3d
1210, 1223 (2006). As a result, plaintiff's amended
complaint fails to state a cause of action against Defendants
Sharp and Chrisman in their official capacity. Therefore,
these claims are dismissed.
order to state a claim against Defendants Sharp and Chrisman
in their individual capacities, plaintiff must allege
sufficient facts to establish that they personally
participated in the alleged violation of plaintiff's
constitutional rights. “Personal participation is an
essential allegation in a § 1983 claim.”
Bennett v. Passic, 545 F.2d 1260, 1262-63(10th Cir.
1976)(citations omitted). See also Mee v. Ortega,
967 F.2d 423, 430-31 (10th Cir. 1992). In order to
establish liability under § 1983, plaintiff must plead
facts which show “an affirmative link . . . between the
constitutional deprivation and either the supervisor's
personal participation, his exercise of control or direction,
or his failure to supervise.” Gallagher v.
Shelton, 587 F.3d 1063, 1069 (10th Cir.
2009). A prison official will not be held liable under §
1983 solely based upon his supervisory position. Grimsley
v. MacKay, 93 F.3d 676, 679 (10th Cir.
regard to plaintiff's individual claims against
Defendants Sharp and Chrisman, an inmate may bring a §
1983 claim regarding his conditions of confinement against
individuals when he can show “deliberate
indifference” to attend to his basic food, clothing,
shelter and medical care needs. Farmer v. Brennan,
511 U.S. 825, 114 S.Ct. 1970, 128 L.Ed.2d 811 (1994). See
also, Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 526-27,
104 S.Ct. 3194, 82 L.Ed.2d 393 (1984). A prison official
violates the Eighth Amendment, however, only when two
requirements are met. Farmer, supra. First,
the deprivation alleged must be “‘sufficiently
serious' [in that] the ... official's act or omission
must result in the denial of ‘the minimal civilized
measure of life's necessities.'”
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834 (quoting Rhodes v.
Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 347, 101 S.Ct. 2392, 2399, 69
L.Ed.2d 59 (1981). The second subjective prong requires a
plaintiff show that the prison official had a
“sufficiently culpable state of mind.” Wilson
v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 297, 111 S.Ct. 2321, 115
L.Ed.2d 271 (1991). Specifically, to satisfy the subjective
prong, “the plaintiff must allege facts which, if true,
would show that the official being sued subjectively
perceived facts from which to infer substantial risk to the
prisoner, that he did in fact draw the inference, and that he
then disregarded the risk.” Comstock v.
McCrary, 273 F.3rd 693, 703 (6th Cir.2001).
the facts alleged by plaintiff establishes that Defendants
Sharp and Chrisman were “deliberately
indifferent” to plaintiff's personal safety.
“The Eighth Amendment does not outlaw cruel and unusual
‘conditions'; it outlaws cruel and unusual
‘punishments.'” Farmer, 511 U.S. at
837, 114 S.Ct. at 1979.
plaintiff has not shown that Defendants Sharp and Chrisman
were personally responsible for the decisions which led to
the alleged overcrowding at the prison facility or the
decisions regarding the amount of funding which was allocated
to the facility. While plaintiff alleges the defendants
“ordered” food to be rationed thereby causing
spoiled food and small portions of food to be served,
plaintiff offers nothing to support these conclusory
allegations. Plaintiff offers no facts to connect the
conditions at the facility with his alleged illness/injuries.
Plaintiff simply fails to allege anything more than
negligence in regard to the timeliness of repairs at the
facility and/or the screening of inmates.
the filing of defendants' motion to dismiss, plaintiff
filed a motion to supplement his original pleading (Docket
No. 77). Nothing contained within that pleading contains
sufficient factual allegations to save plaintiff's
amended complaint from dismissal for failure to state a
claim. Rather, the motion indicates some of the policies
which plaintiff claims these defendants were responsible for
instituting remained the policies long after the defendants
left the facility. Clearly, these defendants were not
personally responsible for the number of inmates which were
sent by DOC officials to MACC. Nothing contained in
plaintiff's amended complaint or his supplemental motion
establish that Defendants Sharp or Chrisman were aware of any
connections between plaintiff s alleged illnesses/injuries
and the ...