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Bagnell v. Floyd

United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma

March 6, 2018




         Plaintiff Nathan Bagnell, a state prisoner appearing pro se and in forma pauperis, commenced this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action on January 30, 2017, by filing a complaint (Dkt. 1) against three defendants: Sheriff Jeremy Floyd, Dr. Aleta Fox, and Nurse Theresa Horn. Bagnell supplemented his complaint with “additional information” on February 15, 2017 (Dkt. 5).[2] Bagnell claims his civil rights were violated while he was incarcerated at the Ottawa County Jail (OCJ). See Dkts. 1, 5. By Order filed March 2, 2017 (Dkt. 8), the Court dismissed Fox from this action, directed service on Floyd and Horn, and ordered a Special Report pursuant to Martinez v. Aaron, 570 F.2d 317 (10th Cir. 1978). The Defendants filed a Special Report on May 9, 2017 (Dkt. 18).

         Before the Court are Floyd's motion to dismiss, or in the alternative, motion for summary judgment (Dkts. 19, 21), Horn's motion to dismiss, or in the alternative, motion for summary judgment (Dkts. 20, 22), and the Defendants' joint motion to strike Bagnell's supplemental briefs (Dkt. 35). For the reasons discussed below, the Court finds that (1) the motions to dismiss and motion to strike shall be granted, (2) the complaint shall be dismissed without prejudice, and (3) the alternative motions for summary judgment shall be declared moot.

         I. Background [3]

         Bagnell filed his complaint while he was incarcerated at the OCJ. Bagnell alleges that OCJ officials “purposly [sic] ignor[ed] verbal & written needs to keep [him] healthy and safe, ” and that the purpose of his action is “[t]o bring awareness to the negligence and inhumane conditions” at the OCJ. Dkt. 1 at 2.[4]

         In Count I of his complaint, Bagnell claims Sheriff Floyd violated his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment by failing to provide humane living conditions. Id. at 1-2, 5-8. Bagnell alleges that inmates in the OCJ are exposed to “black mold, ” “fed within 5 ft of raw sewage, ” and placed in danger by being chained together when they are transported to court. Id. at 5-7. Bagnell states that he is “in fear of being poisoned from being exposed to [raw sewage] and black mold, ” id. at 5, and that he is “in fear of [his] life when [he's] chained to 10 people” for transport, id. at 6. Bagnell further alleges that the OCJ is overcrowded, “urine and feces overflow[] onto the floor” when toilets in cells A10 and A11 are used, inmates are not issued cleaning supplies, lights in the cells do not work, “only one shower works properly, ” “[o]nly a few sinks can provide fresh water to drink, ” there are no exit signs, “cell doors don't function properly, ” “[t]here is a 50 ft extension corde [sic] running to the T.V., ” and the jail once failed to provide enough razors for all inmates. Id. at 5-7, 22-23. He alleges he has repeatedly complained about the conditions at the OCJ, but none of his “requests for grievances have been answered.” Id. at 7-8, 23.

         Within his supporting facts for Count I, Bagnell also alleges he failed to receive his “psych meds” for six days and does not “feel right” without his “meds, ” id. at 5, his wife saw an OCJ staff member open or “tamper with [his] legal mail, ” id. at 5-6, 21, 26, another inmate saw inmate mail in a trash can, id. at 5, 8, 26, and it once took 19 days for his wife to receive a letter from him, id. at 6, 26.

         Finally, in what appears to be a separate claim against Floyd, Bagnell alleges Floyd violated his due process rights by directing OCJ staff to deny his requests for copies of legal papers pertaining to the instant civil rights action. Dkt. 5 at 1-4.

         In Count II of his complaint, Bagnell claims Horn, a nurse at the OCJ, is liable for “Medical negligence.” Dkt. 1 at 2-3. According to Bagnell, Horn failed to provide his “psych meds, ” during his “entire” period of incarceration at the OCJ, ignored his multiple requests for medical services between December 5, 2016, and December 29, 2016, and refused to make appointments for him to see an outside doctor. Id. at 2, 9-11, 20-21. He also alleges he received treatment at Bearskin Medical on December 14, 2016, and that he “started receiving meds” on December 16, 2016. Id. at 10. Bagnell alleges that on December 21, 2016, he requested medical treatment for a lost filling in his tooth. Id. Two days later, Horn gave him “gauze” and told him he “was crazy for pulling [his] own tooth, ” but failed to inspect his mouth. Id. Bagnell states he was “in pain for over 45 days, ” and alleges that on December 29, 2016, and January 2, 2017, he told Horn he had “continuous pain in [his] lower back and legs.” Id. at 9, 11. Bagnell's wife eventually made him an appointment with Bearskin Medical where he was seen by a doctor on January 6, 2017. Id. at 12, 20-21.

         In his request for relief, Plaintiff asks for “punitive damages, injunction to administration, admistration [sic] changes, a complete investigation & audit over the entire adm, and the practices of the legal system in this county.” Id. at 3.

         II. Discussion

         A. Motion to strike

         In response to Bagnell's complaint, Floyd and Horn both filed motions seeking dismissal under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) or, in the alternative, summary judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). See Dkts. 19, 20, 21, 22. On September 25, 2017, Bagnell filed a response in opposition to the motions to dismiss (Dkt. 28). Defendants filed a joint reply on October 9, 2017 (Dkt. 29). Bagnell subsequently filed four “notices” containing additional factual allegations and purporting to provide the Court with further “evidence” to support his claims against Defendants (Dkts. 30, 32, 33, 34).

         Citing LCvR 7.2(h), Floyd and Horn move to strike three of Bagnell's “notices”-Dkts. 32, 33 and 34-as improper surreplies. See Dkt. 35. Under LCvR 7.2(h), a motion is deemed ripe for ruling either (1) after a response and reply have been filed, or (2) if no reply is filed, after the time to file a reply has expired. “Supplemental briefs are not encouraged and may be filed only upon motion and leave of Court.” LCvR 7.2(h). Having reviewed Bagnell's “notices, ” the Court agrees with Defendants that these pleadings are “in intent and effect” improper surreplies filed without leave of Court. See Dkt. 35 at 2. As a result, the Court grants Defendants' motion to strike Dkts. 32, 33 and 34 as improper surreplies. For the same reason, the Court sua sponte strikes Dkt. 30 as an improper surreply. Thus, the Court will not consider Dkts. 30, 32, 33 and 34 in ruling on the Defendants' motions to dismiss.

         B. Motions to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6)

         Floyd and Horn each move to dismiss Bagnell's complaint under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Floyd contends that the factual allegations in the complaint, even accepted as true, are not sufficient to state any plausible § 1983 claims against him. See Dkt. 19 at 15-23. Horn primarily contends that Bagnell asserts only a state-law claim against her for medical negligence and argues that claim should be dismissed for various reasons. See Dkt. 20 at 14-19. Alternatively, Horn contends that if the complaint could be read as asserting an Eighth Amendment deliberate-indifference claim for the denial of adequate medical care, Bagnell fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Id. at 19-23.

         In his response to the motions to dismiss, Bagnell urges this Court to deny the motions to dismiss for four reasons: (1) he has been denied access to the law library, (2) he is not represented by counsel, (3) he does not have “access to any and all documents previously filed” in this case, and (4) the conditions at the OCJ have “worsened.” See Dkt. 28 at 1-2. Defendants' joint reply to the response appears to be both an answer responding to Bagnell's seemingly new claims and a reply addressing Bagnell's failure to come forward with evidence to defeat their alternative motions for summary judgment. See Dkt. 29. Because the Court finds that this case can be resolved on Defendants' Rule ...

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