United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
HEATON CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
Fred Smith, an Oklahoma prisoner proceeding pro se,
filed this action under various federal statutes against
multiple officials of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections
("ODOC"). He seeks monetary and injunctive relief.
Consistent with 28 U.S.C. § 636, the case was referred
for initial proceedings to Magistrate Judge Charles B
Goodwin. Following initial screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A, the magistrate judge issued a Report and
Recommendation ("Report"). He recommends dismissal
without prejudice of all claims in the amended complaint
except for plaintiffs § 1983 claim against defendants
Joe Allbaugh and Mr. Shelight based upon plaintiffs alleged
confinement in an outdoor pen in extreme cold. Plaintiff has
objected to the Report.
standard of review for screening under §
l9l5(e)(2)(B)(ii) is the same as that for a motion to dismiss
under Fed.RCiv.P. 12(b)(6). Kav v. Bemis. 500 F.3d
1214, 1217 (10th Cir. 2007). When reviewing a claim under
that standard, the court accepts all well-pleaded factual
allegations of the complaint as true and views them in the
light most favorable to the plaintiff. S.E.C. v.
Shields. 744 F.3d 633.640 (10th Cir. 2014). To survive
screening, the complaint must allege "enough facts to
state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face"
and "raise a right to relief above the speculative
level." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twomblv. 550 U.S.
544, 555, 570 (2007). In other words, the facts alleged in
the complaint must allow the court to infer the
defendants' liability. Shields. 744 F.3d at 640
(citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal. 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009)). Because plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the
court construes his pleadings liberally, but does not act as
his advocate. Merrvfield v. Jordan. 584 F.3d 923,
924 n.l (10th Cir. 2009).
claims are based on alleged violations of his federal
statutory and constitutional rights, which he asserts
occurred while he was incarcerated at James Crabtree
Corrections Center ("JCCC"), a state-operated
prison in Oklahoma. He has sued seven state officials in both
their individual and official capacities, along with two
other persons, Mr. Shelight and Mr. Denton. The magistrate
judge concluded the amended complaint fails to include
sufficient facts to state a cognizable claim for relief under
the First Amendment, the Religious Land Use and
Institutionalized Persons Act, Title II of the ADA or Section
504 of the Rehabilitation Act. He determined that it does,
though, "contain sufficient factual matter for the
Court to identify two potential § 1983 Eighth Amendment
claims" against seven of the named
defendants. Doc. #40, p. 10. The two claims are based on
plaintiffs alleged receipt of unsatisfactory medical care and
his assertion that he was placed in a "dog pen"
during cold weather.
magistrate judge first considered whether the complaint
states a claim against the defendants in their individual
capacities for deliberate indifference to plaintiffs serious
medical needs. Plaintiff contends he was improperly denied a
catheter and that defendants refused to provide appropriate
medication for his shingles rash and then delayed his receipt
of the medication that was prescribed. As thoroughly
explained by the magistrate judge in the Report, plaintiff
has not alleged sufficient facts to demonstrate the required
elements of an Eighth Amendment violation against the various
health care providers.
magistrate judge reached the opposite conclusion with respect
to plaintiffs §1983 claim against defendants Shelight
and Allbaugh. He determined plaintiff has pleaded sufficient
facts to state a claim against those two defendants for
allegedly subjecting plaintiff to inhumane conditions of
confinement at JCCC. However, he concluded plaintiff did not
state a claim against defendant Denton based on his asserted
failure to investigate defendant Shelight and defendant
Allbaugh's conduct. That was because, he stated,
plaintiff did not allege any facts that defendant Denton
personally violated plaintiffs constitutional rights.
magistrate judge then proceeded to consider plaintiffs §
1983 claims against defendants in their official capacities.
To the extent plaintiff seeks to recover monetary relief, he
concluded the claims are barred by the Eleventh Amendment.
Insofar as plaintiff seeks injunctive relief, the magistrate
judge recognized that the Eleventh Amendment does not bar
"an official-capacity suit against a state official if
his Amended Complaint 'alleges an ongoing violation of
federal law and . . . seeks prospective [injunctive]
relief.'" Doc. #40, p. 21 (quoting Muscogee
(Creek) Nation v. Pruitt. 669 F.3d 1159, 1166
(10th Cir. 2012)). However, he determined
plaintiff has not stated a viable claim for injunctive relief
for two reasons. First, the injunctions sought in the amended
complaint are not related to plaintiffs two claims
"which seek redress under § 1983 for allegedly
subjecting Plaintiff to inhumane conditions of confinement at
JCCC." Doc. #40, p. 22. Second, plaintiff has not
alleged an ongoing violation of federal law, but rather has
pleaded past infringements.
objection plaintiff does not challenge the magistrate
judge's analysis of his claims. Instead, he essentially
contends that because of his disabilities he should not be
required to comply with the basic pleading requirements of
the Federal Rules, but should be allowed to verbally
communicate with the court. He also criticizes the magistrate
judge for issuing his Report without investigating the
"facts, evidence or parties." Doc. #43, p. 1.
pro se plaintiffs pleadings are liberally construed,
he still must ultimately satisfy the same pleading standards
as every other plaintiff in order for his claims to proceed
past a motion to dismiss or the initial screening mandated by
statute. Merrvfield, 584 F.3d at 924 n.l (Plaintiffs
"pro se status does not relieve him of his
'obligation ... to comply with the fundamental
requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil and Appellate
Procedure.'") (quoting Yang v. Archuleta.
525 F.3d 925, 927 n. 1 (10th Cir.2008)). Those standards are
not onerous, but they have not been met here, except for one
§ 1983 claim. The court finds no basis to excuse
plaintiff from their requirements.
court agrees with Judge Goodwin's analysis of the amended
complaint and adopts the Report and Recommendation.
Accordingly, all claims in the amended complaint are
dismissed without prejudice, except for plaintiffs §
1983 claim against defendants Allbaugh and Shelight based on
plaintiffs alleged confinement by them in an outdoor pen in
extreme cold. The case will proceed on that one remaining
has filed a motion for visit or appointment of counsel. The
motion [Doc. #44] is denied at this time. The requested visit
is inappropriate and the court concludes plaintiffs request
for counsel is premature. Plaintiff may renew his request for
counsel at some later time in this proceeding, at which point
the court will be in a better position to evaluate the merits
of his claim and consider the other factors which are
considered relevant when determining whether counsel should
be appointed to represent a litigant.
magistrate judge's order did not terminate the referral,
the case shall proceed before Magistrate Judge Goodwin ...