United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
SUZANNE MITCHELL, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
a pro se Oklahoma inmate housed at the Lawton Correctional
Facility (LCF), filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
alleging violations of his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment
rights. Doc. 1. Plaintiff names as defendants Correct Care
Solutions, which he describes in the caption as “G.E.O.
Group Ink's Medicl Provider, ” “Corporate
G.E.O., ” and Mr. Honaker. Id. at 2-3. Chief
United States District Judge Timothy D. DeGiusti has referred
the matter to the undersigned Magistrate Judge for
proceedings consistent with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B),
(C). Doc. 4. Because Plaintiff fails to state any cognizable
claims under § 1983, the undersigned recommends the
Court dismiss the complaint in its entirety without prejudice
and deny Plaintiff's “Order of Motion.” Doc.
law requires the Court to screen complaints filed by
prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or an
officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss the complaint, or any
portion of the complaint, if it is “frivolous,
malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted” or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who
is immune from such relief. Id. §§
state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the
violation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of
the United States, and must show that the alleged deprivation
was committed by a person acting under color of state
law.” West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).
The complaint must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to “state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “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.”
Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556);
see also Gee v. Pacheco, 627 F.3d 1178, 1184 (10th
Cir. 2010). “[T]he tenet that a court must accept as
true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is
inapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare recitals of the
elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements, do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
pro se litigant's pleadings are to be construed liberally
and held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings
drafted by lawyers.” Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d
1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991); see Haines v. Kerner,
404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972) (per curiam). The Court, however,
may not serve as Plaintiff's advocate, creating arguments
on his behalf. See Yang v. Archuleta, 525 F.3d 925,
927 n.1 (10th Cir. 2008).
first claim, Plaintiff alleges “both G.E.O. and Correct
Care Solutions violated [his] 8th Amendment rights to
be free from cruel and the unusual punishment.” Doc. 1,
at 2. He explains he learned from an “O.U.
Center Heart speclist” on July 22, 2019 that he had
been prescribed the “wrong” heart medication.
Id. He faults “both G.E.O. and Correct Care
Solutions” for “keeping” him on the
“heart damaging pills that were prescribed by O.D.
Jeffery, Trout O.D.” for “more than eighteen
months.” Id. Additionally, he states he
“has requested his heart medications (Nitro Heart
Pills) multiple times with no relief and suffers.”
Id. He asks this Court to cite Correct Care
Solutions for “inadequate medical care at L.C.F., and
world-wide” and to provide him “needed
relief” by correcting “this issue.”
second claim, Plaintiff alleges “G.E.O. and C.C.S. both
violated his Fourteenth Amendment rights to due process by
continuously keeping [his] medications from him” which
endangers his heart and by “allowing the transport
C/O's to have his property packed-up” when he was
medically transported or moved which has caused him to lose
“alot” of his property and his “sacred
items.” Id. at 2-3. He states he is
“embarrassed by the treatment of staff & the C.C.S.
nurses” because “they know better or should be
trained better.” Id. at 2. For this lack of
training he faults “Mr. Honaker” who he states is
the “latest hire for C.C.S.” and “does not
have the knowledge to handle his position.”
Defendants Correct Care Solutions' and G.E.O.'s
proper capacity for suit.
names two private entities that he alleges run the private
prison where the State of Oklahoma houses him and provide
medical care to him and the other inmates. Doc. 1, at 1.
“Contracting out prison medical care does not relieve
the State of its constitutional duty to provide adequate
medical treatment to those in its custody, and it does not
deprive the State's prisoners of the means to vindicate
their Eighth Amendment rights.” West v.
Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 56 (1988)). And private persons or
groups “to whom the state delegates its penological
functions, which include the custody and supervision of
prisoners, ” can be held liable for Constitutional
violations. Smith v. Cochran, 339 F.3d 1205, 1215-16
(10th Cir. 2003). A private entity, however, cannot be held
vicariously liable for its employee's alleged
constitutional violations under § 1983. See Dubbs v.
Head Start, Inc., 336 F.3d 1194, 1216 (10th Cir. 2003)
(“[A] private actor ‘cannot be held liable solely
because it employs a tortfeasor-or, in other words . . .
cannot be held liable under § 1983 on a respondeat
superior theory.'” (quoting Monell v. Dep't
of Soc. Servs. of City of N.Y., 436 U.S. 658, 691
(1978))); See also Bd. of Cty. Comm'rs v. Brown,
520 U.S. 397, 403 (1997) (“We have consistently refused
to hold municipalities liable under a theory of respondeat
superior.”). Instead, like a municipality, liability
against a private entity serving in the capacity of a
traditional state actor is limited to “action for which
the [private entity] is actually responsible.”
Pembaur v. City of Cincinnati, 475 U.S. 469, 479
(1986); see Dubbs, 336 F.3d at 1216 (“Although
the Supreme Court's interpretation of § 1983 in
Monell applied to municipal governments and not to
private entities acting under color of state law, caselaw
from this and other circuits has extended the Monell
doctrine to private § 1983 defendants.”).
to establish liability under § 1983, “a plaintiff
must show: 1) the existence of a . . . policy or custom[;]
and 2) a direct causal link between the policy or custom and
the injury alleged.” Graves v. Thomas, 450
F.3d 1215, 1218 (10th Cir. 2006) (citing City of Canton,
Ohio v. Harris, 489 U.S. 378, 385 (1989)); see
Schneider v. City of Grand Junction Police Dep't,
717 F.3d 760, 770 (10th Cir. 2013) (“‘[I]t is
when execution of a government's policy or custom,
whether made by its lawmakers or by those whose edicts or
acts may fairly be said to represent official policy,
inflicts the injury that the government as an entity is
responsible under § 1983.'” (quoting
Monell, 436 U.S. at 694)). Dismissal is appropriate
when a plaintiff fails to make this link. See Sherman v.
Klenke, 653 Fed.Appx. 580, 592 (10th Cir. 2016)
(“Because Mr. Sherman has failed to identify any custom
or practice of CHP that has a direct causal link to the
alleged constitutional violations, dismissal of this claim
claims both “C.C.S. and Corporate (G.E.O.)” have
endangered his “safty, health, and well-being” by
“allowing C.C.S. staff to care for his medical
needs.” Doc. 1, at 2. He further alleges
“Defendants G.E.O. and C.C.S” violated his due
process rights by keeping his medications from him and
allowing the “transport C/O's” to lose his
property. Id. at 3. What he fails to do is either
identify any “staff” member whose actions
endangered his health or allege any actions taken against him
were made pursuant to a policy or custom which violated his
rights. Because Plaintiff fails to identify an official
custom or policy tying either Correct Care Solutions or
G.E.O. to his alleged constitutional injuries, he fails to
state a cognizable claim against these Defendants.
Graves, 450 F.3d at 1218. As a result,
Plaintiff's claims against these Defendants should be
dismissed without prejudice. Sherman, 653 Fed.Appx.
Plaintiff's failure to state a claim on any of his
addition, to dismissing the private entities from this suit,
the Court should also find Plaintiff has failed to state a
claim for relief on any of his allegations against any of the
Defendants. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b) (On
screening, “the court shall identify cognizable claims
or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint,
” if it “fails to state a claim upon which relief
may be granted.”).