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Wilson v. Dr. Clinton

United States District Court, D. Maine

January 10, 2018

KARLA K. WILSON, Plaintiff
v.
DR. CLINTON, et. al, Defendants

          RECOMMENDED DECISION AFTER SCREENING COMPLAINT PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e), 1915A

          JOHN C. NIVISON U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         In this action, Plaintiff Karla K. Wilson, an inmate in the custody of the Maine Department of Corrections, alleges that Defendants Dr. Clinton and Wendi Reibe have deprived Plaintiff of medical care in violation of the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution. (Complaint, ECF No. 1.)

         Plaintiff filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No. 4), which application the Court granted. (ECF No. 5.) In accordance with the in forma pauperis statute, a preliminary review of Plaintiff's complaint is appropriate. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Additionally, Plaintiff's complaint is subject to screening “before docketing, if feasible or … as soon as practicable after docketing, ” because she is “a prisoner seek[ing] redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a).

         Following a review of Plaintiff's complaint, I recommend the Court dismiss Plaintiff's claim of negligence, and permit Plaintiff to proceed on her constitutional claim.

         Standard of Review

         The federal in forma pauperis statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1915, is designed to ensure meaningful access to the federal courts for those persons unable to pay the costs of bringing an action. When a party is proceeding in forma pauperis, however, “the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines, ” inter alia, that the action is “frivolous or malicious” or “fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). “Dismissals [under § 1915] are often made sua sponte prior to the issuance of process, so as to spare prospective defendants the inconvenience and expense of answering such complaints.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324 (1989).

         In addition to the review contemplated by § 1915, Plaintiff's complaint is subject to screening under the Prison Litigation Reform Act because Plaintiff currently is incarcerated and seeks redress from governmental entities and officers. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), (c). The § 1915A screening requires courts to “identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint (1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

         When considering whether a complaint states a claim for which relief may be granted, courts must assume the truth of all well-plead facts and give the plaintiff the benefit of all reasonable inferences therefrom. Ocasio-Hernandez v. Fortuno-Burset, 640 F.3d 1, 12 (1st Cir. 2011). A complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if it does not plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).

         Although a pro se plaintiff's complaint is subject to “less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, ” Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), this is “not to say that pro se plaintiffs are not required to plead basic facts sufficient to state a claim, ” Ferranti v. Moran, 618 F.2d 888, 890 (1st Cir. 1980). To allege a civil action in federal court, it is not enough for a plaintiff merely to allege that a defendant acted unlawfully; a plaintiff must affirmatively allege facts that identify the manner by which the defendant subjected the plaintiff to a harm for which the law affords a remedy. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

         Factual Background

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Dr. Clinton and Wendy Reibe have subjected Plaintiff to cruel and unusual punishment and “neglect.” (Complaint at 3.) According to Plaintiff, she has Meniere's disease, a condition that affects her inner ear and causes vertigo and hearing loss. Plaintiff asserts that certain health care providers at the Maine Correctional Center have supported Plaintiff's request for an outside consultation with an ear, nose and throat specialist, but Dr. Clinton has denied the referral and instead adjusted Plaintiff's medication.[1] (Id. at 4 - 5.) Plaintiff alleges she is losing peripheral vision in her right eye and has experienced hearing loss. (Id. at 4.) Plaintiff also has a dental issue (need for a filling in one tooth and for other teeth to be “fixed”) and has spoken to Dr. Clinton and Wendy Reibe about both issues. (Id. at 5, 7.) Plaintiff maintains that her medications are not addressing her conditions. (Id. at 4.)

         In the form complaint filed by Plaintiff, Plaintiff references a grievance process at the Maine Correctional Center that covers some or all of her claims. (Id. at 6.) Plaintiff further wrote that the “grievance process was done [and] I didn't appeal because I spoke to Wendy Reibe about my dental situation, ” and “I did not appeal Dr. Clinton because I did get slight advocation [sic] by the nurses but I should appeal [b]ut I get frustrating non-answers.” (Id. at 8.)

         Discussion

         A. Plaintiff's ...


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