United States District Court, D. Maine
ORDER ON DEFENDANT WAKEEN'S MOTION FOR JUDGMENT
ON THE PLEADINGS
Torresen, United States District Judge
Defendant Barbara Wakeen, a dietician at the Maine State
Prison, filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings (ECF No.
14) pursuant to Rule 12(c). Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). The Plaintiff
did not object. For the reasons stated below, I grant
Defendant Wakeen's motion.
Plaintiff's Complaint alleges that since 2013, he has
suffered injury resulting, in part, from the failure or
refusal of personnel at the Maine State Prison to ensure that
he received a high-fiber diet to address to his medical
condition. Compl. ¶¶ 13-37 (ECF No. 1).
Specifically, the Plaintiff alleges that in 2014 a consulting
gastroenterologist diagnosed him with diverticulitis and
recommended that he be on a high-fiber diet. Compl. ¶
24. The doctors at the Maine State Prison disagreed with the
seriousness of the Plaintiff's condition and the
gastroenterologist's recommendation. Compl. ¶¶
25-26. In February 2016, the Plaintiff was taken to emergency
room with an infection as a result of his continuing
digestive problems. Compl. ¶ 23. Thereafter, the
Plaintiff repeatedly asked the prison's doctors to order
a high-fiber diet for him, but they refused. Compl.
¶¶ 27-28. In May 2016, the Plaintiff was admitted
to the infirmary so the prison's doctors could assess his
dietary needs, but they did a poor job of conducting that
assessment. Compl. ¶¶ 29-30. The prison doctors
have since tried to help the Plaintiff get an appropriate
diet, but various non-medical correctional personnel have
deliberately interfered with those efforts. Compl.
¶¶ 35-36. The Plaintiff continues to be given food
that makes him sick. Compl. ¶¶ 31, 37.
Judgment on the Pleadings Standard
motion for judgment on the pleadings under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(c), the Court employs the same standard as
a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted under Rule 12(b)(6). Perez-Acevedo
v. Rivero-Cubano, 520 F.3d 26, 29 (1st Cir. 2008).
“ ‘Because [a Rule 12(c)] motion calls for an
assessment of the merits of the case at an embryonic stage,
the court must view the facts contained in the pleadings in
the light most favorable to the nonmovant and draw all
reasonable inferences therefrom.' ” Id.
(quoting R.G. Fin. Corp. v. Vergara-Nunez, 446 F.3d
178, 182 (1st Cir. 2006)). To survive a 12(c) motion, the
complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, plausibly to give rise to an entitlement to relief.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
Although a Complaint “does not need detailed factual
allegations, ” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007), Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure “demands more than an unadorned,
the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation, ”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
No Allegations Against Defendant Wakeen
only claim the Plaintiff asserts against Wakeen is brought
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deliberate indifference to
his serious medical need for a special diet. Because
vicarious liability is inapplicable to § 1983 claims, a
plaintiff must plead that each government official has
violated the Constitution. Leavitt v. Correctional
Medical Services, Inc., 645 F.3d 484, 502 (1st Cir.
2011). To successfully state an Eighth Amendment claim based
on inadequate medical care, a plaintiff must plead: (1) that
the deprivation of care was objectively, sufficiently
serious, and (2) that the relevant official acted with
deliberate indifference to an inmate's health or safety.
Leavitt, 645 F.3d at 497; Ruiz-Rosa v.
Rullan, 485 F.3d 150, 156 (1st Cir. 2007) (deliberate
indifference may be shown by the denial of needed care as
punishment or by decisions about medical care made recklessly
with actual knowledge of impending harm that is easily
only factual allegation regarding Wakeen in the Complaint is
that she is a dietician at the prison. Compl. ¶ 12.
The Complaint does not allege that Wakeen- a
non-physician-had authority to order a special medical diet
or had the ability to make independent decisions about the
Plaintiff's treatment. Moreover, Wakeen is not alleged to
be one of the Defendants who interfered with the
implementation of the prison physicians' dietary orders.
The Complaint contains no specific factual allegations that
Wakeen committed any act, or that she failed to act, in a way
that impacted the Plaintiff-let alone any allegation that
would suggest Wakeen acted with deliberate indifference. The
Plaintiff's complaint does not state an Eighth Amendment
claim for relief against Wakeen.
reasons stated above, the Court GRANTS the
Defendant Wakeen's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings
on Count VII.