United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Jacksonville Division
ORDER OF DISMISSAL WITHOUT PREJUDICE
MORALES H OWARD UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Dennis Dean Cooper, an inmate of the Florida penal system,
initiated this action on November 21, 2017, by filing a pro
se Civil Rights Complaint (Complaint; Doc. 1). In the
Complaint, Cooper names the following Defendants: (1) the
Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC); (2) Corizon, Inc.
(Corizon); (3) Dr. L. Melendez, M.D.; (4) Dr. J. Aviles,
M.D.; (5) Dr. R. LaFontant, M.D.; and (6) Centurion of
Florida, LLC (Centurion). He asserts that the Defendants
violated his federal constitutional rights when they failed
to provide timely and proper medical care for his thyroid and
heart ailments. As relief, he seeks compensatory and punitive
damages. He also requests that the Court appoint counsel to
assist him and direct the FDOC to replace his damaged heart.
See Complaint at 19.
Prison Litigation Reform Act requires the Court to dismiss
this case at any time if the Court determines that the action
is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted or seeks monetary relief against a
defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(iii). Additionally, the Court
must read Plaintiff's pro se allegations in a liberal
fashion. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972).
claim is frivolous if it is without arguable merit either in
law or fact." Bilal v. Driver, 251 F.3d 1346,
1349 (11th Cir. 2001) (citing Battle v. Central State
Hosp., 898 F.2d 126, 129 (11th Cir. 1990)). A complaint
filed in forma pauperis which fails to state a claim
under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) is not automatically frivolous.
Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 328 (1989).
Section 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) dismissals should only be ordered
when the legal theories are "indisputably meritless,
" id. at 327, or when the claims rely on
factual allegations which are "clearly baseless."
Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 32 (1992).
"Frivolous claims include claims 'describing
fantastic or delusional scenarios, claims with which federal
district judges are all too familiar.'"
Bilal, 251 F.3d at 1349 (quoting Neitzke,
490 U.S. at 328). Additionally, a claim may be dismissed as
frivolous when it appears that a plaintiff has little or no
chance of success. Id.
state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must
allege that (1) the defendant deprived him of a right secured
under the United States Constitution or federal law, and (2)
such deprivation occurred under color of state law.
Salvato v. Miley, 790 F.3d 1286, 1295 (11th Cir.
2015); Bingham v. Thomas, 654 F.3d 1171, 1175 (11th
Cir. 2011) (per curiam) (citation omitted); Richardson v.
Johnson, 598 F.3d 734, 737 (11th Cir. 2010) (per curiam)
(citations omitted). Moreover, the Eleventh Circuit
"'requires proof of an affirmative causal connection
between the official's acts or omissions and the alleged
constitutional deprivation' in § 1983 cases."
Rodriguez v. Sec'y, Dep't of Corr., 508 F.3d
611, 625 (11th Cir. 2007) (quoting Zatler v.
Wainwright, 802 F.2d 397, 401 (11th Cir. 1986)). More
than conclusory and vague allegations are required to state a
cause of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See L.S.T.,
Inc., v. Crow, 49 F.3d 679, 684 (11th Cir. 1995) (per
curiam); Fullman, 739 F.2d 553, 556-57 (11th Cir.
1984). As such, "'conclusory allegations,
unwarranted deductions of facts, or legal conclusions
masquerading as facts will not prevent dismissal.'"
Rehberger v. Henry Cty., Ga., 577 Fed.Appx. 937, 938
(11th Cir. 2014) (per curiam) (citation omitted). In the
absence of well-pled facts suggesting a federal
constitutional deprivation or violation of a federal right,
Plaintiff cannot sustain a cause of action against the
extent Cooper asserts any claims against the FDOC, state and
governmental entities that are considered "arms of the
state" are not "persons" subject to liability
for purposes of § l983 action. Will v. Michigan
Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 70 (1989);
see Mellen v. Florida, No. 3:13-cv-1233-J-34PDB,
2014 WL 5093885, at *7 (M.D. Fla. Oct. 9, 2014)
(unpublished). The FDOC is an arm of the executive branch of
state government, see Fla. Stat. § 20.315, and
thus is not a person for purposes of § l983 litigation.
Therefore, the FDOC is not a person subject to liability
under § l983.
describes the FDOC's provision of medical care for his
thyroid and heart ailments during a seven-month period from
August 2013 through March 2014. See Complaint at
4-18. Cooper asserts that his August 1, 2013 blood test
results showed thyroid dysfunction, which started his
"ordeal." Id. at 4, 5. In his Complaint,
Cooper provides the following description of the events
relating to his thyroid and heart ailments. On September 10,
2013, Dr. Rodriguez ordered that Cooper see an
endocrinologist. Cooper saw Dr. Roura on October 2nd. Dr.
Roura ordered radiation treatment on October 2nd and
reordered the treatment on November 6th. Radiation treatment
was administered on November 6th, and Cooper was given a
ninety-day no-work pass. On December 30, 2013, Cooper saw Dr.
Melendez in the urgent care clinic, at which time Dr.
Melendez noted Cooper's hormonal imbalance, and decreased
his medication. However, Dr. Melendez neither prescribed
additional medication nor sent Cooper for a follow-up
appointment with an endocrinologist. On or about January
25-26, 2014, Cooper declared a medical emergency due to rapid
heart beats and shortness of breath. The electrocardiogram
(EKG) results were abnormal, and blood work was ordered. Dr.
Aviles examined Cooper on January 28, 2014. He noted
Cooper's hyperthyroidism, and changed his medications. On
or about February 3-12, 2014, Dr. LaFontant noted the
abnormal EKG results and hyperthyroidism and increased
Cooper's medication. But, neither Dr. Aviles nor Dr.
LaFontant referred Cooper to an endocrinologist. In
mid-February, Drs. Aviles, Melendez, and LaFontant saw Cooper
in the urgent care clinic at Union Correctional Institution
(UCI), but "continued to do nothing." In
mid-February, Cooper filed a grievance with an Assistant
Warden and asked for help. On or about February 19-24, Dr.
Roura corrected "his misdiagnosis, " determined
that the hormonal imbalance was hypothyroidism, not
hyperthyroidism, and changed Cooper's medication. Cooper
waited over three days for his new medication. When Cooper
suffered cardiac arrest on February 24, 2014, medical
providers at Memorial Medical Center in Jacksonville,
Florida, implanted a defibrillator. Upon Cooper's March
7th discharge, Dr. Chang, a primary care physician, ordered a
follow-up with an endocrinologist. Cooper asserts that UCI
doctors continue to monitor his thyroid and heart ailments
and change his medications. Nevertheless, he asserts that he
does not trust UCI medical providers, and therefore wants a
follow-up consultation with a qualified endocrinologist.
extent Cooper asserts that the Defendants violated his Eighth
Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment,
the Eleventh Circuit has explained the requirements for an
Eighth Amendment violation.
"The Constitution does not mandate comfortable prisons,
but neither does it permit inhumane ones . . . ."
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 832, 114 S.Ct. at 1976 (internal
quotation and citation omitted). Thus, in its prohibition of
"cruel and unusual punishments, " the Eighth
Amendment requires that prison officials provide humane
conditions of confinement. Id. However, as noted
above, only those conditions which objectively amount to an
"extreme deprivation" violating contemporary
standards of decency are subject to Eighth Amendment
scrutiny. Hudson, 503 U.S. at 8-9, 112 S.Ct. at
1000. Furthermore, it is only a prison
official's subjective deliberate indifference to the
substantial risk of serious harm caused by such conditions
that gives rise to an Eighth Amendment violation.
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 828, 114 S.Ct. at 1974
(quotation and citation omitted); Wilson, 501 U.S.
at 303, 111 S.Ct. at 2327.
Thomas v. Bryant, 614 F.3d 1288, 1306-07 (11th Cir.
show that a prison official acted with deliberate
indifference to serious medical needs, a plaintiff must
satisfy both an objective and a subjective inquiry."
Brown v. Johnson, 387 F.3d 1344, 1351 (11th Cir.
2004) (quoting Farrow v. West, 320 F.3d 1235, 1243
(11th Cir. 2003)). First, the plaintiff must satisfy the
objective component by showing that he had a serious medical
need. Goebert v. Lee Cty., 510 F.3d 1312, 1326 (11th
"A serious medical need is considered 'one that has
been diagnosed by a physician as mandating treatment or one
that is so obvious that even a lay person would easily
recognize the necessity for a doctor's
attention.'" Id. (citing Hill v. Dekalb
Reg'l Youth Det. Ctr., 40 F.3d 1176, 1187 (11th Cir.
1994)). In either case, "the medical need must be one
that, if left unattended, pos[es] a substantial risk of
serious harm." Id. (citation and internal
quotations marks omitted).
Brown, 387 F.3d at 1351.
the plaintiff must satisfy the subjective component, which
requires the plaintiff to "allege that the prison
official, at a minimum, acted with a state of mind that
constituted deliberate indifference."
Richardson, 598 F.3d at 737 (setting forth the three
components of deliberate indifference as "(1) subjective
knowledge of a risk of serious harm; (2) disregard of that