United States District Court, M.D. Florida
J. DAVIS, United States District Judge
Robert Gross, an inmate of the Florida penal system,
initiated this action on April 30, 2018, by filing a pro se
Civil Rights Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983
(Doc. 1; Complaint) and a motion to proceed in forma
pauperis (Doc. 2). Plaintiff names twenty-two Defendants
related to events that he claims arose while he was housed at
Jefferson Correctional Institution (JCI), located in
Monticello, Florida, which sits in the Northern District of
Florida. See Complaint at 5, 8. Plaintiff asserts he
suffered injuries to his head and hands following an attack
by another inmate. Id. at 15. Following the attack,
Plaintiff alleges, Defendants provided inadequate medical
care while he was housed at JCI, Columbia Correctional
Institution (CCI), and Lake Butler Reception and Medical
Center (RMC). Id. at 14-22. As relief,
Plaintiff seeks monetary damages and an apology from the
Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC). Id. at 7.
Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) requires a district court
to dismiss a complaint 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). With respect to whether
a complaint “fails to state a claim on which relief may
be granted, ” § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) mirrors the
language of Rule 12(b)(6), Federal Rules of Civil Procedure,
so courts apply the same standard in both contexts.
Mitchell v. Farcass, 112 F.3d 1483, 1490 (11th Cir.
1997); see also Alba v. Montford, 517 F.3d 1249,
1252 (11th Cir. 2008). “To survive a motion to dismiss,
a 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) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “Labels and
conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action” that amount to
“naked assertions” will not do. Id.
(quotations, alteration, and citation omitted).
a complaint must “contain either direct or inferential
allegations respecting all the material elements necessary to
sustain a recovery under some viable legal theory.”
Roe v. Aware Woman Ctr. for Choice, Inc., 253 F.3d
678, 683 (11th Cir. 2001) (quotations and citations omitted).
In reviewing a pro se plaintiff's pleadings, a court must
liberally construe the plaintiff's allegations. See
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972);
Bingham v. Thomas, 654 F.3d 1171, 1175 (11th Cir.
2011). However, the duty of a court to construe pro se
pleadings liberally does not require the court to serve as
“de facto counsel” for the plaintiff.
Freeman v. Sec'y, Dept. of Corr., 679 Fed.Appx.
982, 982 (11th Cir. 2017) (citing GJR Invs., Inc. v. Cty.
of Escambia, 132 F.3d 1359, 1369 (11th Cir. 1998)).
Complaint is due to be dismissed pursuant to this Court's
screening obligation under the PLRA because he attempts to
raise claims against Defendants located in the Northern
District, and he has failed to “state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.” See Ashcroft,
556 U.S. at 678. First, with respect to Defendants located in
the Northern District, arising out of conduct that occurred
while Plaintiff was housed at JCI, Plaintiff should file a
civil rights complaint in that forum. Thus, the following
Defendants are due to be dismissed subject to Plaintiff's
right to pursue a claim against them in the Northern District
of Florida: Warden Hayden, A. Varona, P. Chambers, Carol
Dallas, T. King, Joe Kacur, Graham, Tracy,  Sgt. Gallon,
Deputy Smith. See 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(1)-(3)
(providing that “a civil action may be brought in (1) a
judicial district in which any defendant resides . . . [or]
(2) a judicial district in which a substantial part of the
events or omissions giving rise to the claim
as to the remaining Defendants, Plaintiff has failed to state
a claim for relief. To 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, 654 F.3d at 1175. 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 v. Graddick, 739 F.2d 553, 556-57
(11th Cir. 1984). In the absence of a federal constitutional
deprivation or violation of a federal right, a plaintiff
cannot sustain a cause of action.
asserts that Defendants violated the Eighth and Fourteenth
Amendments. See Complaint at 3. However, his
allegations against each Defendant, while not only vague and
conclusory, do not assert constitutional violations. As to
the Defendants who allegedly engaged in offending conduct at
RMC or CCI, Plaintiff appears to name them based on three
discrete theories of liability: those who treated him, or
assisted in treating him, following the inmate attack at JCI;
those who hold supervisory positions over medical providers
or employees of the FDOC; and those who received, responded
to, or interfered with his grievances.
names six Defendants who either provided medical treatment or
assisted in the provision of medical treatment while he was
housed at RMC or CCI: J. Pinero; Nurse Dawson; Polmen, P.T.;
J. Baptiste, M.D.; Nutt, M.D., CCI-Annex; and G. Pedroza,
M.D., RMC. Though Plaintiff's claims are unclear, at most
they amount to an assertion of medical negligence or a
disagreement over the nature of treatment provided.
Allegations of medical negligence are not cognizable as an
Eighth Amendment violation to support a claim under §
1983. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 105-06 (1976).
[A] complaint that a physician has been negligent in
diagnosing or treating a medical condition does not state a
valid claim of medical mistreatment under the Eighth
Amendment. Medical malpractice does not become a
constitutional violation merely because the victim is a
prisoner. In order to state a cognizable claim, a prisoner
must allege acts or omissions sufficiently harmful to
evidence deliberate indifference to serious medical needs. It
is only such indifference that can offend “evolving
standards of decency” in violation of the Eighth
Id. at 106. See also Harris v. Thigpen, 941
F.2d 1495, 1505 (11th Cir. 1991) (“Medical treatment
violates the eighth amendment only when it is ‘so
grossly incompetent, inadequate, or excessive as to shock the
conscience or to be intolerable to fundamental
fairness.'”). A number of the Defendants whom
Plaintiff names in their role as medical providers appear to
be named only to establish them as witnesses who can verify
that he suffered injuries necessitating treatment. In fact,
Plaintiff's assertions read more like a chronicle of his
medical history related to the injuries he sustained in the
inmate attack; he does not attribute to any of the medical
providers conduct that rises to the level of deliberate
indifference to a serious risk of harm. For example,
Plaintiff states that Dr. Pinero “dropped the
ball” by recording the wrong date or conflicting dates
on a medical report, Dr. Baptiste ordered wrist supports for
his hands, Dr. Nutt informed him that a lack of “proper
care of his original injuries” caused him to develop carpal
tunnel syndrome, and Dr. Pedroza treated him after the
removal of his cast. See Complaint at 17, 21-22.
Plaintiff does not allege any wrongdoing on the part of these
medical providers. He does not allege, for example, that
these medical providers refused to treat him or rendered
grossly incompetent or inadequate care. The closest Plaintiff
comes to asserting any wrongdoing related to his medical
treatment at RMC or CCI is with respect to Dawson and Polmen.
Plaintiff asserts that Nurse Dawson refused to refer him to a
specialist, and that Polmen discontinued physical therapy due
to his “poor progress.” Id. at 18. Even
reading Plaintiff's allegations liberally, as this Court
must do, he does not state a cognizable Eighth Amendment
claim. At most, he asserts that he disagrees with Dawson and
Polmen's opinions or decisions related to his medical
care and course of treatment. Alleging a “simple
difference in medical opinion, ” however, does not
state a deliberate indifference claim. Waldrop v.
Evans, 871 F.2d 1030, 1033 (11th Cir. 2007). Plaintiff
does not allege an outright denial of medical care or a
refusal to treat him. In fact, his allegations and supporting
exhibits detail that he has received extensive medical
treatment, while at three different institutions, including
physical therapy. See Complaint; Doc. 1-2 at 1-25.
Thus, he has failed to state a claim for relief against the
Defendants named with respect to the provision of medical
care at RMC and CCI, and they are due to be dismissed.
names three Defendants solely in their roles as supervisors:
Julie Jones; Corizon; and Centurion. As a preliminary matter, to
the extent Plaintiff treated with medical staff employed by
Corizon while he was housed at JCI, his claim should be
raised in the Northern District. However, since Plaintiff
names Corizon only with respect to its role as a supervisory
entity over “medical staff, ” and because some
medical providers employed by Corizon treated Plaintiff at
CCI, Corizon will be addressed here. Plaintiff asserts that
he is dissatisfied that the Corizon doctor only provided
braces for his hands, which he feels does not meet
“proper care, ” and he believes the
“medical staff” provided negligent medical care
for the injuries he sustained in the inmate attack.
See Complaint at 14. Similarly, Plaintiff alleges
Centurion's medical staff neglected his medical condition
while he was housed at CCI, and he further alleges that
Centurion has engaged in “fraud” ...