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Hoffmann v. McCray

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Jacksonville Division

October 31, 2019

ANTHONY MCCRAY, et al., Defendants.



         I. Status

         Plaintiff, Chester R. Hoffmann, is proceeding on a pro se Amended Civil Rights Complaint (Doc. 9; Am. Compl.) against Chad Gaylord and others. Plaintiff alleges Defendant Gaylord, a prison nurse, was deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Am. Compl. at 7, 9. Before the Court is Defendant Gaylord's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 89; Motion). Plaintiff has responded (Doc. 99; Resp.). Accordingly, the motion is ripe for this Court's review.

         II. Defendant's Motion & Standard of Review

         Defendant Gaylord seeks dismissal with prejudice, asserting the following defenses: failure to exhaust administrative remedies; failure to state a claim; qualified immunity; Eleventh Amendment immunity; and failure to allege physical injuries. See Motion at 1.

         “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); see also Lotierzo v. Woman's World Med. Ctr., Inc., 278 F.3d 1180, 1182 (11th Cir. 2002). “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.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. A plaintiff should allege enough facts “to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence” supporting the plaintiff's claims. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007). In assessing the sufficiency of a complaint, all reasonable inferences should be drawn in favor of the plaintiff. See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. In addition, when a plaintiff proceeds pro se, the court must liberally construe the allegations. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972); Bingham v. Thomas, 654 F.3d 1171, 1175 (11th Cir. 2011).

         III. Complaint Allegations

         In his Complaint, Plaintiff describes two instances of excessive force, which occurred at Hamilton Correctional Institution (HCI) on October 17, 2016, involving other Defendants. Am. Compl. at 7. Defendant Gaylord did not participate in either force incident. Id. at 9, 11-12. After the force incidents, which included the use of chemical spray, officers brought Plaintiff for a decontamination shower. Id. at 12. When Plaintiff completed his shower, officers placed a spit shield over Plaintiff's head. Id. Plaintiff alleges the officers did so to “hide and cover-up [his] injuries.” Id.

         Before officers brought Plaintiff inside the medical evaluation room, Plaintiff alleges one of them threatened him by saying, “how you are treated here depends on what you say and do.” Id. Plaintiff alleges “the nurse [Gaylord] did not document all [his] injuries and did not remove the [spit shield] to check the face for injuries.” Id.[1] Plaintiff asserts officers (not Defendant Gaylord) ignored his subsequent requests to see the doctor. Id. at 13.

         As a result of the force incidents, Plaintiff asserts he suffered a concussion, temporary blindness, respiratory problems, a pulled muscle, sore fingers, lumps to his head, a “busted nose, ” and black eyes. Id. at 15.

         IV. Legal Analysis & Conclusions of Law

         A. Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies

         Defendant Gaylord asserts Plaintiff did not exhaust his administrative remedies because Plaintiff did not timely file his grievances, he addressed multiple issues in the grievances he filed, and he did not grieve a failure to provide medical care against Defendant Gaylord. See Motion at 5. In response, Plaintiff contends he filed an emergency grievance directly with the Secretary of the Florida Department of Corrections (DOC), permitting him to bypass the informal and formal grievance steps. See Resp. at 3. Plaintiff asserts his grievance was denied. Id.

         The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) requires exhaustion of available administrative remedies before a prisoner may initiate a § 1983 action with respect to prison conditions. See 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a) (“No action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under section 1983 . . . until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted.”). Exhaustion of available administrative remedies is “a precondition to an adjudication on the merits.” Bryant v. Rich,530 F.3d 1368, 1374 (11th Cir. 2008). See also Jones v. Bock,549 U.S. 199, 211 (2007). Not only is there a recognized exhaustion requirement, “the PLRA . . . requires proper exhaustion” as set forth in applicable administrative rules and ...

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