United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Ocala Division
MORALES HOWARD UNITED SLATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Ezekiel Edmonds, an inmate incarcerated at the Federal
Correctional Complex (FCC) in Coleman, Florida, initiated
this action on October 10, 2017, by filing a pro se
“Request for Relief Due to Deliberate Indifference by
Medical in Not Providing Proper Medical Care (Doc.
In accordance with the Court's January 10, 2018 Order
(Doc. 8), Edmonds filed an Amended Complaint (AC; Doc. 9) on
February 2, 2018. In the AC, he asserts claims pursuant to
Bivens against the FCC medical department,
Richard Li, M.D.,  and Warden Manuel Ocasio. He alleges that
Defendants violated his federal constitutional rights when
they denied him adequate medical care for a broken foot. As
relief, he requests monetary damages.
matter is before the Court on Defendants Ocasio and Li's
Motion to Dismiss (Motion; Doc. 28) with exhibits (Docs. 28-1
through 28-11). The Court advised Edmonds that granting a
motion to dismiss would be an adjudication of the case that
could foreclose subsequent litigation on the matter and gave
him an opportunity to respond. See Order (Doc. 22).
Edmonds filed a response in opposition to the
Motion. See Plaintiff's Response to
Motion to Dismiss Complaint (Response; Doc. 32). Thus, the
Motion is ripe for review.
the underlying facts, Edmonds asserts that, in May 2014, he
kicked a metal ladder and broke his foot while sleeping in
his bunk. See AC at 4-5. He claims that Dr. Li, a
Bureau of Prisons employee and “the leading [d]octor in
the [m]edical [d]epartment, ” was deliberately
indifferent to his serious medical needs. Id. at
5-6. He maintains that “no treatment has been given
since the incident, except aspirin and x-rays.”
Id. at 7. He states that, on the morning of the
incident, he informed his supervisor and went to sick call.
See id. at 5. According to Edmonds, medical
personnel told him that there was “nothing wrong”
and issued pills. Id. He avers that he complained
and reported to sick call for months, “but was told
they could find nothing wrong.” Id. He alleges
that when medical staff suggested it was a diabetic-related
injury, he explained that he had kicked a metal ladder and
that “there was something very wrong with [his]
feet.” Id. According to Edmonds, medical
personnel ordered x-rays, see id. at 6, and after a
“quick examination” on January 12, 2015, they
advised him that there was “nothing wrong, ”
id. at 5. He asserts that the medical staff gave him
“a pain killer even years after the incident, ”
however, the medical department never corrected the injury.
Id. He believes that his foot “healed
improperly, ” id. at 6, which has caused him
to suffer with arthritis, limited mobility, diabetic
complications, and an inability to perform physical duties,
see id. at 6-7.
Motion to Dismiss Standard
ruling on a motion to dismiss, the Court must accept the
factual allegations set forth in the complaint as true.
See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009);
Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 508 n.1
(2002); see also Lotierzo v. Woman's World Med. Ctr.,
Inc., 278 F.3d 1180, 1182 (11th Cir. 2002). In addition,
all reasonable inferences should be drawn in favor of the
plaintiff. See Randall v. Scott, 610 F.3d 701, 705
(11th Cir. 2010). Nonetheless, the plaintiff must still meet
some minimal pleading requirements. Jackson v. Bellsouth
Telecomm., 372 F.3d 1250, 1262 63 (11th Cir. 2004)
(citations omitted). Indeed, while “[s]pecific facts
are not necessary[, ]” the complaint should
“‘give the defendant fair notice of what the . .
. claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'”
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (per
curiam) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Further, the plaintiff must allege
“enough facts to state a claim that is plausible on its
face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. “A
claim has facial plausibility when the pleaded factual
content allows the court to draw the reasonable inference
that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).
“plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of
his entitlement to relief requires more than labels and
conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a
cause of action will not do[.]” Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555 (internal quotations omitted); see also
Jackson, 372 F.3d at 1262 (explaining that
“conclusory allegations, unwarranted deductions of
facts or legal conclusions masquerading as facts will not
prevent dismissal”) (internal citation and quotations
omitted). Indeed, “the tenet that a court must accept
as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is
inapplicable to legal conclusions[, ]” which simply
“are not entitled to [an] assumption of truth.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 680. Thus, in ruling on a
motion to dismiss, the Court must determine whether the
complaint contains “sufficient factual matter, accepted
as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible
on its face[.]'” Id. at 678 (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). And, while “[p]ro
se pleadings are held to a less stringent standard than
pleadings drafted by attorneys and will, therefore, be
liberally construed, ” Tannenbaum v. United
States, 148 F.3d 1262, 1263 (11th Cir. 1998),
“‘this leniency does not give the court a license
to serve as de facto counsel for a party or to rewrite an
otherwise deficient pleading in order to sustain an
action.'” Alford v. Consol. Gov't of
Columbus, Ga., 438 Fed.Appx. 837, 839 (11th Cir.
2011)(quoting GJR Invs., Inc. v. Cty. of
Escambia, Fla., 132 F.3d 1359, 1369 (11th Cir. 1998)
(internal citation omitted), overruled in part on other
grounds as recognized in Randall, 610 F.3d at 706).
Summary of the Arguments
Motion, counsel argues that the claims against both Defendant
Ocasio and Defendant Li should be dismissed. Notably, the
Court dismissed Edmonds' claims against Ocasio on
February 21, 2018. See Order (Doc. 10). Therefore,
the Court will consider the arguments raised in the Motion
only as they relate to Defendant Li. Defendant Li requests
dismissal of Edmonds' claims against him because Edmonds
failed to exhaust his administrative remedies, as required by
the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), before filing the
instant Bivens lawsuit. See Motion at 5-8.
Next, he argues that Edmonds fails to state plausible Eighth
Amendment claims against him, see id. at 12-14, and
that he is entitled to qualified immunity, see id.
at 8-11. Defendant Li also asserts that he is entitled to
sovereign immunity as to Edmonds' claims for monetary
damages against him in his official capacity. See
id. at 15-16. In his Response, Edmonds maintains that he
has exhausted his administrative remedies, see
Response at 2, 5, and states plausible Eighth Amendment
claims, see id. at 3-6.
Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies
PLRA requires an inmate wishing to challenge prison
conditions to first exhaust all available administrative
remedies before filing an action under Bivens.
See 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a); see Alexander
v. Hawk, 159 F.3d 1321, 1324 (11th Cir. 1998) (stating
that “section 1997e(a) by its own terms clearly applies
to [plaintiff]'s Bivens action). Nevertheless, a
prisoner such as Edmonds is not required to plead exhaustion.
See Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 216 (2007).
Instead, the United States Supreme Court has recognized
“failure to exhaust is an affirmative defense under the
PLRA[.]” Id. Notably, exhaustion of available
administrative remedies is “a precondition to an
adjudication on the merits” and is mandatory under the
PLRA. Bryant v. Rich, 530 F.3d 1368, 1374 (11th Cir.
2008). Not only is there an exhaustion requirement,
“the PLRA exhaustion requirement requires proper
exhaustion.” Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 93
Because exhaustion requirements are designed to deal with
parties who do not want to exhaust, administrative law
creates an incentive for these parties to do what they would
otherwise prefer not to do, namely, to give the agency a fair
and full opportunity to adjudicate their claims.
Administrative law does this by requiring proper exhaustion
of administrative remedies, which “means using all
steps that the agency holds out, and doing so properly (so
that the agency addresses the issues on the merits).”
Pozo,  286 F.3d, at 1024. . . .
Woodford, 548 U.S. at 90. And, “[p]roper
exhaustion demands compliance with an agency's deadlines
and other critical procedural rules . . . .”
Id. As such, the United States Supreme Court has
Courts may not engraft an unwritten “special
circumstances” exception onto the PLRA's exhaustion
requirement. The only limit to § 1997e(a)'s mandate
is the one baked into its text: An inmate need exhaust only