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Todd Krantz v. Jan Boeckman; Misty Johnson

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT DISTRICT OF SOUTH DAKOTA SOUTHERN DIVISION


February 3, 2012

TODD KRANTZ,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
JAN BOECKMAN; MISTY JOHNSON, MEDICAL STAFF, MIKE DURFEE STATE PRISON; ROBERT DOOLEY; DR. GILCREST, MEDICAL STAFF, MIKE DURFEE STATE PRISON; AND DENNIS KAEMINGK, DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Karen E. Schreier Chief Judge

ORDER GRANTING LEAVE TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS AND DISMISSING CASE

Plaintiff, Todd Krantz, moves for leave to proceed in forma pauperis in his pro se lawsuit against defendants. Krantz is incarcerated at the Yankton Trustee Unit in Yankton, South Dakota. Krantz filed a civil rights lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that defendants have violated the Eighth Amendment's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment because they refuse to prescribe him Enbrel for his psoriasis.

The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), 28 U.S.C. § 1915, requires prisoners to make an initial partial filing payment where possible, even if in forma pauperis status is sought. When an inmate seeks in forma pauperis status, the only issue is whether the inmate pays the entire fee at the initiation of the proceedings or over a period of time under an installment plan. Henderson v. Norris, 129 F.3d 481, 483 (8th Cir. 1997) (internal citations omitted). Determination of the partial filing fee is calculated according to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1), which requires a payment of 20 percent of the greater of:

(A) the average monthly deposits to the prisoner's account; or

(B) the average monthly balance in the prisoner's account for the 6-month period immediately preceding the filing of the complaint or notice of appeal.

Krantz has indicated the average of the monthly deposits to his account is $147.02, and the average monthly balance of his account is $35. Krantz must make an initial partial filing fee of $29.41, which is 20 percent of $147.02. Accordingly, Krantz is granted in forma pauperis status.

But the inquiry does not end there. The PLRA also requires this court to "screen" Krantz's complaint to determine whether it should be dismissed. Section 1915 provides an action must be dismissed if the court determines the claim "(i) is frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief."

STANDARD OF REVIEW

The court must assume as true all facts well pleaded in the complaint. Estate of Rosenberg by Rosenberg v. Crandell, 56 F.3d 35, 37 (8th Cir. 1995). Also, "although liberally construed, a pro se complaint must contain specific facts supporting its conclusions." Allen v. Purkett, 5 F.3d 1151, 1153 (8th Cir. 1993) (citations omitted). A plaintiff's complaint "does not need detailed factual allegations . . . [but] requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). If it does not contain these bare essentials, dismissal is appropriate. Beavers v. Lockhart, 755 F.2d 657, 663 (8th Cir. 1985). Twombly requires that a complaint's factual allegations must be "enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true." Id. at 1965; Abdullah v. Minnesota, No. 06-4142, 2008 WL 283693 (8th Cir. Feb. 4, 2008) (citing Twombly and noting complaint must contain either direct or inferential allegations regarding all material elements necessary to sustain recovery under some viable legal theory).

It has long been recognized that "civil rights pleadings should be construed liberally." Frey v. City of Herculaneum, 44 F.3d 667, 671 (8th Cir. 1995). The complaint, however, must at the very least contain facts that state a claim as a matter of law and must not be conclusory. Id. Broad and conclusory statements unsupported by factual allegations are not sufficient. Ellingburg v. King, 490 F.2d 1270 (8th Cir. 1974). Finally, although pro se complaints are to be construed liberally, "they must still allege facts sufficient to support the claims advanced." Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914 (8th Cir. 2004). The court is not required to supply additional facts for a pro se plaintiff, nor construct a legal theory that assumes facts which have not been pleaded. Id. To state a claim for relief under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege sufficient facts to show (1) that the defendants acted under color of state law, and (2) that the alleged wrongful conduct deprived the plaintiff of a constitutionally protected federal right. Zutz v. Nelson, 601 F.3d 842, 848 (8th Cir. 2010) (internal citations omitted).

DISCUSSION

It is well established that deliberate indifference to a prisoner's serious medical needs is prohibited by the Eighth Amendment. See Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). "A prisoner's Eighth Amendment rights are violated if prison officials show 'deliberate indifference' to the prisoner's 'serious medical needs.' " Olson v. Bloomberg, 339 F.3d 730, 735 (8th Cir. 2003) (quoting Estelle, 429 U.S. at 106). The Eighth Circuit has interpreted this standard to mean that a plaintiff must demonstrate: "(1) that he suffered from objectively serious medical needs and (2) that the prison officials actually knew of but deliberately disregarded those needs." Jolly v. Knudsen, 205 F.3d 1094, 1096 (8th Cir. 2000). "A serious medical need is one that has been diagnosed by a physician as requiring treatment or one that is so obvious even a layperson would easily recognize the necessity for a doctor's attention." Coleman v. Rahija, 114 F.3d 778, 784 (8th Cir. 1997). "Deliberate indifference may be manifested by prison doctors in responding to the prisoner's needs or by prison officials in intentionally denying or delaying access to medical care or intentionally interfering with prescribed treatment." Meloy v. Bachmeier, 302 F.3d 845, 849 (8th Cir. 2002).

Krantz claims that defendants violated the Eighth Amendment when they refused to prescribe him Enbrel to treat his psoriasis. Krantz asserts that he utilized the informal resolution and administrative remedies process to complain, but that defendants replied that "the medicine that they have administered for me is adequate."

"[I]nmates have no constitutional right to receive a particular or requested course of treatment and prison doctors remain free to exercise their independent judgment." Dulany v. Carnahan, 132 F.3d 1234, 1239 (8th Cir. 1997) (citing Long v. Nix, 86 F.3d 761, 765 (8th Cir. 1996)). "A prisoner's mere difference of opinion over matters of expert medical judgment or a course of medical treatment fails to rise to the level of a constitutional violation." Taylor v. Bowers, 966 F.2d 417, 421 (8th Cir. 1992). The facts Krantz has pleaded are insufficient to show a constitutional violation occurred. Rather, all they show are his disagreement with the course of prescribed treatment. Thus, Krantz has failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted and his complaint is dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. Therefore, it is ORDERED that Krantz's motion to proceed in forma pauperis (Docket 3) is granted. Krantz will make an initial partial filing fee of $29.41 before February 21, 2012, made payable to the Clerk, U.S. District Court.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the institution having custody of the plaintiff is directed that whenever the amount in plaintiff's trust account exceeds $10, monthly payments that equal 20 percent of the funds credited to the account the preceding month will be forwarded to the United States District Court Clerk's office pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2), until the filing fee of $350 is paid in full.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Krantz's complaint (Docket 1) is dismissed without prejudice for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915.

BY THE COURT:

Karen E. Schreier

20120203

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