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Schmidt v. Lentsch

United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Southern Division

May 5, 2015

DAVID LENTSCH, Unit Manager; South Dakota State Penitentiary; DERRICK BIEBER, Unit Manager, South Dakota State Penitentiary; ROB FREDERICKSON, Mental Health Therapist, South Dakota State Penitentiary; ERIC BRUSCHER, Correctional Officer, South Dakota State Penitentiary; GREG BROSTAD, SOMP Coordinator, South Dakota Department of Corrections; KRISTEN JENSEN, Mental Health Therapist, South Dakota State Penitentiary; DR. DAVIDSON, Psychiatric Doctor; MR. FRAIN, Ad. Seg. Unit Coordinator; SOUTH DAKOTA STATE PENITENTIARY HEALTH SERVICES, Defendants.


KAREN E. SCHREIER, District Judge.

Plaintiff, Charles Francis Schmidt, is an inmate at the South Dakota State Penitentiary (SDSP) in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Schmidt filed a pro se civil rights lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Defendants move for summary judgment. Schmidt has not responded, and the time to respond has passed. Summary judgment is granted.


Summary judgment is appropriate if the movant "shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party can meet this burden by presenting evidence that there is no dispute of material fact or that the nonmoving party has not presented evidence to support an element of her case on which she bears the ultimate burden of proof. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). "The nonmoving party may not rest on mere allegations or denials, but must demonstrate on the record the existence of specific facts which create a genuine issue for trial.'" Mosley v. City of Northwoods, Mo., 415 F.3d 908, 910 (8th Cir. 2005) (quoting Krenik v. County of Le Sueur, 47 F.3d 953, 957 (8th Cir. 1995)).

Summary judgment is precluded if there is a dispute in facts that could affect the outcome of the case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). For purposes of a summary judgment motion, the court views the facts and the inferences drawn from such facts "in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 588 (1986).


A. Official Capacity Claims

Schmidt names several individuals as defendants, namely: David Lentsch, Derrick Bieber, Rob Frederickson, Kristin Jensen, Dr. Davidson, Greg Brostad, Mr. Frain, and Eric Bruscher. The complaint does not expressly state that they are sued in their individual capacity. "[I]n order to sue a public official in his or her individual capacity, a plaintiff must expressly and unambiguously state so in the pleadings, otherwise, it will be assumed that the defendant is sued only in his or her official capacity." Johnson v. Outboard Marine Corp., 172 F.3d 531, 535 (8th Cir. 1999). As a result, the court deems that defendants are sued only in their official capacities. And because defendants are sued only in their official capacities, Schmidt cannot pursue damages claims against state employees in their official capacities. See Roberts v. Lombardi, 512 F.Appx. 645, 747 (8th Cir. 2013). Thus, Schmidt's claims for monetary relief against the individually named defendants are dismissed.

B. State Agency Not a "Person" for Purposes of §1983.

According to the Supreme Court, a state is not a person for purposes of §1983. See Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 66 (1989). Neither are state agencies. See Milles v. Iowa Bd. of Regents, 770 F.Supp.2d 986, 992 (S.D. Iowa 2011). It is apparent from its name that defendant South Dakota State Penitentiary Health Services (SDSPHS) is a state agency and as a result it is not a "person" amenable to suit under § 1983. SDSPHS is entitled to summary judgment on all claims.

C. Individual claims.[1]

1. Deliberate Indifference Claim Under the Eighth Amendment.

"[D]eliberate indifference to serious medical needs of prisoners constitutes the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain' proscribed by the Eighth Amendment." Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976) (quoting Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153, 173 (1976)). "This is true whether the indifference is manifested by prison doctors in their response to the prisoner's needs or by prison guards in intentionally denying or delaying access to medical care or intentionally interfering with the treatment once prescribed." Id. at 104B05. "[T]his does not mean, however, that every claim by a prisoner that he has not received adequate medical treatment states a violation of the Eighth Amendment." Id. at 105. "[A] prisoner must allege acts or omissions sufficiently harmful to evidence deliberate indifference to serious medical needs." Id. at 106. Allegations of negligence will not suffice. See Jolly v. Knudsen, 205 F.3d 1094, 1096 (8th Cir. 2000) ("The prisoner must show more than negligence, more even than gross negligence, and mere disagreement with treatment decisions does not rise to the level of a constitutional violation.").

A plaintiff has no constitutional right to a particular course of treatment. See, e.g., Meuir v. Greene County Jail Employees, 487 F.3d 1115, 1119 (8th Cir. 2007). Plaintiff's mere disagreement with the course of treatment provided fails to state a claim of deliberate ...

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