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Rosberg v. United States

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

October 5, 2015

PAUL A. ROSBERG, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA; J.S. WILLIS, Federal Prison Bureau; DR. BOYD, and MR. DOWNING, Defendants.

ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT IN PART AND DIRECTING SERVICE OF COMPLAINT

LAWRENCE L. PIERSOL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff, Paul A. Rosberg, filed this pro se lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He named the United States of America, J.S. Willis, Dr. Boyd, and Mr. Downing as defendants. At the time of filing, Rosberg was incarcerated at the federal prison camp in Yankton, South Dakota. The Court has "screened" this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. For the following reasons, Rosberg's complaint is dismissed in part and survives screening in part.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Rosberg is incarcerated at Yankton Federal Prison camp. Docket 1. His complaint contains three medical issues that he argues were not properly treated by prison staff. He alleges another inmate assaulted him and injured his back. Docket 1-1 at 4. He alleges that his testicle swelled, and he worried it was cancerous. Id. at 1. He also alleges that he requested a colonoscopy after hearing an advertisement on the radio that said men of his age should get them every five years. Id. at 2.

Rosberg states three claims in his complaint, but each claim is essentially the same. He claims defendants Willis, Boyd, and Downing are responsible for his injuries. Docket 1 at ¶ 2-3. Willis is the warden at Yankton prison camp, and Rosberg claims he did not properly monitor the inmates. Id. at ¶ 2. Rosberg alleges Boyd and Downing provided inadequate medical care. Id. at ¶ 3. As relief, Rosberg requests the "actual costs of his medical bills, $500, 000 for pain and suffering, and $500, 000 for destruction of lively hood . . . [and] punitive damages in the amount of $100, 000 and reasonable interest, court costs including filing, copying, witness, and attorney fees." Id. at ¶ 5.

DISCUSSION

Some of the defendants have immunity or cannot be sued under § 1983. The Court will discuss these issues first.

A. Sovereign Immunity

"The United States is immune from suit unless it consents." Hart v. United States, 630 F.3d 1085, 1088 (8th Cir. 2011). It is not clear whether Rosberg names the United States or Eric Holder as a defendant. In as much as Rosberg names the United States as a defendant, it is immune, and all claims against it are dismissed.

B. Supervisory Liability

The defendants Rosberg names in their supervisory capacity cannot be sued under § 1983. "[Vicarious liability is inapplicable to § 1983 suits[.]" Parrish v. Ball, 594 F.3d 993, 1001 (8th Cir. 2010). "[E]ach Government official, his or her title notwithstanding, is only liable for his or her own misconduct." Id. (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 676 (2009)). A supervisor's liability must be based on his or her own "deliberate indifference or tacit authorization." Grayson v. Ross, 454 F.3d 802, 811 (8th Cir. 2006) (quoting White v. Holmes, 21 F.3d 277, 280 (8th Cir. 1994)). If Rosberg names Eric Holder as a defendant, it is only in his supervisory capacity. Therefore, he is immune.

Rosberg names Warden Willis as a defendant because of his supervisory capacity. Rosberg alleges that he was attacked, and Willis "is responsible for making sure his staff properly make every effort so no inmate gets hurt by another inmate." Docket 1 at ¶ 2. Because Willis is named as a ...


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