United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Southern Division
ORDER GRANTING LEAVE TO AMEND
E. SCHREIER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Cody Ray Caskey, is an inmate at the South Dakota State
Penitentiary in Sioux Falls. He filed a pro se civil rights
lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Docket 1. The court has
now screened Caskey's complaint under 28 U.S.C. §
1915A, and for the reasons stated below, grants him leave to
amend his complaint.
alleges that he requested “hormonal replacement”
and defendants told him he “would not be prescribed
hormones” because he did not have medical records
showing he had received this treatment in the past. Docket 1
at 4. He alleges that this denial negatively affected his
mental health. Id. He alleges that Dr. Adams denied
his requested treatment, and Warden Dooley “signed
grievances refusing to allow” the treatment.
Id. at 2.
court must accept the well-pleaded allegations in the
complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor
of the non-moving party. Schriener v. Quicken Loans,
Inc., 774 F.3d 442, 444 (8th Cir. 2014). Civil rights
and pro se complaints must be liberally construed.
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (citation
omitted); Bediako v. Stein Mart, Inc., 354 F.3d 835,
839 (8th Cir. 2004). Even with this construction, “a
pro se complaint must contain specific facts supporting its
conclusions.” Martin v. Sa rgent, 780 F.2d
1334, 1337 (8th Cir. 1985); Ellis v. City of
Minneapolis, 518 F. App'x 502, 504 (8th Cir. 2013).
Civil rights complaints cannot be merely conclusory.
Davis v. Hall, 992 F.2d 151, 152 (8th Cir. 1993);
Parker v. Porter, 221 F. App'x 481, 482 (8th
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 Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007). “If a plaintiff cannot make the
requisite showing, dismissal is appropriate.”
Abdullah v. Minnesota, 261 F. App'x 926, 927
(8th Cir. 2008); Beavers v. Lockhart, 755 F.2d 657,
663 (8th Cir. 1985). Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the court
must screen prisoner complaints and dismiss them if they are
“(1) frivolous, malicious, or fail to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seek monetary
relief from a defendant who is immune from such
relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).
alleges that defendants violated his Eighth Amendment rights
by denying him hormone-replacement therapy. “A prima
facie case alleging . . . deliberate indifference requires
the inmate-plaintiff to demonstrate that [he] suffered from
an objectively serious medical need and that prison officials
actually knew of, but deliberately disregarded, that
need.” Reid v. Griffin, 808 F.3d 1191, 1192
(8th Cir. 2015) (citation omitted).
the prisoner plaintiff, sought hormone-replacement therapy
and raised claims similar to Caskey's. Id. The
Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the district
court's grant of summary judgment because Reid did not
establish that the defendants' conduct constituted
deliberate indifference. Id. Although Reid
was decided under the summary judgment standard not
applicable here, the court found that because Reid was
evaluated by mental health professionals and not diagnosed
with gender identity disorder nor denied treatment
completely, her allegations amounted to a mere disagreement
over diagnoses and treatment decisions and were therefore not
actionable under § 1983. Id. The court stated
that Reid was not entitled to hormone-replacement therapy
under the law. Id. at 1193.
crux of Reid was whether the plaintiff alleged
denial of treatment or mere disagreement with a medical
professional's diagnosis or treatment decision. Other
district courts in the Eighth Circuit decide claims based on
this determination. Compare Derx v. Kelley, No.
5:17CV00040-JM-JJV, 2017 WL 2874627, at *4 (E.D. Ark. June
19, 2017), report and recommendation a
dopted, No. 5:17CV00040-JM, 2017 WL 2874314 (E.D. Ark.
July 5, 2017) (dismissing claims when prisoner was treated
but disagreed with the doctors' decision to deny hormone
therapy specifically), with Brown v. Dep't of Health
& Human Servs., No. 8:16CV569, 2017 WL 944191, at *4
(D. Neb. Mar. 9, 2017) (finding that plaintiff may state a
claim by “generally allege[ing] that she suffer[ed]
from an objectively serious medical need” because
defendants “refused evaluation and treatment for [her]
Caskey fails to state a claim. He merely alleges that
defendants denied him hormone-replacement therapy. He does
not allege that defendants denied him all treatment or that
defendants denied him hormone-replacement therapy without
evaluation as in Brown. His complaint is also silent
as to whether defendants treated him in any way as plaintiffs
in Reid and Derx were treated. Caskey fails
to state a claim, but this may be because his complaint
merely does not ...