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Butterfield v. Young

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

April 5, 2018

KODY DEAN BUTTERFIELD, Plaintiff,
v.
DARREN YOUNG, WARDEN, South Dakota State Penitentiary, in his individual and official capacity; and ART ALLCOCK, Associate Warden, South Dakota State Penitentiary, in his individual and official capacity; Defendants.

          ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT

          ROBERTO A. LANGE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff, Kody Dean Butterfield, is an inmate at the South Dakota State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls. On November 30, 2017, Butterfield filed a pro se civil rights lawsuit under to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and requested leave to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. Doc. 1; Doc. 2. The court granted Butterfield's motion to proceed in forma pauperis and Butterfield paid an initial partial filing fee. Doc. 8; Doc. 9. This Court has screened Butterfield's complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. For the following reasons, the Court dismisses Butterfield's complaint.

         I. FACTS ALLEGED IN THE COMPLAINT[1]

         According to the complaint, Butterfield was diagnosed with gender dysphoria and participates in psychotherapy. Doc. 1 at p. 4. Butterfield claims defendants "refused all treatments that deal with gender dysphoria." Id. Butterfield's requests for hormones and gender reconstructive surgery have been denied preventing Butterfield's gender dysphoria from being properly treated. Butterfield is forced to conform as male and not as a female. Id.

         Butterfield receives poor treatment when wearing a feminine hair style or makeup. Id. at p. 5. Butterfield received a disciplinary write-up for wearing makeup. Id. Butterfield has not received any feminine, personal items such as panties, bras, makeup, hygiene products. Id. Finally, Butterfield does not have access to a single shower. Id.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         At this stage of the case, this 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. Sargent, 780 F.2d 1334, 1337 (8th Cir. 1985); Ellis v. City of Minneapolis, 518 Fed.Appx. 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 Fed.Appx. 481, 482 (8th Cir. 2007).

         A 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." Beavers v. Lockhart, 755 F.2d 657, 663 (8th Cir. 1985). Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, this Court must screen prisoner claims filed in forma pauperis and determine whether they are (1) "frivolous, malicious, or fail[ ] to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (2) seek[ ] monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief." See also Onstad v. Wilkinson, 534 Fed.Appx. 581, 582 (8th Cir. 2013).

         HI. DISCUSSION

         A. Count I - Medical Care

         Butterfield alleges that defendants violated Butterfield's Eighth Amendment rights by denying hormone-replacement therapy and gender reconstructive surgery. "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 Reid case involved facts similar to this one. Reid, the prisoner plaintiff, sought hormone-replacement therapy and raised claims similar to Butterfield's. Id. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit 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 rather than on initial screening, the Eighth Circuit found that because Reid was evaluated by mental health professionals and not diagnosed with gender identity disorder nor denied treatment completely, Reid's 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. Mat 1193.

         The 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 have decided inmate claims based on this distinction. Compare Derx v. Kelley, No. 5:17CV00040-JM-JJV, 2017 WL 2874627, at *4 (E.D. Ark. June 19, 2017), report and recommendation adopted, 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;I6CV569, 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] condition").

         Here, Butterfield fails to state a claim. Butterfield merely alleges that defendants denied hormone-replacement therapy and gender reconstructive surgery. Butterfield does not allege that defendants denied all treatment or that defendants denied hormone-replacement therapy without evaluation as in Brown. In fact, Butterfield claims to have a diagnosis and participates in psychotherapy. Doc. 1 at p. 4. Thus, Butterfield's first count is dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ l9l5(e)(2)(B)(ii) and l9l5A(b)(1) for failure to state a claim on which relief may be granted.

         B. Count II - ...


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