United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Southern Division
ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT
ROBERTO A. LANGE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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
FACTS ALLEGED IN THE COMPLAINT
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.
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.
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.
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).
Count I - Medical Care
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
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").
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
Count II - ...