United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Central Division
OPINION AND ORDER SCREENING AND DISMISSING
ROBERTO A. LANGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Eve Taalak is an inmate at the South Dakota Women's
Prison in Pierre, South Dakota. Doc. 1. Taalak filed a pro se
civil rights lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Id. Taalak
also requested leave to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1915, which this Court granted, and Taalak
paid her partial filing fee.
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) seekmonetary relief
from a defendant who is immune from such relief."
See also Onstad v. Wilkinson, 534 Fed.Appx. 581, 582
(8th Cir. 2013).
stage of Taalak's case, this Court must accept the
well-pleaded allegations in her complaint as true and draw
all reasonable inference in her favor. 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 recitations of the elements of a
cause of action will not do." Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twonbly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). "If a plaintiff
cannot make the requisite showing, dismissal is
appropriate." Abdullah v. Minnesota, 261
Fed.Appx. 926, 927 (8th Cir. 2008); Beavers v.
Lockhart, 755 F.2d 657, 663 (8th Cir. 1985).
raises three claims in her complaint. Doc. 1. Taalak's
first claim is that Defendants violated her Eighth Amendment
rights by failing to provider her with adequate medical care.
Doc. 1 at 4. "[A] prison official who is deliberately
indifferent to the medical needs of a prisoner violates the
prisoner's constitutional rights." Letterman v.
Does, 789 F.3d 856, 861 (8th Cir. 2015). To state an
Eighth Amendment claim, Taalak must allege "a
substantial risk of serious harm to the victim," and
"that the prison official was deliberately indifferent
to that risk of harm . .. ." Id. at 861-62
(citing Gordon v. Frank, 454 F.3d 858, 862 (8th Cir.
alleges that she has ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity
disorder), that Dr. Pavalis has refused to treat her ADHD,
that Darren Berg refused to help her in getting her
medications, that Clayton Stoche sexually harassed her in
reference to her ADHD, and that Candy Snyder denied her ADA
claim. Doc. 1 at 2, 4. Taalak states her injury to be "I
was emotionally & mentally abused. I was punished for my
disorder & no one will help me get my meds." Doc. 1
to sustain an Eighth Amendment claim must allege deliberate
disregard of a serious medical need. "A serious medical
need is one that has been diagnosed by a physician as
requiring treatment, or one that is so obvious that even a
layperson would easily recognize the necessity for a
doctor's attention." Coleman v. Rahya, 114
F.3d 778, 784 (8th Cir. 1997); see Scott v. Benson,
742 F.3d 335, 340 (8th Cir. 2014). An unsupported assertion
of ADHD by itself does not equate to a serious medical need.
See Weaver v. Lombardi, 2015 WL 7253059 at *2-3
(E.D. Mo. November 17, 2015). A condition like ADHD may or
may not be a serious medical need, depending on whether it
"has been diagnosed by a physician as requiring
treatment," and thus depending on its persistence and
severity. Taalak's complaint falls short of alleging that
her ADHD is a "serious medical need." She simply
alleges that she has ADHD and is not getting medicated for
the disorder. Doc. 1 at 2, 4.
to sustain an Eighth Amendment claim must also allege
deliberate disregard of that serious medical need. Not
"every claim by a prisoner that he has not received
adequate medical treatment states a violation of the Eighth
Amendment." Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 105
(1976). Rather, "a prisoner must allege acts or
omissions sufficiently harmful to evidence deliberate
indifference to serious medical needs." Id. at
106. Taalak's allegations fall well short with regard to
Darren Berg who allegedly refused to assist her in getting
medications which Dr. Pavalis declined to prescribe, and with
regard to Candy Snyder who allegedly denied an ADA claim.
Conduct of a sexual nature toward an inmate can be cruel and
unusual punishment prohibited by the Eighth Amendment, but
the conclusory allegations that Clayton Stoche sexually
harassed Taalak in reference to her ADHD is too vague and
conclusory to meet federal pleading standards for an Eighth
Count II of her complaint, Taalak claims a constitutional
violation of her "freedom of religion,"
specifically alleging "they will not let me have 2 decks
of tarot cards. I am wiccan." Taalak also states:
"I want to practice my religion & they say I
can't have more than one tarot deck." Doc. 1 at 5.
order to state a First Amendment claim, Taalak must allege
facts tending to show that prison officials have
substantially burdened the free exercise of her religion.
Patel v. U.S. Bureau of Prisons, 515 F.3d 807, 813
(8th Cir. 2008). Substantially burdening one's free
exercise of religion means that the alleged restriction-here
allowing Taalak only one and not two decks of tarot
cards-must significantly inhibit or constrain conduct or
expression that manifests some central tenet of a
person's individual religious beliefs; must meaningfully
curtail a person's ability to express adherence to his or
her faith; or must deny a person reasonable opportunities to
engage in those activities that" are fundamental to a
person's religion. Murphy v. Mo. Dep't of
Corr., 372 F.3d 979, 988 (8th Cir. 2004). Taalak's
terse allegations about being denied a second deck of tarot
cards are insufficient to state a First Amendment claim.
Prison officials have allowed her one deck of tarot cards,
and Taalak has failed to allege how denial of a second deck
somehow substantially burdens the free exercise of her
religious wicca practice. Taalak also failed to identify who
allegedly infringed on her First Amendment free exercise
right or what particular prison policy does so.
final claim in Count III alleges an ADA violation by
asserting "they violated ray ADA rights by allowing me
to be sexually harassed & punished for a mental disorder
that they refuse to medicate properly." Doc. 1 at 6.
This claim is closely related to Count I, and Taalak's
complaint elsewhere blames Clayton Stoche for the sexual
harassment and Candy Snyder for denying her ADA claim. Title
II of the ADA states: "[N]o qualified individual with a
disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded
from participation in or be denied the benefits of the
services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or be
subjected to discrimination by such entity." 42 U.S.C.
§ 12132. The Supreme Court of the United States in
Pennsylvania Dep't of Corr. v. Yeskey, 524 U.S.
206 (1998), held that the ADA extends to people in prison. In
Yeskey, because of a medical history of
hypertension, the inmate was denied an opportunity to
participate in a motivational boot camp, the completion of
which could have resulted in early parole. Here, Taalak has
not alleged any exclusion from or denial of benefits of
participating in any "services, programs or
activities" of the prison. The allegation of sexual
harassment due to her ADHD possibly is
"discrimination" by the prison, but the allegation
of sexual harassment, as discussed above, is too vague and
conclusory to support any claim. Taalak has failed to state a
viable ADA claim, but appears to be invoking the ADA to
bolster her claim in Count I for Eighth Amendment violation
due to a failure or refusal to treat her ADHD as she believes
necessary. Taalak conceivably could plead colorable claims,
although her complaint presently falls short of the pleading
requirements necessary for either an ADA or Eighth Amendment
it is hereby
that Taalak's complaint is screened under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A and dismissed without prejudice to refiling a
complaint that states viable claims consistent with ...