United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER DISMISSING CASE
ROBERTO A. LANGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Kody Dean Butterfield, is an inmate at the South Dakota State
Penitentiary in, Sioux Falls. On October 30, 2018,
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. 4.
The court granted Butterfield's motion to proceed in
forma pauperis and Butterfield paid an initial partial filing
fee. Doc. 6. Butterfield then moved to amend the complaint to
dismiss Ashley Markham. Doc. 3. This Court has screened
Butterfield's amended 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 receives psychotherapy. Doc. 1 at 5.
Butterfield claims the prison "refused to treat me other
than psychotherapy." Id. Butterfield states,
"I can't remember but ever since I came out as
transgender I have been harassed by the officers for looking
like a female." Id.
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., 772 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 the Eighth Amendment by
denying 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." Reidv. Griffin, 808 F.3d 1191, 1192 (8th
Cir. 2015) (citation omitted).
the prisoner plaintiff, sought hormone-replacement therapy
and raised claims similar to Butterfield'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 have decided 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 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. 8:16CV569, 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]
Butterfield fails to state a claim. Butterfield merely
alleges that defendants denied hormone treatment. Butterfield
does not allege that defendants denied all treatment or that
defendants denied hormone-replacement therapy without
evaluation as in Brown. In fact, Butterfield
participates in psychotherapy. See Doc. 1 at 5.
Thus, Butterfield's first count is dismissed pursuant to
28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) and l9l5A(b)(1) for
failure to state a claim on which relief may be granted.