United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Southern Division
ORDER SCREENING CASE, GRANTING IN FORMA PAUPERIS
STATUS, AND DENYING APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL
ROBERTO A. LANGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Donald East is an inmate at Mike Durfee State Prison in
Springfield, South Dakota. East has litigated prior claims
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 concerning his allegedly
constitutionally deficient care while an inmate at Minnehaha
County Jail and then Mike Durfee State Prison. East v.
Minnehaha County, 16-CV-4122-RAL. In that prior case,
this Court appointed counsel for East and ultimately granted
summary judgment for various defendants. That case is on
appeal to the Eighth Circuit.
now files a new Complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
alleging that various individuals at Mike Durfee State Prison
violated his Eighth Amendment rights with respect to
"the medical care or lack thereof he received, from
August 4, 2017 to August 9, 2017, for extreme pain and
Tubulointerstitial nephritis, May 26, 2018 to July 30, 2018,
for staph/strep infection, and January 17, 2019 to present,
for foot, back, hand/wrist injuries, including sexual
abuse." Doc. 1 at ¶ 18. The "sexual
abuse" alleged by East appears to stem from an incident
where East was taken out of the prison to see a private
doctor, needed to use the toilet, was not uncuffed, could not
pull his pants up, and received only delayed assistance from
any guard in doing so, which East describes in more striking
detail in his Complaint.
his Complaint, East filed several motions, including a Motion
for Approval to Exceed Page/Word Limitation for Briefs. Doc.
2. East's Complaint is long and detailed, but the Local
Rule limiting page or words applies only to briefs and not to
Complaints. East's Complaint appropriately is on file.
next filed a Motion for Appointment of Counsel. Doc. 3.
"A pro se litigant has no statutory or constitutional
right to have counsel appointed in a civil case."
Stevens v. Redwing, 146 F.3d 538, 546 (8th Cir.
1998). In determining whether to appoint counsel to a pro se
litigant, the court considers the complexity of the case, the
ability of the litigant to investigate the facts, the
existence of conflicting testimony, and the litigant's
ability to present his claim. Id. The facts of
East's claims are lengthy but not complex. East's
Complaint is well written, clear, and comprehensive. East has
the benefit of a lengthy Opinion and Order from this Court in
his prior case, so he knows the applicable law and legal
standards. That is evident from his well-written Complaint.
then moves to proceed in forma pauperis and files a Prisoner
Trust Account Report. Docs. 4, 5. East had paid the $350
filing fee through a third party, so he has no further
obligation for the filing fee. East's Prison Trust
Account Report reveals that he is indigent, and this Court in
the prior case allowed East to proceed in forma pauperis.
East's IFP motion will be granted.
Court has no obligation to screen East's pro se complaint
under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. 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 i
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).
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 Fed.Appx. 926, 927 (8th
28 U.S.C. § 1915A, this Court must screen prisoner
claims filed in forma p'auperis 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).
alleges that Defendants violated his Eighth Amendment rights
by failing to provide him with adequate medical care.
"[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, East must show "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. 2006)). East's Complaint alleges
a substantially serious risk of harm.
deliberate indifference element of this claim "has two
components: an actor must 'know of and disregard an
excessive risk to inmate health or safety.'"
Id. at 862 (quoting Farmer v. Brennan. 511
U.S. 825, 837 (1994)). East alleges that Defendants knew
about his conditions and failed to give him adequate care.
Doc. 1 ¶¶ 10-11. Taking East's allegations as
true as the Court must do on initial screening, East states
claims under the Eighth Amendment.
it is hereby
1. East's Eighth Amendment claims survive initial
screening under 28 ...