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Sanford v. Rugar

United States District Court, W.D. New York

June 20, 2018

CLAY RUGAR, et al., Defendants.




         Pro se Plaintiff James Edward Sandford III is confined at the Livingston County Jail. He filed a Complaint asserting claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and alleging that Defendants failed to treat his broken arm. ECF No. 1. The Court dismissed the Complaint without prejudice for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and gave Plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint. ECF No. 12. Plaintiff timely filed an Amended Complaint and moved to appoint counsel. ECF Nos. 13, 14.

         For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff's claims are dismissed under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A, and his motion for counsel is denied as moot.


         I. Legal Standard

         Section 1915 “provide[s] an efficient means by which a court can screen for and dismiss legally insufficient claims.” Abbas v. Dixon, 480 F.3d 636, 639 (2d Cir. 2007) (citing Shakur v. Selsky, 391 F.3d 106, 112 (2d Cir. 2004)). The Court must dismiss a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or its officer or employee if it determines that the action (1) fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted or (2) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1)-(2). Generally, the Court will afford a pro se plaintiff an opportunity to amend or be heard before dismissal “unless the court can rule out any possibility, however unlikely it might be, that an amended complaint would succeed in stating a claim.” Abbas, 480 F.3d at 639 (internal quotation marks omitted). But leave to amend pleadings may be denied when any amendment would be futile. See Cuoco v. Moritsugu, 222 F.3d 99, 112 (2d Cir. 2000).

         In evaluating the Amended Complaint, the Court must accept all factual allegations as true and draw all inferences in Plaintiff's favor. See Larkin v. Savage, 318 F.3d 138, 139 (2d Cir. 2003). “Specific facts are not necessary” and the plaintiff “need only give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (citation and quotation marks omitted). A court must liberally construe pro se pleadings, “particularly when they allege civil rights violations, ” McEachin v. McGuinnis, 357 F.3d 197, 200 (2d Cir. 2004), but pro se pleadings must still meet the notice requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8, Wynder v. McMahon, 360 F.3d 73, 79 (2d Cir. 2004).

         II. Plaintiff's Allegations

         Plaintiff sues various Yates County Jail (“the Jail”) lieutenants, sergeants, corrections officers, a doctor, two nurses, and a Penn Yan Police Department sergeant, investigator, and patrolman as Defendants in this action for their collective failure to treat Plaintiff's broken arm.

         A liberal reading of the Amended Complaint and attached documents[1] tells the following story. Plaintiff was arrested in Yates County on March 24, 2015. At that time, Plaintiff had a broken arm and had been wearing a cast for three weeks. ECF No. 13 at 18. At the Penn Yan Police station, Plaintiff “ripped [his] cast off” and later, at the Jail, was upset and “pounding on the walls of [his] cell”. Id. Plaintiff told Sergeants Bailey and Crandall, Investigator Dunham, and Officers Stenzel, Brush, and Marsh that he was in “excruciating pain, and begged them for assistance.” Id. at 10. Plaintiff declined the ice pack that was offered to him. Id. at 18.

         On March 25, 2015, Nurse Ballard arranged to have Plaintiff's arm x-rayed at “S&S hospital” and ordered Plaintiff ibuprofen and an ace bandage. Id. Officers Stenzel and Kuhner followed orders from Lieutenant Rugar and Sergeant Gridley to bring Plaintiff back to the Jail “before any doctor could administer any medical treatment.” Id. at 11. Because Nurse Ballard was unable to see Plaintiff until she returned to the Jail on March 27, she instructed “the jail” to wrap Plaintiff's arm in the ace bandage, but did not do anything when “the jail told her ‘no'” or prescribe Plaintiff medication. Id. at 11, 18.

         From March 26 through April 1, 2015, Lieutenant Rugar, Sergeants Gridley and Smith, Officers Shanto, Hoover, Joan, Head, Schaeffer, and Quayle, Nurse Erica, Dr. Dewitt, and various John and Jane Does “did absolutely nothing” for Plaintiff's broken arm after he “specifically asked each of them for help.” Id. at 13. Additionally, Plaintiff “begged” Sergeant Aaron IV, Officer Carlsen, and John Doe #3 for medical attention but “each one told [Plaintiff] there was nothing they could do because ‘[Plaintiff] did not have a life-threatening injury, nor did the jail have enough man power to take [Plaintiff] to the hospital.' ([Sergeant] Aaron as quoted by [Officer] Deborah Carlsen).” Id. at 13. During this time, it took Nurses Ballard and Erica “over a week to get [Plaintiff] to a medical professional.” Id. at 16.

         On March 31, Plaintiff saw Dr. Dewitt, who arranged for Plaintiff to go to an orthopedic doctor in Geneva, New York the next day, presumably the same doctor he saw when he first broke his arm. See id. at 18. On April 1, 2015, Plaintiff saw an orthopedic doctor and was issued a splint for ...

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