United States District Court, D. Maryland
THEODORE D. CHUNDG United States District Judge.
Plaintiff William Openshaw, who is currently confined at
Patuxent Institution ("Patuxent") in Jessup,
Maryland, filed this Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983, alleging that Defendants Wexford Health Sources, Inc.
("Wexford",, incorrectly named in the Complaint as
"Wexford Medical Department"; Damon Fayall,
incorrectly named in the Complaint as "Damien
Fayall"; and Asresahegn Getachew, identified
incompletely in the Complaint as "Dr. Getachew, "
violated his civil rights in connection with providing
medical treatment for hepatitis C. Defendants filed a Motion
to Dismiss on March 15, 2016. Openshaw was notified that he
had the right to file an Opposition to the Motion, and that
failure to do so could result in dismissal of the case, but
he has submitted no such brief. For the reasons set forth
below, the Motion to Dismiss shall be granted.
facts set forth in the Complaint are sparse. Openshaw was
incarcerated at Roxbury Correctional Institution
("RCI") in 2009, at Maryland Correctional
Institution-Hagerstown ("MCIH") in 2011, at the
Metropolitan Transition Center ("MTC") in 2014, and
at Patuxent in 2014. Each of these institutions was aware
that he suffers from hepatitis C. Nevertheles,, Openshaw
asserts that each correctional facility "keep[s] passing
the buck to the next prison" with respect to treatment
for hepatitis C, and that prison officials have sent him to
Bon Secours Health System ("Bon Secours") for
treatment. Compl. at 3. He seeks "the right medication
so I wontt be in physical pain anymore" and asks that he
be treated at the University of Maryland Hospital rather than
at Bon Secours. Id.
offer two reasons that the Complaint should be dismissed.
First, they assert that Openshaw has failed to state a claim
against Wexford because there is no vicarious liability under
42 U.S.C. S 1983. Second, they claim that Openshaw has not
alleged sufficient facts to establish that any Defendant
deprived him of his constitutional rights.
defeat a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the complaint
must allege enough facts to state a plausible claim for
relief. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
A claim is plausible when the facts pleaded allow "the
Court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is
liable for the misconduct alleged." Id.
Although courts should construe pleadings of self-represented
litigants liberally, Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S.
89, 94 (2007), legal conclusions or conclusory statements do
not suffice, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. The Court must
examine the complaint as a whole, consider the factual
allegations in the complaint as true, and construe the
factual allegations in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff. Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 268
(1994); Lambeth v. Bd. of Comm'rs of Davidson
Cly., 407 F.3d 266, 268 (4th Cir. 2005).
U.S.C. S 1983 allows individuals to sue in federal court any
person who violates their federally protected rights while
acting under color of state law. Private companies that
employ individuals acting under color of state law are
considered "persons" for the purposes of S 1983,
but they cannot be held liable for violating a plaintiffs
rights solely because they employ an individual who committed
an unlawful act. Austin v. Paramount Parks, Inc.,
195 F.3d 715, 728 (4th Cir. 1999). Rather, they can be sued
under S 1983 only if the violation results from the companyss
custom or policy. Id. Cf. Monell v. Dep't of Soc.
Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 690-91 (1978) (holding that there
is no vicarious liability for S 1983 claims against local
while Wexford is responsible for "the delivery of
medical care in a prison setting, " a duty that
Defendants acknowledge is "a governmental function,
" Def's Mem. at 4, ECF No. 9-2, absent a particular
custom or policy that led to the deprivation of
Openshaw's constitutional rights, Wexford cannot be held
liable for his claims under S 1983. See Austin, 195
F.3d at 728. Here, however, Openshaw has alleged no specific
custom or policy of Wexford that resulted in the loss of any
rights. Because the Complaint does not include facts
sufficient to support a claim against Wexford, the claim
against Wexford is dismissed.
Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits
unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain by virtue of its
guarantee against cruel and unusual punishment. See Gregg
v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153, 173 (1976). This safeguard not
only bears on "those punishmen's authorized by
statute and imposed by a criminal judgment, " but
equally extends to "the treatment a prisoner receives in
prison and the conditions under which he is confined."
De'Lonta v. Angelone, 330 F.3d 630, 633 (4th
Cir. 2003) (quoting Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S.
25, 31 (1993)). Thus, claims concerning the denial or
adequacy of medical care to incarcerated persons arise under
the Eighth Amendment, because the deliberate indifference to
an incarcerated person's serious medical needs
"constitutes the 'unnecessary and wanton infliction
of pain." Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104
(1976) (quoting Gregg, 428 U.S. at 173)).
Eighth Amendment claim based on denial of medical care has
both objective and subjective components. To state such a
claim, an incarcerated plaintiff must establish that,
"objectively assessed, he had a sufficiently serious
medical need to require medical treatment, " and that
the defendant prison official was "subjectively aware of
the need and of its seriousness" but "nevertheless
acted with deliberate indifference to it by declining to
secure available medical attention." Brice v. Va.
Beach Corr. Ctr.,58 F.3d 101, 104 (4th Cir. 1995).
"Deliberate indifference" entails more than
ordinary negligence or lack of due care for the
prisoner's interests or safety; it instead requires that
a prison official actually "knows of and disregards an
excessive risk to inmate health or safety." Farmer
v. Brennan,511 U.S. 825, 837 (1994);
De'Lonta, 330 F.3d at 634 (stating that
deliberate indifference requires "that a prison official
actually know of and disregard an objectively serious
condition, medical need, or risk of harm"). "Actual
knowledge or awareness" on the part of prison staff is
essential to an Eighth Amendment claim for denial of medical
care, because prison officials who lacked knowledge of a
medical risk cannot be said to have inflicted cruel and
unusual punishment by withholding treatment. Br ...