United States District Court, D. Maryland
L. Hollander United States District Judge.
James Robinson, an inmate at North Branch Correctional
Institution (“NBCI”), claims he has not received
adequate medical care for a traumatic injury. ECF 1. As
previously noted, ECF 2 at n.1, no defendant was actually
named in plaintiff's original
correspondence.Therefore, this Court instructed plaintiff
to supplement his Complaint by identifying the individuals he
claims are responsible for refusing to provide him with
adequate medical care. ECF 2.
filed supplements (ECF 3, ECF 5, ECF 6), without naming
individuals. In a Motion to Appoint Counsel (ECF 11),
however, plaintiff named the following individuals: Krista
Belak, Krista Swann, Krista Self, Don Hawk, Mahbood Ashraf,
Stacy, David Altman of the University of Maryland Hospital,
Lt. Zais, Sgt. Blolansh, Sgt. Werner, and Sgt. Thomas. ECF
11. Because plaintiff is proceeding pro se, his submissions
are entitled to liberal construction. Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). Accordingly, the court
construes the filing as a combined Motion to Appoint Counsel
and Motion to Amend the Complaint.
court is obliged by 28 U.S.C. Â§1915A to screen prisoner
complaints and dismiss any complaint that is frivolous,
malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted. Similarly, under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), a
complaint proceeding in forma pauperis ''shall be
dismissed at any time if the court determines that- (A) the
allegation of poverty is untrue; or (B) the action or appeal-
(i) is frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on
which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief
against a defendant who is immune from such relief.''
It is apparent from the face of plaintiff's claims that
several of these newly named defendants are entitled to
immediate dismissal on the ground that plaintiff fails to
state a claim on which relief may be granted.
asserts that Altman, a physician at the University of
Maryland Hospital, “is responsible [for the harm
plaintiff suffered] because only a dummy would avoid
something big over something small he dont deserve his job
thats why alot of people is dead and disabled now smh.”
ECF 11 at 1. To the extent that plaintiff seeks to raise a
constitutional claim against Altman under 42 U.S.C. §
1983, his suit is deficient because he has failed to allege
that Altman was acting under color of state law. West v.
Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). Moreover, even assuming
that Altman is a state actor and that plaintiff seeks to
assert a claim under the Eighth Amendment for deliberate
indifference to medical needs, he has failed to allege that
Altman acted with the requisite mental state.
Eighth Amendment prohibits “unnecessary and wanton
infliction of pain” by virtue of its guarantee against
cruel and unusual punishment. Gregg v. Georgia, 428
U.S. 153, 173 (1976); see also Estelle v. Gamble,
429 U.S. 97, 102 (1976); Scinto v. Stansberry, 841
F.3d 219, 225 (4th Cir. 2016); King v. Rubenstein,
825 F.3d 206, 218 (4th Cir. 2016). In order to state an
Eighth Amendment claim for denial of medical care, a
plaintiff must demonstrate that the actions of the defendant
or the failure to act amounted to deliberate indifference to
a serious medical need. See Estelle, 429 U.S. at
106; Jackson v. Lightsey, 775 F.3d 170, 178 (4th
Cir. 2014); Iko v. Shreve, 535 F.3d 225, 241 (4th
Cir. 2008). The Fourth Circuit has characterized the
applicable standard as an “exacting” one.
Lightsey, 775 F.3d at 178.
indifference to a serious medical need requires proof that,
objectively, the prisoner plaintiff was suffering from a
serious medical need and that, subjectively, the prison staff
were aware of the need for medical attention but failed
either to provide it or to ensure that the needed care was
available. See Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 837
(1994); King, 825 F.3d at 219. A
“‘serious . . . medical need'” is
“‘one that has been diagnosed by a physician as
mandating treatment or one that is so obvious that even a lay
person would easily recognize the necessity for a
doctor's attention.'” Iko, 535 F.3d at
241 (quoting Henderson v. Sheahan, 196 F.3d 839, 846
(7th Cir. 1999)); see Scinto, 841 F.3d at 228. In a
case involving a claim of deliberate indifference to a
serious medical need, the inmate must show a
“significant injury.” Danser v.
Stansberry, 772 F.3d 340, 346 n.8 (4th Cir. 2014).
of an objectively serious medical condition does not end the
inquiry. The subjective component requires a determination as
to whether the defendant acted with reckless disregard in the
face of a serious medical condition, i.e., with
“a sufficiently culpable state of mind.”
Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 298 (1991); see
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 839-40; Scinto, 841 F.3d at
225. Put another way, “[t]o show an Eighth Amendment
violation, it is not enough that the defendant
should have known of a risk; he or she must have had
actual subjective knowledge of both the inmate's serious
medical condition and the excessive risk posed by the
official's action or inaction.” Lightsey,
775 F.3d at 178. The Fourth Circuit has said: “True
subjective recklessness requires knowledge both of the
general risk, and also that the conduct is inappropriate in
light of that risk.” Rich v. Bruce, 129 F.3d
336, 340 n.2 (4th Cir. 1997); see also Young v. City of
Mt. Ranier, 238 F.3d 567, 575-76 (4th Cir. 2001).
Gamble, 429 U.S. at 106, the Supreme Court said:
“[A] complaint that a physician has been negligent in
diagnosing or treating a medical condition does not state a
valid claim of medical mistreatment under the Eighth
Amendment. Medical malpractice does not become a
constitutional violation merely because the victim is a
deliberate indifference “is a higher standard for
culpability than mere negligence or even civil
recklessness” and, “as a consequence, many acts
or omissions that would constitute medical malpractice will
not rise to the level of deliberate indifference.”
Lightsey, 775 F.3d at 178; see also Scinto,
841 F.3d at 225; Russell v. Sheffer, 528 F.2d 318,
319 (4th Cir. 1975); Donlan v. Smith, 662 F.Supp.
352, 361 (D. Md. 1986). What the Court said in Grayson v.
Peed, 195 F.3d 692, 695- 96 (4th Cir. 1999), is also
pertinent: “Deliberate indifference is a very high
standard - a showing of mere negligence will not meet it . .
. [T]he Constitution is designed to deal with deprivations of
rights, not errors in judgments, even though such errors may
have unfortunate consequences . . . To lower this threshold
would thrust federal courts into the daily practices of local
does not allege the requisite culpability on the part of
Altman. To the contrary, plaintiff's insinuation that
Altman is a “dummy” (ECF 11 at 1) suggests
Altman's lack of knowledge or subjective awareness of the
to the extent that plaintiff seeks to raise a medical
malpractice claim against Altman, he has failed to show
subject matter jurisdiction for such a claim, i.e.,
diversity of citizenship. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
Moreover, plaintiff has failed to allege that he has
satisfied the extensive requirements of the Maryland
Healthcare Malpractice Claims Act, Md. Code, Cts. & Jud.
Proc. § 3-2A-01, et seq. For example, the Malpractice
Claims Act requires that plaintiff first file his claim with
the Director of the Health Care Alternative Dispute
Resolution Office, id. § 3-2A-04(a)(1)(i), and
“file a certificate of a qualified expert . . .
attesting to departure from standards of care, and that the
departure from standards of care is the proximate cause of
the alleged injury.” Id. §
3-2A-04(b)(1)(i). He must also obtain the agreement of the
defendant to waive arbitration, which is the default method
of resolving medical malpractice claims in Maryland, so as to
proceed to a civil suit. Id. § 3-2A-06A.
addition to defendant Altman, defendants Zais, Blolansh,
Werner, and Thomas are also entitled to dismissal. Plaintiff
seeks to hold these four defendants liable for rejecting or
failing to respond properly to his administrative complaints.
ECF 11 at 2. The Administrative Remedy Procedure was
instituted by the Maryland Division of Corrections to provide
inmates with an informal and formal process for the
resolution of complaints and problems; an inmate may utilize
this process to resolve institutional issues. See
Division of Correction Directive 185-100, et seq.
However, “the Constitution creates no entitlement to
grievance procedures or access to any such procedure
voluntarily established by a state.” Adams v.
Rice, 40 F.3d 72, 75 (4th Cir. 1994). Because
“inmates have no constitutional entitlement or due
process interest in access to a grievance procedure[, ] an
inmate thus cannot bring a § 1983 claim alleging denial
of a specific grievance process.” Booker v. S.C.
Dep't of Corr., 855 F.3d 533, 541 (4th Cir. 2017).
Accordingly, even assuming, arguendo, that
defendants Zais, Blolansh, Werner, and Thomas did not
satisfactorily investigate or respond to plaintiff's
administrative grievances, no underlying constitutional claim
has been stated.
the remaining defendants - Krista Belak, Krista Swann, Krista
Self, Don Hawk, Mahbood Ashraf, and Stacy the court concludes
that plaintiff's complaint is sufficient to satisfy
§ 1915A's screening requirement. Accordingly, ...