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Jenkins v. Little

United States District Court, D. Idaho

October 9, 2019

KENNETH LITTLE, M.D., Defendant.


          David C. Nye, Chief U.S. District Court Judge

         The Clerk of Court conditionally filed Plaintiff Richard Anthony Jenkins's Complaint as a result of Plaintiff's status as an inmate and in forma pauperis request. The Court now reviews the Complaint to determine whether it should be summarily dismissed in whole or in part under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915 and 1915A. Having reviewed the record, and otherwise being fully informed, the Court enters the following Order directing Plaintiff to file an amended complaint if Plaintiff intends to proceed.

         1. Screening Requirement

         The Court must review complaints filed by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or an officer or employee of a governmental entity, as well as complaints filed in forma pauperis, to determine whether summary dismissal is appropriate. The Court must dismiss a complaint or any portion thereof that states a frivolous or malicious claim, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) & 1915A(b).

         2. Pleading Standard

         A complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). A complaint fails to state a claim for relief under Rule 8 if the factual assertions in the complaint, taken as true, are insufficient for the reviewing court plausibly “to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Id. In other words, although Rule 8 “does not require detailed factual allegations, ... it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). If the facts pleaded are “merely consistent with a defendant's liability, ” or if there is an “obvious alternative explanation” that would not result in liability, the complaint has not stated a claim for relief that is plausible on its face. Id. at 678, 682 (internal quotation marks omitted).

         3. Factual Allegations

         Plaintiff is a prisoner in the custody of the Oregon Department of Corrections (“ODOC”), currently incarcerated at Snake River Correctional Institution (“SRCI”). On May 20, 2014, that neurosurgeon Kenneth Little, M.D., a doctor with the ODOC, performed surgery on Plaintiff to relieve a pinched nerve root. On June 19, 2014, Plaintiff had a follow-up appointment with Dr. Little. Compl., Dkt. 3, at 1. The doctor made treatment recommendations, which Plaintiff contends were altered from the original recommendations. Id. at 2-3. The June 19, 2014 appointment was Plaintiff's last postoperative follow-up appointment and the last time he saw Dr. Little. Id. at 4. Plaintiff does not allege that Dr. Little was employed as a prison medical provider at any time in the five years since Plaintiff's last appointment with him.

         Plaintiff states that he also suffered pain, inflammation, and infection-as a result of the allegedly unsuccessful surgery and inadequate post-operative care-for two to three months until he was treated with medication to lessen the inflammation. Id. at 3. He asserts that he still experiences “constant chronic pain, ” as a result of Dr. Little's failure to properly treat Plaintiff's medical condition, and that “Dr. Little never once gave any informed medical suggestions that would diagnose to plaintiff why surgery was unsuccessful.” Id. at 4. Plaintiff also claims he was denied physical therapy.

         The Complaint claims of inadequate medical treatment under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. He names only Dr. Little as a Defendant. Id. at 1-4.

         Plaintiff has not alleged sufficient facts to proceed with the Complaint. The Court will, however, grant Plaintiff 28 days to amend the Complaint. Any amended complaint should take into consideration the following.

         4. Discussion A. Proper Venue

         As an initial matter, it appears that venue might be improper in the District of Idaho. The Complaint states that Plaintiff is incarcerated in Oregon and that Defendant Little works for the Oregon Department of Corrections. Dkt. 3 at 1-2. Therefore, the Court presumes that Defendant is an Oregon resident and that Plaintiff's surgery and follow-up medical care all occurred in Oregon. It also appears that venue would be proper in the District of Oregon and that Defendant Little may not be subject to the personal jurisdiction of this Court. See 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b). If venue is proper in the District of Oregon, the Court can dismiss the case or can transfer the case to that District. See 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a).

         If Defendant Little is actually a resident of Idaho, or if a “substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to [Plaintiff's] claim[s]” occurred in Idaho, venue could be proper in Idaho. Id. This could potentially be the case, as the prison in which Plaintiff is confined is not far from the Idaho border, and prisoners may be transported to Idaho hospitals at times. If venue is proper in both Idaho and Oregon-for example, if Defendant Little is an Idaho resident but the events giving rise to Plaintiff's claims took place in Oregon-the Court may still ...

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