United States District Court, D. Montana, Great Falls Division
Morris United States District Court Judge
Jason Martin filed an Amended Complaint alleging that he
slipped and fell on a wet floor at Crossroads Correctional
Center (“CCC”). (Doc. 19 at 1.) Martin further
alleges that CCC denied him medical care for his injured
States Magistrate Judge John Johnston entered Findings and
Recommendations in this matter on September 20, 2017.
Id. The Court granted Martin until November 20,
2017, to file any objections to Judge Johnston's Findings
and Recommendations. (Doc. 22.) Martin timely filed an
objection on November 16, 2017. (Doc. 24.) The Court reviews
de novo Findings and Recommendations to which a
party timely objects. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). The Court
reviews portions of Judge Johnston's Findings and
Recommendations not specifically objected to for clear error.
McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Commodore Bus. Mach.,
Inc., 656 F.2d 1309, 1313 (9th Cir. 1981).
Slip and Fall
Johnston determined that Martin's Amended Complaint
failed to state a federal claim for relief and should be
dismissed. (Doc. 19 at 1.) Martin clarified in his Amended
Complaint that he seeks relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983 for violations of the Eight Amendment to the United
States Constitution. Id. at 2. Martin alleges that
he slipped and fell on a prison floor that recently had been
mopped. Id. at 3. Judge Johnston determined that no
federal constitutional liability arises from a slip and fall
in a prison. Jackson v. State of Ariz., 885 F.2d
639, 641 (9th Cir. 1989). Exceptions exist in unique
circumstances where officials have notice of a significant
risk of inmate harm. Frost v. Agnos, 152 F.3d 1124,
1129 (9th Cir. 1998). Judge Johnston concluded that Martin
did not allege that the Defendants were aware of the
dangerous condition and ignored the danger. (Doc. 19 at 5.)
Federal courts uniformly have rejected prisoner's slip
and fall claims as insufficient to state a constitutional
violation. Id. at 6.
Johnston determined that Martin failed to allege sufficient
facts to plausibly suggest that Defendants displayed
deliberate indifference to his medical need. Id. at
8. In order to prove a § 1983 claim for the violation of
the Eighth Amendment based on inadequate medical care, a
plaintiff must show “acts or omissions sufficiently
harmful to evidence deliberate indifference to serious
medical needs.” Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S.
97, 106 (1976). Martin must show that his medical needs were
objectively serious, and that the Defendants possessed a
sufficiently culpable state of mind. Wilson v.
Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 299 (1991); McKinney v.
Anderson, 959 F.2d 853, 854 (9th Cir. 1992) (on remand).
Defendants must show “deliberate indifference” to
satisfy the requisite state of mind for a medical claim.
Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 5 (1992).
Johnston determined that the facts alleged by Martin in his
Amended Complaint do not plausibly suggest a deliberate
indifference by the Nurse who examined him on August 9, 2015.
(Doc. 19 at 9.) Martin insisted that he injured his ankle,
but other than his own complaints nothing existed to alert
the Nurse to the alleged serious damage to the ankle.
Id. Judge Johnston determined that a failure by the
Nurse to diagnosis an ankle injury within hours of the
incident does not establish deliberate indifference.
Johnston further concluded that Martin does not allege
sufficient facts to establish that the Nurse acted with a
culpable state of mind. Id. Judge Johnston
determined that even if the Nurse negligently had failed to
diagnosis and treat Martin's ankle injury, negligence
does not establish indifference. See Farmer v.
Brennan, 511 U.S. 825 (1994). Judge Johnston
additionally determined that Martin only has alleged a delay
in medical treatment for his ankle. (Doc. 19 at 10.) The mere
delay of treatment, “without more, is insufficient to
state a claim of deliberate medical indifference.”
Shapley v. Nev. Bd. of State Prison Comm'rs, 766
F.2d 404, 407 (9th Cir. 1985).
Johnston determined that Martin did not plead sufficient
factual allegation to suggest the deliberate indifference of
Dr. Berdecia. (Doc. 19 at 11.) Dr. Berdecia ordered an x-ray
of Martin's ankle and prescribed crutches, ice, and
Motrin. Id. Judge Johnston further concluded that
Martin has not alleged that the delay of the MRI caused
substantial further harm. Id. at 12.
objects to Judge Johnston's finding that Martin did not
plead sufficient factual allegations to establish the
deliberate indifference of the Nurse that examined him. (Doc.
24 at 2.) Martin contends that sufficient facts existed to
suggest that the Nurse should have known serious damage had
occurred to his ankle. Id. Martin further contends
the Court should consider not whether “there was
serious damage to the ankle, ” but, rather, whether
“there may have been serious damage to the
ankle.” Id. at 4.
argues that the underlying issue “is not the
nurse's failure to diagnosis the ankle injury, but,
rather, the nurse's decision to “instruct Mr.
Martin to walk back to the unit.” Id. at 6.
Martin further argues that the Nurse became deliberately
indifferent because she purposefully and knowingly
disregarded her professional requirement to presume
Martin's complaint as true, thereby, ignoring the
excessive risk of significant injury to him. Id. at
7. Martin contends that Judge Johnston incorrectly determined
that Martin failed to allege that the Nurse's conduct
caused substantial further harm. Id. at 11.
Johnston correctly determined that the culpable state of mind
requires more than mere negligence. The Court agrees with
Judge Johnston's determination that the allegations do
not indicate that the Nurse knew of, or purposefully ignored,
an excessive risk of significant injury to Martin. The Nurse
negligently may have failed to diagnosis and treat
Martin's ankle injury. Simple negligence, however, does
not establish deliberate indifference. The Court agrees that
Martin alleged a delay in medical treatment for his ankle
injury. The delay of treatment, on its own, does not state a
claim of deliberate medical indifference. See
Shapley, 766 F.2d at 407. Martin alleged, at most, that
the Nurse performed her job negligently.