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Jones v. Santini

United States District Court, D. Colorado

January 2, 2018



          Michael E. Hegarty, United States Magistrate Judge.

         Defendants Dr. George Santini, Larry Hutson, Hector Lozano, and Williamson seek to dismiss Plaintiff Steven Bradley Jones' claims against them pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). According to Defendants, Mr. Jones' claims for deliberate indifference to medical needs and First Amendment retaliation do not allege sufficient facts to establish a constitutional violation. The Court finds that Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity on Mr. Jones' Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claim. Because the Court separately recommends dismissing Mr. Jones' First Amendment retaliation claim for failure to exhaust, the Court does not reach the merits of this claim. As such, the Court recommends that Defendants' Motion to Dismiss be granted in part and denied in part.


         I. Facts

         The following are relevant factual allegations (as opposed to legal conclusions, bare assertions, or merely conclusory allegations) made by Mr. Jones in his Second Amended Complaint, which are taken as true for analysis under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

         On November 5, 2015, Defendant Dr. Thomas Kraus prescribed Mr. Jones an antibiotic known as “Ciprofloxacin.” Am. Compl. 4, ECF No. 21. After Mr. Jones consumed the antibiotic for fourteen days, he began noticing adverse reactions to soap, deodorant, and toothpaste. Id. Specifically, Mr. Jones experienced “painful, itchy, burn-like lesions upon [his] face, hands, upper and underarms.” Id. at 5.

         In March 2016, Mr. Jones reported the issue to health services staff and requested to have his condition reviewed by a dermatologist. Id. at 3, 22. Although Mr. Lozano denied Mr. Jones' request to see a dermatologist, he referred Mr. Jones to the sick call protocol. Id. at 5. Mr. Jones has discussed his condition with Mr. Lozano on at least five separate occasions. Id. at 4. While standing in the meal line on July 7, 2017, Mr. Jones informed Mr. Lozano that he was not receiving proper treatment through the sick call protocol. Id. Mr. Lozano told Mr. Jones that he had a bad attitude about the situation. Id.

         On three separate occasions, Mr. Jones also visited Mr. Hutson, the Health Service Administrator. Id. During the first visit, Mr. Hutson referred Mr. Jones to Dr. Santini, who prescribed a steroid. Id. The prescription did not improve Mr. Jones' condition. Id. During the second and third visits, Mr. Hutson referred Mr. Jones to the sick call protocol and denied Mr. Jones' request for referral to a dermatologist. Id. On January 4, 2017, Mr. Jones visited Dr. Santini for a second time. Id. at 21. Dr. Santini prescribed a bethamethasone dip ointment. Id.

         Mr. Jones also alleges that Mr. Williamson confiscated his cane on April 15, 2017. Id. at 5. According to Mr. Jones, a Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) employee against which Mr. Jones had filed a tort claim asked Mr. Williamson to take away the cane. Id. On July 7, 2017, Mr. Lozano allegedly told Mr. Jones, “it's your attitude about this situation that got your cane taken away.” Id.

         II. Procedural History

         As a result of these factual allegations, Mr. Jones filed a Writ of Mandamus with this Court on May 19, 2017. ECF No. 1. In a Second Amended Complaint filed on August 18, 2017, Mr. Jones asserts two claims for relief against the moving Defendants. Am. Compl. 4-5, ECF No. 21. First, Mr. Jones contends Defendants Santini, Lozano, and Hutson acted with deliberate indifference to his medical needs when they refused to refer him to a dermatologist and otherwise provided ineffective treatment for his skin condition. Id. at 4. Second, Mr. Jones asserts Defendants Williamson and Lozano violated his First Amendment rights when they confiscated his cane in retaliation for filing a tort claim. Id. at 5.

         On October 27, 2017, Defendants filed the present Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 41. With regard to Mr. Jones' deliberate indifference claim, Defendants contend Mr. Jones did not suffer an objectively serious medical need, and regardless, Mr. Jones does not allege that Defendants failed to take reasonable measures to abate a known risk of harm. Id. at 11-16. Furthermore, Defendants contend they are entitled to qualified immunity, because their conduct did not violate clearly established law. Id. at 16. Next, Defendants argue that Mr. Jones' First Amendment claim fails as a matter of law, because the Court should not imply a First Amendment Bivens remedy. Id. at 5-9. Furthermore, Defendants contend Mr. Jones does not allege specific facts showing they took his cane away because of the exercise of his First Amendment rights. Id. at 16-19.

         Defendants Lozano and Williamson separately filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, which argues Mr. Jones failed to exhaust the administrative remedies for his retaliation claim. ECF No. 42. The Court separately recommends granting Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment.

         LEGAL ...

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