Virginia Lawyers Weekly//February 1, 2023
Virginia Lawyers Weekly//February 1, 2023//
Where a detainee alleged that he was diagnosed with “obstructive sleep apnea,” and that he complained to a doctor while he was incarcerated at the Norfolk City Jail that mold was building up in his CPAP machine and that he was having trouble sleeping and breathing, but that the doctor did not take any steps to address this issue, the detainee’s deliberate indifference claim survived the doctor’s motion to dismiss.
Michael Fentress, proceeding pro se, alleges that, while incarcerated at the Norfolk City Jail, he “brought it to … Dr. Johnson’s attention that [plaintiff] had mold building up … throughout [his] CPAP machine” and that he was having trouble sleeping and breathing due to the mold. Plaintiff claims that Johnson failed to take any steps to address this issue. The court construes plaintiff’s amended complaint to raise a claim that Johnson was deliberately indifferent to plaintiff’s serious medical needs. Johnson has filed a motion to dismiss.
To state an Eighth Amendment claim for denial of medical care, a plaintiff must demonstrate that the actions of the defendants or their failure to act amounted to deliberate indifference to a serious medical need. The objective component requires plaintiff to establish that he has a serious medical condition.
Plaintiff alleges that he has been diagnosed with “obstructive sleep apnea” and high blood pressure. Plaintiff also claims that he is asthmatic and that he suffers from “heart palpitations.” Johnson argues that “Plaintiff has not alleged that he had a serious medical condition for which any delay or denial of medical care would cause him to suffer a lifelong handicap or permanent loss.” While plaintiff’s allegations could be clearer, the court finds that given the low bar plaintiff must reach at this stage, plaintiff has sufficiently alleged that he suffers from a serious medical condition.
With respect to the subjective component, plaintiff claims that he informed Johnson that mold was building up throughout his CPAP machine and that plaintiff was having trouble sleeping and breathing due to the mold. Plaintiff also claims that Johnson failed to take any steps to address this issue. The court finds that, affording plaintiff the benefit of liberal construction, the allegations in plaintiff’s amended complaint are sufficient to plausibly suggest that Johnson “knew of a constitutional deprivation and approved it, turned a blind eye to it, failed to remedy it, or in some way personally participated.”
Defendant’s motion to dismiss denied.
Fentress v. Johnson, Case No. 1:21-cv-1015, Jan. 18, 2023. EDVA at Alexandria (Trenga). VLW 023-3-023. 6 pp.