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Wieckhorst v. Squire

March 17, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Janet T. Neff


This is a civil rights action brought by a state prisoner pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court has granted Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, PUB. L. NO. 104-134, 110 STAT. 1321 (1996), the Court is required to dismiss any prisoner action brought under federal law if the complaint is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A; 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c). The Court must read Plaintiff's pro se complaint indulgently, see Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), and accept Plaintiff's allegations as true, unless they are clearly irrational or wholly incredible. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 33 (1992). Applying these standards, the Court will dismiss Plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a claim against Defendants Grubaugh and McKee. The Court will serve the complaint against Defendants Squire, Holmes, Karp, Stieve and Hammond.


I. Factual Allegations

Plaintiff Randy Scott Wieckhorst presently is incarcerated at the Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility (IBC). He sues Prison Health Service Doctor Harriet Squire, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jeffrey Stieve, and the following IBC personnel: Doctors Scott Holmes and Valorie Hammond, Warden Ken McKee, Health Unit Manager Ann Karp, and Nurse Supervisor Terry Grubaugh.

Plaintiff alleges that he injured his back in May 2007, while he was housed at the Muskegon Correctional Facility. After months of treatment and x-rays, Plaintiff finally was given an MRI on September 23, 2008. After the MRI, Plaintiff was referred to a specialist, and he was seen at Hackley Hospital by Dr. Marquart on October 15, 2008. Marquart recommended surgery, and surgery was scheduled for March 2009. While he was waiting for the surgery, Plaintiff was taken to the hospital because of swelling in his leg. He was diagnosed with cellulitis, and the surgery was postponed until he healed.

While he was recovering, Plaintiff was transferred to IBC. His leg was better after a month, and he asked to see the doctor about his back. Plaintiff saw Defendant Dr. Holmes on 7/1/09, and he asked to have his back surgery rescheduled. Defendant Holmes told him that he did not need surgery and that his back would get better with time. Holmes also told Plaintiff that Prison Health Services would not pay for the surgery. Plaintiff was directed to continue his exercises.

Plaintiff continued to complain about back pain and saw the doctor several more times. He explained that his back was not getting better, that the exercises were not helping, and that he was having trouble controlling his urine. The doctor again told him that Prison Health Services would not pay for the surgery.

Following additional complaints, Plaintiff was called to the medical department and met with Defendant Hammond. She told him that he had a mild disc problem and that it would get better with time. When he explained that the problem had continued for over two years without improvement, Hammond told him to continue his exercises and discontinued his pain medication.

Plaintiff wrote a grievance against Defendants Holmes and Hammond, which was denied at all steps. When he met with the nurse supervisor about the grievance, she told him that his being seen by the doctor was sufficient, that nothing else could be done, and that he should just deal with the pain. Plaintiff then met with Defendant Health Unit Manager Karp. She advised him to be careful what he wished for because surgery did not always come out well. She again told him that the new health care provider was not going to pay for surgery and that Defendant Holmes knew how to treat his problem.

Plaintiff again met with Defendant Dr. Holmes, explaining that his back caused serious pain and numerous physical problems: his lower leg, buttocks and half of his foot were numb; he could not bend over, sit, stand or walk without serious pain; he was having trouble controlling his urine; and he could not feel when he had a bowel movement. Defendant Holmes told Plaintiff that he would try to get the surgery re-approved.

Plaintiff also twice wrote Defendant Warden McKee and asked him to look into the matter. McKee responded both times that he did not address medical issues. On October 14, 2009, Defendant Hammond called Plaintiff to health care and informed him that Defendant Holmes had requested that Prison Health Services perform the surgery, but that Defendant Dr. Squire had turned down the request and suggested an alternative treatment plan. Plaintiff filed a grievance against Defendant Squire, which was on appeal to Step III.

II. Failure to State a Claim

A complaint may be dismissed for failure to state a claim if "'it fails to give the defendant fair notice of what the... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957)). While a complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's allegations must include more than labels and conclusions. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) ("Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice."). The court must determine whether the complaint contains "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft, 129 S.Ct. at 1949. Although the plausibility standard is not equivalent to a "'probability requirement,'... it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Ashcroft, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 ...

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