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Parsons v. Caruso

March 31, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Stephen J. Murphy, III


Before the Court is the Report and Recommendation ("R & R") of Magistrate Judge Virginia M. Morgan with respect to three motions for summary judgment. Judge Morgan served the R & R on the parties, and notified them that any objections must be filed within fourteen days of being served with the R & R. Plaintiff filed timely objections. Defendants filed no response to the objections. For the reasons stated below, the Court overrules Plaintiff's objections and adopts the magistrate judge's R & R, as supplemented herein, as the opinion of the Court.


A District Court's standard of review for a magistrate judge's R & R depends upon whether a party files objections. With respect to portions of an R & R that no party objects to, the Court need not undertake any review at all. Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 150 (1985). On the other hand, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a district court "must determine de novo any part of the magistrate judge's disposition that has been properly objected to. The district judge may accept, reject, or modify the recommended disposition; receive further evidence; or return the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions." Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(3); see also 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) ("A judge of the court shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made."). De novo review in these circumstances requires at least a review of the evidence before the Magistrate Judge; the Court may not act solely on the basis of a magistrate judge's Report and Recommendation. See 12 Wright, Miller & Marcus, Federal Practice and Procedure: Civil 2d § 3070.2 (1997); see also Hill v. Duriron Co., 656 F.2d 1208, 1215 (6th Cir. 1981). Thus, because Plaintiff has made objections, the Court must conduct a de novo review of the portions of the R & R to which Plaintiff specifically objects.


The Court will briefly describe the background for the lawsuit here, but incorporates by reference the section of undisputed facts contained in Judge Morgan's R & R.

This lawsuit is brought by the representative of the deceased Randy Parsons. Parsons was incarcerated and held in the custody of the Michigan Department of Corrections ("MDOC") after having been convicted of a crime. He suffered from mental illness as well as a seizure disorder. Parsons was transferred to the Standish Maximum Correctional Facility ("Standish") on August 25, 2004. The day following his arrival he was examined by a physician's assistant and later by a psychiatrist, and was prescribed various medications by both. Three days later he died in his jail cell.

Two autopsies were performed. The one performed by the Arenac County Medical Examiner concluded that Parsons died of a "seizures disorder." The second one, preformed at the request of Parsons's family, concluded that the cause and manner of death was "undetermined." This report was later supplemented by the examiner to state that Parsons died of a fatal seizure.

Plaintiff subsequently brought this lawsuit against various individuals alleged to be responsible for Parsons's death by failing to prevent the seizure. Plaintiff alleges Defendants violated Parsons's Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights by exhibiting deliberate indifference to his serious medical condition.

The majority of the defendants in the case have been dismissed, either voluntarily or involuntarily, and six defendants remain. Through the three instant motions, the remaining defendants have moved for summary judgment on the claims against them. Magistrate Judge Morgan recommends in her Report that the Court grant all three motions. Plaintiff has filed timely objections to the Report. The Court has conducted a de novo review of those portions of the R & R to which Plaintiff objects and agrees with the analysis set forth therein recommending the Court grant the three motions. Rather than restate that analysis here, the Court will respond to the objections made by Plaintiff. The Court will at times supplement the analysis in the R & R.

I. Objections to Statement of Facts in R & R

Plaintiff has filed five objections to various statements in the R & R that relate to the undisputed facts set forth in the R & R. See Objs. a-e. The Court overrules these objections. The statements in the R & R forming the basis for Plaintiff's objections a through c are undisputably true, and Plaintiff's attempts to argue otherwise are unavailing. In Objection d, Plaintiff objects to Judge Morgan's statement that the parties did not provide evidence that Parsons received his psychotropic medications ordered locally by McCarthy. In support, Plaintiff provides the local pharmacy's records and MDOC health records for Parsons, which both demonstrate that psychotropic medications from the local pharmacy were in fact administered to Parsons. This fact, however, relates only to the alternative ground in the R & R supporting McCarthy's summary judgment, which even if incorrect is not sufficient to warrant denial of summary judgment since the primary ground is correct as discussed below.

In Objection e, Plaintiff objects to Judge Morgan's statement that the autopsy performed at the request of the Parsons family concluded that Parsons's cause and manner of death were undetermined. Plaintiff cites the affidavit of the forensic pathologist, which modifies the earlier findings in the autopsy report and confirms the cause of death to be seizures. As Judge Morgan properly recognized, however, there were two autopsies performed. The first was by the Arenac County Medical Examiner, who concluded that Parsons died of seizures disorder. Judge Morgan assumed in her analysis that a jury could find Parsons died of a seizure based on this report. Assuming a jury could find Parsons died of a seizure, this fact is not material to any of the constitutional claims made against any defendant. That is, it does not demonstrate that any defendant subjectively perceived facts from which to infer a substantial risk to Parsons, that any defendant drew the inference, which it then disregarded.

For the above reasons, therefore, Plaintiff's Objections a through e are overruled. The Court adopts the statement ...

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