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Simmons v. Lafler

United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division

February 25, 2015

NIKO S. SIMMONS, Plaintiff,
v.
BLAINE LAFLER et al., Defendants.

OPINION

PAUL L. MALONEY, Chief District Judge.

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, Plaintiff's action will be dismissed, in part, because it is untimely or fails to state a claim. Thus, Defendants Lafler, Tabor, Klatt, Curtin, Brinkley, and Rogers will be dismissed. The Court will order service of the complaint on Corizon.

Factual Allegations

Plaintiff Niko S. Simmons is incarcerated by the Michigan Department of Corrections at the Kinross Correctional Facility (KCF), though some the events about which he complains occurred while he was housed at Carson City Correctional Facility (DRF) and Oaks Correctional Facility (ECF). Construing the complaint liberally as the Court must, Plaintiff sues the MDOC's medical provider, Corizon (successor to "Corrections Medical Services" (CMS) and "Prison Health Services" (PHS)), [1] as well as various MDOC employees. Some of those employees are located at DRF: Warden Blaine Lafler, Resident Unit Manager (RUM) Mark Tabor and Assistant Resident Unit Supervisor (ARUS) Russel Klatt. Others are located at ECF: Warden Cindi Curtin and ARUS Wendy M. Brinkley. Finally, he sues Nurse Practitioner Penny Rogers.

Plaintiff's complaint concerns the following issues:

• MRSA infection. In 2004-2005, Plaintiff was treated for gunshot wounds at an MDOC facility. A nurse who was treating Plaintiff negligently failed to change his gloves after treating another inmate and infected Plaintiff with "MRSA."[2]
• Loss of job. In 2009, Plaintiff was terminated from a work assignment. He claims that he is entitled to back pay.
• Misconduct conviction. In March 2010, while Plaintiff was incarcerated at DRF, he was convicted of a misconduct. He sought a rehearing and his request was granted on June 7, 2010, one day before he was transferred to ECF. He received another hearing at ECF and was again found guilty, allegedly because the hearing investigator at DRF would not cooperate with the hearing investigator at ECF.
• Security classification. In April 2010, Plaintiff requested reclassification from level IV[3] to a lower security level, which he believes was mandated by MDOC Policy Directive 05.01.130 and Mich. Admin R. 791.4401(2), because he had served at least three years of his controlling sentence. RUM Tabor denied his request. Plaintiff filed a grievance about the issue, and in response to the grievance, Tabor allegedly threatened to transfer Plaintiff to another level IV facility. On June 8, 2010, Warden Lafler signed a form approving Plaintiff's level IV security classification. The form, which was prepared by ARUS Klatt, contained inaccurate information about Plaintiff's controlling sentence.[4] On July 6, 2010, ARUS Brinkley corrected the security classification form, making Plaintiff a level II inmate, but Brinkley refused to transfer Plaintiff to level II housing until September 2010. Thus, Plaintiff contends that he was wrongly held in level IV housing from April to September 2010.
• Prison transfers. On June 8, 2010, the day that Warden Lafler approved his level IV security classification, Plaintiff was transferred to ECF. In December 2010, Plaintiff was transferred to KCF. ECF and KCF are located farther from his family than DRF; thus, relocation to those facilities hindered his family's ability to visit him and to assist him with an application for a writ of habeas corpus that was pending in the Eastern District of Michigan. Plaintiff claims that the transfers were acts of retaliation for his April 2010 grievance regarding his security classification and his March 2010 complaint about his misconduct proceedings. In addition, he claims that his transfers violated his rights to equal protection and substantive due process, and Rule 23(a) of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure.
• Adverse reaction to Tegretol. Plaintiff experienced an adverse reaction to Tegretol, a medication prescribed by Nurse Rogers to alleviate pain stemming from Plaintiff's gunshot wounds. On the morning of August 4, 2011, Plaintiff woke with swollen lips, a dry throat, and a body temperature of 99 degrees. When he went to the healthcare unit, he also complained about a loss of taste, foot pain and itchy hands. Healthcare staff believed that he had a strep infection, so they gave him some "shots" and "allergy tablets" and told him to return if his symptoms worsened. (Compl., docket #1, Page ID#23.) Over the next several days, Plaintiff's temperature continued to rise, he started having trouble swallowing, and the pain in his feet became so intense that he could not walk. After he collapsed in his unit, he was transferred to a hospital for emergency care. Plaintiff remained hospitalized for almost a month to treat what was diagnosed as Stevens-Johnson syndrome. When Plaintiff finally returned to KCF, he had boils covering most of his body. He asked for the boils to be treated, but was told that they would resolve on their own and that PHS/CMS does not provide treatment for conditions that are merely cosmetic. Plaintiff claims that healthcare staff were negligent and/or deliberately indifferent to his needs when they failed to properly diagnose his condition, failed to provide prompt treatment for his condition, and then refused to treat his boils.
• Treatment for pain. Plaintiff underwent surgery on September 11, 2012, to remove a tumor in his back. Before and after the surgery, healthcare staff at KCF refused to provide adequate medication to alleviate his pain. For instance, Plaintiff's surgeon prescribed Tylenol 3 for pain relief while Plaintiff recovered from surgery, but healthcare staff at KCF would offer only Tylenol or Motrin. In addition, the medication he currently receives to manage ongoing pain stemming from his gunshot wounds-Tylenol, Naproxen and aspirin-are not adequate, but healthcare staff refuse to provide anything stronger, like Vicodin, because Corizon (formerly PHS and CMS) has a policy of not providing opiatebased pain medication.

As relief for the foregoing claims, Plaintiff seeks damages. In addition, he seeks a preliminary injunction to transfer him to another ...


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