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Jennings v. McQueeney

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

November 7, 2016

ROBERT McQUEENEY et al., Defendants.


          Paul L. Maloney United States 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 for failure to state a claim.

         Factual Allegations

         Plaintiff Mark Colin Jennings, II presently is incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) and housed at the Oaks Correctional Facility (ECF), though the actions about which he complains also occurred while he was housed at the Kinross Correctional Facility (KCF), the Carson City Correctional Facility, and the Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility (MTU). All of the Defendants in this action are medical and psychiatric care providers. Plaintiff sues MDOC Bureau of Health Care Services employee Francine Westbrook and Ophthalmologist G. Kerstein. He also sues DRF Social Worker Betsy Sivic and DRF Doctor (unknown) Holmes. In addition, he sues the following KCF officials: Psychiatrist Robert McQueeney; Doctor (unknown) Canlas; Ophthalmologist Carolyn Pierce; Psychologist (unknown) Hooton; Social Worker Amy Klein; Nurse Practitioner Penny Rogers; and Nurses (unknown) Knack, Russell Defraetais, Matt Sizer, Dawn Eichers, Wendy Ball, Denny Miller, Shannon Martin, Lori Davis, (unknown) Williams, and Unknown Party. In addition, Plaintiff sues a number of ECF officials: Doctors Robert Crompton and (unknown) Shoos; Nurses Lori Dumas, and (unknown) Briske. Finally, he sues MTU Doctor (unknown) Glynn.

         Plaintiff's allegations are minimal and conclusory. The majority of his factual allegations consists of a litany of the ailments he suffers: organic brain disease; oral lesions with pain; post-traumatic stress disorder; major depression with recurrent psychosis; panic attacks; Huntington's Chorea; cervical spondylosis and myelopathy with pain; cervical bone spurs with pain; hypertension; retinopathy; anterior spinal fusion from C5 through C7 with pain; gastrointestinal reflux disease; sleep apnea; anxiety disorder; refraction disorder; dysthymic disorder; closed dislocation of acromioclavicular joint with pain; chest pain; osteoarthritis with pain; traumatic spondylopathy with pain; hemoptysis; lumbago with pain; sciatica with pain; acute bronchitis; recurring headaches from traumatic brain injury; loss of sight in the right eye and depth perception dysfunction in the left eye due to traumatic brain injury; hearing loss in the right ear due to traumatic brain injury; and neuroleptic malignant syndrome with decreased cognitive function. He alleges that he has requested medical and mental-health treatment from January 26, 2011 to the present from the listed Defendants. His only allegations against the individual Defendants consist of the claim that each Defendant “denied him treatment for these illnesses at” the respective facility. Plaintiff concludes with a summary statement:

These defendant[]s have subjected the plaintiff to cruel and unus[ua]l punishment in violation of U.S. Const. Am. VIII by denying him medications and treatment for his serious medical needs since January 26, 2011 to the present. This deliberate indifference to the plaintiff's obvious medical needs was done with callous and reckless disregard to his safety resulting in him suffering from severe pain. His conditions have become exacerbated due to the lack of treatment which has advers[el]y impacted the plaintiff's daily activities causing old and new conditions to become worse and has made his life unbearable. This also violates Mich. Const. 1963, Art 1 § 16 which is protected by U.S. const. Am. 14.

(Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.3.)

         Plaintiff seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, together with compensatory and punitive damages.


         I. 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 Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (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, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (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.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. 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.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged - but it has not ‘show[n]' - that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)); see also Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010) (holding that the Twombly/Iqbal plausibility standard applies to dismissals of prisoner cases on initial review under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A(b)(1) and 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)).

         To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the violation of a right secured by the federal Constitution or laws and must show that the deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Dominguez v. Corr. Med. Servs., 555 F.3d 543, 549 (6th Cir. 2009). Because § 1983 is a method for vindicating federal rights, not a source of substantive rights itself, the first step in an action under § 1983 is to identify the specific constitutional right allegedly infringed. Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994). Plaintiff previously sued all of the named Defendants - with the exceptions of Hooton, Pierce, Glynn, Williams, and Unknown Party - Jennings v. Washington et al., No. 1:16-cv-483 (W.D. Mich.). Plaintiff's allegations in that action consisted of conclusory claims against all Defendants for their unspecified failures to treat his medical conditions. In an opinion and order issued on May 31, 2016, this Court dismissed with prejudice all of the previously named Defendants for failure to state a claim. (1:16-483, PageID.32-42.) Plaintiff did not seek reconsideration or file an amended complaint in that action.

         Upon review of the prior dismissal and a comparison of the conclusory allegations in the two complaints, the Court concludes that Plaintiff is barred from relitigating his claims against Defendants McQueeney, Sivic, Holmes, Klein, Hooton, Knack, Defraetais, Sizer, Canlas, Eichers, Ball, Miller, Martin, Davis, Rogers, Westbrook, Kerstein, Dumas, Briske, Crompton, and Shoos in this action by the doctrine of res judicata.

Res judicata is often analyzed further to consist of two preclusion concepts: “issue preclusion” and “claim preclusion.” Issue preclusion refers to the effect of a judgment in foreclosing relitigation of a matter that has been litigated and decided. . . . This effect also is referred to as direct or collateral estoppel. Claim preclusion refers to the effect of a judgment in foreclosing litigation of a matter that never has been litigated, because of a determination ...

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