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Harris v. LeClaire

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

January 13, 2017

WILLIE J. HARRIS, Plaintiff,
J. LeCLAIRE, 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, the Court will dismiss Plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a claim against Defendants Jondreau, Collins, Place, Minton, Oh, and Unknown Parties. The Court will serve the complaint against Defendant LeClaire.


         I. Factual allegations

         Plaintiff Willie J. Harris, a state prisoner currently confined at the Baraga Maximum Correctional Facility (AMF), filed this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants Prison Counselor J. LeClaire, Resident Unit Manager W. Jondreau, Pharmacy Assistant Jennifer L. Collins, Warden S. Place, Account Tech T. Minton, Doctor Chung Oh, and Unknown Parties Mail Room Staff. Plaintiff states that Defendants LeClaire, Minton, and Unknown Parties destroyed outgoing mail that had sent to his sister Odella on May 7, 2016, and June 13, 2016. Plaintiff discovered this on June 28, 2016, when he spoke to his sister on the phone. Plaintiff claims that Defendants LeClaire, Minton, and Unknown Parties falsified documentation and improperly charged Plaintiff's prison account for postage in order to make it look as if they had sent out Plaintiff's mail.

         Plaintiff claims that on June 9, 2016, Defendant LeClaire refused to process legal mail addressed to MDOC Director Heidi E. Washington because it did “not meet the criteria of legal mail.” However, Defendant LeClaire refused to return the mail to Plaintiff. In addition, Plaintiff states that Defendant LeClaire repeatedly forced Plaintiff to forfeit his yard and declined to call Plaintiff out to process his legal mail except during yard time, despite the fact that Plaintiff sent kites requesting to be called out before yard at 9:00 a.m. Instead, Defendant LeClaire continued to make legal mail rounds after Plaintiff's regular yard schedule. Plaintiff states that this forced him to forego yard in order to get his legal mail processed. Plaintiff confronted Defendant LeClaire about this issue and was told, “You filed a grievance on me about the issue good luck with that.”

         Plaintiff alleges that on July 18, 2016, Defendant LeClaire called Plaintiff to his office to process his legal mail, which was addressed to the 63rd District Court. Plaintiff suspected that Defendant LeClaire did not send his mail out because he knew it was a lawsuit, so he called his sister and had her check to see if his complaint had been received by the 63rd District Court. His sister discovered that Plaintiff's filing had not been received by the court.

         Plaintiff confronted Defendant LeClaire about his outgoing mail and Defendant LeClaire stated, “So what? I don't care, sue me. Just make sure you spell my name correct.” Later that day, Defendant Place told Plaintiff to go ahead and sue because “we always win.” Plaintiff filed a grievance regarding the missing mail. Defendant Jondreau discussed the grievance with Plaintiff, stating that Plaintiff could not prove that prison officials interfered with his mail as long as they possessed documentation showing that it had been sent out. However, Defendant Jondreau did not show Plaintiff any such documentation.

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Collins and Oh have refused to give him his prescribed medical treatment for his skin condition. Plaintiff claims that he is to receive coal tar ointment, but that medical staff claimed that his order had expired. Plaintiff claims that he was denied treatment from March 28, 2016, until May 6, 2016, which resulted in unnecessary suffering for Plaintiff. On June 9, 2016, Plaintiff submitted a request for a refill of the coal tar ointment, to no avail. When Plaintiff showed Defendant Collins his painful sores, rash, and hives, she told him that it was not an emergency and that Defendant Oh was aware of Plaintiff's request and was going to prescribe a replacement treatment for Plaintiff because they did not have coal tar ointment in stock.

         On June 28, 2016, Plaintiff had to be called out as a medical emergency patient. Defendant Oh noted Plaintiff's symptoms and ordered a steroid / Benadryl injection. Plaintiff asked Defendant Oh why he had not ordered a replacement treatment. Plaintiff discovered that Defendant Collins had never informed Defendant Oh that a replacement treatment was needed. In addressing Plaintiff's grievance regarding this issue, the step II respondent, Patricia Lamb, RN, BSN, stated:

Grievant claims that he has been denied timely provision of coal tar ointment.
Review of the electronic medical record reveals that grievant arrived at AMF on 3/28/16 with a nearly expired order for coal tar. (It expired on 3/31/16). The matter was referred to the medical provider who addressed the issue on 4/8/16. Per documentation of that visit, coal tar was not ordered in favor of a different topical treatment. After grievant continued to request coal tar and reported that the new treatment plan was ineffective, the coal tar was re-ordered on 5/5/16 and issued to grievant on 5/6/16. Grievant requested a refill of this product on 6/10/16. However, it was on back order from the off-site pharmacy and could not be immediately filled. It was eventually received from the pharmacy and issed to the grievant on 6/29/16.
It is acknowledged that there was a delay in provision of the requested coal tar refill in June. However, the back order and subsequent delay in shipment from the off-site pharmacy was not within the control of AMF Health Care. In the event a similar situation occurs in future, ...

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