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Hiser v. Strait

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

May 16, 2017

SCOTT STRAIT, et al., Defendants.



         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 Strait, Wilk, Ahlborn, Spencer, and Correct Care Solutions . The Court will serve the complaint against Defendant Aldridge.


         I. Factual allegations

         Plaintiff, David Wayne Hiser, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 while he was confined at the Mackinac County Jail. Plaintiff sues Defendants Mackinac County Sheriff Scott Strait, Under Sheriff Ed Wilk, Jail Administrator Tim Ahlborn, Prosecutor J. Stewart Spencer, County Jail Doctor Scott Aldridge, and Correct Care Solutions. Plaintiff alleges that he was denied adequate medical treatment during his time at the Jail in violation of his Eighth Amendment rights.

         Plaintiff alleges that he had a tree fall on him in October of 1992, which broke Plaintiff's back. Plaintiff eventually recovered enough to return to work. However, in the year 2000, Plaintiff began to experience daily back pain. Plaintiff was treated with pain medication until 2008, when he began to receive epidural injections.

         Plaintiff arrived at the Mackinac County Jail on August 23, 2016, and told jail personnel that he was legally disabled and would need to see a doctor. At the time that Plaintiff came into the jail, he could walk approximately 9 miles, but required continuing treatment to maintain his health. After three to four weeks, a nurse told Plaintiff to file some grievances and that if the doctor didn't see them, someone in the front office would see them and something would be done for Plaintiff. After 56 days, Plaintiff was finally seen by the jail doctor, Defendant Scott Aldridge. At this time, Plaintiff explained his disability and asked for medical help. Plaintiff told Defendant Aldridge that he had 24 years worth of medical records that he could get within 20 minutes. Defendant Aldridge stated that he would get Plaintiff's records from the Veteran's Administration.

         Another 64 days elapsed, at which point Plaintiff wrote 2 more grievances. Upon seeing Plaintiff, Defendant Aldridge asked why he had filed “all the grievances.” Plaintiff stated that something needed to be done and asked Defendant Aldridge to read his records. Plaintiff was given nothing but 6 Tylenol per week for pain. Plaintiff complains that he lost a tooth and that two more teeth are loose because the pain caused him to grind his teeth so much. Plaintiff's ex-wife and friends called state and county officials, and one of the county commissioners investigated. Plaintiff states that Defendant Strait spoke to the commissioner and told him that Plaintiff was angry and was merely seeking narcotics. Plaintiff denies ever asking for narcotics.

         Plaintiff states that he did not receive any treatment for his back problems for approximately 5 months. In addition, Plaintiff was forced to sleep on a steel bunk with a single mattress, despite his request for a second mattress. At the end of the 5 month period, Plaintiff could not walk a quarter of a mile. Plaintiff claims that his back pain has never felt as severe as it is now, and he is not sure if he will ever recover from the extended period of medical neglect. Plaintiff states that he could not eat at the table until the nurse provided him with a wheelchair on December 18, 2016. During the time that Plaintiff was without a wheelchair, there were times that he was in too much pain to make it to the toilet, so he urinated and defecated in his bunk. On at least one occasion, Plaintiff was placed in “the hole” for his incontinence.

         On January 29, 2107, Plaintiff asked officers for paperwork to file a lawsuit in the federal court. On January 30, 2017, Plaintiff was taken to the emergency room in St. Ignace and received injections for pain. On January 31, 2017, a doctor read Plaintiff's medical records, did an examination, and said that Plaintiff had back and nerve issues. The doctor also said that if nothing was done, Plaintiff would be in bed for good. On February 1, 2017, Plaintiff received an extra mattress and was started on 650 mg of Tylenol twice a day. On February 3, 2017, Plaintiff had additional blood work. Plaintiff was released on probation on March 23, 2017.

         Plaintiff claims that Defendants violated his rights under the Eighth Amendment by neglecting his medical needs for five and a half months, by confining him in a jail which was not handicapped accessible, and by not providing him with a wheelchair when he initially began his period of confinement. Plaintiff seeks damages in the amount of $4, 000, 000.00.

         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 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); Street v. Corr. Corp. of Am., 102 F.3d 810, 814 (6th Cir. 1996). Because ยง 1983 is a method for vindicating federal rights, not a source of substantive rights itself, the first step in an action ...

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