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Harrison v. Deeren

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

March 7, 2018

LARRY HARRISON #156814, Plaintiff,
v.
BRYAN DEEREN, et al., Defendants.

          Hon. Robert J. Jonker Judge.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          ELLEN S. CARMODY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, (ECF No. 88), Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, (ECF No. 92), and Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, (ECF No. 118). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), the undersigned recommends that Defendants' motions be granted, Plaintiff's motion be denied, and this action terminated.

         BACKGROUND

         In his complaint, Plaintiff alleges the following. Plaintiff suffers from Hirschsprung's disease, a “rare bowel defect.”[1] Plaintiff experiences “constant severe pain [and] is completely unable to pre-determine when he is about to defecate or even stop the process when it occurs.” Plaintiff was being treated for this disorder by Dr. William Schmuggerow.

         On June 12, 2014, Dr. Iftiker Ahmad examined Plaintiff, at Dr. Schmuggerow's request, and determined that Plaintiff required a high fiber diet with no processed meat. Dietician Patricia Willard disregarded this instruction, however. On June 20, 2014, Dr. Schmuggerow issued an instruction that Plaintiff was to receive a “no processed meat diet.” This instruction was rescinded later that same day. When questioned about the matter, Medical Administrator Bryan Deeren informed Plaintiff that “the MDOC doesn't provide a no processed meat diet.” Plaintiff later discussed the matter with Assistant Deputy Warden Scott Schooley who refused Plaintiff's request for assistance. Dr. Ahmad subsequently rescinded his special diet instruction at the urging of Willard, Schmuggerow, Deeren, and Schooley. Plaintiff further alleges that Corizon violated his rights by failing to have Plaintiff “completely examined by a Hirschsprung's disease specialist.”

         Plaintiff initiated this action against Ahmad, Willard, Schmuggerow, Deeren, and Schooley, as well as Corizon Medical Services and Aetna Insurance alleging violations of his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment and his First Amendment right to be free from unlawful retaliation. Plaintiff also alleged that Defendant Ahmad violated his right to due process under the Fourteenth Amendment. Plaintiff's claims against Defendants Aetna and Ahmad were subsequently dismissed. Defendants Willard, Schmuggerow, Deeren, Schooley, and Corizon now move for summary judgment and/or dismissal. Plaintiff has also moved for partial summary judgment on his Eighth Amendment claims.

         SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

         Summary judgment ''shall'' be granted ''if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.'' Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A party moving for summary judgment can satisfy its burden by demonstrating ''that the respondent, having had sufficient opportunity for discovery, has no evidence to support an essential element of his or her case.'' Minadeo v. ICI Paints, 398 F.3d 751, 761 (6th Cir. 2005). Once the moving party demonstrates that ''there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case, '' the non-moving party ''must identify specific facts that can be established by admissible evidence, which demonstrate a genuine issue for trial.'' Amini v. Oberlin College, 440 F.3d 350, 357 (6th Cir. 2006).

         While the Court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, the party opposing the summary judgment motion ''must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.'' Amini, 440 F.3d at 357. The existence of a mere ''scintilla of evidence'' in support of the non-moving party's position is insufficient. Daniels v. Woodside, 396 F.3d 730, 734-35 (6th Cir. 2005). The non-moving party ''may not rest upon [his] mere allegations, '' but must instead present ''significant probative evidence'' establishing that ''there is a genuine issue for trial.'' Pack v. Damon Corp., 434 F.3d 810, 813-14 (6th Cir. 2006).

         Moreover, the non-moving party cannot defeat a properly supported motion for summary judgment by ''simply arguing that it relies solely or in part upon credibility determinations.'' Fogerty v. MGM Group Holdings Corp., Inc., 379 F.3d 348, 353 (6th Cir. 2004). Rather, the non-moving party ''must be able to point to some facts which may or will entitle him to judgment, or refute the proof of the moving party in some material portion, and. . .may not merely recite the incantation, >Credibility, ' and have a trial on the hope that a jury may disbelieve factually uncontested proof.'' Id. at 353-54. In sum, summary judgment is appropriate ''against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.'' Daniels, 396 F.3d at 735.

         While a moving party without the burden of proof need only show that the opponent cannot sustain his burden at trial, a moving party with the burden of proof faces a ''substantially higher hurdle.'' Arnett v. Myers, 281 F.3d 552, 561 (6th Cir. 2002). Where the moving party has the burden, ''his showing must be sufficient for the court to hold that no reasonable trier of fact could find other than for the moving party.'' Calderone v. United States, 799 F.2d 254, 259 (6th Cir. 1986). The party with the burden of proof ''must show the record contains evidence satisfying the burden of persuasion and that the evidence is so powerful that no reasonable jury would be free to disbelieve it.'' Arnett, 281 F.3d at 561. Accordingly, summary judgment in favor of the party with the burden of persuasion ''is inappropriate when the evidence is susceptible of different interpretations or inferences by the trier of fact.'' Hunt v. Cromartie, 526 U.S. 541, 553 (1999).

         ANALYSIS

         I. Eighth Amendment

         The Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment applies not only to punishment imposed by the state, but also to deprivations which occur during imprisonment and are not part of the sentence imposed. See Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994); Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 101-02 (1976). Accordingly, the Eighth Amendment protects against the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain, the existence of which is evidenced by the “deliberate indifference” to an inmate's “serious medical needs.” Estelle, 429 U.S. at 104-06; Napier v. Madison County, Kentucky, 238 F.3d 739, 742 (6th Cir. 2001).

         The analysis by which a defendant's conduct is evaluated consists of two-steps. First, the Court must determine, objectively, whether the alleged deprivation was sufficiently serious. A “serious medical need, ” sufficient to implicate the Eighth Amendment, is “one that has been diagnosed by a physician as mandating treatment or one that is so obvious that even a lay person would easily recognize the necessity for a doctor's attention.” Harrison v. Ash, 539 F.3d 510, 518 (6th Cir. 2008). If the objective test is met, the Court must then determine whether the defendant possessed a sufficiently culpable state of mind:

a prison official cannot be found liable under the Eighth Amendment for denying an inmate humane conditions of confinement unless the official knows of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate health or safety; the official must both be aware of the facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he must also draw the inference.

Id. at 837.

         In other words, the plaintiff “must present evidence from which a trier of fact could conclude ‘that the official was subjectively aware of the risk' and ‘disregard[ed] that risk by failing to take reasonable measures to abate it.” Greene v. Bowles, 361 F.3d 290, 294 (6th Cir. 2004) (citing Farmer, 511 U.S. at 829, 847).

         To the extent, however, that Plaintiff simply disagrees with the treatment he received, or asserts that he received negligent care, Defendant is entitled to summary judgment. See Williams v. Mehra, 186 F.3d 685, 691 (6th Cir. 1999) (citing Estelle, 429 U.S. at 105-06) (“[m]edical malpractice does not become a constitutional violation merely because the victim is a prisoner”); Brown v. Kashyap, 2000 WL 1679462 at *1 (6th Cir., Nov. 1, 2000) (citing Estelle, 429 U.S. at 106) (“allegations of medical malpractice or negligent diagnosis and treatment” do not implicate the Eighth Amendment); Mingus v. Butler, 591 F.3d 474, 480 (6th Cir. 2010) (to prevail on an Eighth Amendment denial of medical treatment claim, “the inmate must show more than negligence or the ...


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