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Hodge v. Grahn

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

March 29, 2018

BRODERICK HODGE, #352426, Plaintiff,
COREY GRAHN, et al., Defendants.



         I. Introduction

         Michigan prisoner Broderick Hodge (“Plaintiff”), currently confined at the Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility (“MTU”) in Ionia, Michigan, has filed a pro se civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 raising claims concerning his medical care and prison accommodations, conspiracy, and retaliation. The events giving rise to his complaint occurred while he was a prisoner at the Michigan Reformatory (“RMI”) and at MTU, both of which are located in Ionia, Michigan and when he was treated at Duane Waters Hospital in Jackson, Michigan. Plaintiff names Nurse Practitioner Corey Grahn, Jane/John Doe health care staff at RMI and MTU, Registered Nurses Randel and Surbine Aiken, Sergeant Nicholas, and Corizon Health Care medical practitioners as the defendants in this action and sues them in their official and personal capacities. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages and any other appropriate relief. The Court has granted Plaintiff leave to proceed without prepayment of the filing fee for this action. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1).

         Having reviewed the complaint, the Court now dismisses it, in part, for failure to state a claim against possible defendants Doctors Larson and Hill and Jane/John Does nos. 1-4, who are identified as treating parties at the Duane Waters Hospital in Jackson, Michigan but are not specified as defendants (collectively “the hospital employees”) and are the only defendants based in the Eastern District of Michigan, and transfers the case to the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan for further proceedings.

         II. Discussion

         Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996 (“PLRA”), the Court is required to sua sponte dismiss an in forma pauperis complaint before service on a defendant if it determines that the action is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). The Court is similarly required to dismiss a complaint seeking redress against government entities, officers, and employees which is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. A complaint is frivolous if it lacks an arguable basis in law or in fact. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992); Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989).

         A pro se civil rights complaint is to be construed liberally. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972). Nonetheless, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) requires that a complaint set forth “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ” as well as “a demand for the relief sought.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), (3). The purpose of this rule is to “give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citation omitted). While this notice pleading standard does not require “detailed” factual allegations, it does require more than the bare assertion of legal principles or conclusions. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Rule 8 “demands more than an unadorned, the defendant-unlawfully-harmed me accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). “A pleading that offers ‘labels and conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). “Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders ‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.'” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). “Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-56 (citations and footnote omitted).

         To state a civil rights claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege that: (1) he was deprived of a right, privilege, or immunity secured by the federal Constitution or laws of the United States; and (2) the deprivation was caused by a person acting under color of state law. Flagg Bros. v. Brooks, 436 U.S. 149, 155-57 (1978); Harris v. Circleville, 583 F.3d 356, 364 (6th Cir. 2009).

         Plaintiff alleges the following with respect to the hospital employees:

Doctor[s] Larson and Hill at [Duane] Waters Hospital acted with deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's serious medical needs and subjected him to wanton and unnecessary pain by switching his pain medication. Plaintiff also asserts that other John/Jane Doe employees nos. 1-4 were involved acting on behalf of Corizon Health Care Co., whose identities should become apparent after discovery.

         Complaint, p. 13.

         The United States Supreme Court has held that “deliberate indifference to serious medical needs of prisoners constitutes the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain proscribed by the Eighth Amendment.” Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976). The deliberate indifference standard requires an inmate plaintiff to show that prison official defendants acted with a reckless disregard of a known risk of serious harm to the prisoner. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 836 (1994). A plaintiff may establish deliberate indifference by a showing of grossly inadequate medical care. Terrance v. Northville Regional Psychiatric Hosp., 286 F.3d 834, 843 (6th Cir. 2002).

         Plaintiff, however, makes no such showing. He admits that he received medical attention for his condition, including pain medication, from the hospital employees. When there is an ongoing pattern of treatment, a prisoner's constitutional rights are generally not infringed. See, e.g., Pate-El v. Gluch, 848 F.2d 193 (Table), 1988 WL 49054, *1 (6th Cir. 1988); accord Huff v. Manfredi, 504 F. App'x 342, 345 (5th Cir. 2012); Ali v. Howard, 353 F. App'x 667, 671 (3d Cir. 2009). Plaintiff alleges no facts which show that the hospital employees ignored his problems, acted with deliberate indifference, or intentionally caused him injury or pain with respect to his ailments. He merely alleges that they changed his pain medication - nothing more. Such conclusory allegations are insufficient to state a civil rights claim. See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-57; Crawford-El v. Britton, 523 U.S. 574, 588 (1998); Moldowan v. City of Warren, 578 F.3d 351, 390-91 (6th Cir. 2009); Lanier v. Bryant, 332 F.3d 999, 1007 (6th Cir. 2003).

         While Plaintiff may disagree with the course of treatment provided and believe that different pain medication would have been more effective, he does not allege any facts or present documentation to show that the hospital employees acted unconstitutionally. See Jennings v. Al-Dabagh, 97 F. App'x 548, 550 (6th Cir. 2004) (prisoner's personal opinion that his care was substandard or that he was not given treatment he requested raises a claim of state law medical malpractice, not constitutionally defective medical care); Owens v. Hutchinson, 79 F. App'x 159, 161 (6th Cir. 2003). The Supreme Court has ruled that decisions about whether to order additional diagnostic tests or treatment are classic examples of the exercise of medical judgment and do not constitute cruel and unusual punishment. Estelle, 429 U.S. at 107. Additionally, it is well-settled that claims of negligence concerning a prisoner's medical treatment, i.e. medical malpractice, are not cognizable in a civil rights action under § 1983. Id. at 106; see also Collins v. City of Harker Hgts., 503 U.S. 115, 127-28 (1992) (an “injury caused by negligence does not constitute a deprivation of any constitutionally-protected interest” and does not state a claim under §1983); Lewellen v. Metropolitan Gov't. of Nashville & Davidson Co., Tenn.,34 F.3d 345, 348 (6th Cir. 1994). ...

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