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Stevens v. Hutchinson

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

March 30, 2018

JAMES M. STEVENS, Plaintiff,
v.
CRAIG HUTCHINSON, et al., Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JANET T. NEFF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This isaprisoner civil rights action filed pursuantto 42 U.S.C. § 1983 concerning medical treatment of Plaintiffs Hepatitis-C virus (HCV). The Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) Defendants filed a hybrid motion to dismiss and/or for summary judgment (ECF No. 117); and the Corizon Health, Inc. ("Corizon") Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 132) and corrected motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 133). The matter was referred to the Magistrate Judge, who issued a Report and Recommendation (R&R, ECF No. 140) recommending that the MDOC Defendants' motion be granted in part and denied in part, that the Corizon Defendants' corrected motion for summary judgment be granted, and that the Corizon Defendants' preceding motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 132) be dismissed.

         The matter is presently before the Court on Plaintiffs objections to the Report and Recommendation. In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3), the Court has performed de novo consideration of those portions of the Report and Recommendation to which objections have been made. This Court adopts the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation as the Opinion of this Court, with two exceptions: (1) the Court corrects the typographical error referencing "Rule 54(d)" instead of "Rule 56(d)" (ECF No. 140 at PageID.1949), and (2) the Corizon Defendants' initial motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 132) will not be dismissed as recommended by the Magistrate Judge, but will be considered corrected by the amended motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 133).

         Plaintiff presents eight objections to the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation. This Court will address each in turn.

         First, Plaintiff argues that the Magistrate Judge erred in stating that Plaintiff filed a 54(d) request rather than a Rule 56(d) request for discovery (PI. Obj., ECF No. 146 at PageID.2008; R&R, ECF No. 140 at PageID.1949). Plaintiff has accurately identified this typographical error on the Report and Recommendation, which references Plaintiffs requests for discovery through Rule 54(d), not Rule 56(d). Therefore, the Report and Recommendation references to Rule 54(d) are considered corrected to reference Rule 56(d).

         Plaintiff also objects to the Magistrate Judge's recommendation to deny Plaintiffs Rule 56(d) motion, as "clearly erroneous and contrary to law" (ECF No. 146 at PageID.2008, 2015). Rule 56(d) provides that "[i]f a nonmovant shows by affidavit or declaration that, for specified reasons, it cannot present facts essential to justify its opposition, the court may: (1) defer considering the motion or deny it; (2) allow time to obtain affidavits or declarations or to take discovery; or (3) issue any other appropriate order." Plaintiff asserts that he did not receive the discovery he requested to support his opposition to the instant motions (see ECF Nos. 32, 33, 34) due to a stay the Magistrate Judge granted the MDOC Defendants pending their motion to dismiss (ECF No. 35) and because the Corizon Defendants allegedly "totally evaded practically all requests" (ECF No. 146 at PageID.2013). However, the Magistrate Judge properly denied additional discovery both because none of the discovery Plaintiff claimed to need was directed to the issue of exhaustion or the pleadings and relief at issue in MDOC Defendants' motion, and because the Magistrate Judge was unpersuaded that Plaintiff required additional discovery from the Corizon Defendants beyond the voluminous medical records he already received (ECF No. 140 at PagelD. 1949-50). Plaintiff fails to demonstrate that there are essential facts he is unable to present to support his opposition to either dispositive motion, thereby falling short of the standard set out in Rule 56(d). Plaintiffs argument fails to demonstrate any factual or legal error in the Magistrate Judge's analysis or conclusion.

         Second, Plaintiff argues that the Magistrate Judge erred by relying extensively on exhibits that should have been disregarded or stricken from consideration (ECF No. 146 at PageID.2016-18). On July 11, 2017, the Corizon Defendants filed their first motion for summary judgment along with Exhibits A through E (ECF Nos. 132, 132-1 through 132-5). These exhibits included certifications by two Corizon Defendants, 178 pages of Plaintiffs medical records, and two supporting cases. On that same day, the Corizon Defendants filed a corrected motion for summary judgment without the exhibits (ECF No. 133). The only difference between the Corizon Defendants' first and corrected motion for summary judgment was the amended attempt for concurrence (ECF No. 140 at PagelD. 1948). Plaintiff contends that because the exhibits were not resubmitted with the corrected motion, they should not have been considered or relied upon by the Magistrate Judge. Drawing attention to the Magistrate Judge's admonition that "the Court will not permit any party to incorporate earlier-submitted evidence, pleadings, motions, or briefs by reference" (ECF No. Ill. at PageID.984), Plaintiff argues that the Magistrate Judge erred by extensively and almost exclusively using material not re-submitted by Corizon Defendants (PI.Obj., ECF No. 146 at PageID.2016-17). However, Plaintiff quoted only part of the directive the Magistrate Judge issued on March 28, 2017. The full directive states:

Given the fragmented nature of this case and the significant difficulty the Court has experienced in getting it into a posture ready for decision, the Court will not permit any party to incorporate earlier-submitted evidence, pleadings, motions, or briefs by reference. Orderly presentation by the parties is essential and it should allow the Court to move forward with significant dispatch towards resolution of this long-pending lawsuit (ECF No. 111 at PageID.984 (emphasis added)).

         A corrected version of the Corizon Defendants' motion for summary judgment referencing the earlier-filed exhibits posed no threat of fragmentation or confusion. Plaintiff cites no persuasive argument or authority to preclude the consideration of Exhibits A-E (ECF Nos. 132-1 through 132-5). This objection is denied.

         Third, Plaintiff asserts that the Magistrate Judge erred in his Statement of Facts in five respects (PI. Obj., ECF No. 146 at PageID.2018-21). While none of these issues alters the ruling in this case, the Court will address each.

         1

         Plaintiff asserts that the Magistrate Judge erred in stating that his HC V treatment followed the "latest national treatment guidelines;" however, the case law Plaintiff provides to support his contention actually affirms that the course of treatment he received met those national standards (ECF No. 146atPageID.2018-19;R&R, ECFNo. 140 at PageID.1952). Plaintiff cites case law in which the court noted, "[o]n July 6, 2016, these organizations[1] updated the standard care to recommend treating all persons with chronic HCV with DAA drugs." Postawko v. Mo. Dep't of Corr., 2:16-cv-04219, 2017 WL 1968317 at *2 (W.D. Mo. May 11, 2017). Plaintiff asserts that this is a far cry from the treatment Corizon claims Plaintiff received. However, on March 7, 2016, almost four months before this standard of care was updated, Plaintiff began the successful Harvoni (DAA drug) and ribavirin treatment protocol (ECF No. 132-1 at PagelD. 1282). Plaintiff has not shown that the Magistrate Judge's statement that "the MDOC follows the latest national treatment guidelines" was in error (see ECF No. 140 at PagelD. 1952).

         2

         Plaintiff also asserts that the Magistrate Judge erred by misleading this Court to conclude only two HCV treatment protocols existed, not three (ECF No. 146 at PageID.2019). This Court has reviewed this case de novo, including Dr. Hutchinson's testimony and Plaintiffs explanation of the treatment options, and does not find the Magistrate Judge's summary ...


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