United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
SHERYL L. VANNORTWICK, as the Personal Representative of the Estate of CLAUDE STEVENS, Plaintiff,
ANTHONY H. STEWART, WILLIS CHAPMAN, VINDHYA S. JAYAWARDENA, ROBERT HILLYER, FRANCIS K. AWOSIKA, RUTH C. ROULEAU, CHRISTINE E. WHITE, LANA MCCARTHY, CORRECTIONS OFFICER CAROTON, CORRECTIONS OFFICERS JAMES, KEITH BARBER, ERIC MATTSON, LARRY MARSHALL, BARBARA BOLES, and CORIZON HEALTH, INC.,
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN
PART MOTIONS TO DISMISS
V. PARKER U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
lawsuit arises from the August 4, 2014 death of Claude
Stevens, while serving a three-year prison sentence in the
custody of the Michigan Department of Corrections
(“MDOC”). Plaintiff is the personal
representative of Mr. Stevens' estate. Defendants fall
within the following three categories:
(1) MDOC officers who interacted with Mr. Stevens prior to
his death: Assistant Residential Unit Supervisor
(“ARUS”) Christine White; Health Unit Manager
Lana McCarthy; and Corrections Officers Caroton and James;
(2) The entity with which MDOC contracted to provide medical
care to inmates, Corizon Health, Inc.
(“Corizon”), and health care doctors and nurses
working for Corizon or the subcontractor Corizon hired to
provide dialysis treatment: licensed physicians Vindhya S.
Jayawardena and Robert Hillyer; licensed nurse practitioner
Francis K. Awosika; registered nurse Ruth C. Rouleau;
dialysis nurse Larry Marshall; and dialysis technician
Barbara Boles; and,
(3) Individuals who investigated the medical care provided
Mr. Stevens during his incarceration or the circumstances
surrounding his death: Warden of the Detroit Reentry Center,
Anthony H. Stewart; Deputy Warden of the Detroit Reentry
Center, Willis Chapman; Administrative Assistant to the
Warden, Francis Konieczki; and Ombudsmen Keith Barber and
Amended Complaint filed September 11, 2017, Plaintiff asserts
the following claims against these defendants:
(I) An Eighth Amendment cruel and unusual punishment claim,
brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the
“Nurse Defendants” (Awosika, Rouleau, McCarthy,
Marshall, and Boles);
(II) An Eighth Amendment cruel and unusual punishment claim
under § 1983 against the “Physician
Defendants” (Jayawardena and Hillyer);
(III) An Eighth Amendment cruel and unusual punishment claim
under § 1983 against the “Corrections
Defendants” (White, Caroton, and James);
(IV) An Eighth Amendment failure to intervene claim under
§ 1983 against the “Ombudsmen Defendants”
(Barber and Mattson);
(V) An Eighth Amendment Conspiracy Claim under § 1983
against all individual defendants;
(VI) Wrongful death under Michigan law, Mich. Comp. Laws
§ 600.2922; and,
(VII) Breach of contract against Corizon.
(Am. Compl., ECF No. 16.) The Honorable John Corbett
O'Meara, to whom this case previously was assigned,
declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over
Plaintiff's state law breach of contract and wrongful
death claims and therefore sua sponte dismissed
without prejudice Counts VI and VII of Plaintiff's
Amended Complaint on September 19, 2017. (Order, ECF No.
September 22, 2017, Defendants Jayawardena, Awosika, and
Corizon filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (ECF No. 23.) Defendants Marshall
and Boles filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6)
on November 4, 2017. (ECF No. 41.) The motions have been
fully briefed. On February 16, 2018, Judge O'Meara
recused himself from this matter and it was assigned to the
undersigned. (ECF No. 62.) Finding the facts and legal
arguments sufficiently presented in the parties' briefs
in regard to the pending motions to dismiss, this Court is
dispensing with oral argument with respect to the motions
pursuant to Eastern District of Michigan Local Rule 7.1(h).
For the reasons that follows, the Court is granting in part
and denying in part the pending motions to dismiss.
Motion to Dismiss Standard
motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) tests the legal
sufficiency of the complaint. RMI Titanium Co. v.
Westinghouse Elec. Corp., 78 F.3d 1125, 1134 (6th Cir.
1996). Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), a
pleading must contain a “short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief.” To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint
need not contain “detailed factual allegations, ”
but it must contain more than “labels and
conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action . . ..” Bell Atlantic
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). A complaint
does not “suffice if it tenders ‘naked
assertions' devoid of ‘further factual
enhancement.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).
Supreme Court provided in Iqbal and
Twombly, “[t]o survive a motion to dismiss, a
complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on
its face.'” Id. (quoting 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.” Id. (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). The plausibility standard
“does not impose a probability requirement at the
pleading stage; it simply calls for enough facts to raise a
reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of
illegal [conduct].” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556.
deciding whether the plaintiff has set forth a
“plausible” claim, the court must accept the
factual allegations in the complaint as true. Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). This presumption,
however, is not applicable to legal conclusions.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 668. Therefore,
“[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not
suffice.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555).
August 2013, Mr. Stevens began serving his three-year prison
sentence in MDOC custody. Mr. Stevens' physical
evaluation during intake uncovered nothing remarkable. He had
undergone open heart surgery in November 2008; however, the
assessment of his cardiovascular system at intake revealed
“regular rhythm. No murmurs, gallops or rubs.”
mid-November 2013, Mr. Stevens began suffering flu-like
symptoms and approximately a week later experienced decreased
urine output and increased pain in his lower abdomen.
According to Plaintiff, prison medical staff failed to treat
Mr. Stevens' symptoms or perform any diagnostic tests to
determine their medical origins. In mid-December 2013,
however, MDOC medical staff referred Mr. Stevens to McLaren
Greater Lansing Hospital (“McLaren”) for medical
treatment. There, Mr. Stevens was diagnosed with acute renal
failure and acute diverticulitis of the large intestine,
which caused significant colonic perforations resulting in
sepsis and air in his abdomen. McLaren physicians also
diagnosed Mr. Stevens with toxic metabolic encephalopathy
attributed to his renal failure, which caused him to suffer
from delirium, periodic hallucinations, benign tremors, and
diminished speech capabilities.
mid-January 2014, Mr. Stevens was returned to the prison
population with the recommendation by McLaren physicians that
he receive hemodialysis three times a week and a follow-up
colonoscopy to determine the nature and extent of his
intestinal perforations. MDOC transferred Mr. Stevens to the
Detroit Reentry Center (hereafter “RRF”) in late
January 2014, so he could receive onsite dialysis. Throughout
February and March 2014, Drs. Jayawardena and Hillyer
declined to refer Mr. Stevens for a colonoscopy.
March 2014, Mr. Stevens began experiencing abdominal cramping
and observed blood in this stool. At that time, Dr.
Jayawardena referred him for a colonoscopy, which occurred at
McLaren on April 10, 2014. The colonoscopy revealed
ulcerative colitis throughout Mr. ...