United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
J. JONKER CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
a civil rights action brought by a state prisoner under 42
U.S.C. § 1983. Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act,
Pub. L. No. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321 (1996) (PLRA), 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 against all Defendants for failure
to state a claim.
is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of
Corrections (MDOC) at the Central Michigan Correctional
Facility (STF) in St. Louis, Gratiot County, Michigan. The
events about which he complains, however, occurred at the
Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility (IBC) in Ionia, Ionia
County, Michigan. Plaintiff sues IBC Nurses Joan Alfrey,
Meridith J. Hammond, Kevin D. Corning, Lindsey K. Taylor,
Mitchell S. Williams, Jerry C. Ritz, Karen Rosa, Sherri
Gregurek,  S. Buskirk, and A. Kamp, as well as one or
more IBC Unknown Medical Providers (Doctors). He also sues
Nurse and Clinical Adminstrative Assistant, Jackson Health
Care Office Administration, Sabrina Aiken; Nurse R. Harbaugh
from the MDOC's Bureau of Health Care Services; MDOC
Manager of the Grievance Section, Office of Legal Affairs,
Richard D. Russell, and the Michigan Department of
alleges that he suffers from back pain. Plaintiff's
complaint tracks his attempts to get medical care to relieve
his back pain beginning in January of 2015 and continuing
through November of 2016. Plaintiff's brief allegations
are augmented by documents he attaches to his complaint
including Health Care Requests, Grievances, and Responses.
Plaintiff contends that each of the Defendants played some
role in denying him treatment for his back pain. He claims
that each Defendant was deliberately indifferent to his
serious medical need in violation of his Eighth Amendment
rights. Plaintiff seeks $100, 000.00 in damages from each
Failure to state a claim
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)).
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 § 1983 is a method for vindicating
federal rights, not a source of substantive rights itself,
the first step in an action under § 1983 is to identify
the specific constitutional right allegedly infringed.
Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994).
Plaintiff alleges that Defendants have violated the Eighth
Eighth Amendment prohibits the infliction of cruel and
unusual punishment against those convicted of crimes. U.S.
Const. amend. VIII. The Eighth Amendment obligates prison
authorities to provide medical care to incarcerated
individuals, as a failure to provide such care would be
inconsistent with contemporary standards of decency.
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 102, 103-04 (1976). The
Eighth Amendment is violated when a prison official is
deliberately indifferent to the serious medical needs of a
prisoner. Id. at 104-05; Comstock v.
McCrary, 273 F.3d 693, 702 (6th Cir. 2001).
for the deprivation of adequate medical care has an objective
and a subjective component. Farmer v. Brennan, 511
U.S. 825, 834 (1994). To satisfy the objective component, the
plaintiff must allege that the medical need at issue is
sufficiently serious. Id. In other words, the inmate
must show that he is incarcerated under conditions posing a
substantial risk of serious harm. Id. The objective
component of the adequate medical care test is satisfied
“[w]here the seriousness of a prisoner's need[ ]
for medical care is obvious even to a lay person.”
Blackmore v. Kalamazoo Cnty., 390 F.3d 890, 899 (6th
Cir. 2004). If the plaintiff's claim, however, is based
on “the prison's failure to treat a condition
adequately, or where the prisoner's affliction is
seemingly minor or non-obvious, ” Blackmore v.
Kalamazoo Cnty., 390 F.3d 890, 898 (6th Cir. 2004), the
plaintiff must “place verifying medical evidence in the
record to establish the detrimental effect of the delay in
medical treatment, ” Napier v. Madison Cnty.,
238 F.3d 739, 742 (6th Cir. 2001) (internal quotation marks
subjective component requires an inmate to show that prison
officials have “a sufficiently culpable state of mind
in denying medical care.” Brown v. Bargery,
207 F.3d 863, 867 (6th Cir. 2000) (citing Farmer,
511 U.S. at 834). Deliberate indifference “entails
something more than mere negligence, ” Farmer,
511 U.S. at 835, but can be “satisfied by something
less than acts or omissions for the very purpose of causing
harm or with knowledge that harm will result.”
Id. Under Farmer, “the official must
both be aware of 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.
complaint allegations as to the conduct of each Defendant are
conclusory and general. He attributes the denial of medical
treatment to “all Defendants.” He states that
“all Defendants” have acted with deliberate
indifference. In the body of his complaint, he does not even
mention the conduct of a specific Defendant until he
describes the actions of Defendants Buskirk, Aikin, Harbaugh,
and Russell during August, September and November of 2016
when they denied Plaintiff's grievances.
the documents attached to Plaintiff's complaint give some
clue as to the role each Defendant played in the alleged
denial of medical care.
Nurse Joan Alfrey.
August 21, 2015, Plaintiff sent a Health Care Request asking
to see the doctor about back pain. (8/21/2015 Health Care
Request, ECF No. 1, PageID.9.) He reported that the pain was
“really bad” and causing discomfort and a lack of
sleep. (Id.) Nurse Joan Alfrey responded on August
24, 2015. (8/24/2015 Kite Response, ECF No. 1, PageID.10.)
She commented that in addition to acetaminophen, Plaintiff
should continue to take ibuprofen as an anti-inflammatory.
(Id.) In addition, she recommended that Plaintiff
stay active by walking. (Id.) Finally, Nurse Alfrey
told Plaintiff to rekite if needed. (Id.)
is no other mention of Defendant Alfrey in the complaint.
Plaintiff's allegations indicate that he knew that the
nurse Defendants did not have the authority to provide the
relief he was seeking. He admits that the nurses could not
prescribe the medications or order the MRI he wanted. Thus,
one cannot infer deliberate indifference from the nurses'
failure to prescribe medications or order an MRI.
there is nothing in the complaint to suggest the nurses
ignored Plaintiff's requests for help. Whenever one of
the Defendant nurses intervened, he or she would implement
the prescribed course of treatment or schedule an appointment
as requested. Therefore, Plaintiff's allegations
regarding Defendant Alfrey, and all the other nurses, falls
well short of identifying the requisite indifferent state of
mind. Based on the limited information Plaintiff has
provided, he has failed to state a deliberate indifference
claim against Nurse Alfrey.
Nurse Meredith Hammond
August 26, 2015, Plaintiff sent a Health Care Request asking
to see a doctor because his back pain was bad and
over-the-counter medications were not working. (8/26/2015
Health Care Request, ECF No. 1, PageID.11.) On August 28,
2015, Nurse Hammond responded by ...