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Gentry v. Corizon Health, Inc.

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

May 6, 2019

RICHARD CHARLES GENTRY, Plaintiff,
v.
CORIZON HEALTH, INC. et al., Defendants.

          OPINION

          ROBERT J. JONKER, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This is 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 for failure to state a claim against Defendant State of Michigan. Defendants Yarid, Kelley, and Corizon Health, Inc. remain in the case.

         Discussion

         I. Factual Allegations

         Plaintiff is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Lakeland Correctional Facility (LCF) in Coldwater, Branch County, Michigan. The events about which he complains occurred at that facility. Plaintiff sues the State of Michigan (by and through the MDOC), Corizon Health, Inc. (Corizon), LCF Doctor Ravi D. Yarid, D.O., and LCF Nurse Practitioner (NP) Tammy J. Kelley.

         Plaintiff alleges that, on January 10, 2018, he slipped on black ice several times, causing injuries to his neck, right shoulder, and lower back. On March 14, 2018, Defendant Dr. Yarid performed certain manipulations on Plaintiff's back, which Plaintiff believes were unorthodox. During these manipulations, Defendant Yarid forcibly jerked Plaintiff's leg and foot forward while Plaintiff was supine and subsequently thrust his fist into places on Plaintiff's back, using the doctor's full body weight. Plaintiff alleges that the treatment exacerbated his pain. Defendant Yarid assured Plaintiff that his pain would begin to subside. Instead, the pain remained and, after two months, Plaintiff experienced chronic numbness and tingling in his right foot.

         Plaintiff alleges that he wrote several medical kites and filed two grievances about his lack of treatment. On July 5, 2018, Plaintiff was called to health care, where he was seen by Defendant Kelley, who informed Plaintiff that Defendant Yarid no longer worked at the facility. After examining Plaintiff, Kelley ordered x-rays and an EMG (electromyogram) on Plaintiff's back. An x-ray was taken, and Plaintiff saw Dr. Dennis Dafris at the Neurology Center in Coldwater for an EMG on August 22, 2018. Dr. Dafris told Plaintiff that he had a pinched nerve in his lower back that had caused nerve damage to his legs and feet. Dr. Dafris advised Plaintiff that he would send instructions about treatment to the prison.

         Over the next three months, however, Defendant Kelley never again consulted with Plaintiff about his back injuries. Instead, she repeatedly told him, “We're not discussing that today.” (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.7.) Plaintiff saw Defendant Kelley for the last time on September 25, 2018. Neither Kelley nor any other medical provider advised Plaintiff of the results of his EMG test or about a treatment plan.

         On October 23, 2018, Plaintiff was called to health services for an annual examination. He met with NP Groff, who informed him that Defendant Kelley no longer worked at the facility. NP Groff informed Plaintiff that she knew nothing about his injury or prior tests and treatment. After Plaintiff explained his history, NP Groff asked if he wanted to try physical therapy.

         Plaintiff complains that he later was told that Corizon officials denied physical therapy pending the outcome of an MRI. The MRI was performed on December 10, 2018. Plaintiff then was told that surgery was rejected in favor of physical therapy, which was scheduled to begin on January 16, 2019. However, at the first therapy session, the physical therapist told Plaintiff that he could not do anything about the injuries, though he demonstrated a number of exercises that might alleviate some pain.

         On February 10, 2019, NP Groff called Plaintiff on an unrelated matter. When Plaintiff asked about surgery, Groff advised that no request for surgery had been sent but that she was sending a request to the Regional Medical Director for a surgery consultation on the pinched nerve in Plaintiff's back. Plaintiff alleges that he has never been informed of the full results of his EMG or of the recommendations made by the neurologist who conducted it.

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendants have been deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs, in violation of the Eighth Amendment. He seeks injunctive relief in the form of adequate medical treatment, together with compensatory and punitive damages.

         II. Failure to State a Claim

         A 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 ...


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