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Ali v. Stranley

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

May 31, 2019

RESSIE STRANLEY et al., Defendants.


          Janet T. Neff, 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.


         I. Factual allegations

         Plaintiff is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Chippewa Correctional Facility (URF) in Kincheloe, Chippewa County, Michigan. The events about which he complains occurred at that facility. Plaintiff sues Ressie Stranley, R.N., Case Manager Mellindy Chapin, Alexsandra Wilonawski, M.D., Sandra Wilson, N.P., Robbin Waybrant, R.N., Warden Connie Horton, and URF Special Health Care.

         Plaintiff's complaint consists of a jumble of largely unintelligible assertions regarding his treatment by health care. Plaintiff has three years left on his sentence. Plaintiff alleges that he is a “type A diabetic” who is subject to low blood sugar. Plaintiff weighs 233 pounds, is six feet two inches, has bad knees and ankles, and fallen arches. Plaintiff has bipolar disorder and the medication that he has been taking caused him to lose 19 pounds. Consequently, the doctor prescribed a snack bag for Plaintiff in addition to his meals. Plaintiff states that he was given Senna, which caused him to suffer from the low blood sugar. Plaintiff states that he takes Cymbalta and “Hydrocr” water pill, and believes that the two medications interact to cause serious side effects. Plaintiff filed a grievance regarding this concern.

         On March 1, 2019, Defendant Chapin saw Plaintiff for symptoms of influenza, such as a fever, difficulty breathing, and a stuffy nose which made it difficult for Plaintiff to eat or drink. Defendant Chapin was wearing a mask to protect her from becoming ill. Plaintiff was seen on March 6, 2019, by Defendant Stranley for an influenza check. Plaintiff claims that his fever was down from 108 to 100.4. Plaintiff was placed on bed rest from his job on the yard crew, but Defendant Stranley could see that he was breathing normally. Defendant Stranley released Plaintiff from health care and he had to wait by himself in the cold. Plaintiff states that on March 8, 2019, he was seen by Defendant Wilonawski, who unkindly told Plaintiff that he would not be ready for release by his ERD (earliest release date) and would be kept in level IV. Defendant Wilonawski also told Plaintiff that he did not need a food bag.

         On March 9, 2019, Plaintiff was seen by Defendant Wilonawski, who told him that his cataracts might be due to high blood pressure. In addition, Defendant Wilonawski also said that it could be caused by ultraviolet rays. Defendant Wilonawski told Plaintiff that his liver enzymes were elevated because of his age and Hepatitis C diagnosis and that he needed to be moved to a prison closer to home for treatment near his release.

         Plaintiff states that the Defendants' conduct toward him was unprofessional and constituted malpractice. Plaintiff seeks equitable relief, specifically an inhaler, a walking cane, orthopedic shoes, salt or mouthwash, and different medications which will not cause side effects.

         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 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)).

         To 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 asserts that the medical treatment he received from Defendants violated his rights. Plaintiff does not specifically state that Defendants' conduct violated the Eighth Amendment, but merely claims that it constituted medical malpractice. The 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).

         A claim 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 Cty., 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, 390 F.3d at 898, the plaintiff ...

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