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Smith v. Davids

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

June 21, 2019

ASHTON A. SMITH, Plaintiff,
JOHN DAVIDS et al., Defendants.


          Paul L. Maloney 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 Defendants Davids, Washington, and Corizon.


          I. Factual Allegations

         Plaintiff is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Ionia Correctional Facility (ICF) in Ionia, Ionia County, Michigan. The events about which he complains, however, occurred at the Michigan Reformatory (RMI) in Ionia, Ionia County, Michigan. Plaintiff sues MDOC Director Heidi Washington, Corizon Health, Inc., RMI Warden John Davids, and RMI Nurses (unknown) Spear and James Leland.

         Plaintiff alleges that he became involved in a verbal altercation with RMI Nurse Page (not a Defendant) on July 26, 2018, because of his attempt to avoid waiting in the medication line. Nurse Page allegedly wrote a false major misconduct against Plaintiff, which resulted in Plaintiff being sent to segregation for several weeks. Plaintiff admits that he “cursed out” Nurse Page, and he asserts that the misconduct ticket was issued in retaliation for his having done so. (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.4.)

         Several days later, Nurse Page distributed medications to segregation prisoners, including Plaintiff. As a result of her interaction with Plaintiff, Page issued a second major misconduct charge, asserting that Plaintiff had again cursed her. Plaintiff claims that the misconduct charge was prompted by Plaintiff's refusal to apologize to Page. Between July 26 and August 8, 2018, Defendant Nurses Leland and Spear, as well as (unknown) Steward (not a Defendant), “verbally assaulted” him daily and refused to issue his medication, stating, “Your [sic] on Page's shitlist.” (Id.)

         Plaintiff had previously received several corneal transplants. He had been informed by his ophthalmologist, Dr. C. Hood, that, if he ever showed the slightest symptom of an eye infection, he should immediately inform healthcare personnel, because he was at high risk of permanent partial or total blindness from a corneal infection. Plaintiff realized that he had an eye infection on August 11, 2018, when he awoke with his right eye stuck shut from discharge. He informed Defendants Spear and Leland during the 1-Unit morning and evening medication lines. Defendants looked at his eye, but they refused to provide or refer him for medical care, because he refused to apologize to Defendant Page.

         The infection became worse on August 12 and 13, developing into a corneal infection, and the burning and pain became intolerable. Plaintiff's eye was even more swollen and red, and a white cloudy mass began to form over the cornea, obscuring Plaintiff's vision. The eye also discharged sticky pus. Defendants again refused Plaintiff medical help.

         On August 14, 2018, Plaintiff's eye was glued shut, his eye was purple and photosensitive, and it had a thick, solid mass covering nearly a third of his cornea. Plaintiff also suffered disorientation and vertigo secondary to the infection. Defendants again looked at the eye, but refused to provide medical treatment. On August 15, 2018, Plaintiff awoke with further eye deterioration, resulting in his inability to see more than shadows. Defendant Leland again refused to provide him treatment.

         Between August 11 and 15, 2018, Plaintiff repeatedly informed Defendants Spear and Leland that he possibly had a staph infection and corneal ulcer. He informed them of his history of corneal transplants and of the risk an infection posed to his vision. In addition, Plaintiff alleges that his history is contained in the prison medical records. Defendants repeatedly informed Plaintiff that, until he apologized to Page, he would not be provided treatment. Indeed, Defendant Leland made the following comments on successive days:

Just because your eye looks angry, that don't make you special . . . put in a kite and don't ask for any ice, - Do not know why Slusher gave you ice anyway, . . . you better get off Page's shitlist.
. . .
Damn it looks worse than yesterday! On a pain scale from 1 to 10, how bad is it? - Good!, should not have called ...

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