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Hilton v. Jackson

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

July 22, 2019

SHANE JACKSON 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.


         I. Factual allegations

         Plaintiff Edward Lee Hilton is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Earnest C. Brooks Correctional Facility (LRF) in Muskegon Heights, Michigan. The events about which he complains occurred at that facility and at the Charles Egeler Reception & Guidance Center (RGC) in Jackson, Michigan. Plaintiff sues the following MDOC employees at LRF: Warden Shane Jackson and Registered Nurse Amanda C. Fogarty.

         Plaintiff alleges that he has a foot and knee condition requiring special shoes. As he apparently described it in a kite to healthcare staff, he has “permanent foot and knee damage. [His] nerve[s] grow from under [his] toenails.” (7/24/2018 Kite Response, ECF No. 1-1, PageID.14.)

         In March 2018, Plaintiff complained to medical staff at RGC about his “foot and knee problems, ” and asked them to obtain his medical records from the V.A. Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.3.) He also asked for “special need shoes” from the V.A. (Id.) A nurse at RGC told Plaintiff that “We don't do special shoes here, you may follow up with that at your next facility.” (3/14/2018 Kite Response, ECF No. 1-1, PageID.12.)

         Plaintiff transferred to LRF in April 2018. Plaintiff alleges that he “immediately” filed “medical forms and other paperwork” to have a physician evaluate his condition. (Compl., PageID.3.) An attachment to his complaint indicates that he sent a health care request in June 2018, asserting that he needs “special boots” due to a “permanent condition.” (Health Care Request, ECF No. 1-1, PageID.13.)

         Defendant Fogarty responded to one of Plaintiff's requests, telling him that he is “scheduled with the medical provider this week and can discuss [his] requests at that time.” (7/24/2018 Kite Response, PageID.14.) In her response, Fogarty refers to Plaintiff's description of his condition as “permanent foot and knee damage” and “nerve[s] grow from under [his] toenails.” (Id.)

         Plaintiff contends that his condition is “deteriorating to the point he can barely walk” (Compl., PageID.5); however, nothing has been done to treat his condition or to alleviate his pain and suffering. He asserts that “[f]or the last ten (10) months all Plaintiff has been doing is ‘discussing' his ‘medical need' with the medical staff.” (Compl., PageID.6.) He blames the lack of treatment on the “intransigence” of Defendant Fogarty and a policy of Warden Jackson not to cooperate with inmates who are “attempting to maintain their health in such a debilitating environment.” (Id., PageID.6-7.)

         As relief, Plaintiff seeks a pair of “diabetic shoes and socks” until such time that the “V.A. Hospital can provide Plaintiff with shoes, boots, tennis shoes and socks[.]” (Compl., PageID.7.) He also seeks nominal damages for pain and suffering as well as reimbursement of his costs for filing the action.

         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 ยง 1983 is a method for vindicating federal rights, not a source of substantive rights itself, the first step in an action ...

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