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Ragland v. Corizon Medical Providers, Inc.

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

August 6, 2019




         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 Williams and Washington.


          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 Corizon Health, Inc.[1](Corizon), MDOC Director Heidi E. Washington, LMF Medical Provider (unknown) Olette; LMF Nurse Practitioner (unknown) Williams, and Unknown Party #1 (an unknown Assistant Chief Medical Officer (ACMO)).[2]

         Plaintiff alleges that neurologist Harish Rawal, M.D., performed fusion surgery on the L4-L5 section of Plaintiff's spine on June 20, 2017. At a follow-up consultation on July 31, 2017, Dr. Rawal completed a written referral for Plaintiff to return in six months for another post-surgical evaluation. According to Plaintiff, it took the filing of a grievance and telephone calls from his family to get the follow-up appointment scheduled, which did not take place until nearly a year later.

         Plaintiff alleges that, during this time, he kept complaining about his back. At some point, an x-ray was performed. After Plaintiff filed a complaint, he was scheduled for an MRI. He was seen by the neurologist in 2018 at Ford Hospital. The neurologist explained that the only thing that could be done for his ongoing problems was pain management.

         When Plaintiff returned to the prison, Corizon provider Tammy Kelly (not a Defendant) saw Plaintiff and prescribed a five-day course of Ultram, which Plaintiff alleges relieved his pain to some degree. After five days, a Corizon provider (presumably Tammy Kelly) informed Plaintiff that she would like to try a combination of the medications Elavil and Cymbalta. Plaintiff agreed. When Plaintiff began taking the medications, however, he became depressed and began drooling. Plaintiff returned to Tammy Kelly, who gave him another five-day prescription for Ultram, together with a prescription for steroids. The steroids provided no pain relief.

         Plaintiff has received a series of epidural steroid shots, which only gave him minor pain relief for about a week at a time. Medical provider Tammy Kelly twice completed form recommendations that Plaintiff's five-day Ultram prescription be extended. However, the pain-management committee denied the requests and instructed Plaintiff to use over-the-counter pain medications, which Plaintiff claims are ineffective.

         On May 28, 2019, Plaintiff was again seen by a neurologist at Henry Ford Allegiance Hospital in Jackson, Michigan. Plaintiff received another series of epidural steroid shots. In his conversation with the neurologist, the doctor informed Plaintiff that he was permitted to prescribe Neurontin to Plaintiff, given that other medications had failed to relieve Plaintiff's pain.

         Plaintiff was scheduled to be seen by a prison medical provider on June 5, 2019. Plaintiff believed that he would see Sandra Groff (not a Defendant). However, when he arrived at his appointment, he discovered that he would be seen by Defendant Olette, whom Plaintiff calls “Dr. Death.” (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.7.) Defendant Olette informed Plaintiff that the pain-management committee would not authorize the pain medication Plaintiff wanted. But she would ask for Elavil. When Plaintiff responded that he could not take Elavil, Defendant Olette allegedly became irate. Plaintiff next attempted to talk to Olette about a heart issue he had begun experiencing in March 2019, which had been diagnosed as angina and for which he had been prescribed nitroglycerin tablets. Plaintiff complained to Defendant Olette that the pills were too strong, and he requested something less potent. He also requested that Defendant Olette refer him for a heart stress test.

         Defendant Olette responded that she did not have the time during the appointment to discuss the heart issue. Plaintiff told Olette that he did not want to be misdiagnosed by Olette like several prisoners who had subsequently died. Olette ordered Plaintiff out of her office. Plaintiff argues that he was dismissed from the medical appointment simply because he inquired about his heart issue. Plaintiff contends that Defendant Olette misdiagnosed a number of prisoners in the past, including prisoner Holloway, who recently passed away after Olette misdiagnosed Holloway's heart condition.

         Plaintiff next complains that he has been diagnosed with hepatitis C. He alleges that he has filed several grievances and spoken with several Corizon medical providers, but he has allegedly been denied participation in the protocol for treatment of hepatitis. Plaintiff contends that he is at the first stage of the disease, but the protocol applies only to those who have reached the second stage. He therefore contends that he is being denied equal protection with other similarly situated prisoners.

         With respect to both his back pain and his hepatitis, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants have been deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs, in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Plaintiff alleges a ...

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