Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Holwerda v. Kim

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

August 21, 2019

JOSHUA HOLWERDA, Plaintiff,
v.
DOOHAK KIM, Defendant.

          OPINION

          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.

         Discussion

         I. Factual allegations

          Plaintiff is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Muskegon Correctional Facility (MCF) in Muskegon, Michigan. The events about which he complains occurred at that facility. Plaintiff sues Dr. Doohak Kim, a dentist.

         Plaintiff alleges that Dr. Kim works for the MDOC. Dr. Kim treated Plaintiff on May 14, 2018. Dr. Kim called Plaintiff out to extract a tooth. Plaintiff told Dr. Kim that the roots of Plaintiff's teeth wrap around his jaw-a condition Plaintiff describes as “hooked roots.” For that reason, Plaintiff asked Dr. Kim to cut his tooth into sections before extracting it. Dr. Kim denied Plaintiff's request and attempted to pull the tooth. Dr. Kim's efforts fractured Plaintiff's jaw and Dr. Kim ended up having to cut Plaintiff's tooth into sections for removal. Plaintiff was regularly monitored, evaluated by an oral surgeon, provided pain relievers, and placed on a soft diet. Plaintiff notes that his jaw has healed without incident. Dr. Kim explained to Plaintiff that it was rare that roots would be so “hooked” that extraction would result in a broken jaw. (Step I Grievance, ECF No. 1-1, PageID.17.)

         Plaintiff claims that Dr. Kim should have at least taken x-rays and should have agreed to cut Plaintiff's tooth for removal in the first instance. Plaintiff contends Dr. Kim's decision to pull the tooth without cutting it constitutes deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Plaintiff also argues that Dr. Kim's actions denied Plaintiff due process in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.

         Plaintiff seeks a declaration that Dr. Kim violated his rights, an injunction ordering Dr. Kim to stop treating patients similarly situated to Plaintiff in the same way that he treated Plaintiff, and compensatory and punitive damages of $500, 000.

         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).

         III. Due Process

         Plaintiff alleges that Dr. Kim deprived Plaintiff of a “liberty interest protected in the substantive components of the Eighth Amendment . . . which is guaranteed and protected by . . . the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment . . . .” (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.8.) Plaintiff's allegation implicates substantive due process protections under the Fourteenth Amendment, which prohibits states from “depriv[ing] any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law[.]” U.S. Const. amend. XIV.

         “Substantive due process prevents the government from engaging in conduct that shocks the conscience or interferes with rights implicit in the concept of ordered liberty.” Prater v. City of Burnside, 289 F.3d 417, 431 (6th Cir. 2002). “Substantive due process serves the goal of preventing governmental power from being used for purposes of oppression, regardless of the fairness of the procedures used.” Pittman v. Cuyahoga Cty. Dep't of Children & Family Servs., 640 F.3d 716, 728 (6th Cir. 2011) (quoting Howard v. Grinage, 82 F.3d 1343, 1349 (6th Cir. 1996)). “Conduct shocks the conscience if it ‘violates the “decencies of civilized ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.