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Runion v. Donnellon

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

August 27, 2019

Charles R. Runion, Plaintiff,
Tim Donnellon, et al., Defendants.

          Patricia T. Morris, Mag. Judge.



         Before the Court is plaintiff Charles R. Runion's pro se civil rights complaint filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Runion is currently confined in the St. Clair County Jail in Port Huron, Michigan. Runion's complaint names twenty defendants who provide health care services for the St. Clair County Sheriff's Department. Runion's claim for deliberate indifference arises out of the defendants' alleged failure to adequately treat his dental needs.

         I. Background

         Runion brings this case based on the denial of dental care despite ongoing pain and bleeding. Runion alleges he initially sought examination on November 9, 2018. He was examined by LPN Melissa, who gave him antibiotics and pain relievers for a suspected infection. (ECF No. 1, PageID.2.) When the treatment did not work, he returned to medical on November 16, 2018, and he saw LPN Mona. LPN Mona prescribed a different antibiotic and suggested he see a dentist. (Id. at PageID.3.) LPN Melissa saw him on several other occasions in November, and she eventually put Runion on a list to see N.P. Derik Evenson.

         It took Runion several attempts to be seen by Evenson. On November 28, 2018, the date initially set to see Evenson, LPN Tarrah told Runion he was not on the list and would not be seen. On another occasion, Runion alleges that RN Colleen Spencer refused to let him be seen by Evenson. As a result, Runion was not seen by Evenson until December 12, 2018, when he was given a second diagnosis: gingivitis. Evenson prescribed Runion a third medicine, an oral rinse, to be used for a couple of weeks. During a follow-up on January 9, 2019, Evenson noted the treatment was not working and referred Runion to a dentist.

         Runion was seen by a dentist on February 13, 2019. The dentist “informed plaintiff that he did not have gingivitis, ” but that plaque had built up in his roots such that Runion required a “deep root scale cleaning.” (Id. at PageID.8.) The dentist informed Runion that if he did not get the prescribed treatment, Runion would lose his “entire front lower teeth.” (Id.) The dentist also informed Runion that the need for the cleaning was urgent to prevent rot and decay that would lead to the loss of his teeth. (Id. at PageID.9.)

         But when Runion submitted a request to obtain the prescribed treatment, he was told by RN Spencer that he “probably won't be receiving it, ” because it “is not medically necessary.” (Id.) He sent two requests in March of 2019 that were both denied.

         II. Legal Standard

         Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), the Court must screen every prisoner complaint filed against a state or governmental entity. The Court is required to dismiss prisoner actions when the complaint is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A; 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c).

         While a complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's allegations must include more than labels and legal conclusions. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). 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.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009); 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)).

         A pro se civil rights complaint is to be construed liberally. Boag v. MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364, 365 (1982) (per curiam); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). But the Sixth Circuit has observed that “[d]espite the leniency afforded to . . . pro se litigant[s], however, our standard of review requires more than the bare assertion of legal conclusions, and thus the complaint ‘must contain either direct or inferential allegations respecting all the material elements' to recover under some viable legal theory.” Barhite v. Caruso, 377 Fed.Appx. 508, 510 (6th Cir. 2010) (quoting Mezibov v. Allen, 411 F.3d 712, 716 (6th Cir. 2005)).

         III. Analysis

         Runion brings civil rights claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against various defendants he came into contact with while ...

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