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Owusu v. Michigan Department of Corrections Pain Management Committee

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

September 24, 2019

Nathaniel K. Owusu, a.k.a. Nathaniel Porter, Plaintiff,
Michigan Department of Corrections Pain Management Committee, et al., Defendants.

          Mag. Judge Mona K. Majzoub



         Before the Court are two motions for summary judgment. First is defendants Corizon Health, Inc., Keith Papendick, M.D., Susan Wilson, N.P., Bryan Buller, M.D., Corey Grahn, N.P., Danielle Paquette, P.A., Michael Milette, P.A., Craig Hutchinson, M.D., and Oliver Johnson, M.D.’s (together, the “Corizon defendants”) motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 155, PageID.1969.) Second is defendants the Michigan Department of Corrections (“MDOC”) Pain Management Committee, William Borgerding, Gary Kerstein, Teri Byrne, Theresa Merling, and Michael Brown’s (together, the “MDOC defendants”) motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 185, PageID.3519.)

         Magistrate Judge Mona K. Majzoub issued a report and recommendation on July 19, 2019 (“R&R”), recommending that the motions be granted, and the case be dismissed. (ECF No. 194, PageID.4102.) Plaintiff Nathaniel K. Owusu filed four objections to the R&R on August 14, 2019. (ECF No. 198, PageID.4156.) Owusu’s filing contained an objection to Judge Majzoub’s separate opinion and order of July 19, 2019, denying his motion to strike the Corizon defendants’ reply in support of their motion for summary judgment.[1] (ECF No. 193.)

         For the reasons set forth below, Owusu’s objections are overruled. Both motions for summary judgment are granted and the case is dismissed with prejudice.

         I. Background

         Owusu filed this action on June 30, 2016, bringing thirteen counts against defendants alleging violations of his First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights related to his medical treatment while in prison. (ECF No. 1.) Owusu’s claims are more fully set forth in the R&R (ECF No. 194, PageID.4103–4105), but include counts for grossly inadequate medical treatment, delay and denial of treatment for serious medical conditions, retaliation, and deliberate indifference resulting in infliction of pain. (ECF No. 1.) Owusu alleges that he suffers from, among other conditions, degenerative musculoskeletal disease that causes him chronic pain. (ECF No. 1, PageID.7–9.) Owusu initiated several grievances relating to his medical care, as set forth below, and this case relates to the subject matter set forth in those grievances.

         II. Analysis

         A. Objection to Opinion and Order (ECF No. 193)

         Owusu’s first objection regards Magistrate Judge Majzoub’s non-dispositive opinion and order denying Owusu’s motion to strike (the “Order”). (ECF No. 193.) The Corizon defendants filed a reply in support of their motion for summary judgment on January 14, 2019. (ECF No. 173.) Owusu filed a motion to strike the reply as untimely. (ECF No. 177.) The Order denied Owusu’s motion to strike and declined “to entertain the parties’ quibbling over the timeliness of Plaintiff’s and the Corizon Defendants’ responsive briefing.” (ECF No. 193, PageID.4100.)

         Generally, “[c]ourts have wide discretion to manage their own dockets.” Reed v. Rhodes, 179 F.3d 453, 471 (6th Cir. 1999); and see In re Univ. of Mich., No. 19-1636, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 25304, at *6, ___F.3d.___(6th Cir. Aug. 23, 2019) (“Congress has given district courts great control over their dockets. After all, the modern federal district judge faces a challenge-she must balance administering just and lawful outcomes with the need to move cases along.”)

         Owusu’s objection on a non-dispositive pretrial matter will only be granted if he can show that “any part of the order [ ] is clearly erroneous or is contrary to law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a); see 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A). “Clear error will be found only when the reviewing court is left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed.” Max Trucking, LLC v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Corp., 802 F.3d 793, 808 (6th Cir. 2015) (citing Anderson v. City of Bessemer, 470 U.S. 564, 573 (1985)).

         Owusu argues that the Order is “contrary to law” and “highly prejudicial” because “in almost verbatim fashion, the [M]agistrate [J]udge adopted the defendants’ arguments that plaintiff failed to exhaust administrative remedies without carrying their ‘high burden’ of persuasion in their summary judgment motion.” (ECF No. 198, PageID.4156.) Owusu’s argument is conclusory and does not identify a clear error committed by the Magistrate Judge requiring that the Order be set aside. The Order was well within the Magistrate Judge’s discretion to manage the docket in this case. Therefore, this objection is overruled.

         B. Objections to R&R

         Next are Owusu’s objections to the R&R. For the reasons set forth below, his objections are overruled.

         i. Legal Standard for Objections on Dispositive Motions

         A party may object to a magistrate judge’s report and recommendation on dispositive motions, and a district judge must resolve proper objections under a de novo standard of review. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B)–(C); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(1)–(3). “For an objection to be proper, Eastern District of Michigan Local Rule 72.1(d)(1) requires parties to ‘specify the part of the order, proposed findings, recommendations, or report to which [the party] objects’ and to ‘state the basis for the objection.’” Pearce v. Chrysler Group LLC Pension Plan, 893 F.3d 339, 346 (6th Cir. 2018). Objections that restate arguments already presented to the magistrate judge are improper, Coleman-Bey v. Bouchard, 287 F. App’x 420, 422 (6th Cir. 2008) (citing Brumley v. Wingard, 269 F.3d 629, 647 (6th Cir. 2001)), as are those that are vague and dispute the general correctness of the report and recommendation. Miller v. Currie, 50 F.3d 373, 380 (6th Cir. 1995).

         Moreover, objections must be clear so that the district court can “discern those issues that are dispositive and contentious.” Id. (citing Howard v. Sec’y of Health and Human Servs., 932 F.2d 505, 509 (6th Cir. 1991)); see also Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 147 (1985) (explaining that objections must go to “factual and legal” issues “at the heart of the parties’ dispute”). In sum, Owusu’s objections must be clear and specific enough to permit the Court to squarely address them on the merits. See Pearce, 893 F.3d at 346. Because Owusu is self-represented, the Court will construe his objections liberally. See Boswell v. Mayer, 169 F.3d 384, 387 (6th Cir. 1999) (“Pro se plaintiffs enjoy the benefit of a liberal construction of their pleadings and filings.”).

         ii. ...

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