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Board v. Unknown Smith

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

September 25, 2019

RYAN BOARD, Plaintiff,
v.
UNKNOWN SMITH et al., Defendants.

          OPINION

          ROBERT J. JONKER CHIEF 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 against Defendants Smith, Krause, and McLean. Plaintiff’s Eighth Amendment claims against Defendants Canlas and Unknown Part(y)(ies) #1 remain in the case.

         Discussion

         I. Factual Allegations

          Plaintiff is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Chippewa Correctional Facility (URF) in Kincheloe, Chippewa County, Michigan. The events about which he complains occurred at that facility. Plaintiff sues the following personnel at the URF facility: Nurses (unknown) Smith and Unknown Part(y)(ies); Doctor Bienvenido Canlas; Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) Jody M. Krause; and Grievance Coordinator Mike McLean.

         Plaintiff alleges that, on September 9, 2019, he went to health services for evaluation and treatment of pain and swelling in his left ear. Defendant Smith examined Plaintiff and informed him that he had an ear infection. She called a doctor and described Plaintiff’s symptoms. After speaking with the doctor, Defendant Smith gave Plaintiff some ibuprofen and acetaminophen, together with several orange antibiotic pills (amoxicillin), which she placed in a small envelope. Smith did not indicate what antibiotic had been prescribed, but she advised Plaintiff to take one pill at each meal. She directed Plaintiff to take the first antibiotic pill while he was still in the health care unit.

         Ten minutes after Plaintiff went back to his unit, Defendant Smith called him back to health care. Smith told Plaintiff that she had just noticed in his chart that Plaintiff was allergic to penicillin. Smith asked Plaintiff to retrieve the remainder of the pills and asked Plaintiff whether he had taken any. When Plaintiff reminded Smith that he had taken one in the health care unit, she advised Plaintiff that health care personnel would be checking on him. Defendant Smith exchanged the amoxicillin for azithromycin.

         After Plaintiff returned to his unit, he became dizzy and nauseous, and his neck and jaw swelled up. Plaintiff informed the correctional officer on duty that he was having symptoms of an allergic reaction. The officer sent Plaintiff back to health services, where Defendant Smith prescribed Plaintiff Benadryl to combat the allergic reaction. Smith told Plaintiff to go back to his unit and lie down.

         Later that day, Plaintiff was called to health care, where he saw Defendant Nurse Unknown Part(y)(ies). Defendant checked Plaintiff’s mouth and saw swelling of the tongue and throat. The nurse told Plaintiff that he had a fever of 104° and gave him Motrin. Plaintiff was told to wait three days, until Tuesday, September 13, 2018, when the doctor was scheduled to come in.

         Plaintiff did not see the doctor on September 13. During the four days following his visit with the unknown nurse, Plaintiff’s ear infection grew worse, and he suffered with ongoing symptoms of the allergic reaction, including a swollen throat and tongue, hearing loss, high fever, and itchy skin all over his body. He could not hold down either food or water and had constant headaches. Plaintiff claims that both the Unknown Nurse Defendant who saw him on September 9, and Defendant Dr. Canlas who originally prescribed the offending antibiotic and later the Benadryl to fight the allergic reaction, did nothing to address Plaintiff’s serious and ongoing medical needs during this time.

         When Plaintiff was finally seen in health care on September 14, 2018, Defendant Canlas discovered that Plaintiff had developed a second ear infection in his right ear. Plaintiff alleges that Nurse Practitioner Wilson (not a Defendant) provided him with Bactrim until a better medicine was ordered and received by the facility. On September 20, 2019, Plaintiff was issued Trimethoprim to treat the ear infection. He took the medication until September 30, 2018. Plaintiff complains, however, that he continued to suffer with symptoms of the allergic reaction until about October 5, 2018.

         Plaintiff alleges that he filed multiple kites to health services. Defendant LPN Krause received Plaintiff’s kite on September 20, 2019. She responded that she had forwarded the kite to Health Unit Manager Melissa LaPlaunt, noting that Plaintiff had filed multiple complaints about being given an antibiotic to which he was allergic and from which he was experiencing symptoms. Plaintiff contends that Defendant Krause knew or should have known that his condition was serious, but she provided him no treatment.

         Plaintiff filed a grievance on September 12, 2018. Defendant McLean, however, rejected the grievance on September 18, because Plaintiff had not attempted to resolve the issue with the person most directly involved. Defendant McLean gave Plaintiff the option of attempting to resolve the issue with health services and refiling a new grievance. Plaintiff sent a memorandum to Health Unit Manager Melissa LaPlaunt, to which he attached the rejected grievance. When he received no response, Plaintiff filed a new grievance, which Defendant McLean rejected as duplicative of Plaintiff’s first rejected grievance. Plaintiff again filed a grievance, attaching the earlier rejection letter and its instructions, together with copies of his kites to health care. Plaintiff pursued all three grievances through the third step of the grievance process.

         Plaintiff contends that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs when they erroneously prescribed and issued him a medication to which he was known to be allergic. He also alleges that Defendants delayed treating or failed to adequately treat both his serious allergic reaction to the medication and his progressive ear infection. Plaintiff complains that Defendant McLean retaliated against ...


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