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Tippins v. Parish

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

October 15, 2019

JOHNNY TIPPINS, Plaintiff,
v.
LES PARISH et al., Defendants.

          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 Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 21, the Court is permitted to drop parties sua sponte when the parties have been misjoined. Pursuant to that rule, the Court will drop as misjoined Defendants Parish, Bassett, Spencley, Nichols, Vogue, McGlone, Wert, Anderson, and Martinson and dismiss Plaintiff's claims against them without prejudice.

         With regard to the claims that remain, 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). Reviewing Plaintiff's remaining claims against that standard, the Court will dismiss all of Plaintiff's claims against remaining Defendants J. Dalton, J. Bellinger, Patricia Lamb, and Corizon Healthcare, Inc.

         Discussion

         I. Factual Allegations

         Plaintiff is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Oaks Correctional Facility (ECF) in Manistee, Michigan. The events about which he complains occurred at that facility. Plaintiff sues ECF healthcare providers J. Dalton, J. Bellinger, and Patricia Lamb as well as Corizon Healthcare, Inc. He also sues ECF Warden Les Parish; Grievance Coordinator T. Bassett; Assistant Deputy Warden J. Spencley; and Corrections Officers B. Nichols, Unknown Vogue, Unknown McGlone, Unknown Wert, Unknown Anderson, and Unknown Martinson.

         A. Healthcare Defendants

         Plaintiff arrived at ECF on April 11, 2019. Plaintiff suffers from Graves disease. On May 14, 2019, Plaintiff saw Defendant Dalton, a Corizon employee according to Plaintiff, for annual lab work. He complained of Graves disease symptoms and asked to see an endocrinologist and to be treated with the medication Tapazole. Instead, Dalton ordered stool samples and x-rays of Plaintiff's neck, chest, and stomach. Petitioner attaches the results of the lab work and x-rays to his complaint. (ECF No. 1-1, PageID.25.) Defendant Dalton reported that “[n]o significant abnormality exists.” (Id.) Nonetheless, she invited Plaintiff to kite for re-evaluation if his symptoms did not resolve. (Id.)

         Plaintiff grieved Dalton two days after he met with her. He claimed he was being deprived of medical treatment that the deprivation was affecting his heart. (5/16/19 Grievance, ECF No. 1-1, PageID.20-24.) Defendant Bellinger responded to the grievance, denying it because “[Plaintiff's] disagreement with the treatment plan [did] not constitute a denial of care.” (Id., PageID.21.)[1]

         Plaintiff appealed Bellinger's response, claiming that Corizon did not treat preexisting conditions or African Americans for pre-existing conditions. (Id., PageID.23.) Defendant Lamb denied Petitioner's appeal. She reviewed the medical record, noted that testing did not identify any underlying pathology. (Id., PageID.22.) She also noted that Plaintiff's continued concerns had prompted an unidentified ECF nurse to refer Plaintiff to a medical provider for further evaluation. (Id.)

         Plaintiff appealed Defendant Lamb's resolution of his first appeal. He was again denied relief. Plaintiff claims that Defendant Corizon altered his lab results. (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.6.) Plaintiff also claims that Corizon has sent a white prisoner, Rouse, to Jackson for treatment of pre-existing conditions, but refused to send Plaintiff because he is African-American. (Id., PageID.7.) Plaintiff also contends that Corizon does not provide healthcare to African-American prisoners as evidenced by the fact that Plaintiff complained of Graves disease symptoms for years and Corizon forces him to pay a co-pay for treatment. (Id., PageID.6.) Finally, Plaintiff complains that Defendant Dalton refused to give Plaintiff a snack bag and did not allow Plaintiff to see a dietician.

         B. Complaints about food service

         On May 26, 2019, Plaintiff filed a grievance raising two issues relating to food service: (1) for a particular meal combination-cornbread hot dogs, potatoes, and beans-the kitchen routinely substituted corn for potatoes; and (2) meals are not served hot. (5/26/2019 Grievance, ECF No. 1-1, PageID.26.) Plaintiff claims the corn for potatoes substitution results in a calorie reduction which makes it difficult for Plaintiff, a borderline diabetic, to maintain his weight. Defendants T Bassett and J. Spencley rejected the grievance because it raised multiple issues. Plaintiff appealed the rejection. Defendant Parish denied the appeal.

         C. Complaint about requiring inmates to wear a shirt

         On July 19, Plaintiff was exercising in the yard. He pulled the front of his shirt over his head to relieve himself from the heat. Defendant Martinson told Plaintiff he could not wear his shirt that way and directed Plaintiff to pull his shirt down. Plaintiff refused and gave his identification card to Martinson and told Martinson to write a ticket. Martinson went inside to talk with Vogue. Plaintiff claims Martinson returned with instructions from Vogue to order Plaintiff to return to his cell under threat of placement in segregation.

         Plaintiff wrote grievances with regard to the shirt issue. Defendants Bassett and Spencley rejected the grievances. Plaintiff contends there is no justification for implementing a policy that prohibits male inmates from showing their “chest nipples.” (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.8.) He claims the policy is illegal, violates human rights, and fails to acknowledge health conditions, such as Plaintiff's Graves disease which affects heat regulation.

         D. Complaint about drinking water

         Plaintiff claims the water in his cell tastes salty. He has been told that the water is softened. Plaintiff contends the water is contaminated and that corrections officers bring their own water. Defendant Parish refuses to explain. Defendants Nichols and Spencley rejected a grievance about it.

         E. Plaintiff's bowl

         On July 28, Plaintiff had a confrontation with Defendant Vogue regarding his bowl. Plaintiff notes that he is indigent and does not possess a drinking cup. Instead, he uses a bowl. Vogue threatened to take the bowl after Plaintiff started filing grievances. Vogue called Plaintiff out of his cell and then ordered Plaintiff to not stop at the water fountain to fill his bowl with drinking water. Vogue ordered Plaintiff to give up the bowl. Plaintiff refused to yield the bowl instead offering his ID card. Vogue aggressively snatched the card “assaulting” Plaintiff with the card such that it scratched Plaintiff's hand as Vogue yanked it away.[2]

         Vogue wrote a ticket against Plaintiff for disobeying a direct order. The ticket reviewer reduced it from a Class II offense to a Class III offense. Plaintiff claims Vogue was enraged and threatened to have Plaintiff's throat cut. He also threatened to commit a serious assault against Plaintiff.

         F. Electronic law library

         Defendant Wert would not let Plaintiff use the electronic law library even though Prisoner Counselor Holden had given Plaintiff permission. Plaintiff threatened to grieve Wert; Wert wrote a ticket on Plaintiff. ...


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