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Daniels v. Falk

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

November 12, 2019

DEREK FALK, Defendant.


          Paul L Maloney 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.


         I. Factual allegations

         Plaintiff is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Marquette Branch Prison (MBP) in Marquette County, Michigan. The events about which he complains occurred at that facility. Plaintiff sues Derek Falk, a nurse practitioner at MBP.

         Plaintiff alleges he has an inguinal hernia. He saw Defendant Falk regarding his condition during August of 2018. Eventually, Plaintiff's case was submitted to the Corizon Healthcare Utilization Department for approval of surgery, or at least a surgical consult. On November 4, 2018, Defendant Falk saw Plaintiff again and communicated the Utilization Department's denial of that request. (Grievance MBP 1811-0144-12D1, ECF No. 1-1, PageID.13.) At least initially, Plaintiff recognized that it was the Corizon Utilization Department doctor, not any medical provider at MBP, that denied his request. (Id., PageID.8.) Nonetheless, Plaintiff alleges in his complaint that Defendant Falk “denied the needed surgery.” (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.3.)

         Defendant Falk is not the only MBP medical provider that Plaintiff has sued for the denial. In a separate suit, Daniels v. Lamb, No. 2:19-cv-213 (W.D. Mich.), Plaintiff sued MBP registered nurse Patricia Lamb. Nurse Lamb's involvement was limited to responding to Plaintiff's grievance regarding the surgery denial at the second step. She responded as follows:

Investigation determined that grievant's issue was appropriately addressed byt eh Step I Respondent and is affirmed at the Step II Appeal. Review of the electronic medical record confirms that the Utilization Manager, a physician, had determined that medical necessity is not demonstrated at this time for a surgical consultation re: hernia repair. An alternate treatment plan was recommended and has been implemented. Grievant continues to be monitored re: this issue. Grievant is assured that those interventions deemed medically necessary in the future will be provided. Grievant is encouraged to follow the plan of care as instructed and to promptly notify Health Care should any adverse symptoms persist or worsen in [the] future.

(Grievance MBP-1811-1441-12D1, ECF No. 1-1, PageID.10.)

         There is nothing in Plaintiff's complaint that indicates Defendant Falk had any role in the treatment of Plaintiff's condition other than the instances described in the grievance during August and November of 2018.

         Plaintiff seeks $10, 000, 000 in damages for his pain and suffering.

         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. Albrig ...

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