United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Northern Division
T. Neff United States District Judge.
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 First Amendment retaliation claims for
failure to state a claim.
is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of
Corrections (MDOC) at the Baraga Correctional Facility (AMF)
in Baraga, Baraga County, Michigan. The events about which he
complains, however, occurred at the Marquette Branch Prison
(MBP) in Marquette, Marquette County, Michigan. Plaintiff
sues Corizon Correctional Healthcare, Inc., Chief Medical
Officer Carmen McIntyre, Assistant Medical Officer James
Blessman, and Medical Staff Person Derek J. Falk. Plaintiff
also sues Petty Prison Nurses D. Anderson, Unknown Coffinger,
Unknown Dutiel, Unknown Simpson, D. Turner, H. Richardson,
Unknown Haynes-Love, and P. Hillier.
alleges that he is a sixty-five year-old African American who
suffers from insulin dependent type II diabetes, diabetic
peripheral neuropathy, hypertension, glaucoma, and hepatitis.
Plaintiff states that he suffers from severe nerve pain in
his feet and legs as a result of the diabetic neuropathy. On
July 20, 2018, he spoke with Defendant Falk and described the
nerve pain that he had been experiencing. Defendant Falk
stated that he would submit a request to the Pain Management
Committee for Plaintiff to receive Lyrica. The generic name
for Lyrica is Pregabalin. Plaintiff told Defendant Falk that
if he did not receive treatment for his pain, he was going to
file a grievance on Corizon. Plaintiff contends that a
prescription for Neurontin 600 mg three times a day had
previously been approved for him by the Pain Management
Committee, and that the prescription did not expire until
November 16, 2019. Plaintiff alleges that as a result of an
unwritten pattern and practice of denying needed pain
medication, each of the named Defendants repeatedly denied
him his prescribed pain medication. Plaintiff states that
this denial resulted in continuous pain and deterioration of
the nerves in his legs and feet.
claims that Defendants acted with deliberate indifference in
violation of the Eighth Amendment, and that they retaliated
against him in violation of the First Amendment. Plaintiff
seeks compensatory and punitive damages, as well as
declaratory and injunctive relief.
Failure to State a Claim
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)).
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.
Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994).
case, Plaintiff asserts that he was denied pain medication
for his serious medical condition, despite the fact that he
had a prescription for Neurontin during the pertinent time
period. The Court concludes that these allegations are
sufficient to state a claim under the Eighth Amendment.
claims that Defendants retaliated against him for threatening
to file a grievance by refusing to give him pain medication.
Retaliation based upon a prisoner's exercise of his or
her constitutional rights violates the Constitution. See
Thaddeus-X v. Blatter, 175 F.3d 378, 394 (6th Cir. 1999)
(en banc). In order to set forth a First Amendment
retaliation claim, a plaintiff must establish that: (1) he
was engaged in protected conduct; (2) an adverse action was
taken against him that would deter a person of ordinary
firmness from engaging in that conduct; and (3) the adverse
action was motivated, at least in part, by the protected
conduct. Id. Moreover, a plaintiff must be able to
prove that the exercise of the protected right was a
substantial or motivating ...