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Daniels v. Mindlin

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

December 19, 2019

LYLE S. MINDLIN et al., Defendants.



         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 Chippewa Correctional Facility (URF) in Chippewa County, Michigan. The events about which he complains, however, occurred while he was incarcerated at the Saginaw County Correctional Facility (SRF) in Saginaw County, Michigan and the Thumb Correctional Facility (TCF) in Lapeer County, Michigan. Plaintiff sues MDOC Doctor Lyle S. Mindlin, Regional Medical Provider William Borgerding, and Registered Nurses Deborah J. Smith and Mary H. Hearing.[1]

         Plaintiff suffers from elbow pain. Apparently he has suffered from such pain since an injury during 2009. (Grievance, ECF No. 1-9, PageID.28.) Plaintiff has tried different treatments over the years, including medications, steroid injections, massage, and range-of-motion exercises, to no avail. He has been subjected to a number of diagnostic studies, including many x-rays, an MRI, and an EMG study. These studies have identified arthritic changes in the elbow, a bone cyst, ulnar neuritis, and potential nerve conduction issues.

         Having suffered for years, Plaintiff appears to have combed back through his medical record to find circumstances that might support a claim that Defendants have been deliberately indifferent to his serious medical need. He does not identify exactly what treatment he should have received or should receive now. He simply claims that Defendants have not fixed the problem and, as a result, Plaintiff has suffered years of pain.

         Based on the excerpts of Plaintiff's medical record attached as exhibits to the complaint, it is apparent that each Defendant played some role in his care; however, neither Plaintiff's allegations nor the exhibits suggest that these Defendants have played any role in Plaintiff's care for several years. By way of example, Defendant Lyle S. Mindlin is a radiologist. He has read Plaintiff's x-rays and reported to Plaintiff's physicians on several occasions: January 7, 2011 (Radiology Report, ECF No. 1-5, PageID.20); June 28, 2012 (Radiology Report, ECF No. 1-7, PageID.24); September 14, 2012 (Radiology Report, ECF No. 1-15, PageID.44); November 5, 2013 (Radiology Report, ECF No. 1-10, PageID.31); and October 28, 2015 (Radiology Report, ECF No. 1-12, PageID.36). Dr. Mindlin is not the only person who read Plaintiff's x-rays or other diagnostic studies over the years. His findings are not at all inconsistent with the findings of those other doctors. He identified progressive arthritic changes over time and the development of a bone cyst; however, there is nothing in Dr. Mindlin's findings that might account for the extreme pain of which Plaintiff complained. Indeed, that pain appears to have a neural origin based on the MRI and nerve conduction studies.

         There is no indication that Dr. Mindlin ever saw Plaintiff-only Plaintiff's x-rays. In each instance, Dr. Mindlin's reports were made to other healthcare providers who were directly involved in Plaintiff's care. Moreover, Plaintiff does not suggest that Dr. Mindlin had any involvement in Plaintiff's care after October 28, 2015.

         Defendant Dr. Borgerding is named as a Regional Medical Provider. Plaintiff's only indication that Dr. Borgerding might have played some role in Plaintiff's care is a reference in a March 2013 Grievance Response which states: “The grievant alleges denial of proper medical treatment after the deferred request for an elbow brace/sleeve. The Regional Medical Provider suggests self massage and ROM exercises.” (Grievance Response, ECF No. 1-9, PageID.29.) The response acknowledges that the brace was only deferred and encouraged Plaintiff to follow up if the massage and exercises did not improve his status. (Id.) There is nothing in Plaintiff's complaint or the exhibits that suggests that Dr. Borgerding played any role in Plaintiff's medical care after deferring Plaintiff's request for a brace pending an attempt at more conservative treatment.

         Nurses Smith and Hearing responded to Plaintiff's requests for care for his elbow during 2013 and 2014. Plaintiff supplies kites seeking care and Smith's and Hearing's responses. In each instance, the nurses scheduled Plaintiff for an appointment, if he wanted one. There are no allegations or exhibits that indicate that Nurses Smith or hearing played any role in Plaintiff's healthcare after November of 2014.

         On March 8, 2013, Plaintiff filed a grievance regarding the failure of MDOC healthcare providers to provide appropriate care for his elbow. Certainly, by that date, Plaintiff was aware of the issues of which he now complains.

         Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages exceeding $100, 000.

         II. Failure ...

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