United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
L. Maloney United States District Judge
a civil rights action brought by a state prisoner under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 and the Americans with Disabilities Act,
42 U.S.C. § 12132. 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 § 1983 claims against Defendants
Washington, Rewerts, Gonzalez, Winger, Becher, and the
unknown Director of Bureau of Healthcare Services (Unknown
Party). The Court also will dismiss Plaintiff's
individual-capacity ADA claims against all Defendants and
Plaintiff's official-capacity ADA claims against
Defendants Rewerts, Gonzalez, Winger, Becher, Holmes and the
unknown Director of Bureau of Healthcare Services (Unknown
presently is incarcerated with the Michigan Department of
Corrections (MDOC) at the Carson City Correctional Facility
(DRF) in Carson City, Montcalm County, Michigan. The events
about which he complains occurred at that facility. Plaintiff
sues MDOC Director Heidi Washington and the unknown Director
of the Bureau of Healthcare Services (Unknown Party),
together with the following officials employed at DRF: Warden
Randee Rewerts; ADA Coordinator D. Gonzales; Deputy Warden J.
Winger; Medical Provider Scott Holmes; and Grievance
Coordinator L. Becher.
alleges that he has numerous serious health conditions, which
were diagnosed before he was convicted and sentenced to
prison in 2018. According to the complaint, Plaintiff is a
disabled veteran, who was placed on standing, sitting,
walking, stair-climbing, and lifting restrictions in the
early 2000s by Dr. Jennifer Tuney. Tests also revealed that
Plaintiff had inner ear damage, leading to bouts of vertigo.
In addition, Plaintiff has no feeling in his right foot and a
portion of his right leg, osteoarthritic growths in his
joints, left-ventricle heart issues, high blood pressure, and
breathing issues and spots on his lungs, possibly due to
mesothelioma from asbestos exposure. In 2013, Plaintiff
suffered an accident in which he lost his right thumb and
partial function in his right hand. Although the thumb was
reattached, Plaintiff lost his grip strength and could no
longer pass his fitness examination to drive semi-trucks.
Plaintiff was placed on 70% disability from the Veterans
Administration and full disability from Social Security.
was arrested in 2017, and the Monroe County Jail permitted
him to use leg braces and a cane, as prescribed. When
Plaintiff arrived at the Charles Egeler Reception and
Guidance Center (RGC), his braces and cane were returned with
the deputy sheriff. Plaintiff was required to work and attend
other programing. Plaintiff complained to Dr. Howard at RGC,
requesting medical assistance and accommodation under the
ADA. Dr. Howard ordered a copy of Plaintiff's medical
records and subsequently began treatment. Before Plaintiff
was transferred to DRF, Dr. Howard issued the following
medical detail orders: a no-steps detail (assignment to a
ground-floor cell); an extra-pillow detail, to elevate
Plaintiff's legs when lying down; compression hose for
both legs; and a cotton-blanket detail, because of
Plaintiff's allergy to wool. (Ex. C to Compl., ECF No.
Plaintiff arrived at DRF, he informed health care of his
disabilities and requested leg braces and a cane. When he
received no assistance, he sent multiple kites. Defendant Dr.
Holmes saw Plaintiff in response to some kites, but Holmes
denied that Plaintiff was disabled, saying that he was just
getting old. Defendant Holmes cancelled the no-stair detail,
the cotton-blanket detail, and the extra-pillow detail. He
also terminated Plaintiff's pain medications and reduced
Plaintiff's calcium-blocking medications. Defendant
Holmes also refused Plaintiff's requests for braces and a
cane. Plaintiff complains the various changes to his medical
accommodations and prescriptions caused him to suffer
significant pain and increased his risk of falling.
March 14, 2018, Plaintiff filed an ADA request under MDOC
Policy Directive 04.06.155, which was denied by Defendant
Gonzales and affirmed by Defendant Rewerts. The response
explained that the issuance of medical details and special
accommodations must be made by a qualified health
professional under MDOC Policy Directive 04.06.160. Defendant
Gonzalez informed Plaintiff that, if he was dissatisfied with
his medical care and medical decisions to deny him medical
details, he should file a grievance. (See ADA
Accommodation Request/Appeal, Ex. D to Plaintiff's brief,
ECF No. 5-2, PageID.122.)
filed a grievance on April 29, 2019, complaining about the
lack of treatment and the failure to accommodate his
disabilities, including the failures to provide knee and back
braces, a cane, insoles, and walking activities in the yard.
The grievance was rejected at Step I by Grievance Coordinator
Becher, and Defendant Winger reviewed and approved the
rejection at Step I. Plaintiff appealed to Step II, and
Defendant Rewerts upheld the Step-I rejection. Plaintiff
filed an appeal to Step III, and the rejection was upheld on
August 6, 2019, by Richard Russell, the former manager of the
grievance section in the Office of Legal Affairs, who was
designated to respond on behalf of Defendant MDOC Director
Heidi Washington. Plaintiff complains that Defendants failed
to follow prison policy and improperly rejected the grievance
on the basis that Plaintiff failed to try to resolve the
issue before filing a grievance, apparently ignoring
Plaintiff's many kites on the issue.
sues all Defendants in both their individual and official
capacities. He alleges that Defendants' actions and
inactions violated the Eighth Amendment and the Americans
with Disabilities Act. He also argues that Defendants'
failures to follow prison grievance policies violated his
right to due process.
seeks injunctive relief, together with compensatory and
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 ...