Porter #890815 v. Wexford County Jail et al
OPINION ; signed by Chief Judge Robert J. Jonker (Chief Judge Robert J. Jonker, ymc)
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
JUNIOR A. PORTER,
Case No. 1:17-cv-119
Honorable Robert J. Jonker
WEXFORD COUNTY JAIL, et al.
This is a civil rights action brought by a state prisoner pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
The Court has granted Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Under the Prison Litigation
Reform Act, PUB. L. NO. 104-134, 110 STAT. 1321 (1996), 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, Plaintiff’s action will be dismissed as frivolous and
for failure to state a claim.
Plaintiff Junior A. Porter is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of
Corrections at the G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility in Jackson, Michigan. He is serving a
sentence of 6 to 20 years for delivery or manufacture of methamphetamine. Plaintiff was convicted
in Wexford County, Michigan. Plaintiff’s complaints of unconstitutional treatment stem not from
his incarceration in a state correctional facility, but from his stay as a pretrial detainee in the Wexford
County Jail from April 19, 2013 to December 9, 2013.
Plaintiff alleges that during his stay in the jail he was denied appropriate medical
treatment, subjected to inadequate conditions of confinement in light of his medical condition, and
denied access to legal research facilities.
Plaintiff sues the Wexford County Jail and Jail
Administrator Greg Webster. Plaintiff notes that the jail has no grievance process.
Plaintiff asks that Wexford County pay his medical bills and housing fees, create a
law library for county jail inmates, and pay damages to Plaintiff in the amount of $5,000,000.
Plaintiff’s claims are untimely
State statutes of limitations and tolling principles apply to determine the timeliness
of claims asserted under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. 261, 268-69 (1985). For
civil rights suits filed in Michigan under § 1983, the statute of limitations is three years. See MICH.
COMP. LAWS § 600.5805(10); Carroll v. Wilkerson, 782 F.2d 44, 44 (6th Cir. 1986) (per curiam);
Stafford v. Vaughn, No. 97-2239, 1999 WL 96990, at *1 (6th Cir. Feb. 2, 1999). Accrual of the
claim for relief, however, is a question of federal law. Collyer v. Darling, 98 F.3d 211, 220 (6th Cir.
1996); Sevier v. Turner, 742 F.2d 262, 272 (6th Cir. 1984). The statute of limitations begins to run
when the aggrieved party knows or has reason to know of the injury that is the basis of his action.
Collyer, 98 F.3d at 220.1
Plaintiff’s complaint is untimely. He asserts claims arising between April 19 and
December 9 of 2013. Plaintiff had reason to know of the “harms” done to him at the time they
occurred. Hence, his claims accrued, at the latest, by December 9, 2013. However, he did not file
his complaint until January, 2017, past Michigan’s three-year limit. Moreover, Michigan law no
longer tolls the running of the statute of limitations when a plaintiff is incarcerated. See MICH.
COMP. LAWS § 600.5851(9).
Further, it is well established that ignorance of the law does not
warrant equitable tolling of a statute of limitations. See Rose v. Dole, 945 F.2d 1331, 1335 (6th Cir.
1991); Jones v. Gen. Motors Corp., 939 F.2d 380, 385 (6th Cir. 1991); Mason v. Dep’t of Justice,
No. 01-5701, 2002 WL 1334756, at *2 (6th Cir. June 17, 2002).
A complaint “is frivolous where it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact.”
Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). A complaint may be dismissed as frivolous if it is
time-barred by the appropriate statute of limitations. See Dellis v. Corr. Corp. of Am., 257 F.3d 508,
511 (6th Cir. 2001). The Sixth Circuit has repeatedly held that when a meritorious affirmative
defense based upon the applicable statute of limitations is obvious from the face of the complaint,
sua sponte dismissal of the complaint is appropriate. See Dellis, 257 F.3d at 511; Beach v. Ohio, No.
03-3187, 2003 WL 22416912, at *1 (6th Cir. Oct. 21, 2003); Castillo v. Grogan, No. 02-5294, 2002
WL 31780936, at *1 (6th Cir. Dec. 11, 2002); Duff v. Yount, No. 02-5250, 2002 WL 31388756, at
28 U.S.C. § 1658 created a “catch-all” limitations period of four years for civil actions arising under federal
statutes enacted after December 1, 1990. The Supreme Court’s decision in Jones v. R.R. Donnelley & Sons Co., 541 U.S.
369 (2004), which applied this federal four-year limitations period to a suit alleging racial discrimination under § 1981
does not apply to prisoner claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1983 because, while § 1983 was amended in 1996, prisoner civil
rights actions under § 1983 were not “made possible” by the amended statute. Id. at 382.
*1-2 (6th Cir. Oct. 22, 2002); Paige v. Pandya, No. 00-1325, 2000 WL 1828653 (6th Cir. Dec. 5,
2000). Accordingly, Plaintiff’s action must be dismissed as frivolous.
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)
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); Dominguez v. Corr.
Med. Servs., 555 F.3d 543, 549 (6th Cir. 2009). 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).
Construed liberally, Plaintiff attempts to raise claims for violation of his Fourteenth Amendment
rights as a pretrial detainee2 and his First Amendment right of access to the courts.
Wexford County Jail as a defendant
Plaintiff sues the Wexford County Jail. The jail is a building, not an entity capable
of being sued in its own right. However, construing Plaintiff’s pro se complaint with all required
liberality, Haines, 404 U.S. at 520, the Court assumes that Plaintiff intended to sue Wexford County.
Wexford County may not be held vicariously liable for the actions of its employees under § 1983.
See Connick v. Thompson, 131 S. Ct. 1350, 1359 (2011); City of Canton v. Harris, 489 U.S. 378,
392 (1989); Monell v. Dep’t of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978). Instead, a county is liable only
when its official policy or custom causes the injury. Id.
Pretrial detainees held in jail are protected under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which
provides that “a detainee may not be punished prior to an adjudication of guilt in accordance with due process of law.”
Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 535 (1979). The Eighth Amendment protections against cruel and unusual punishment
are considered to be coterminous under the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause. See, e.g., Estate of Carter v.
City of Detroit, 408 F.3d 305, 311 (6th Cir. 2005); Watkins v. City of Battle Creek, 273 F.3d 682, 685-86 (6th Cir.2001);
Thompson v. County of Medina, 29 F.3d 238, 241 (6th Cir. 1995); Barber v. City of Salem, 953 F.2d 232, 235 (6th Cir.
1992); Roberts v. City of Troy, 773 F.2d 720, 723 (6th Cir.1985)). Thus, the Court is guided by Eighth Amendment
principles in considering Plaintiff’s claim.
First Amendment claim
Plaintiff’s allegation that Wexford County does not provide a law library for its
inmates might be construed to state a claim based on the county’s policy or custom. It is clearly
established that prisoners have a constitutionally protected right of access to the courts under the
First and Fourteenth Amendments. See Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 354 (1996); Bounds v. Smith,
430 U.S. 817, 821 (1977); Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 556 (1974). Prison officials have a
two-fold duty to protect a prisoner’s right of access to the courts. McFarland v. Luttrell, No.
94-6231, 1995 WL 150511, at *3 (6th Cir. Apr. 5, 1995). First, they must provide affirmative
assistance in the preparation of legal papers in cases involving constitutional rights, in particular
criminal and habeas corpus cases, as well as other civil rights actions relating to the prisoner’s
incarceration. Id. (citing Bounds, 430 U.S. at 824-28). Second, the right of access to the courts
prohibits prison officials from erecting any barriers that may impede the inmate’s accessibility to the
courts. Id. (citing Knop v. Johnson, 977 F.2d 996, 1009 (6th Cir. 1992)); see also Bounds, 430 U.S.
at 822 (citing Ex parte Hull, 312 U.S. 546, 549 (1941)).
In order to state a viable claim for interference with his access to the courts, a plaintiff
must show actual injury to pending or contemplated litigation. See Lewis, 518 U.S. at 349; Dellis
v. Corr. Corp. of Am., 257 F.3d 508, 511 (6th Cir. 2001); Talley-Bey v. Knebl, 168 F.3d 884, 886
(6th Cir. 1999); Knop, 977 F.2d at 1000. The Supreme Court squarely has held that “the underlying
cause of action . . . is an element that must be described in the complaint, just as much as allegations
must describe the official acts frustrating the litigation.” Christopher v. Harbury, 536 U.S. 403, 415
(2002) (citing Lewis, 518 U.S. at 353 & n.3). Where, as here, “the access claim . . . looks backward,3
the complaint must identify a remedy that may be awarded as recompense but not otherwise
available in some suit that may yet be brought.” Id. at 415. “Like any other element of an access
claim, the underlying cause of action and its lost remedy must be addressed by allegations in the
complaint sufficient to give fair notice to a defendant.” Id. at 416.
Further, in order to state a viable claim for interference with his access to the courts,
a plaintiff must show “actual injury.” Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 349 (1996); see also Talley-Bey
v. Knebl, 168 F.3d 884, 886 (6th Cir. 1999). The Supreme Court has strictly limited the types of
cases for which there may be an actual injury:
Bounds does not guarantee inmates the wherewithal to transform themselves into
litigating engines capable of filing everything from shareholder derivative actions to
slip-and-fall claims. The tools it requires to be provided are those that the inmates
need in order to attack their sentences, directly or collaterally, and in order to
challenge the conditions of their confinement. Impairment of any other litigating
capacity is simply one of the incidental (and perfectly constitutional) consequences
of conviction and incarceration.
Lewis, 518 U.S. at 355. “Thus, a prisoner’s right to access the courts extends to direct appeals,
habeas corpus applications, and civil rights claims only.” Thaddeus-X v. Blatter, 175 F.3d 378, 391
(6th Cir. 1999) (en banc). Moreover, the underlying action must have asserted a non-frivolous claim.
Backward-looking claims “do not look forward to a class of future litigation, but backward to a time when
specific litigation ended poorly, or could not have commenced, or could have produced a remedy subsequently
unobtainable. The ultimate object of these sorts of access claims . . . is not the judgment in a further lawsuit, but simply
the judgment in the access claim itself, in providing relief obtainable in no other suit in the future.” Christopher, 536
U.S. at 414 (footnotes omitted). In contrast, the “essence”of a forward-looking claim “is that official action is presently
denying an opportunity to litigate for a class of potential plaintiffs. The opportunity has not been lost for all time,
however, but only in the short term; the object of the denial-of-access suit . . . is to place the plaintiff in a position to
pursue a separate claim for relief once the frustrating condition has been removed.” Id. at 413.
Lewis, 518 U.S. at 353; accord Hadix v. Johnson, 182 F.3d 400, 405 (6th Cir. 1999) (Lewis changed
actual injury to include requirement that action be non-frivolous).
Plaintiff fails to allege the underlying cause of action. Moreover, he does not aver
any actual injury. He has not identified any cause of action that was lost as a result of Wexford
County’s alleged law library deficiency.
It is apparent that Plaintiff lost his criminal case, but a prisoner who is represented
by counsel has no freestanding right to access a jail law library. “[P]rison law libraries and legal
assistance programs are not ends in themselves, but only the means for ensuring ‘a reasonably
adequate opportunity to present claimed violations of fundamental constitutional rights to the
courts.’” Lewis, 518 U.S. at 351 (quoting Bounds, 430 U.S. at 825). An inmate’s right of access to
the courts is fully protected if he is represented by counsel. Skelton v. Pri–Cor, Inc., 963 F.2d 100,
104 (6th Cir. 1991); Bellamy v. Bradley, 729 F.2d 416, 421 (6th Cir. 1984); Holt v. Pitts, 702 F.2d
639, 640 (6th Cir. 1983). Cf. United States v. Sammons, 918 F.2d 592, 602 (6th Cir. 1990)
(defendant’s waiver of right to court-appointed counsel and decision to represent self in defense of
criminal prosecution constituted waiver of right of access to law library). Plaintiff acknowledges
he was represented by counsel in his criminal case, even though he was not satisfied with the result.
His right of access to the courts was therefore adequately protected.
Similarly, Plaintiff cannot attribute the dismissal of this action as an injury arising
from any deficiencies in Wexford County’s legal assistance. Since December 9, 2013, he has been
incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections. Based on other lawsuits he has filed4
Porter v. Mental Health Department, No. 2:17-cv-10577 (E.D. Mich.); Porter v. Rice, No. 2:17-cv-10556
(E.D. Mich.) (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.9) (“Mr. Porter has been taking law classes and stud[y]ing at the Law Library
it is apparent he has enjoyed access to a law library while in the custody of the state. Accordingly,
Plaintiff has failed to state a claim against Wexford County for denial of his First Amendment rights.
Fourteenth Amendment claims
Plaintiff’s claims do not mention any official policy or custom of Wexford County
that caused his improper medical treatment. Accordingly, it appears that Plaintiff’s allegations
against the county with regard to this claim essentially rest on a theory of vicarious liability and
therefore do not state a claim. Id. To the extent that Plaintiff suggests the existence of a custom to
deny proper medical treatment, his allegations are wholly conclusory. As the Supreme Court has
instructed, to demonstrate that a municipality had an unlawful custom, a plaintiff must show that the
municipality was deliberately indifferent to “practices so persistent and widespread as to practically
have the force of law.” Connick, 131 S. Ct. at 1359. Plaintiff’s references to improper medical
treatment relate only to his treatment during his eight-month stay in the Wexford County Jail. His
allegations fail to demonstrate a widespread pattern. Conclusory allegations of unconstitutional
conduct without specific factual allegations fail to state a claim under § 1983. See Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 678; Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (2007).
Plaintiff therefore fails to state a claim against Wexford County. Accordingly, the
Court will dismiss the Wexford County Jail.
Defendant Gray Webster
Plaintiff’s complaint does not include any allegations specifically mentioning
Defendant Webster. Plaintiff does mention an unnamed jail administrator: “the return to Hospital
care due to Jail administrator[’]s refusing to follow doctor’s recommendations.” (Compl., ECF No.
1, PageID.3.) It is a basic pleading essential that a plaintiff attribute factual allegations to particular
defendants. See Twombly, 550 U.S. at 544 (holding that, in order to state a claim, a plaintiff must
make sufficient allegations to give a defendant fair notice of the claim). Where a person is named
as a defendant without an allegation of specific conduct, the complaint is subject to dismissal, even
under the liberal construction afforded to pro se complaints. See Frazier v. Michigan, 41 F. App’x
762, 764 (6th Cir. 2002) (dismissing the plaintiff’s claims where the complaint did not allege with
any degree of specificity which of the named defendants were personally involved in or responsible
for each alleged violation of rights); Griffin v. Montgomery, No. 00-3402, 2000 WL 1800569, at *2
(6th Cir. Nov. 30, 2000) (requiring allegations of personal involvement against each defendant));
Rodriguez v. Jabe, No. 90-1010, 1990 WL 82722, at *1 (6th Cir. June 19, 1990) (“Plaintiff’s claims
against those individuals are without a basis in law as the complaint is totally devoid of allegations
as to them which would suggest their involvement in the events leading to his injuries.”); see also
Wright v. Smith, 21 F.3d 496, 501 (2d Cir. 1994); Krych v. Hvass, 83 F. App’x 854, 855 (8th Cir.
2003); Potter v. Clark, 497 F.2d 1206, 1207 (7th Cir. 1974); Williams v. Hopkins, No. 06-14064,
2007 WL 2572406, at *4 (E.D. Mich. Sept. 6, 2007); McCoy v. McBride, No. 3:96-cv-227RP, 1996
WL 697937, at *2 (N.D. Ind. Nov. 5, 1996); Eckford-El v. Toombs, 760 F. Supp. 1267, 1272-73
(W.D. Mich. 1991). Plaintiff fails to even mention Defendant Webster in the body of his complaint.
His allegations fall far short of the minimal pleading standards under FED. R. CIV. P. 8 (requiring “a
short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief”).
In his Fourteenth Amendment “Argument,” Plaintiff states:
Mr. Porter asked officers, nurses and sent many kites regarding Medical issues on
more than one occasion. Some issues were Detoxification upon arrest, back pain
upon arrest, mental health treatment upon arrest, mental health treatment during the
death of his son, mental health treatment during denial to attend at son’s funeral,
Medical Treatment upon contracting MHRSA, Conditions of Confinement during
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Quarantine, Confinement with no Shower or adequate cleaning facilities while
Quarantined and the return to Hospital care due to Jail administrator[’]s refusing to
follow doctor’s recommendations.
(Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.3.) To the extent Plaintiff seeks to hold Defendant Webster liable for
the actions of his subordinates at the county jail, Plaintiff has failed to state a claim. A plaintiff
bringing an action pursuant to § 1983 cannot premise liability upon a theory of respondeat superior
or vicarious liability. Everson v. Leis, 556 F.3d 484, 495 (6th Cir. 2009); Street v. Corr. Corp. of
Am., 102 F.3d 810, 818 (6th Cir. 1996) (citing Monell v. New York City Dep’t of Soc. Servs., 436
U.S. 658 (1978)). As the Sixth Circuit has repeatedly emphasized:
Section 1983 liability will not be imposed solely upon the basis of respondeat
superior. There must be a showing that the supervisor encouraged the specific
incident of misconduct or in some other way directly participated in it. At a
minimum, a § 1983 plaintiff must show that a supervisory official at least implicitly
authorized, approved or knowingly acquiesced in the unconstitutional conduct of the
Taylor v. Mich. Dep’t of Corr., 69 F.3d 76, 81 (6th Cir. 1995) (citing Bellamy v. Bradley, 729 F.2d
416, 421 (6th Cir. 1984)); accord Copeland v. Machulis, 57 F.3d 476, 481 (6th Cir. 1995); Walton
v. City of Southfield, 995 F.2d 1331, 1340 (6th Cir. 1993); Leach v. Shelby County Sheriff, 891 F.2d
1241, 1246 (6th Cir. 1989). Liability under § 1983 must be based on active unconstitutional
behavior and cannot be based upon “a mere failure to act.” Shehee v. Luttrell, 199 F.3d 295, 300
(6th Cir. 1999) (quoting Salehpour v. Univ. of Tenn., 159 F.3d 199, 206 (6th Cir. 1998)).
First Amendment claim
Plaintiff’s First Amendment access to the courts claim against Defendant Webster
fails for the same reason Plaintiff’s claim against Wexford County fails: Plaintiff has failed to allege
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an underlying cause of action or actual injury. Accordingly, Plaintiff’s First Amendment claim
against Defendant Webster is properly dismissed.
Fourteenth Amendment claim
Even if the allegation that “Jail administrator[’]s refusing to follow doctor’s
recommendations” sufficiently attributes factual allegations to Defendant Webster, Plaintiff has still
failed to state a claim. As referenced above, as a pretrial detainee, Plaintiff is protected by the Due
Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Richko v. Wayne Cty., 819 F.3d 907, 915 (6th Cir.
2016) (citing Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 535 n.16 (1979)). Under the Fourteenth Amendment
Plaintiff is “entitled to the same Eighth Amendment rights as other inmates.” Id. “Thus, Supreme
Court precedents governing prisoners’ Eighth Amendment rights also govern the Fourteenth
Amendment rights of pretrial detainees.” Ruiz-Bueno v. Scott, 639 F. App’x 354, 358 (6th Cir.
The Eighth Amendment prohibits the infliction of cruel and unusual punishment
against those convicted of crimes. U.S. Const. amend. VIII. The Eighth Amendment obligates
prison authorities to provide medical care to incarcerated individuals, as a failure to provide such
care would be inconsistent with contemporary standards of decency. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S.
102, 103-04 (1976). The Eighth Amendment is violated when a prison official is deliberately
indifferent to the serious medical needs of a prisoner. Id. at 104-05; Comstock v. McCrary, 273 F.3d
693, 702 (6th Cir. 2001).
A claim for the deprivation of adequate medical care has an objective and a subjective
component. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994). To satisfy the objective component, the
plaintiff must allege that the medical need at issue is sufficiently serious. Id. In other words, the
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inmate must show that he is incarcerated under conditions posing a substantial risk of serious harm.
Id. The objective component of the adequate medical care test is satisfied “[w]here the seriousness
of a prisoner’s need[ ] for medical care is obvious even to a lay person.” Blackmore v. Kalamazoo
Cnty., 390 F.3d 890, 899 (6th Cir. 2004). If the plaintiff’s claim, however, is based on “the prison’s
failure to treat a condition adequately, or where the prisoner’s affliction is seemingly minor or
non-obvious,” Blackmore v. Kalamazoo Cnty., 390 F.3d 890, 898 (6th Cir. 2004), the plaintiff must
“place verifying medical evidence in the record to establish the detrimental effect of the delay in
medical treatment,” Napier v. Madison Cnty., 238 F.3d 739, 742 (6th Cir. 2001) (internal quotation
The subjective component requires an inmate to show that prison officials have “a
sufficiently culpable state of mind in denying medical care.” Brown v. Bargery, 207 F.3d 863, 867
(6th Cir. 2000) (citing Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834). Deliberate indifference “entails something more
than mere negligence,” Farmer, 511 U.S. at 835, but can be “satisfied by something less than acts
or omissions for the very purpose of causing harm or with knowledge that harm will result.” Id.
Under Farmer, “the official must both be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn
that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he must also draw the inference.” Id. at 837.
Not every claim by a prisoner that he has received inadequate medical treatment states
a violation of the Eighth Amendment. Estelle, 429 U.S. at 105.
The Sixth Circuit distinguishes
“between cases where the complaint alleges a complete denial of medical care and those cases where
the claim is that a prisoner received inadequate medical treatment.” Westlake v. Lucas, 537 F.2d
857, 860 n.5 (6th Cir. 1976). If “a prisoner has received some medical attention and the dispute is
over the adequacy of the treatment, federal courts are generally reluctant to second guess medical
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judgments and to constitutionalize claims which sound in state tort law.” Id.; see also Rouster v.
Saginaw Cnty., 749 F.3d 437, 448 (6th Cir. 2014); Perez v. Oakland County, 466 F.3d 416, 434 (6th
Cir. 2006); Kellerman v. Simpson, 258 F. App’x 720, 727 (6th Cir. 2007); McFarland v. Austin, 196
F. App’x 410 (6th Cir. 2006); Edmonds v. Horton, 113 F. App’x 62, 65 (6th Cir. 2004); Brock v.
Crall, 8 F. App’x 439, 440 (6th Cir. 2001); Berryman v. Rieger, 150 F.3d 561, 566 (6th Cir. 1998).
“Where the claimant received treatment for his condition, as here, he must show that his treatment
was ‘so woefully inadequate as to amount to no treatment at all.’” Mitchell v. Hininger, 553
F. App’x 602, 605 (6th Cir. 2013) (quoting Alspaugh v. McConnell, 643 F.3d 162, 169 (6th Cir.
Plaintiff’s allegations regarding his “return to Hospital” are scant. Nonetheless, he
attaches to his complaint several documents from the hospital. (Compl. Exhibits, ECF No. 1,
PageID.4-32.) The documents reveal that Plaintiff noted a lump on his abdomen on Monday,
September 2, 2013. He was transferred from Clare, Michigan to Cadillac, Michigan to permit
examination by a nurse. On Tuesday, September 3, 2013, the nurse examined Plaintiff and sent him
to the emergency room. At the hospital, a doctor incised and drained the lump. The hospital
provided antibiotics and sent Plaintiff back to the jail. “[Plaintiff] was having daily dressing changes
by the nurse as well as daily evaluation in the emergency department.” (Id., PageID.6.) On
September 6, 2013, upon Plaintiff’s return to the emergency room, the staff noted that Plaintiff’s
condition had worsened. Dr. Heeringa noted “[Plaintiff] denies doing anything to the wound that
he should not have and states he has been compliant with his medication but I have no proof of this.”
(Id., PageID.13.) Dr. Marcus and Nurse Kelsey similarly noted “there may have been some
compliance issues as [Plaintiff is] outpatient . . . .”) (Id. PageID.8.) Plaintiff was admitted for the
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administration of intravenous antibiotics. He was discharged on September 9, 2013 with the
[P]acking with Aquacel packing into the abdominal wound daily until the wound is
completely close[d]. This could require up to 1 month. Each day after removing the
dressing the patient should shower and wash the wound with soap and water and pat
(Id., PageID.5.) There is no allegation that Plaintiff returned to the hospital after September 9, 2013.
Whatever action Defendant Webster took or failed to take, Plaintiff has failed to
allege that Defendant Webster did so with deliberate indifference. Moreover, Plaintiff received
significant and recurring treatment for his condition. Certainly, under the circumstances described
in the documents Plaintiff has provided, he cannot show that his treatment was so inadequate that
it amounted to no treatment at all. Accordingly, Plaintiff has failed to state a claim against
Having conducted the review required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act, the Court
determines that Plaintiff’s action will be dismissed as frivolous and for failure to state a claim
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(b), and 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c).
The Court must next decide whether an appeal of this action would be in good faith
within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3). See McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 611
(6th Cir. 1997). For the same reasons that the Court dismisses the action, the Court discerns no
good-faith basis for an appeal. Should Plaintiff appeal this decision, the Court will assess the
$505.00 appellate filing fee pursuant to § 1915(b)(1), see McGore, 114 F.3d at 610-11, unless
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Plaintiff is barred from proceeding in forma pauperis, e.g., by the “three-strikes” rule of § 1915(g).
If he is barred, he will be required to pay the $505.00 appellate filing fee in one lump sum.
This is a dismissal as described by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g).
A Judgment consistent with this Opinion will be entered.
March 20, 2017
/s/ Robert J. Jonker
ROBERT J. JONKER
CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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