Brooks #351208 v. Whitmer et al
OPINION; signed by Magistrate Judge Ray Kent (fhw)
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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
CHARLES GRANT BROOKS,
Case No. 1:22-cv-574
Honorable Ray Kent
GRETCHEN WHITMER et al.,
This is a civil rights action brought by a state prisoner under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and Rule 73 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Plaintiff consented to
proceed in all matters in this action under the jurisdiction of a United States magistrate judge.
(ECF No. 5.)
This case is presently before the Court for preliminary review under the Prison Litigation
Reform Act, Pub. L. No. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321 (1996) (PLRA), pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(b), and 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c). The Court is required to conduct this initial
review prior to the service of the complaint. See In re Prison Litig. Reform Act, 105 F.3d 1131,
1131, 1134 (6th Cir. 1997); McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 604–05 (6th Cir. 1997).
Service of the complaint on the named defendants is of particular significance in defining a
putative defendant’s relationship to the proceedings.
“An individual or entity named as a defendant is not obliged to engage in litigation unless
notified of the action, and brought under a court’s authority, by formal process.” Murphy Bros. v.
Michetti Pipe Stringing, Inc., 526 U.S. 344, 347 (1999). “Service of process, under longstanding
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tradition in our system of justice, is fundamental to any procedural imposition on a named
defendant.” Id. at 350. “[O]ne becomes a party officially, and is required to take action in that
capacity, only upon service of a summons or other authority-asserting measure stating the time
within which the party served must appear and defend.” Id. (citations omitted). That is, “[u]nless
a named defendant agrees to waive service, the summons continues to function as the sine qua non
directing an individual or entity to participate in a civil action or forgo procedural or substantive
rights.” Id. at 351. Therefore, the PLRA, by requiring courts to review and even resolve a plaintiff’s
claims before service, creates a circumstance where there may only be one party to the
proceeding—the plaintiff—at the district court level and on appeal. See, e.g., Conway v. Fayette
Cnty. Gov’t, 212 F. App’x 418 (6th Cir. 2007) (“Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the district court
screened the complaint and dismissed it without prejudice before service was made upon any of
the defendants . . . [such that] . . . only [the plaintiff] [wa]s a party to this appeal.”).
Here, Plaintiff has consented to a United States magistrate judge conducting all
proceedings in this case under 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). That statute provides that “[u]pon the consent
of the parties, a full-time United States magistrate judge . . . may conduct any or all
proceedings . . . and order the entry of judgment in the case . . . .” 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). Because the
named Defendants have not yet been served, the undersigned concludes that they are not presently
parties whose consent is required to permit the undersigned to conduct a preliminary review under
the PLRA, in the same way they are not parties who will be served with or given notice of this
opinion. See Neals v. Norwood, 59 F.3d 530, 532 (5th Cir. 1995) (“The record does not contain a
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consent from the defendants[; h]owever, because they had not been served, they were not parties
to the action at the time the magistrate entered judgment.”).1
Under the 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 federal claims for failure to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted. The Court will decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over
Plaintiff’s state law claims. The Court will dismiss those claims without prejudice.
Plaintiff is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC)
at the G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility (JCF) in Jackson, Michigan. Plaintiff sues Michigan
Governor Gretchen Whitmer; JCF Health Unit Manager Sirena Landfair; JCF Corrections Officers
Unknown Captain, Unknown Lieutenant, and Sergeant St. Charles; and JCF Nurses Karmen
But see Coleman v. Lab. & Indus. Rev. Comm’n of Wis., 860 F.3d 461, 471 (7th Cir. 2017)
(concluding that, when determining which parties are required to consent to proceed before a
United States magistrate judge under 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), “context matters” and the context the
United States Supreme Court considered in Murphy Bros. was nothing like the context of a
screening dismissal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(b), and 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c));
Williams v. King, 875 F.3d 500, 503–04 (9th Cir. 2017) (relying on Black’s Law Dictionary for
the definition of “parties” and not addressing Murphy Bros.); Burton v. Schamp, 25 F.4th 198, 207
n.26 (3d Cir. Feb. 10, 2022) (premising its discussion of “the term ‘parties’ solely in relation to its
meaning in Section 636(c)(1), and . . . not tak[ing] an opinion on the meaning of ‘parties’ in other
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Bussell, Patricia Lamb, and Sara J. Cummins. Plaintiff sues each Defendant in his or her official
Plaintiff alleges that over a one-week period from December 8, 2021, through December
14, 2021, the JCF Defendants were deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff’s serious medical needs.
Plaintiff reports that during early December 2021, a blood test revealed some abnormal results.
Plaintiff’s medical provider ordered a chest x-ray to rule out pneumonia. (Clinical EncounterAdministrative Notes, ECF No. 1-1, PageID.21.)
Plaintiff was disappointed that the x-ray was not scheduled immediately. When he
continued to encounter difficulty in breathing, he complained over the next couple of days.
Eventually, on December 11, 2021, he was transported to a local hospital. He underwent an x-ray.
The health care providers concluded that he was not suffering from pneumonia; instead they
concluded he was experiencing asthma symptoms. They treated Plaintiff with steroids and
discharged him with a prescription to continue on oral steroids. Plaintiff was not seen immediately
upon his return to the facility. In fact, three days passed before Plaintiff was examined and the
steroid prescription was filled.
Plaintiff contends that the delays in initially scheduling the x-ray, delays in deciding to
send Plaintiff to the hospital for the x-ray, delays in effecting his transport, and failing to promptly
examine Plaintiff and provide oral steroids upon his return constitute deliberate indifference to his
serious medical needs on the part of the JCF Defendants. Plaintiff makes no specific allegations
against Defendant Whitmer.
Plaintiff seeks $2,000,000 in punitive damages and injunctive relief as follows: “MDOC
shall make a change to Policy Directives that will MANDATE healthcare staff, upon being made
aware by a prisoner that policy, or a constitutionally protected right, is being violated, must take
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the issue to the HUM immediately and the HUM shall be obliged to look up policy in question
and address the issue immediately.” (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.6–7 (emphasis in original).)
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. Id.; 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.” Id. 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.” Id. 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)(ii)).
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
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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
Plaintiff alleges that Defendants’ action (or inactions) violated MDOC policy, Michigan
statutes, the Michigan Constitution, and the United States Constitution—presumably the Eighth
Amendment that prohibits state actors from being deliberately indifferent to an inmate’s serious
Official capacity claims for damages
Plaintiff sues all of the Defendants in their respective official capacities. Official-capacity
lawsuits “generally represent only another way of pleading an action against an entity of which an
officer is an agent.” Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 165 (1985) (citing Monell v. New York
City Dept. of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 690, n. 55 (1978)). An official-capacity suit is to be
treated as a suit against the entity itself. Id. at 166 (citing Brandon v. Holt, 469 U.S. 464, 471-72
(1985)); see also Matthew v. Jones, 35 F.3d 1046, 1049 (6th Cir. 1994). “Individuals sued in their
official capacities stand in the shoes of the entity they represent,” and the suit is not against the
official personally. Alkire v. Irving, 330 F.3d 802, 810 (6th Cir. 2003); Graham, 473 U.S. at
Regardless of the form of relief requested, the states and their departments are immune
under the Eleventh Amendment from suit in the federal courts, unless the state has waived
immunity or Congress has expressly abrogated Eleventh Amendment immunity by statute. See
Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 98–101 (1984); Alabama v. Pugh, 438
U.S. 781, 782 (1978); O’Hara v. Wigginton, 24 F.3d 823, 826 (6th Cir. 1994). Congress has not
expressly abrogated Eleventh Amendment immunity by statute, Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332,
341 (1979), and the State of Michigan has not consented to civil rights suits in federal court. Abick
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v. Michigan, 803 F.2d 874, 877 (6th Cir. 1986). In numerous opinions, the Sixth Circuit has
specifically held that the MDOC is absolutely immune from a § 1983 suit under the Eleventh
Amendment. See, e.g., Harrison v. Michigan, 722 F.3d 768, 771 (6th Cir. 2013); Diaz v. Mich.
Dep’t of Corr., 703 F.3d 956, 962 (6th Cir. 2013); McCoy v. Michigan, 369 F. App’x 646, 653–54
(6th Cir. 2010). Therefore, Plaintiff’s damages claims against the State of Michigan, by way of his
claims against Defendant Whitmer in her official capacity, and his damages claims against the
MDOC, by way of his claims against the JCF Defendants in their official capacities are properly
dismissed on grounds of immunity.
Official capacity claims for injunctive relief
Ordinarily, a suit against an individual in his official capacity is equivalent to a suit brought
against the governmental entity. See Will v. Mich. Dep’t of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989);
Matthews v. Jones, 35 F.3d 1046, 1049 (6th Cir. 1994). Nevertheless, an official-capacity action
seeking injunctive relief constitutes an exception to sovereign immunity. See Ex Parte Young, 209
U.S. 123, 159–60 (1908) (Eleventh Amendment immunity does not bar prospective injunctive
relief against a state official). As the Supreme Court has recognized, a suit under Ex Parte Young
for prospective injunctive relief is not treated as an action against the state. Graham, 473 U.S.
at 167 n.14. Instead, the doctrine is a fiction recognizing that unconstitutional acts cannot have
been authorized by the state and therefore cannot be considered done under the state’s authority.
Importantly, “Ex parte Young can only be used to avoid a state’s sovereign immunity when
a ‘complaint alleges an ongoing violation of federal law and seeks relief properly characterized as
prospective.’” Ladd v. Marchbanks, 971 F.3d 574, 581 (6th Cir. 2020) (quoting Verizon Md. v.
Pub. Serv. Comm’n of Md., 535 U.S. 635, 645 (2002)). Although Plaintiff seeks prospective
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injunctive relief, he does not allege an ongoing violation of federal law here. Therefore, he has
failed to state a proper claim for relief under Ex Parte Young.2
Liability of the JCF Defendants for federal constitutional violations
Even if Plaintiff sued Defendants in their personal capacities (or if he alleged an ongoing
constitutional violation), his allegations would still fail to state a claim.
§ 1983 does not provide relief for violations of state law
Claims under § 1983 can only be brought for “deprivations of rights secured by the
Constitution and laws of the United States.” Lugar v. Edmondson Oil Co., 457 U.S. 922, 924
(1982). Section 1983 does not provide redress for a violation of a state law. Pyles v. Raisor, 60
F.3d 1211, 1215 (6th Cir. 1995); Sweeton v. Brown, 27 F.3d 1162, 1166 (6th Cir. 1994). Thus,
Plaintiff’s claims that Defendants violated MDOC policy, state statutes, or the state constitution
do not give rise to a claim under § 1983.
Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference
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. 97,
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).
Moreover, “under the Ex parte Young doctrine, state officer may ordinarily be sued in an official
capacity for injunctive relief, but only for those officials’ violations of federal law.” McNeilus
Truck and Mfg., Inc. v. Ohio ex rel. Montgomery, 226 F.3d 429, 438 (6th Cir. 2000) (citing Will,
491 U.S. at 71, n.10). Because Plaintiff has made no allegations that Defendant Whitmer violated
federal law, he cannot maintain an official capacity suit for injunctive relief against her.
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Deliberate indifference may be manifested by a doctor’s failure to respond to the medical
needs of a prisoner, or by “prison guards in intentionally denying or delaying access to medical
care or intentionally interfering with the treatment once prescribed. Regardless of how evidenced,
deliberate indifference to a prisoner’s serious illness or injury states a cause of action under
§ 1983.” Estelle, 429 U.S. at 104–05.
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 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); see also Phillips v. Roane Cnty., 534 F.3d
531, 539–40 (6th Cir. 2008). Obviousness, however, is not strictly limited to what is detectable to
the eye. Even if the layman cannot see the medical need, a condition may be obviously medically
serious where a layman, if informed of the true medical situation, would deem the need for medical
attention clear. See, e.g., Rouster v. Saginaw Cnty., 749 F.3d 437, 446–51 (6th Cir. 2014) (holding
that a prisoner who died from a perforated duodenum exhibited an “objectively serious need for
medical treatment,” even though his symptoms appeared to the medical staff at the time to be
consistent with alcohol withdrawal); Johnson v. Karnes, 398 F.3d 868, 874 (6th Cir. 2005)
(holding that prisoner’s severed tendon was a “quite obvious” medical need, since “any lay person
would realize to be serious,” even though the condition was not visually obvious). 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, 390 F.3d at 898, the plaintiff
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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 marks omitted).
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). Deliberate indifference “entails something more than mere negligence,” 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.” Farmer, 511 U.S. at 835. “[T]he 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. To prove a defendant’s subjective knowledge, “[a]
plaintiff may rely on circumstantial evidence . . . : A jury is entitled to ‘conclude that a prison
official knew of a substantial risk from the very fact that the risk was obvious.’” Rhinehart v. Scutt,
894 F.3d 721, 738 (6th Cir. 2018) (quoting Farmer, 511 U.S. at 842)).
However, 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. As the Supreme Court
[A]n inadvertent failure to provide adequate medical care cannot be said to
constitute an unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain or to be repugnant to the
conscience of mankind. Thus, a complaint that a physician has been negligent in
diagnosing or treating a medical condition does not state a valid claim of medical
mistreatment under the Eighth Amendment. Medical malpractice does not become
a constitutional violation merely because the victim is a prisoner. In order to state
a cognizable claim, a prisoner must allege acts or omissions sufficiently harmful to
evidence deliberate indifference to serious medical needs.
Id. at 105–06 (quotations omitted). Thus, differences in judgment between an inmate and prison
medical personnel regarding the appropriate medical diagnoses or treatment are not enough to state
a deliberate indifference claim. Darrah v. Krisher, 865 F.3d 361, 372 (6th Cir. 2017); Briggs v.
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Westcomb, 801 F. App’x 956, 959 (6th Cir. 2020); Mitchell v. Hininger, 553 F. App’x 602, 605
(2014). This is so even if the misdiagnosis results in an inadequate course of treatment and
considerable suffering. Gabehart v. Chapleau, No. 96-5050, 1997 WL 160322, at *2
(6th Cir. Apr. 4, 1997).
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 judgments and to constitutionalize claims
which sound in state tort law.” Id.; see also Rouster, 749 F.3d at 448; Perez v. Oakland Cnty., 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, 440–41 (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, 553 F. App’x at 605 (quoting Alspaugh v. McConnell, 643 F.3d 162, 169 (6th Cir. 2011)).
He must demonstrate that the care he received was “so grossly incompetent, inadequate, or
excessive as to shock the conscience or to be intolerable to fundamental fairness.” See Miller v.
Calhoun Cnty., 408 F.3d 803, 819 (6th Cir. 2005) (quoting Waldrop v. Evans, 871 F.2d 1030, 1033
(11th Cir. 1989)).
Defendant Sirena Landfair
Dr. Gooding ordered the x-ray on December 8, 2021. When Plaintiff had not been sent for
the x-ray the next day, he instructed his wife to call Defendant Landfair. Defendant Landfair
informed Plaintiff’s wife that there was an order for an x-ray, but that no appointment had yet been
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scheduled. The next day, Plaintiff told his wife to call Defendant Landfair again. It is not clear
whether Plaintiff’s wife spoke to Defendant Landfair, but Plaintiff reports that his wife “was told
that she couldn’t be given any information.” (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.5.)3 That is the extent
of Defendant Landfair’s involvement per Plaintiff’s complaint allegations.
The documents attached to Plaintiff’s complaint disclose some additional involvement.
Plaintiff attaches a Clinical Encounter-Administrative Note that reveals that Defendant Landfair
memorialized the fact that Plaintiff would be transported to the emergency department of a local
hospital for a chest x-ray. Additionally, Plaintiff’s grievance (JCF2112 22241F1) indicates that
Plaintiff’s wife attempted to call Defendant Landfair again on December 14, but Landfair’s
voicemail was full. (ECF No. 1-1, PageID.36.)
Defendant Landfair responded to Plaintiff’s grievance on December 23. Section 1983
liability may not be imposed simply because a supervisor denied an administrative grievance or
failed to act based upon information contained in a grievance. See Shehee v. Luttrell, 199 F.3d 295,
300 (6th Cir. 1999). But Defendant Landfair’s response was simply a factual recitation of what
happened. She reported that Plaintiff was evaluated by nursing on December 11, the on-call
medical provider was consulted, Plaintiff was sent to the emergency department, and Plaintiff was
seen for a follow-up visit with the medical provider on December 14. Plaintiff was provided with
a treatment plan and orders for oral steroids at that time. (ECF No. 1-1, PageID.37.) Plaintiff claims
he was not seen by a provider on December 14; rather, he was just called to medical to pick up the
The documents Plaintiff attaches to his complaint indicate that it was not Defendant Landfair
who spoke to Plaintiff’s wife. Instead, it was Defendant Cummins. (Clinical EncounterAdministrative Note, ECF No. 1-1, PageID.17–20.) Defendant Cummins informed Plaintiff’s wife
that Plaintiff had not completed an “ROI,” presumably a release of information form. Cummins
notified an officer on Plaintiff’s unit to get Plaintiff to sign an ROI. Even absent a completed ROI
form, however, the note indicates that Cummins informed Plaintiff’s wife that Plaintiff was not
symptomatic. Plaintiff does not allege that he was symptomatic at that time.
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oral steroids. (Id., PageID.38.) Plaintiff also claims that the delayed response violated MDOC
policy which called for a follow-up visit the next business day.
Plaintiff fails to indicate any action (or inaction) by Defendant Landfair that would support
an inference that she was deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff’s serious medical need. Reviewing
all of the materials Plaintiff has provided, his doctor ordered an x-ray to rule out pneumonia. The
x-ray did not occur the next day, but there was no suggestion that Plaintiff was suffering
pneumonia symptoms. When Plaintiff complained of shortness of breath on December 11, he was
transported to the emergency department that afternoon so he could get an immediate x-ray.
It is not at all clear that Plaintiff suffered a serious medical need of which Defendant
Landfair was aware and that Defendant Landfair deliberately disregarded. Plaintiff blames
Defendant Landfair for the delays in receiving the tests and treatment Plaintiff wanted at the time
Plaintiff wanted them, but there are no facts alleged to support an inference that Landfair, to the
extent she was responsible at all for those delays, was anything more than negligent. Indeed,
Plaintiff describes the failures in care as “negligence.” (Id., PageID.36, 40, 42, 46.) Farmer holds
that mere negligence is not enough.
Defendant Sara J. Cummins
Plaintiff makes no factual allegations about Defendant Cummins in the body of his
complaint. The documents he attaches to his complaint also reveal only very limited involvement
in Plaintiff’s treatment. Defendant Cummins responded to Plaintiff’s wife’s telephone call on
December 10. See supra note 2. Defendant Cummins also responded to some of Plaintiff’s
grievances at Step I. Again, however, § 1983 liability may not be imposed simply because a person
denied an administrative grievance or failed to act based upon information contained in a
grievance. See Shehee, 199 F.3d at 300.
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Plaintiff fails to allege any facts that support the inference that Defendant Cummins was
aware that Plaintiff had a serious medical need and then deliberately disregarded that need.
Plaintiff has failed to state an Eighth Amendment claim against Defendant Cummins.
Defendant Karmen Bussell
Plaintiff makes no factual allegations against Defendant Bussell in the body of his
complaint. Defendant Bussell reviewed Defendant Landfair’s responses to two of Plaintiff’s
grievances. (ECF No. 1-1, PageID.36–37, 40–41.) Section 1983 liability may not be imposed
simply because a defendant denied an administrative grievance or failed to act based upon
information contained in a grievance. See Shehee, 199 F.3d at 300. Plaintiff has failed to state an
Eighth Amendment claim against Defendant Bussell.
Defendant Patricia Lamb
Plaintiff makes no factual allegations against Defendant Lamb in the body of his complaint.
Defendant Lamb responded to Plaintiff’s grievances at the second step of the grievance process.
(ECF No. 1-1, PageID.39, 43, 47, 51.). Section 1983 liability may not be imposed simply because
a supervisor denied an administrative grievance or failed to act based upon information contained
in a grievance. See Shehee, 199 F.3d at 300. Plaintiff has failed to state an Eighth Amendment
claim against Defendant Lamb.
Plaintiff also sues three corrections officers who, apparently, played some role in
determining the timing of Plaintiff’s trip to the emergency department on December 11. The
decision to send Plaintiff to the emergency department was made at some time after 1:20 p.m. on
December 11. (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.5.) But Plaintiff was not taken to the emergency
department until 6:00 p.m. (Id., PageID.6.) Plaintiff states that, according to Defendant St. Charles,
the initial delay was the result of waiting for an officer to come back from the hospital. (Id.) Then
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there was additional delay because St. Charles required Plaintiff to wait until chow lines and unit
med lines were complete.
Plaintiff does not disclose what role the Unknown Captain or Unknown Lieutenant played
with regard to the delay. Indeed, he does not mention them at all in the body of the complaint and
there is nothing in the documents attached to the complaint that sheds any light on the role of these
unidentified parties with regard to the four-hour delay on December 11. It is a basic pleading
essential that a plaintiff attribute factual allegations to particular defendants. See Twombly, 550
U.S. at 545 (holding that, in order to state a claim, a plaintiff must make sufficient allegations to
give a defendant fair notice of the claim). The Sixth Circuit “has consistently held that damage
claims against government officials arising from alleged violations of constitutional rights must
allege, with particularity, facts that demonstrate what each defendant did to violate the asserted
constitutional right.” Lanman v. Hinson, 529 F.3d 673, 684 (6th Cir. 2008) (citing Terrance v.
Northville Reg’l Psych. Hosp., 286 F.3d 834, 842 (6th Cir. 2002)). 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) (citing Salehpour v. Univ. of Tenn., 159 F.3d 199, 206 (6th Cir. 1998)); 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.”). Because
Case 1:22-cv-00574-RSK ECF No. 6, PageID.88 Filed 08/01/22 Page 16 of 19
Plaintiff fails to provide any information regarding these defendants, 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”).
Plaintiff’s allegations attribute some, if not all, of the four-hour delay to Defendant St.
Charles. “[A]n inmate who complains that delay in medical treatment rose to a constitutional
violation must place verifying medical evidence in the record to establish the detrimental effect of
the delay in medical treatment to succeed.” Weatherspoon v. Woods, No. 16-1277, 2017 WL
3923335, at *5 (6th Cir. Feb. 24, 2017) (internal quotes omitted, quoting Napier v. Madison Cnty,
Ky., 238 F.3d 739, 742 (6th Cir. 2001)). Plaintiff offers no facts that support the inference that the
delay had any detrimental impact—the x-ray ruled out the condition that concerned the doctor and
Plaintiff, pneumonia. Plaintiff was treated with steroids for his asthma-like symptoms and released.
But even if Plaintiff had alleged some detriment, his allegations still fall short with regard
to the subjective element of a deliberate indifference claim. Administrative or custody officials
who have no training or authority to supervise healthcare officials cannot be held liable for those
officials’ inadequate care. See Winkler v. Madison Cnty., 893 F.3d 877, 895 (6th Cir. 2018)
(custody officer entitled to rely on medical provider’s judgment); Smith v. Cnty. of Lenawee, 505
F. App’x 526, 532 (6th Cir. 2012) (“[I]f a prisoner is under the care of medical experts . . . a nonmedical prison official will generally be justified in believing that the prisoner is in capable
hands.”) (quoting Spruill v. Gillis, 372 F.3d 218, 236 (3d Cir. 2004)); see also Newberry v. Melton,
726 F. App’x 290, 296–97 (6th Cir. 2018) (same); Cuco v. Fed. Med. Ctr.-Lexington, No. 05-CV232-KSF, 2006 WL 1635668, at *21–22 (E.D. Ky. June 9, 2006) (holding that prison
administrative officials were not liable for overseeing and second-guessing care given by medical
officials) (citing Birrell, 867 F.2d at 959).
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Plaintiff’s medical providers did not deem his situation emergent. (ECF No. 1-1,
PageID.39, 47, 50, 54.) Certainly, the doctor sent Plaintiff to the emergency department, but that
was apparently the only place to obtain the diagnostic x-ray on a Saturday. Plaintiff was not sent
for emergency treatment. Under those circumstances, the fact that Defendant St. Charles permitted
a delay of four hours in Plaintiff’s transport does not support the inference that he deliberately
disregarded a substantial risk of serious harm to Plaintiff. Accordingly, Plaintiff has failed to state
an Eighth Amendment claim against Defendant St. Charles.
State law claims
It appears that Plaintiff seeks to invoke this Court’s supplemental jurisdiction over claims
for violation of prison policy, state law, and the state constitution. The Court declines to exercise
Ordinarily, where a district court has exercised jurisdiction over a state-law claim solely
by virtue of supplemental jurisdiction and the federal claims are dismissed prior to trial, the court
will dismiss the remaining state-law claims. See Experimental Holdings, Inc. v. Farris 503 F.3d
514, 521 (6th Cir. 2007) (“Generally, once a federal court has dismissed a plaintiff’s federal law
claim, it should not reach state law claims.”) (citing United Mine Workers of Am. v. Gibbs, 383
U.S. 715, 726 (1966)); Landefeld v. Marion Gen. Hosp., Inc., 994 F.2d 1178, 1182 (6th Cir. 1993).
In determining whether to retain supplemental jurisdiction, “[a] district court should consider the
interests of judicial economy and the avoidance of multiplicity of litigation and balance those
interests against needlessly deciding state law issues.” Landefeld, 994 F.2d at 1182; see also Moon
v. Harrison Piping Supply, 465 F.3d 719, 728 (6th Cir. 2006) (“Residual jurisdiction should be
exercised only in cases where the interests of judicial economy and the avoidance of multiplicity
of litigation outweigh our concern over needlessly deciding state law issues.”) (internal quotations
omitted). Dismissal, however, remains “purely discretionary.” Carlsbad Tech., Inc. v. HIF Bio,
Case 1:22-cv-00574-RSK ECF No. 6, PageID.90 Filed 08/01/22 Page 18 of 19
Inc., 556 U.S. 635, 639 (2009) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)); Orton v. Johnny’s Lunch Franchise,
LLC, 668 F.3d 843, 850 (6th Cir. 2012).
Here, the balance of the relevant considerations weighs against the continued exercise of
supplemental jurisdiction. Accordingly, Plaintiff’s state-law claims will be dismissed without
Having conducted the review required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act, the Court
determines that Plaintiff’s federal claims will be dismissed for failure to state a claim, under 28
U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(b), and 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c). The Court will dismiss Plaintiff’s
state law claims without prejudice because the Court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction
over them. A judgment consistent with this opinion will be entered.
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). Although the Court concludes that Plaintiff’s claims are properly dismissed, the
Court does not conclude that any issue Plaintiff might raise on appeal would be frivolous.
Coppedge v. United States, 369 U.S. 438, 445 (1962). Accordingly, the Court does not certify that
an appeal would not be taken in good faith. 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 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
Case 1:22-cv-00574-RSK ECF No. 6, PageID.91 Filed 08/01/22 Page 19 of 19
This is a dismissal as described by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g).
August 1, 2022
/s/ Ray Kent
United States Magistrate Judge
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