Santiago #496789 v. Washington et al
OPINION; signed by Magistrate Judge Phillip J. Green (jkw)
Case 1:22-cv-00591-PJG ECF No. 7, PageID.57 Filed 09/19/22 Page 1 of 17
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
Case No. 1:22-cv-591
Honorable Phillip J. Green
HEIDI WASHINGTON, et al.,
This is a civil rights action brought by a state prisoner under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Plaintiff previously sought (ECF No. 2), and was granted (ECF No. 5), leave to
proceed in forma pauperis. 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. 6.)
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. § 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 Litigation
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 defendant(s)
is of particular significance in defining a putative defendant’s relationship to the
Case 1:22-cv-00591-PJG ECF No. 7, PageID.58 Filed 09/19/22 Page 2 of 17
“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 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) (stating that “[p]ursuant 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 . . . .”
Case 1:22-cv-00591-PJG ECF No. 7, PageID.59 Filed 09/19/22 Page 3 of 17
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 that 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 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 complaint for failure to state a claim.
Further, the Court will deny Plaintiff’s motion for the appointment of counsel.
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. 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 contexts”).
Case 1:22-cv-00591-PJG ECF No. 7, PageID.60 Filed 09/19/22 Page 4 of 17
Plaintiff is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of
Corrections (MDOC) at the Muskegon Correctional Facility (MCF) in Muskegon,
Muskegon County, Michigan.
The events about which he complains, however,
occurred at the Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility (IBC) in Ionia, Ionia County,
Michigan. Plaintiff sues MDOC Director Heidi Washington; Registered Nurses
Katherine West, Unknown Puffman, Unknown Macintire, Mary R. Corning, and
Jerald C. Ritz; Corrections Officer Unknown Butler; Dr. Unknown Siees; Prisoner
Counselor Unknown Houghton; and Warden McCauly.
Plaintiff alleges that on July 7, 2021, Dr. Saaid (not a defendant) prescribed
him Venlafaxine for depression and PTSD. Plaintiff states that the medication had
potential side effects, including dizziness, sleepiness, fatigue, and weakness. Plaintiff
states that the directions for taking Venlafaxine included avoiding driving and
engaging in other activities that required alertness until seeing how the medication
affected the patient, which could take up to a month. On August 15, 2021, a little
over a month after Plaintiff had been prescribed Venlafaxine, Plaintiff fell off his
assigned top bunk and struck his head on the cement table in his cell. Plaintiff states
that he was unconscious for an unspecified period of time, and his cellmate called for
help. Plaintiff was transported to Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
While at the hospital, Plaintiff was seen by Dr. Nicholas Dyga, who noted that
Plaintiff was suffering from a hematoma and front scalp swelling. Plaintiff attaches
a copy of the medical record from Butterworth Hospital, which shows that he was
Case 1:22-cv-00591-PJG ECF No. 7, PageID.61 Filed 09/19/22 Page 5 of 17
admitted to the Emergency Department and examined by Nicholas Dyga, MD, and
Corey L. Fellows, DO, who noted that Plaintiff was nonverbal following his injury,
but was able to follow commands and was hemodynamically stable. Blood work and
imaging, including a CT of the head, neck, and spine were completed and showed no
acute traumatic injury. After his CT, Plaintiff began to speak and reported persistent
midline back pain from the neck to the lower thoracic region, which prompted an MRI
of the cervical spine. (ECF No. 1-2, PageID.16–22.) Dr. Fellows noted:
Patient was signed out to my colleague, Dr. Dyga, during routine
emergency department sign out. See their note for details of initial
workup. In brief, this patient is a 35-year-old man who presents to the
emergency department as a level 2 trauma activation after falling off of
a bunk bed. Pan scans were obtained and showed no acute injury.
Cervical collar was unable to be cleared at the bedside as the patient
was endorsing midline cervical spine tenderness to palpation. MRI
cervical spine was ordered by the trauma team . . . . MRI showed no
evidence of acute pathology. Cervical collar was removed at bedside. He
was instructed to follow up with his primary care provider. Emergency
department findings, my diagnostic impression, treatment plan,
warning signs, reasons to return to the emergency department were
discussed with the patient at bedside prior to discharge. Patient was
given an opportunity to ask questions and voiced understanding of
discharge instructions. Patient was discharged home in stable condition.
Plaintiff was treated and was transported back to IBC. Plaintiff asserts that
it is at this point that Defendants began to violate his Eighth Amendment rights.
Upon Plaintiff’s return to the prison, he was not processed through Health Services
in violation of policy. Plaintiff was returned to his housing unit and assigned a top
bunk once again. Plaintiff told healthcare staff that he was continuing to suffer from
dizziness and pain in his back and neck to the point where he was unable to walk any
distance. Plaintiff also states that he was paralyzed for a time.
Case 1:22-cv-00591-PJG ECF No. 7, PageID.62 Filed 09/19/22 Page 6 of 17
Plaintiff states that he relayed his symptoms to healthcare staff, including
Defendants West, Puffman, Macintire, Corning, Ritz, and Siees, as well as to custody
and administrative staff, including Defendants Butler, Houghton, McCauly, and
Washington. Plaintiff states that Defendant Houghton told him that there was
nothing he could do for him. Plaintiff then contacted housing unit supervisor Gregory
Schulz, who was a member of the Warden’s Forum. Mr. Schulz brought the matter
to the attention of Defendant Houghton, who again responded that there was nothing
he could do for Plaintiff. Mr. Schulz then raised the issue with Defendant McCauly,
who responded that he would look into the matter. However, Defendant McCauly
never followed through with this assurance.
Plaintiff makes a conclusory assertion that all of the named Defendants were
deliberately indifferent to his serious medical condition in violation of the Eighth
Amendment. Plaintiff states that he continues to suffer from severe headaches and
dizziness. Plaintiff seeks damages and declaratory relief.
Plaintiff’s Motion for the Appointment of Counsel
Plaintiff has filed a motion for the appointment of counsel. (ECF No. 3.)
Indigent parties in civil cases have no constitutional right to a court-appointed
attorney. Abdur-Rahman v. Mich. Dep’t of Corr., 65 F.3d 489, 492 (6th Cir. 1995);
Lavado v. Keohane, 992 F.2d 601, 604–05 (6th Cir. 1993). The Court may, however,
request an attorney to serve as counsel, in the Court’s discretion. Abdur-Rahman, 65
F.3d at 492; Lavado, 992 F.2d at 604–05; see Mallard v. U.S. Dist. Ct., 490 U.S. 296
Case 1:22-cv-00591-PJG ECF No. 7, PageID.63 Filed 09/19/22 Page 7 of 17
Appointment of counsel is a privilege that is justified only in exceptional
circumstances. In determining whether to exercise its discretion, the Court should
consider the complexity of the issues, the procedural posture of the case, and
Plaintiff’s apparent ability to prosecute the action without the help of counsel. See
Lavado, 992 F.2d at 606. The Court has carefully considered these factors and has
determined that the assistance of counsel is not necessary to the proper presentation
of Plaintiff’s position. Plaintiff’s motion for the appointment of counsel (ECF No. 3)
therefore will be denied.
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
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 well7
Case 1:22-cv-00591-PJG ECF No. 7, PageID.64 Filed 09/19/22 Page 8 of 17
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 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).
Although Plaintiff alleges in a conclusory manner that he relayed his
symptoms to healthcare staff, as well as custody and administrative staff, including
Defendant Washington, Plaintiff fails to make specific factual allegations against
Government officials may not be held liable for the
unconstitutional conduct of their subordinates under a theory of respondeat superior
or vicarious liability. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676; Monell v. New York City Dep’t of Soc.
Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 691(1978); Everson v. Leis, 556 F.3d 484, 495 (6th Cir. 2009). A
claimed constitutional violation must be based upon active unconstitutional behavior.
Grinter v. Knight, 532 F.3d 567, 575–76 (6th Cir. 2008); Greene v. Barber, 310 F.3d
Case 1:22-cv-00591-PJG ECF No. 7, PageID.65 Filed 09/19/22 Page 9 of 17
889, 899 (6th Cir. 2002). The acts of one’s subordinates are not enough, nor can
supervisory liability be based upon the mere failure to act. Grinter, 532 F.3d at 576;
Greene, 310 F.3d at 899; Summers v. Leis, 368 F.3d 881, 888 (6th Cir. 2004).
Moreover, § 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). “[A] plaintiff
must plead that each Government-official defendant, through the official’s own
individual actions, has violated the Constitution.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676. Plaintiff
has failed to allege that Defendant Washington engaged in any active
unconstitutional behavior. Accordingly, he fails to state a claim against her.
Plaintiff claims that following his release from the hospital, Defendants
displayed deliberate indifference towards his needs in violation of the Eighth
Amendment. 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).
Case 1:22-cv-00591-PJG ECF No. 7, PageID.66 Filed 09/19/22 Page 10 of 17
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
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
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.
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
Case 1:22-cv-00591-PJG ECF No. 7, PageID.67 Filed 09/19/22 Page 11 of 17
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 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
Case 1:22-cv-00591-PJG ECF No. 7, PageID.68 Filed 09/19/22 Page 12 of 17
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 explained:
[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
Id. at 105–06 (internal quotation marks 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. Westcomb, 801 F. App’x
956, 959 (6th Cir. 2020); Mitchell v. Hininger, 553 F. App’x 602, 605 (6th Cir. 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
Case 1:22-cv-00591-PJG ECF No. 7, PageID.69 Filed 09/19/22 Page 13 of 17
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)).
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)).
Plaintiff asserts that he was assigned to a top bunk and that Defendants failed
to address his complaints of various symptoms related to the injuries he sustained
from falling off his bunk on July 7, 2021. Plaintiff attaches a copy of a “declaration”
by prisoner Gregory John Schulz, which states that he raised Plaintiff’s situation
with Defendant Houghton, informing him that Plaintiff had fallen off his bunk and
seriously injured himself. Schulz states that Defendant Houghton told him there was
nothing he could do for Plaintiff. (ECF No. 1-3.) Schulz also states that he raised the
issue with Defendant McCauly at the Warden’s Forum meeting, and that Defendant
McCauly stated that he would look into it. Schulz concludes by saying that Defendant
McCauly failed to take any action. (Id.)
Case 1:22-cv-00591-PJG ECF No. 7, PageID.70 Filed 09/19/22 Page 14 of 17
Plaintiff also attaches copies of healthcare kites that he submitted following
his hospitalization. On August 18, 2021, Plaintiff kited, “I’m still in pain from my
head to middle back over the counter pills not working I haven’t been evaluated by a
Doctor why? And haven’t received the ice detail or ice for my head. What’s going on??”
(ECF No. 1-4, PageID.27.) Defendant Corning responded that Plaintiff was on the
wait list to see a medical provider and that the ice detail had expired after three days.
(Id.) On August 20, 2021, Plaintiff sent two kites to say that he continued to have
headaches, dizziness, weakness, difficulty breathing, and pain in his neck and down
his back. Plaintiff also claimed to have difficulty walking because of the head, neck,
and back pain.
Defendant West responded that Plaintiff had an upcoming
appointment. (Id., PageID.28–29.) On August 25, 2021, Plaintiff kited to say that he
was seeking medical help for worsening head, neck, and back pain, which started on
August 24, 2021.
Defendant Ritz responded by telling Plaintiff that a provider
referral would be made on his behalf. (Id., PageID.30–31.)
On August 26, 2021, Plaintiff again kited that he was having difficulty walking
because of his pain. Kevin D. Corning, who is not listed as a Defendant, responded
that it had only been about a week since his injury and that it could take several
weeks for the symptoms to resolve, but that he would send Plaintiff some exercises
to help with the recovery. (Id., PageID.32.) On August 28, 2021, Plaintiff kited
seeking pain medication for back and neck pain, as well as for migraine headaches.
Defendant West responded that Plaintiff had an upcoming appointment. (Id.,
PageID.33.) Plaintiff kited again the next day to ask what day he had started taking
Case 1:22-cv-00591-PJG ECF No. 7, PageID.71 Filed 09/19/22 Page 15 of 17
“the efexer medication.” (Id., PageID.34.) Defendant West told Plaintiff that he had
started the medication on August 1, 2021 and had begun refusing it on August 12,
2021. (Id.) Plaintiff sought his hospital records and two medical release forms for
his attorneys via a kite dated September 2, 2021. (Id., PageID.35.) Plaintiff was
provided with the appropriate forms and instructions on how to obtain his records by
Kevin Towns, who is not named as a Defendant in this action. (Id.)
A careful review of Plaintiff’s complaint and the attachments thereto fails to
reveal factual allegations sufficient to support Plaintiff’s Eighth Amendment claims.
The record shows that Plaintiff suffered from various symptoms as a result of his
accident and that he submitted kites regarding these symptoms on several occasions.
However, it is apparent that Plaintiff received timely responses to each of his medical
kites, indicating that he would be seen for his complaints or that he had already been
seen and was being provided with education and treatment. Plaintiff also implies
that he should not have been required to sleep on a top bunk, but he fails to allege
facts showing that after his release from the hospital, he had a medical condition
which required that he be placed on a bottom bunk detail or that he was continued
on the same medication which allegedly caused his fall. Because Plaintiff fails to
allege that any of the named Defendants were deliberately indifferent to a serious
medical condition, his Eighth Amendment claims are properly dismissed.
Case 1:22-cv-00591-PJG ECF No. 7, PageID.72 Filed 09/19/22 Page 16 of 17
The Court concludes that Plaintiff has failed to allege that any defendant was
deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff’s medical needs. But there is an additional reason
to dismiss Plaintiff’s claims against the remaining custody and administrative
defendants (Defendants Mccauly, Houghton, and Butler).
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) (finding that a
custody officer was 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 non-medical 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-CV-232-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). Because
the attachments to Plaintiff’s complaints show that he was in consistent and direct
communication with the healthcare defendants (Defendants West, Puffman,
Macintire, Corning, Ritz, and Siees), Plaintiff’s claims that the custody and
administrative defendants did not intervene fails to state a claim that they were
deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff’s medical needs.
Case 1:22-cv-00591-PJG ECF No. 7, PageID.73 Filed 09/19/22 Page 17 of 17
Plaintiff’s motion for the appointment of counsel (ECF No. 3) will be denied.
Further, having conducted the review required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act,
the Court determines that Plaintiff’s complaint 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 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 sum.
This is a dismissal as described by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g).
An order and judgment consistent with this opinion will be entered.
Dated: September 19, 2022
/s/ Phillip J. Green
PHILLIP J. GREEN
United States Magistrate Judge
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?