Bagley #885214 v. Jamros
OPINION ; signed by Chief Judge Robert J. Jonker (Chief Judge Robert J. Jonker, ymc)
Case 2:20-cv-00150-RJJ-MV ECF No. 4 filed 09/09/20 PageID.27 Page 1 of 7
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
Case No. 2:20-cv-150
Honorable Robert J. Jonker
This is a civil rights action brought by a state prisoner under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, Pub. L. No. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321 (1996) (PLRA), the
Court is required to dismiss any prisoner action brought under federal law if the complaint is
frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary
relief from a defendant immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A; 42 U.S.C.
§ 1997e(c). The Court must read Plaintiff’s pro se complaint indulgently, see Haines v. Kerner,
404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), and accept Plaintiff’s allegations as true, unless they are clearly
irrational or wholly incredible. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 33 (1992). Applying these
standards, the Court will dismiss Plaintiff’s complaint for failure to state a claim.
Plaintiff is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections
(MDOC) at the Kinross Correctional Facility (KCF) in Kincheloe, Chippewa County, Michigan.
Plaintiff sues KCF Nurse Wendy Jamros.
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Plaintiff alleges that on April 9, 2020, he consulted with Nurse Jamros regarding
his various ailments: back pain, migraine headaches, and a heart condition. Nurse Jamros
informed Plaintiff that she was discontinuing the aspirin that had been prescribed for his heart
condition. She also informed Plaintiff that he could not have an MRI for his back pain nor could
he receive a back brace—a device that Plaintiff claims was recommended by a physical therapist.
Finally, Nurse Jamros refused to give Plaintiff a cortisone shot for his back or a Toradol shot for
his migraine headache. Plaintiff contends that Nurse Jamros’s refusal to treat the conditions
resulted in significant pain.
There are no facts alleged in the complaint from which one might infer that Plaintiff
ever saw Nurse Jamros, or any other healthcare provider, again. Although Plaintiff indicates that
he did receive a cortisone shot on June 4, 2020, he also claims he has never received an MRI, a
back brace, or any of his other medications.
Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages. He also asks the Court to enter
an order stopping Nurse Jamros from the “unauthorized practices that are depriving the Plaintiff
[of] the treatment he needs.” (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.4.)
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
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has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
679. Although the plausibility standard is not equivalent to a “‘probability requirement,’ . . . it
asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court
to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged—but it has not
‘show[n]’—that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P.
8(a)(2)); see also Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010) (holding that the
Twombly/Iqbal plausibility standard applies to dismissals of prisoner cases on initial review under
28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A(b)(1) and 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)).
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
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.
102, 103-04 (1976). The Eighth Amendment is violated when a prison official is deliberately
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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 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 Cty., 390 F.3d 890, 899 (6th Cir. 2004); see also Phillips v. Roane Cty.,
534 F.3d 531, 540 (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. Cty. Of Saginaw, 749 F.3d 437, 466, 451
(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 must “place verifying medical evidence in the record to
establish the detrimental effect of the delay in medical treatment,” Napier v. Madison Cty., 238
F.3d 739, 742 (6th Cir. 2001) (internal quotation marks omitted).
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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.
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. Sanderfer v. Nichols, 62 F.3d 151, 154-55 (6th Cir. 1995); Ward
v. Smith, No. 95-6666, 1996 WL 627724, at *1 (6th Cir. Oct. 29, 1996). 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).
Plaintiff provides little explanation of the nature of his heart condition, the
frequency of his migraine headaches, or the nature of his back pain, thus making it difficult to
assess the objective seriousness of these conditions. Nonetheless, even if one accepts that Plaintiff
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has alleged sufficiently serious conditions, he has utterly failed to allege any facts to support an
inference that Nurse Jamros was aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a
substantial risk of serious harm existed and that she also drew the inference. Nurse Jamros saw
Plaintiff on one occasion. Based on Plaintiff’s allegations, it is possible that Nurse Jamros was
deliberately indifferent when she refused the tests, medications, and therapies that Plaintiff desired,
but it is equally possible that she was simply negligent, or that her denial of care was medically
appropriate. Plaintiff’s allegations, therefore, fall short with regard to the subjective element of a
deliberate indifference claim. The allegations permit the court to infer no more than the mere
possibility of misconduct. That is not sufficient to state a claim. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.
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).
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A judgment consistent with this opinion will be entered.
September 9, 2020
/s/ Robert J. Jonker
ROBERT J. JONKER
CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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