United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OF OPINION AND ORDER [RESOLVING ECF NO.
Y. PEARSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
se Plaintiff Robert Johnson, a state prisoner
incarcerated in the Trumbull Correctional Institution
(“TCI”), has filed this in forma
pauperis federal civil rights action under 42 U.S.C.
§1983 against Dr. James Kline, D.O., Ms. G. Lewis
-Health Services Administrator, and Dr. Andrew Eddy-Medical
Director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and
Correction. ECF No. 1. Plaintiff complains of the
medical care that he received at TCI for a lump on the back
of his head. Id. at PageID #: 4-6. Plaintiff seeks
compensatory and punitive damages for “mental
anguish” and “gross negligence to [his] medical
needs, ” as well as surgery to remove the lump. Id.
at PageID #: 6.
alleges that he was approved for surgery to remove the lump
in 2010, while he was incarcerated in another prison. Id.
at PageID #: 4. Plaintiff did not undergo surgery at
that time because he anticipated being released from prison.
Id. Instead of being released from prison, Plaintiff
was subsequently transferred to the Mansfield Correctional
Institution and then to TCI. Id.
alleges that he first contacted medical staff at TCI about
the lump in January 2016 and was seen at that time.
Id. He was also seen “multiple times”
thereafter by Dr. Kline, who diagnosed his lump as a benign
lipoma-a “cosmetic issue” not requiring surgical
intervention or prescription pain medication. Id.
Plaintiff disagrees with Dr. Kline's diagnosis and
contends that the over-the-counter medications determined
appropriate for his condition have been inadequate.
Id. He alleges that his condition has worsened and
that he has suffered continuous pain, headaches, and blurred
vision because of it. Id. Plaintiff also alleges
that Defendant Lewis and others have denied, or failed to
respond to, grievances he has filed about his diagnosis and
treatment. Id. at PageID #: 4-6.
Standard for Dismissal
pro se pleadings are liberally construed, Boag
v. MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364, 365 (1982) (per curiam);
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), the
district court is required to dismiss an in forma
pauperis action under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) if it is
frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim on which
relief may be granted, or if it seeks monetary relief against
a defendant who is immune from such relief.
order to state a claim on which relief may be granted, a
pro se complaint must contain sufficient factual
matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face. See Hill v. Lappin,, 470-71
(6th Cir. 2010) (holding that the dismissal standard
articulated in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662
(2009) and Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544
(2007), governs dismissals for failure to state a claim under
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)). The factual allegations in
the pleading "must be enough to raise a right to relief
above the speculative level . . . on the assumption that all
the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful
in fact)." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
Law and Analysis
review, the Court finds that Plaintiff's Complaint
(ECF No. 1) must be dismissed. Although the
Complaint (ECF No. 1) does not set forth a specific
constitutional claim, the Court broadly construes it as
alleging a claim for difference to his medical needs in
violation of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against
cruel and unusual punishment.
Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment
protects prisoners from the ‘unnecessary and wanton
infliction of pain.'” Baker v. Goodrich,
649 F.3d 428, 434 (6th Cir. 2011) (quoting
Whitley v. Albers, 475 U.S. 312, 319
(1986)). Failure to provide adequate medical
treatment to a prisoner is a violation of the Eighth
Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual
punishment only when it results from “deliberate
indifference” to the prisoner's serious medical
needs. Harrison v. Ash, 539 F.3d 510, 518 (6th Cir.
2008) (citing Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825,
835 (1994)); see also Estelle v. Gamble,
429 U.S. 97 (1976). Deliberate indifference has two
components to it, the objective and the subjective
components. Harrison, 539 F.3d at 518. A prisoner
must show both that his medical condition posed a
“substantial risk of serious harm” to him, and
that the defendant acted with “a sufficiently culpable
state of mind” to the substantial risk of serious harm
facing the prisoner. Id.
indifference requires more than negligence, and more than
medical malpractice. Mitchell v. Hininger, 553
F.App'x 602, 604 (6th Cir. 2014) (citing
Estelle, 429 U.S. at 106). “It requires
something akin to criminal recklessness: The defendant must
‘know that inmates face a substantial risk of serious
harm and disregard that risk by failing to take reasonable
measures to abate it.'” Id. (citing
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 847). To prove the required
subjective element of a claim, a plaintiff must show that the
prison official in question “(1) subjectively knew of a
risk to the inmate's health, (2) drew the inference that
a substantial risk of harm to the inmate existed, and (3)
consciously disregarded that risk.” Jones v.
Muskegon Cty., 625 F.3d 935, 941 (6th Cir. 2010) (citing
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837). Allegations of medical
malpractice or negligent diagnosis and treatment are
insufficient to state an Eighth Amendment claim. Jennings
v. Al-Dabagh, 97 F.App'x 548, 549-50 (6th Cir.
liberally construed, Plaintiff's allegations do not
support a plausible claim that any Defendant was
“deliberately indifferent” to his medical needs
within the meaning of the Eighth Amendment. The Complaint
(ECF No. 1) on its face indicates that Plaintiff was
seen and evaluated multiple times for his alleged condition
at TCI, but that prison medical staff determined it to be a
benign condition that did not pose a serious risk of harm to
Plaintiff. Plaintiff disagrees with the assessment of prison
medical staff and wants a different course of treatment, but
the allegations in the Complaint (ECF No. 1) do not
reasonably suggest that any Defendant actually, subjectively
drew an inference that a substantial risk of harm to
Plaintiff exists in connection with his condition, or
consciously disregarded such serious risk.
well-established that a prisoner's disagreement with the
level of testing or treatment he receives does not rise to
the level of a constitutional violation. SeeDodson v. Wilkinson, 304 F.App'x 434, 440 (6th
Cir. 2008); Ward v. Smith, No. 95-6666, 1996 WL
627724, at *1 (6th Cir. Oct. 29, 1996) (“differences in
judgment between an inmate and prison medical personnel
regarding the appropriate medical diagnosis or treatment are
not enough to state a deliberate indifference claim”).
See also Westlake v. Lucas,537 F.2d 857, 860 n. 5
(6th Cir. 1976) (“Where a prisoner has received some
medical attention and the dispute is over the ...