United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
WILLIAM J. REEVES, Plaintiff,
BRIGHAM SLOAN, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OF OPINION AND ORDER
AARON POLSTER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
se Plaintiff William J. Reeves filed this action against
Lake Erie Correctional Institution ("LeCI") Warden
Brigham Sloan, Ms. Reberra, Ms. Witt, Dr. Swanson, Nurse
Foster, and John/Jane Doe Nurse. In the Complaint (Doc. # 1),
Plaintiff alleges a series of mistakes made by the prison
medical department delayed the surgery on his broken finger.
He seeks monetaiy damages.
broke his finger sliding into base in a prison baseball game
on August 14, 2016. He was taken to an emergency room in
Conneaut, Ohio where he received eight stitches and was
referred to an orthopedic specialist, Dr. Hermat, on August
24, 2016. He claims a prison computer entry error resulted in
a delay in removing his stitches. Dr. Hermat recommended
surgery to repair the fracture. Plaintiff had a follow up
appointment with LeCI Physician, Dr. Swanson on September 8,
2016. He was supposed to be scheduled to see Dr. Hermat in
September but another computer error resulted in an emergency
room visit instead of an appointment on September 21, 2016.
Ms. Aiken realized the error and scheduled Plaintiff to see
Dr. Hermat on October 21, 2016. At that point, Dr. Hermat
indicated too much time had passed to fully repair the damage
and Plaintiffs finger would have to be fused. Dr. Swanson
approved the surgery. Ms. Reberra gave Plaintiff paperwork to
complete for the surgery. He reported to the medical
department on the day of his surgery, December 7, 2016;
however, Nurse Foster "had some issue with
[Plaintiff]" and refused to send him to the surgery.
(Doc. #1 at 5). The grievance Plaintiff attached to his
Complaint (Doc. # 1-4) lists it as "security
concerns." Plaintiff states he discussed the situation
with Witt who indicated the prison would need to better
educate nursing staff. The next available surgery date was
February 7, 2017. He claims doctors removed his stitches
later that month, however, he noticed several stitches still
in his hand in March. He contends the Institutional Inspector
told him that the stitches were dissolvable. Plaintiff states
they are not dissolving. He seeks monetary damages.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
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
Court is required to dismiss an in forma pauperis
action under 28 U.S.C. §1915(e) if it fails to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted, or if it lacks an
arguable basis in law or fact. Neitzke v. Williams,
490U.S. 319 (1989); Lawler v. Marshall, 898 F.2d
1196 (6th Cir. 1990); Sistrunk v. City of
Strongsville, 99 F.3d 194, 197 (6th Cir. 1996). An
action has no arguable basis in law when a Defendant is
immune from suit or when a Plaintiff claims a violation of a
legal interest which clearly does not exist.
Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327. An action has no arguable
factual basis when the allegations are delusional or rise to
the level of the irrational or "wholly incredible."
Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 32 (1992);
Lawler, 898 F.2d at 1199.
determining whether the Plaintiff has stated a claim upon
which relief can be granted, the Court must construe the
Complaint in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff,
accept all factual allegations as true, and determine whether
the Complaint contains "enough facts to state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face." BellAtl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). The
Plaintiffs obligation to provide the grounds for relief
"requires more than labels and conclusions, and a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action
will not j do." Id. Although a Complaint need
not contain detailed factual allegations, its "factual
allegations 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." Id. The
Court is "not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion
couched as a factual allegation." Papasan v.
Attain, 478 U.S. 265, 286(1986).
Court in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-78
(2009), further explains the "plausibility"
requirement, stating that "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 678. Furthermore, "the
plausibility standard is not akin to a 'probability
requirement, ' but it asks for more than a sheer
possibility \ that a Defendant acted
unlawfully." Id. This determination is a
"context-specific task that requires the reviewing Court
to draw on its judicial experience and common sense."
does not assert a specific cause of action in his Complaint;
however, it is possible he is attempting to assert an Eighth
Amendment claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Prison officials
may not deprive inmates of "the minimal civilized
measure of life's necessities." Rhodes v.
Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 347 (1981). The Supreme Court in
Wilson v. Setter, 501 U.S. 294, 298 (1991), set
forth a framework for Courts to use when deciding whether
certain conditions of confinement constitute cruel and
unusual punishment prohibited by the Eighth Amendment. A
Plaintiff must first plead facts which, if true, establish
that a sufficiently serious deprivation has occurred.
Id. Seriousness is measured in response to
"contemporary standards of decency." Hudson v.
McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 8 (1992). Routine discomforts of
prison life do not suffice. Id. Only deliberate
indifference to serious medical needs or extreme deprivations
regarding the conditions of confinement will implicate the
protections of the Eighth Amendment. Id. at 9.
Plaintiff must also establish a subjective element showing
the prison officials acted with a sufficiently culpable state
of mind. Id. Deliberate indifference is
characterized by obduracy or wantonness, not inadvertence or
good faith error. Whitley v. Albers, 475 U.S. 312,
319(1986). Liability cannot be predicated solely on
negligence. Id. A prison official violates the
Eighth Amendment only when both the objective and subjective
requirements are met. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S.
825, 834 (1994).
Plaintiff may arguably have satisfied the objective
component, he fails to allege facts to satisfy the subjective
component of an Eighth Amendment claim. To do so, he must
demonstrate that each of the Defendants was deliberately
indifferent to a serious risk to his health. Wilson,
501 U.S. at 302-03. Deliberate indifference "entails
something more than mere negligence." Farmer,
511 U.S. at 835. An inmate must show that prison officials
had "a sufficiently culpable state of mind."
Id. at 834. This standard is met if "the
official knows of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate
health or safety; 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; Flanory v.
Bonn, 604 F.3d 249, 253-55 (6th Cir. 2010).
Plaintiff does not include any allegations against the
Warden. The Warden appears to have been named as a Defendant
because he supervises the prison. Plaintiff cannot establish
the liability of any Defendant absent a clear showing that
the Defendant was personally involved in the activities which
form the basis of the alleged unconstitutional behavior.
Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362, 371 (1976);
Mullins v. Hainesworth, No. 95-3186, 1995 WL 559381
(6th Cir. Sept. 20, 1995). The Complaint simply contains no
facts which reasonably associate Warden Sloan to Plaintiffs
health care decisions.
Plaintiff alleges Reberra gave him forms to sign for surgery
and Witt discussed an Informal Complaint with him. There are
no other allegations that pertain to these Defendants to
suggest they committed acts which endangered his health and
did so with conscious disregard of a substantial risk of
serious harm to him. Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837.
asserts Dr. Swanson was monitoring his care. She scheduled
him to see an orthopedic specialist, and approved his
surgery. Plaintiff contends there were several scheduling
errors that resulted in a delay in having his stitches
removed, a delay in getting a follow up appointment with the
correct orthopedic specialist, and a delay in having the
surgery. Plaintiff does not allege facts to suggest Dr.
Swanson was responsible for these errors. Even if she were
responsible, however, these errors are, at best negligent.
Plaintiff does not suggest ...