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Simms v. Houglan

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

January 24, 2018

TODD HOUGLAN, et al., Defendants.




         I. Introduction

         Ohio inmate Timothy Simms brought this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that defendants - medical professionals employed by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction - violated his right to be protected from cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. According to Simms, this happened when defendants acted with deliberate indifference to two of his serious medical needs. Defendants moved to dismiss the complaint on September 11, 2017. ECF Doc. 8. Simms filed a memorandum in opposition to the motion to dismiss on September 25, 2017. ECF Doc. 9. Although defendants requested and received leave to file a reply in support of their motion by October 23, 2017, they filed no reply brief. Because Simms has not stated claims upon which relief can be granted, I recommend[1] that the court DISMISS Simms's complaint.

         II. Standard of Review

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides, in relevant part, that “a party may assert the following defenses by motion: * * * (6) failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Although a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss need not contain detailed factual allegations, Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007); Sanjuan v. American Bd. of Psychiatry and Neurology, Inc., 40 F.3d 247, 251 (C.A.7 1994), a plaintiff's obligation to provide the “grounds” of his “entitle[ment] to relief” requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; See also Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286, 106 S.Ct. 2932, 92 L.Ed.2d 209 (1986) (on a motion to dismiss, courts “are not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation”).

         The Supreme Court further explained the pleading requirements in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 566 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009).

[T]he pleading standard Rule 8 announces does not require “detailed factual allegations, ” but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation. A pleading that offers “labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders “naked assertion[s]” devoid of “further factual enhancement. To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff alleges factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. The plausibility standard is not akin to a “probability requirement” but it asks more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully. Where a complaint pleads facts that are “merely consistent with” a defendant's liability, it “stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of ‘entitlement to relief.'

129 S.Ct. at 1949 (internal citations omitted).

         In ruling on a motion to dismiss, a district court must “construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, accept its allegations as true, and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff.” Directv, Inc., v. Treesh, 487 F.3d 471, 476 (6th Cir. 2007). The court may consider: (1) any documents attached to, incorporated by, or referred to in the pleadings; (2) documents attached to the motion to dismiss that are referred to in the complaint and are central to the plaintiff's allegations, even if not explicitly incorporated by reference; (3) public records; and (4) matters of which the court may take judicial notice. Whittiker v. Deutsche Bank Nat'l Trust Co., 605 F.Supp.2d 914, 924-925 (N.D. Ohio 2009).

         Simms has attached to his complaint thirty-six pages of records documenting proceedings arising from grievances he filed related to the medical treatment he received. ECF Doc. 1-1, Page ID# 7-42. According to Rule 10(c), Fed. R. Civ. P., “a copy of a written instrument that is an exhibit to a pleading is a part of the pleading for all purposes.” Because the grievance file materials were attached to Simms's complaint, the court may consider them in deciding defendants' Rule 12(b)(6) motion and in determining the sufficiency of plaintiff's statements of his claims. In contrast, if the court were to consider documents not attached to the pleadings, the motion to dismiss would be converted into a motion for summary judgment in accordance with Rule 12(d), Fed.R.Civ.P. Whittiker, 605 F.Supp.2d at 924. Here, neither party has submitted extra-pleading documents.

         The defendant has the burden of showing that the plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Directv, 487 F.3d at 476 (citing Carver v. Bunch, 946 F.2d 451, 454, 455 (6th Cir. 1991)), and dismissal on this basis is reviewed de novo. Golden v. City of Columbus, 404 F.3d 950, 958 (6th Cir. 2005).

         III. Facts Asserted by Plaintiff

         As noted above, the court is required to accept Simms's allegations as true when deciding a motion to dismiss. For this reason, the pertinent facts, as stated in Simms's complaint, are as follows:

This complaint involves long-term and repeated denial of medical care, including a refusal to conduct proper and prescribed testing for diagnosis, for admittedly cost-based reasons; and resultant exacerbation of the medical problems, as well as unnecessary infliction of pain and suffering due to the denial of readily-available medical care, due to the deliberate indifference to the serious medical needs of the Plaintiff herein by each of the two defendants, in their individual and official capabilities, by acting under color of state law and both within and outside the scope of their duties by their acts and conduct complained of herein. This case involves two separate medical issues suffered by Plaintiff, both of which he has been refused proper diagnosis and proper treatment therefor.
In November, 2010, Plaintiff suffered a foot injury and was initially prescribed a “walking boot” without any substantive testing for diagnosis, despite repeated prescriptions therefore by the ODRC/GCI podiatrist, who affirmatively states, repeatedly, that no proper diagnosis can be made without proper testing. The testing has been denied for cost-based reasons as stated by the defendants herein. The walking boot caused stress and pain to Plaintiff's knee and irritation, rash and swelling to the affected contact areas. The palliative pain medication initially prescribed was discontinued with no adequate substitute, and to this date, despite five years' worth of requests and exhausted grievances (Attached), no diagnosis has been made. Defendant Houglan is the Chief Medical Officer who consistently refuses to obtain and provide a diagnosis of the issues in Plaintiff's foot. Defendant Hannah is the Health Care Administrator who also refuses to provide adequate medical care to Plaintiff. Defendant Dr. Eddy is the Chief Medical ...

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