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Terrell v. Medical Department Cuyahoga County Correctional Center

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

March 28, 2018




         Pro se Plaintiff Timothy Terrell filed this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Cuyahoga County Correctional Center (“the Jail”) Medical Department, Metro Health Systems, Dr. Thomas Tallman, Dr. Rekha Ujla, Director of Inmate Health Services Marcus Harris, the Cuyahoga County Medical Director, The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (“ODRC”) Medical Director, the Jail Director, Nurse Lori True and Dr. Alan Gatz. In the Complaint, Plaintiff asserts the Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical condition in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. He seeks monetary relief.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff alleges he was booked into the Jail on October 4, 2016. At that time, Plaintiff met with Dr. Gatz and informed him that he suffered from anemia. He alleges Dr. Gatz told him if he were concerned about his health, he should not commit crimes. He then indicated to Plaintiff that if medical staff could confirm his diagnosis, he would receive treatment. Plaintiff claims he was sent back to his housing unit without receiving medication.

         Plaintiff indicates he did not receive medical attention from October 2016 until May 2017. He alleges that in those seven months, he complained of breathing complications. He was scheduled for an appointment at University Hospitals on June 5, 2017. Doctors there prescribed monthly injections of Aranesp and daily treatments of Tramadol. Plaintiff states he saw Dr. Tallman upon his return to the Jail. He states Tallman gave him a physical examination and sent him back to his housing unit without the medication. Four days later, Plaintiff was taken back to University Hospital where he was admitted for complications due to a low blood count. He alleges he received transfusions and hourly blood monitoring. He received a shot of Aranesp just before returning to the Jail on June 11, 2017.

         Plaintiff states Dr. Tallman told him his medications would be administered as instructed by the University Hospital doctors. He claims that despite that statement, he did not receive another shot of Aranesp for four months. He contends he complained to Dr. Ojla and Nurse True who both assured him he would receive treatment. He states he experienced chest pains and breathing complications and asked to be sent to University Hospitals. His request, however, was denied. He indicates he received an injection of Aranesp on November 2, 2017. He asserts the Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs.


         Standard of Review

         Although 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, 490 U.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 the Defendant is immune from suit or when the 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.

         A cause of action fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted when it lacks “plausibility in the Complaint.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 564 (2007). A pleading must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-78 (2009). The factual allegations in the pleading must be sufficient to raise the right to relief above the speculative level on the assumption that all the allegations in the Complaint are true. Bell Atl. Corp., 550 U.S. at 555. The Plaintiff is not required to include detailed factual allegations, but must provide more than “an unadorned, the-Defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. A pleading that offers legal conclusions or a simple recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not meet this pleading standard. Id. In reviewing a Complaint, the Court must construe the pleading in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff. Bibbo v. Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc., 151 F.3d 559, 561 (6th Cir. 1998).

         Respondeat Superior

         The Jail Medical Department is not a proper Defendant. To the extent Plaintiff intended this claim to be asserted against specific people in the Medical Department, he must identify them individually in his Complaint. He 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).

         To the extent he intended to sue the County for the actions of individuals within the medical department, he also fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. As a rule, local governments may not be sued under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for an injury inflicted solely by employees or agents under a respondeat superior theory of liability. See Monell v. Department of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 691(1978). “Instead, it is when execution of a government's policy or custom, whether made by its lawmakers or by those whose edicts or acts may fairly be said to represent official policy, inflicts the injury that the government as an entity is responsible under § 1983.” Id. at 694. A municipality can therefore be held liable when it unconstitutionally “implements or executes a policy statement, ordinance, regulation, or decision officially adopted by that body's officers.” Id. at 690; DePiero v. City of Macedonia, 180 F.3d 770, 786 (6th Cir. 1999). Plaintiff does not suggest a custom or policy of Cuyahoga County that provided the basis for the decisions Jail staff made about his medical care.

         Similarly, Plaintiff has not stated a claim against Metro Health Systems, Harris, the Cuyahoga County Medical Director, the ODRC Medical Director, or the Jail Director in their individual capacities. Plaintiff has not alleged that they were personally involved in deciding which medications he should have and when he should receive them. It is possible Plaintiff named them as Defendants because they employ or supervise other Defendants. Respondeat superior, however, is not a proper basis for liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Leary v. Daeschner,349 F.3d 888, 903 (6th Cir. 2003); Bellamy v. Bradley,729 F.2d 416, 421 (6th Cir. 1984). A supervisor's failure to monitor, control or train the offending individual is not actionable unless the supervisor either encouraged the specific incident of misconduct or in some other way directly participated in it. Shehee v. Luttrell,199 F.3d 295, 300 (6th Cir. 1999) (quoting Hays v. Jefferson County, 668 F.2d 869, 874 (6th Cir. 1982)). At a minimum, Plaintiff must show that the supervisor implicitly authorized, approved, or ...

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