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Torbert v. Metzler

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

June 13, 2018

PATRICIA METZLER, CRNP, et al., Defendants.



         Pro Se Plaintiff James Torbert, III filed this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (“ODRC”) Director Gary Mohr and five individuals at Trumbull Correctional Institution (“TCI”) Patricia Metzler, CRNP; James Kline, D.O.; Mr. Roberts, Nurse; Mr. Robinson, Nurse; and, Mr. Hollinger, Nurse. In the Complaint (ECF No. 1), Plaintiff alleges Defendants did not properly treat his ankle injury. He asserts they were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Plaintiff seeks monetary and injunctive relief.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff injured his foot and ankle playing basketball on February 8, 2017. He was treated by the on-duty nurse whom wrapped his foot with an ace bandage, and gave him crutches and ibuprofen. Plaintiff received an x-ray of his foot on February 13, 2017. He explained to the medical staff that he believed he had torn his Achilles tendon, which would not appear on an x-ray. Plaintiff insisted he needed an MRI. He contends Nurse Practitioner Metzler examined his foot and ankle on February 17, 2017 and stated he had a high ankle sprain, which would not require an MRI. Plaintiff asked to see the doctor and she denied his request. Nurse Practitioner Metzler provided him with a fiberglass cast and continued his use of crutches. He asked to be sent outside the prison for a surgical consult. Nurse Practitioner Metzler denied that request as well.

         Plaintiff was seen by Nurse Roberts when he went to sick call on February 16, 2017. He asked Nurse Roberts for a referral to Dr. Kline and Nurse Roberts indicated it was not necessary. Plaintiff states the nurse refused to examine his foot and would not return his Inmate Health Care Request Slip. He states the nurse also refused to call an officer. Instead, a corrections officer called for assistance and Plaintiff was escorted to segregation.

         Plaintiff was seen by Dr. Kline on February 17, 2017 and was told that no fractures were seen on the x-ray. Dr. Kline ordered an orthotic splint and instructed Plaintiff on Theraband exercises.

         Plaintiff reported to sick call for a follow-up visit on March 6, 2017 and was seen by Nurse Robinson. He told the nurse he was in extreme pain and again requested to see a doctor and be scheduled for an MRI. Nurse Robinson denied the request and indicated to Plaintiff his problem was in his head.

         On March 19, 2017, Plaintiff was seen at sick call by Nurse Hollinger. He noted Plaintiff had difficulty raising his right heel and now showed a deformity of the right Achilles tendon. He requested that Plaintiff be seen by a doctor. Plaintiff contends that he did not receive that follow-up consultation.

         Plaintiff saw Dr. Kline again on June 26, 2017. Dr. Kline confirmed that Plaintiff's Achilles tendon was partially torn, but refused to order a surgical consult. Instead, he ordered a walking boot for Plaintiff.

         Plaintiff claims all of the defendants acted with deliberate indifference to deny him proper medical care for his injury, which he alleges should have involved surgery. He seeks monetary damages and an order from the Court to provide him with surgery and physical therapy.

         II. Standard for Dismissal

         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 district 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 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, 33 (1992). See also Lawler, 898 F.2d at 1199.

         When determining whether a 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.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The plaintiff's 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 do.” Id. at 555. Although a complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, its “[f]actual 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.(citation omitted). The court is “not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.” Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986).

         The Supreme Court in Ashcroft v. Iqbal,556 U.S. 662 (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.” Id. at 678. Furthermore, “[t]he plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability requirement, ' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id.(quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). This ...

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