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Spann v. Hannah

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

July 18, 2019

DAVID HANNAH, et al., Defendants




         Plaintiff Albert Spann (“Plaintiff” or “Spann”) is a state prisoner in the custody of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (“ODRC”) and is confined at the Grafton Correctional Institution (“GCI”). He brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against eight defendants whom Plaintiff alleges are all direct or contract employees of the ODRC and/or GCI and are responsible for providing medical care to Ohio prisoners. (Compl., ECF No. 1 ¶¶ 3-4). Spann sues these defendants in their official and individual capacities, alleging deliberate indifference to his medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment: (1) David Hannah (“Hannah”), GCI Health Care Administrator; (2) Janice Douglas (“Douglas”), GCI Institutional Physician; (3) Nurse Mitchell (“Mitchell”), GCI Pharmacy Nurse; (4) Nurse Snowden (“Snowden”), GCI; (5) Mr. Chris, Nurse Franklin Medical Center; (6) Stephanie Adams (“Adams”), GCI; (7) Unknown doctor, Franklin Medical Center; and (8) Unknown nurses, Franklin Medical Center (collectively, “Defendants”).

         For the reasons that follow, this case is dismissed.


         Plaintiff states that he has been diagnosed with glaucoma and receives treatment from Defendants. (Id. ¶ 5). His complaint consists of a chronology of events regarding treatment of that condition. Briefly, Plaintiff alleges that, between November 2017 and October 2018, Defendants prescribed, dispensed, or administered glaucoma medication to which he is allergic. Plaintiff's glaucoma medications were changed multiple times by Douglas in response to swelling, itching, redness, and pain in his eyes. Plaintiff alleges that on a few occasions, Mitchell dispensed and Snowden and/or Hannah administered, glaucoma medication to which he was allergic and was “discontinued” by the doctor. When Plaintiff did experience the above-described symptoms, he received treatment ranging from the application of ice to his eyes to transfer to a medical facility.

         In September and October 2018, Dr. Fillmore, a GCI optometrist who is not a defendant in this action, changed Plaintiff's medication to “Brimonidine.” Plaintiff alleges that “the GCI defendants herein refused” to provide the prescribed medication, but by the end of October, Plaintiff did receive the medication prescribed by Fillmore. (Id. ¶¶ 19, 21). Plaintiff filed multiple informal complaints at GCI regarding the medical treatment he received for his glaucoma, which he refers to and attaches to the Complaint. (Id. ¶ 25). Plaintiff claims that Defendants' conduct constitutes deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs, causing pain and jeopardy to his sight, in violation of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. (Id. ¶¶ 27-32). For relief, Plaintiff seeks a declaration that Defendants violated his federal rights, compensatory and punitive damages in the amount of One Million Dollars each, and injunctive relief requiring that Defendants cease and desist the conduct of which he complains. (Id. at 6-7).


         A. Standard of Review

         Because Plaintiff is pro se, the Court must liberally construe the Complaint. Boag v. MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364, 365 (1982) (per curiam); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). That said, pro se litigants are not exempted or excused from the Federal Rules governing pleading and dismissal for failure to state a claim. Moore v. Holbrook, 2 F.3d 697, 705 (6th Cir. 1993). Federal district courts are expressly required under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) to screen all in forma pauperis actions and to dismiss any such action that is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. The standard for dismissal articulated in Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007) and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009) with respect to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) also governs dismissal under § 1915(e)(2)(B). Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010). Therefore, in order to survive scrutiny under § 1915(e)(2)(B), a pro se complaint must set forth sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a plausible claim for relief. Anson v. Corr. Corp. of Am., 529 Fed.Appx. 558, 559 (6th Cir. 2013) (“Section 1915(e)(2)(B) authorizes dismissal if the action fails to state a plausible claim for relief or is frivolous.”).

         When determining whether the Plaintiff has stated a plausible 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.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. Even though 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. at 555. The court is not “bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (internal citations omitted). Accordingly, “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Bihn v. Fifth Third Mortg. Co., 980 F.Supp.2d 892, 897 (S.D. Ohio 2013) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).

         B. Section 1983 Claim for Deliberate Indifference to a Serious Medical Need

         In order to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Plaintiff must allege that a person acting under color of state law deprived him of his rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution or the laws of the United States. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). In this action, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs in violation of his rights under the Eighth Amendment.

         The Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment proscribes punishment that is incompatible with “‘the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society'” and, under that standard, obligates the government to provide medical care for incarcerated prisoners. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 102 (1976) (quoting Trop v. Dulles, 356 U.S. 86, 101 (1958)). The government runs afoul of the Eighth Amendment with respect to inmate medical care when it is deliberately indifferent to a prisoner's serious medical needs. Id. at 105-06.

         In order to prevail on a deliberate indifference claim, Plaintiff must establish two prongs consisting of an objective component and a subjective component, both of which must be satisfied. Farmer v. Brennan,511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994). The objective component requires the existence of a “sufficiently serious” medical need. Id. That is, “the inmate must show that he is incarcerated under conditions posing a substantial risk of harm.” Id. (citation omitted). The subjective component requires an inmate to show that prison officials have a sufficiently culpable state of mind in denying him medical care. Id. In order to satisfy this culpable state of mind, the prison ...

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