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McAllister v. Maier

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

August 6, 2019

JOHN L. MCALLISTER, Plaintiff,
v.
GEORGE MAIER, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER AND OPINION

          JOHN R. ADAMS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on two motions: (1) Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c) on behalf of Defendant Jeffrey Duffey, M.D. (Doc. # 12) and (2) Defendant Jonathan Stump's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c) or, in the alternative, Failure to Prosecute pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b). (Doc. # 13). Plaintiff has not filed responses to the motions. As the time for filing oppositions has long expired, the motions are unopposed. For the reasons stated herein, it is hereby ORDERED that the motions for judgment on the pleadings are GRANTED.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff John L. McAllister filed his pro se Complaint in forma pauperis against several defendants, including movants Jeffrey Duffey, M.D. and Jonathan Stump, in their individual and official capacities as personnel of the Stark County Jail. Plaintiff's Complaint alleges that Defendants did not provide a laboratory or diagnostic test for Plaintiff's Hepatitis C and did not develop or implement a treatment plan for his Hepatitis C while he was incarcerated at the Stark County Jail. These alleged failures purportedly caused Plaintiff's cirrhosis of the liver. Plaintiff also claims that he did not receive treatment for his degenerative disc disease. Defendants have moved for judgment on the pleadings on these claims.

         ANALYSIS

         I. LEGAL STANDARD

         Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c) provides that “[a]fter the pleadings are closed - but early enough not to delay trial - a party may move for judgment on the pleadings.” The standard for evaluating a motion for judgment on the pleadings is the same as that applicable to a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. Ziegler v. IBP Hog Market, Inc., 249 F.3d 509, 511-12 (6th Cir. 2001). The Sixth Circuit stated the standard for reviewing such a motion to dismiss in Assn. of Cleveland Fire Fighters v. Cleveland, 502 F.3d 545 (6th Cir. 2007) as follows: The Supreme Court has recently clarified the law with respect to what a plaintiff must plead in order to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007). The Court stated that “a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to 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 (citations and quotation marks omitted). Additionally, the Court emphasized that 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.

         If an allegation is capable of more than one inference, this Court must construe it in the plaintiff's favor. Columbia Natural Res., Inc. v. Tatum, 58 F.3d 1101, 1109 (6th Cir. 1995) (citing Allard v. Weitzman, 991 F.2d 1236, 1240 (6th Cir. 1993)). This Court may not grant a Rule 12(b)(6) motion merely because it may not believe the plaintiff's factual allegations. Id. While this may be a liberal standard of review, the plaintiff still must do more than merely assert bare legal conclusions. Id. Specifically, the complaint must contain “either direct or inferential allegations respecting all the material elements to sustain a recovery under some viable legal theory.” Scheid v. Fanny Farmer Candy Shops, Inc., 859 F.2d 434, 436 (6th Cir. 1988) (quotations and emphasis omitted).

         II. PLAINTIFF'S CLAIMS UNDER 42 U.S.C. § 1983

         Plaintiff McAllister's claims cannot succeed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.[1] Section 1983 authorizes “any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof” to pursue “an action at law [or] a suit in equity” against “every person who, under color of” state law, causes “the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws[.]” See 42 U.S.C. § 1983. To state an actionable claim under § 1983, two elements are necessary. Adickes v. S. H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 150 (1970). First, a prospective plaintiff must allege that a “defendant has deprived him of a right secured by the ‘Constitution and laws' of the United States.” Id. Second, the plaintiff must prove that this deprivation of rights occurred under color of law. Id. At issue in this case is Plaintiff's claim that Defendants' failure to provide adequate medical care violated his right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment. “The Eighth Amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment generally provides the basis to assert a § 1983 claim of deliberate indifference to serious medical needs . . . .” Phillips v. Roane County, 534 F.3d 531, 539 (6th Cir. 2008) (citing City of Revere v. Mass. Gen. Hosp., 463 U.S. 239, 244 (1983)).

         The Eighth Amendment imposes duties on prison officials to provide humane conditions of confinement, including adequate medical care. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 833 (1994). The standard that governs § 1983 claims of Eighth Amendment violations is that of deliberate indifference. See Id. at 834-35. “Deliberate indifference requires that the defendants ‘knew of and disregarded a substantial risk of serious harm to [the plaintiff's] health and safety.'” Spears v. Ruth, 589 F.3d 249, 254 (6th Cir. 2009) (quoting Watkins v. City of Battle Creek, 273 F.3d 682, 686 (6th Cir. 2001)). The Sixth Circuit has determined that the standard of deliberate indifference has both objective and subjective elements. Winkler v. Madison Cty., 893 F.3d 877, 890 (6th Cir. 2018) (citing Spears, 589 F.3d at 254).

         “For the objective component, the detainee must demonstrate the existence of a sufficiently serious medical need.” Spears, 589 F.3d at 254. (quoting Estate of Carter v. City of Detroit, 408 F.3d 305, 311 (6th Cir. 2005)). A serious medical need sufficient to satisfy the objective component is one that is “so obvious that even a layperson could recognize the need for a doctor's attention.” Id. (quoting Blackmore v. Kalamazoo County, 390 F.3d 890, 899-900 (6th Cir. 2004)). Generally, some form of obviously manifested symptoms is necessary to satisfy this requirement. See Blackmore, 390 F.3d at 900 (complaints of sharp stomach pain and vomiting over two days were “classic signs of appendicitis.”); Bertl v. City of Westland, No. 07-2547, 2009 U.S. App. LEXIS 2086, *3 (6th Cir. Feb. 2, 2009) (“lying face down, unresponsive and exhibiting symptoms of delirium tremens showed medical need sufficient for lay people to recognize he needed medical attention.”).

         To satisfy the subjective element, a plaintiff must show that the prison official had a “sufficiently culpable state of mind.” Farmer, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994) (quoting Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 297 (1991) (internal quotations omitted)). “In prison-conditions cases that state of mind is one of ‘deliberate indifference' to inmate health or safety.” Id. (collecting cases that establish deliberate indifference as the culpability standard in Eighth Amendment claims). In defining the subjective component of deliberate indifference, the Supreme Court stated:

That a prison official cannot be found liable under the Eighth Amendment for denying an inmate humane conditions of confinement unless 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 ...

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