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Johnson v. Peterson

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

January 7, 2020

Luther Johnson, pro se, Plaintiff,
v.
Lisa Peterson, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Jeffrey J. Helmick United States District Judge.

         I. Introduction

         Defendants Lisa Peterson, Oscar Cataldi, Jr., and Robert Yochum have filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings, asserting the complaint filed by pro se Plaintiff Luther Johnson fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. (Doc. No. 21). Johnson filed a brief in opposition. (Doc. No. 26).

         The parties have filed a variety of other motions. Defendants have filed a motion for leave to take Johnson's deposition. (Doc. No. 20). Johnson has filed three motions for discovery, (Doc. No. 17; Doc. No. 27; and Doc. No. 28), a motion for the appointment of counsel, (Doc. No. 22), and a motion objecting to Defendants' motion for leave to take his deposition. (Doc. No. 23).

         For the reasons stated below, Plaintiff's motions and Defendants' motion for leave are denied, and Defendants' Rule 12(c) motion is granted.

         II. Background

         Johnson, an inmate at the Allen Oakwood Correctional Institution in Lima, Ohio (“AOCI”), was diagnosed with Hepatitis C in 2000. He has had periodic biopsies in the intervening years which have showed his Hepatitis C infection is progressing and is causing liver damage. (Doc. No. 1 at 3). Since at least 2016, Johnson has pursued more aggressive treatment for his Hepatitis C infection from medical staff at AOCI and through the grievance system. (Id. at 3-8). He alleges Defendants Peterson, Cataldi, Yochum, and Dr. Carlos Perez have refused to provide him with treatment to slow or reverse the progression of his condition because his virus has not yet progressed to stage 3, as required by the policies and procedures of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. (Id. at 7-8).

         Peterson is the Health Care Administrator at AOCI, Cataldi and Perez are the current and former Lead Doctor, and Yochum is a registered nurse at the facility. (Doc. No. 1 at 2). Johnson alleges Defendants have violated his rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments by refusing to provide him with the treatment he has requested for his Hepatitis C infection. He seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

         III. Standard

         Rule 12(c) motions for judgment on the pleadings are subject to the same standard as a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. v. Winget, 510 F.3d 577, 581 (6th Cir. 2007). A court construes the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and accepts as true well-pleaded factual allegations. Daily Servs., LLC v. Valentino, 756 F.3d 893, 896 (6th Cir. 2014) (citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009)). Factual allegations must be sufficient to state a plausible claim for relief. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Legal conclusions and unwarranted factual inferences are not entitled to a presumption of truth. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). In ruling on a motion to dismiss, a court may consider public records as well as documents attached to the motion to dismiss if those documents “are referred to in the plaintiff's complaint and are central to the plaintiff's claim.” Jackson v. City of Columbus, 194 F.3d 737, 745 (6th Cir. 1999), abrogated on other grounds by Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506 (2002).

         IV. Analysis

         A. Section 1983 - Deliberate Indifference

         An inmate claiming prison officials violated the Eighth Amendment must show the officials acted with deliberate indifference to the inmate's medical needs. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 103-04 (1976).

         The first part of the deliberate-indifference showing requires a prisoner show “he is incarcerated under conditions posing a substantial risk of serious harm.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994). The second part requires a showing that the defendant knew of and disregarded an excessive risk to inmate health or safety - “the official must both be aware of the facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of harm exists, ...


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