Crowell v. Parsons

Decision Date14 October 2014
Docket NumberCase No. 2:14-cv-44
PartiesRICHARD CROWELL, Plaintiff, v. MICHELLE PARSONS et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Western District of Michigan

Honorable R. Allan Edgar


This is a civil rights action brought by a state prisoner pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court has granted Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, PUB. L. NO. 104-134, 110 STAT. 1321 (1996), the Court is required to dismiss any prisoner action brought under federal law if the complaint is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A; 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c). The Court must read Plaintiff's pro se amended complaint (docket #20) indulgently, see Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), and accept Plaintiff's allegations as true, unless they are clearly irrational or wholly incredible. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 33 (1992). Applying these standards, the Court will dismiss Plaintiff's amended complaint (docket #20) for failure to state a claim against Defendants Gerth and Trierweiler. The Court will also dismiss Plaintiff's First Amendment free speech claim against Defendant White. The Court will serve the amended complaint on Defendants Parsons, Rhodes,Pandya, Borgerding, Stieve, Corizon, Inc., and Westcomb. The Court will also serve Plaintiff's First Amendment retaliation claim on Defendant White.

I. Factual allegations

Plaintiff presently is incarcerated at the Baraga Maximum Correctional Facility but complains of events that occurred at the G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility (JCF) and the Alger Correctional Facility (LMF). In his pro se amended complaint, Plaintiff sues JCF Assistant Resident Unit Supervisor (ARUS) Michelle Parsons, JCF Dr. Karen Rhodes, Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) Regional Medical Officers (RMO(s)) Drs. Harish Pandya and William Borgerding, MDOC Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr. Jeffrey Stieve, Corizon, Inc., LMF Physician Assistant (PA) Amy Westcomb, LMF Grievance Coordinator W. Trierweiler, LMF ARUS Denise Gerth and LMF Mail Clerk Carol White.

Plaintiff states that he suffers from several medical ailments, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), erosion of his esophagus, a hiatal hernia, sensory deprivations, spinal pain, a wool allergy and severe pain. For his ailments, the MDOC provided Plaintiff with special accommodations, including single cell housing, a bottom bunk detail, cotton blankets, gym shoes, a handicap table and permission not to work. In his amended complaint, Plaintiff lists his allegations by Defendant, as follows:

Defendant Parsons: Plaintiff arrived at JCF on June 21, 2012. Soon thereafter, Defendant Parsons placed Plaintiff at a high security level "due to [Plaintiff's] disabilit[ies.]" (Attach. to. 2nd Am. Compl., docket #20, Page ID#101.) On November 27, 2012, Plaintiff filed grievances and civil rights complaints against Parsons, in part, due to his placement at the highersecurity level. On November 30, 2012, Plaintiff states that Parsons conspired with Dr. Rhodes to remove his special medical accommodations in retaliation for filing complaints against Parsons. As a result, Plaintiff was placed in segregation and endured pain, sensory deprivation, itching, anger, hostility and confusion. Plaintiff complains that Defendant Parsons deprived him of his First and Eighth Amendment rights.

Defendant Rhodes: On July 6, 2012, Plaintiff states that Dr. Rhodes approved all of Plaintiff's special accommodations, including a single cell, bottom bunk, cotton blankets, gym shoes, handicap table, and "no work." (2nd Am. Compl., docket #20, Page ID#90.) After Plaintiff filed grievances and complaints against Defendant Parsons, however, Plaintiff claims that Dr. Rhodes canceled all of his special accommodations. As a result, Plaintiff alleges that he suffers pain, rage, anger and confusion. Plaintiff states that Dr. Rhodes violated his First and Eighth Amendment rights and MDOC policy.

Defendant Pandya: Plaintiff alleges that RMO Dr. Pandya approved Plaintiff's special accommodations even when they had been denied by health care at Parnell Correctional Facility. Plaintiff alleges that after Dr. Rhodes revoked all of Plaintiff's special accommodations on November 30, 2012, Dr. Pandya refused to reinstate any of Plaintiff's special accommodations. Reading Plaintiff's complaint liberally, Plaintiff alleges that Dr. Pandya violated his Eighth Amendment rights by failing to provide for his special accommodations. See Haines, 404 U.S. at 520.

Defendant Stieve: As MDOC CMO, Plaintiff states that Dr. Stieve runs the Pain Management Committee (PMC), which overseas all chronic pain medications. On April 3, 2013, Dr. Stieve canceled the pain medication regimen that Plaintiff had been on since 2004, except fora short period in 2009. Plaintiff alleges that Dr. Stieve canceled his pain medication in 2009 but reinstated it after Plaintiff's doctor appealed his decision. When his pain medication was ultimately canceled on April 3, 2013, Plaintiff claims that Dr. Stieve failed to replace his medication with any comparable pain medication. Because of Dr. Stieve's refusal to provide Plaintiff with pain medication, Plaintiff alleges that he suffers from intense spinal, GERD and IBS pain, as well as anger and rage. Plaintiff asserts that Dr. Stieve violated his Eighth Amendment rights.

Defendant Borgerding: In 2007, Plaintiff states that he received permanent approval for Nexium.1 In 2011, Plaintiff's Nexium prescription was canceled allegedly due to its cost. From 2011 to 2014, Plaintiff complains of esophagus erosion, bleeding, discomfort and pain. In 2013, despite several requests, Dr. Borgerding repeatedly denied Nexium for Plaintiff. Plaintiff states that his GERD is complicated by a hiatal hernia and could lead to death if untreated. Plaintiff complains that Dr. Borgerding's deliberate indifference to his medical issues have caused pain, confusion, anger and rage. As a result, Plaintiff states that Dr. Borgerding violated his Eighth Amendment rights.

Defendant Corizon, Inc.: Plaintiff states that Corizon was deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's serious medical needs and failed to properly train its employees in violation of his Eighth Amendment rights. Accordingly, Plaintiff suffers from severe pain, anger, rage, hostility, behavior disorders and sensory deprivations.

Defendant Westcomb: As his medical provider at LMF from March 13 to October 9, 2013, Plaintiff claims that PA Westcomb refused to treat Plaintiff for his pain, GERD, wool allergy and IBS, and withheld his continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine for threedays. Plaintiff also provides that Westcomb falsified information in Plaintiff's records, which violated criminal statutes. Plaintiff further states that Defendant Westcomb violated his Eighth Amendment rights.

Defendant Trierweiler: Plaintiff alleges that between March 13 and October 9, 2013, LMF Grievance Coordinator Trierweiler "consistently engaged in obstuctionistic, repressive tactics to deny Plaintiff['s] 1st Amend U.S. Const. Right to Redress." (2nd Am. Compl., docket #20, Page ID#93.) Plaintiff alleges that by interfering with his grievances, Defendant Trierweiler violated his First Amendment right to access the courts and his due process rights.

Defendant White: Plaintiff alleges that Mail Clerk White unlawfully rejected Plaintiff's mail for being Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) material on June 19, 2013. Plaintiff states that he merely attempted to mail an "oath of fidelity" lien against a corrections officer. (2nd Am. Compl., Page ID#93.) Plaintiff states that the rejected mail did not contain any UCC terminology. Plaintiff complains that White was essentially protecting the officer by rejecting Plaintiff's mail. Moreover, when Plaintiff inquired with White as to why she rejected his mail, Plaintiff alleges that White retaliated against him by giving him a misconduct ticket in violation of his First Amendment rights. Plaintiff also appears to allege that White retaliated against him by restricting his mail. Further, Plaintiff suggests that White violated his First Amendment right to communication by restricting his mail.

Defendant Gerth: On June 21, 2013, Plaintiff states that ARUS Gerth held an administrative hearing regarding the mail that was rejected by Mail Clerk White. In the hearing report, Plaintiff asserts that Gerth acknowledged that the rejected material was not UCC material. However, Gerth still upheld the rejection and refused to return the mail to Plaintiff. Also, on June21, 2013, Gerth posted a note on Plaintiff's door that Plaintiff could only mail items through Gerth or Gerth's supervisor. Plaintiff states that this restriction continued for four months causing mail delays. Plaintiff contends that Gerth retaliated against him by restricting his mail for engaging in protected conduct, "to wit redress." (2nd Am. Compl., Page ID#93.) The Court also liberally construes a due process claim against Gerth for rejecting Plaintiff's mail and a First Amendment access-to-the-courts claim for his mail delays. See Haines, 404 U.S. at 520.

For relief, Plaintiff requests injunctive relief and compensatory and punitive damages.

II. Failure to state a claim

A complaint may be dismissed for failure to state a claim if it fails "'to give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). While a complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's allegations must include more than labels and conclusions. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) ("Threadbare recitals of the...

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