Dotson v. Wilkinson

Decision Date12 March 2007
Docket NumberNo. 1:04 CV 2281.,1:04 CV 2281.
Citation477 F.Supp.2d 838
PartiesWilliam Dwight DOTSON, Plaintiff v. Reginald A. WILKINSON, et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of Ohio

William Dwight Dotson, Mansfield, OH, Pro se.

Marianne Pressman, Office of the Attorney General, State of Ohio, Corrections Litigation Section, Cincinnati, OH, for Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OF OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS

WELLS, District Judge.

Plaintiff William Dwight Dotson ("Dotson"), an inmate at the Richland Correctional Institution ("RCI") in Mansfield, Ohio, filed this action pro se against the following officials of the State of Ohio: Reginald Wilkinson ("Mr. Wilkinson"), Director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction ("ODRC"); Brian Cain ("Mr. Cain" or "Nurse Cain"), a registered nurse and Health Care Administrator at RCI; and, Dr. Bruce Martin ("Dr. Martin"), Medical Director of ODRC during the applicable time period, both in his official and individual capacity. (Docket No. 12). Mr. Dotson tested positive for Hepatitis C and, with regard to that diagnosis, he maintains the defendants intentionally withheld medical advice and information, intentionally delayed or refused adequate medical treatment, and otherwise acted negligently in treating his condition. Mr. Dotson brings this suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution, and levels additional state tort claims of conspiracy, medical malpractice, negligence and gross negligence.1 The plaintiff seeks $1,000,000 in compensatory damages and $5,000,000 in punitive damages.

The Court has before it defendants' motion to dismiss, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), to which Mr. Dotson filed an opposition (Docket No. 13). The Court granted Mr. Dotson's motion (Docket No. 10) for leave to provide proof of administrative exhaustion and to submit an amended complaint. (Docket No. 12).2

For the reasons discussed below, the defendants' motion to dismiss will be granted and Mr. Dotson's claim will be dismissed with prejudice.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Mr. Dotson has been incarcerated with ODRC since 1981. In his initial complaint, Mr. Dotson maintains that, approximately, in March 1991 he began to experience "abdominal pain, nausea, and flu like symptoms." (Complaint ¶ 12). According to the grievance documents, filed by Mr. Dotson, along with his amended complaint (Docket 12, Exhibit 1), the plaintiff was diagnosed with Hepatitis C on 14 November 2003. Evidence indicates that Dr. Dennison informed the plaintiff on 19 November 2003 of the positive test and ordered further testing, diagnosis by a chronic care nurse, monitoring, and referral to a medical liver specialist. (Exhibit 1; Complaint ¶ 68).

According to the evidence, on 21 November 2003, Dr. Dennison "educated" Mr. Dotson regarding the infection. (Exhibit 1). Mr. Dotson was seen on "sick call" by Nurse Lewis on 9 December 2003 and was referred to Dr. Williams who saw the plaintiff on 16 December 2003. (Exhibit 1). Dr. Williams discussed the plaintiff's condition and informed Mr. Dotson that he would be placed on a waiting list for treatment.

Mr. Dotson filed an informal complaint on 5 December 2003, alleging negligence and seeking "immediate medical treatment," scheduling for a liver biopsy and placement "on the chronic case load." (Exhibit 1; Complaint ¶ 69). Registered Nurse Cain responded to this informal complaint on 12 December 2003, assuring the plaintiff he' would `be placed in the Hepatitis C clinic and followed "according to screening guidelines."

Mr. Dotson elevated his informal complaint to a Notification of Grievance on 16 December 2003. In his grievance, the plaintiff reiterates his concern for immediate medical attention due to his mid-November diagnosis. Mr. Dotson recounts reviewing his past blood tests, which indicate elevated levels of AST and ALT, he confirms being seen by Nurse Lewis on 9 December 2003 and Dr. Williams on 16 December 2006, at which time he was informed by Dr. Williams that he would have to be placed on a waiting list for treatment of his Hepatitis C.

Mr. Dotson's grievance was investigated and an Inspector's Report filed on 30 December 2003 relating the plaintiff's concerns about treatment for his Hepatitis C, memorializing the actions taken by the Richland Correctional Medical staff, conveying the applicable medical protocol for testing and treatment of Hepatitis C, and finally, finding the staff in compliance with proper protocol and policy. The Inspector maintained he interviewed the plaintiff Nurse Walsh in Chronic Care, Mrs. Lukowski in Medical Records and defendant Nurse Cain. The Inspector concluded that Mr. Dotson had been seen routinely and was scheduled for continuing care through the Chronic Care Clinic.

Mr. Dotson appealed the Inspector's decision on 8 January 2004. In his appeal he charges the "medical staff' with "deliberate indifference" in the treatment following his Hepatitis C diagnosis. Mr. Dotson reiterated his request, for a liver biopsy and the "shots and meds that follow."

On 16 January 2004, the Office of the Chief Inspector reviewed and affirmed the decision of the Inspector. After confirming Mr. Dotson's medical record and Hepatitis C follow-up, the Assistant Chief Inspector noted:

Neither the Institutional Inspector nor this office can diagnose, prescribe, or recommend any medical treatment. Although you do not agree with the treatment you are receiving your medical concerns are not being ignored and are addressed by a licensed medical physician.

On 27 September 2004, Mr. Dotson again filed an Informal Complaint Resolution with defendant Nurse Cain. Mr. Dotson objects to what he characterizes as "the intentional denial of medical treatment in violation of the eight[sic] amendment to the United States Constitution." The plaintiff notes that he has seen the doctor "on a number of occasions complaining about stomach, kidney, joint problems, and flu like systoms [sic], and nausea." Mr. Dotson again requested a liver biopsy and "the medicine that treats this virus," in addition to $5,000,000 for suffering and pain.

Defendant Nurse Cain responded in writing on 15 October 2004 to Mr. Dotson's Informal Complaint. Nurse Cain noted the plaintiff did not currently "meet the criteria for treatment due to [his] high blood pressure and creatinine levels." Nurse Cain noted he would forward Mr. Dotson's information to Columbus for further evaluation and treatment recommendations. While this Informal Complaint contains the same requests and concerns given voice in Mr. Dotson's earlier grievance the record does not indicate whether this, 27 September 2004, Informal Complaint was ever escalated to the grievance stage.

II. MOTION TO DISMISS

Defendants Wilkinson, Cain, and Martin move to dismiss Mr. Dotson's complaint on the basis of the following arguments: (1) Mr. Dotson has failed to exhaust his administrative remedies as required under the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"), 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a); (2) Mr. Dotson has failed to allege any personal involvement of Director Wilkinson or Dr. Martin, creating a fatal, legal infirmity in the Section 1983 suit against the two defendants; and (3) Mr. Dotson's Eighth Amendment claim against Nurse Cain does not plead the facts necessary to give rise to the necessary legal standard of deliberate indifference.

A motion to dismiss, pursuant to Fed. R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), questions the sufficiency of the pleadings. No complaint shall be dismissed unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of the claim which would entitle relief. See Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957); see also Pfennig v. Household Credit Servs., 295 F.3d 522, 525-26 (6th Cir.2002).

When considering a 12(b)(6) motion for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, a court must:

construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, accept all the complaint's factual allegations as true, and determine whether the plaintiff undoubtedly can prove no set of facts in support of the claims that would entitle relief..., However, the Court need not accept as true legal conclusions or unwarranted factual inferences.

Grindstaff v. Green, 133 F.3d 416, 421 (6th Cir.1998). The Court's task is thus "necessarily a limited one. The issue is not whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether the plaintiff is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims." Miller v. Currie, 50 F.3d 373, 377 (6th Cir.1995) (quoting Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236, 94 S.Ct. 1683, 40 L.Ed.2d 90 (1974)).

While a reviewing court must liberally construe pro se pleadings, Boag v. MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364, 102 S.Ct. 700, 70 L.Ed.2d 551 (1982) (per curiam), a plaintiff is required to plead more than bare legal conclusions. Lillard v. Shelby County Bd. of Educ., 76 F.3d 716, 726 (6th Cir.1996); see also Morgan v. Church's Fried Chicken, 829 F.2d 10, 12 (6th Cir. 1987). Therefore, 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).

III. SECTION 1983 CLAIM

Mr. Dotson claims that the named defendants violated his right to medical care under the Eighth `Amendment of the United States Constitution. He brings this claim against the three named defendants in their official and individual capacities.

To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the violation of a right secured by the United States Constitution or laws and must show that the deprivation was committed fly a person acting under color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48, 108...

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