On January 21, 2003, a group of Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) prisoners afflicted with Hepatitis-C, and relying on 42 U.S.C. § 1983, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan against MDOC officials, as well as individuals and entities providing ...
read more >
On January 21, 2003, a group of Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) prisoners afflicted with Hepatitis-C, and relying on 42 U.S.C. § 1983, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan against MDOC officials, as well as individuals and entities providing contract medical services to MDOC prisoners. Represented by counsel from the ACLU Fund of Michigan and from the Wayne State University Civil Rights Litigation Clinic, the plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief, together with class action status for the case, which alleged violations of federal and state constitutional guarantees against cruel and unusual punishment. Defendants' deliberate indifference to plaintiffs' medical condition and needs, by providing inadequate testing of and care for the plaintiff class, constituted the unconstitutional conduct, according to the plaintiffs. The contract medical service providers filed a motion to dismiss, saying that the plaintiffs had not exhausted their administrative remedies, as 42 U.S.C. § 1997c required, before filing their § 1983-based claim.
On July 1, 2003, District Judge Lawrence P. Zatkoff granted the defense motion. His unpublished opinion ruled that the plaintiffs had failed to exhaust the MDOC grievance procedure and that, as he and other courts have interpreted 42 U.S.C. § 1997c (a part of the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act), the plaintiffs must do so even if the administrative process is such that there is reason to presume in advance that the grievance will be denied. Moreover, in applying § 1997c to this case, Judge Zatkoff followed the "total exhaustion" rule, which required that the entire complaint be dismissed without prejudice, until the plaintiffs have completely exhausted the available administrative process. An appeal of the ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit resulted in an unpublished affirmation of the district court on November 4, 2005. Similarly, the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to grant a writ of certiorari to review the case. Thompson v Overton, 576 U.S. 1185 (2006).
We have no further information on the status of the case.Mike Fagan - 04/29/2008