University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Cobbs v. Pramstaller PC-MI-0028
Docket / Court 1:07-cv-14644-TLL-CEB ( E.D. Mich. )
State/Territory Michigan
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Attorney Organization Michigan Clinical Law Program
Case Summary
On October 30, 2007, a state prison inmate filed a §1983 lawsuit against the Chief Medical Officer of the Michigan Department of Corrections' Bureau of Health Care Services and three unnamed individual members of the Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC). The plaintiff, who originally filed ... read more >
On October 30, 2007, a state prison inmate filed a §1983 lawsuit against the Chief Medical Officer of the Michigan Department of Corrections' Bureau of Health Care Services and three unnamed individual members of the Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC). The plaintiff, who originally filed pro se but was later represented by the University of Michigan Law School General Clinic, sought declarative, monetary, and injunctive relief, claiming that the defendants acted with deliberate indifference to the plaintiff's serious medical needs when they repeatedly denied his request for cataract surgery. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that after he received cataract surgery in his right eye in August 2004, defendants repeatedly denied his request for the same surgery in his left eye for several years, until he was finally given the surgery on April 14, 2008.

Plaintiff was incarcerated in a Michigan state prison at the time of the complaint and throughout the litigation. The state of Michigan contracts with Correctional Medical Services (CMS) which provides primary-care services to state inmates. If an inmate's primary care physician writes a referral to a specialist, CMS is responsible for comparing the referral to the MDOC criteria for provision of off-site specialty care. If CMS denies the referral, the primary care provider can appeal the decision by arguing that the referral was warranted in his/her best medical judgment. The appeal would not reach an MDOC officer until after a second appeal by the primary care physician. The MDOC officer would submit that appeal to the chief medical officer, who would then take it to the MSAC for a decision.

On August 30, 2004, plaintiff received surgery on his right eye. The physician who performed the surgery requested that plaintiff be returned in six weeks for surgery on the left eye. Plaintiff claimed that over the next four years, 16 separate requests for the surgery were denied and that each optometrist, doctor and ophthalmologist who examined the plaintiff said that he needed the surgery. (Appellate Brief, 2) Plaintiff finally received the surgery on his left eye on April 14, 2008.

On June 10, 2008, plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint dropping state agency defendants with Eleventh Amendment immunity and adding individual MSAC members. He also added CMS as well as two physicians who served as CMS's Michigan medical directors.

At two points, in 2008 and 2009, various defendants filed motions for summary judgment based on the doctrine of qualified immunity. Both times, the magistrate judge [Charles Binder] filed a Report and Recommendation recommending that those motions be denied. Both times, the district court [Judge Anna Diggs Taylor] adopted the magistrate judge's recommendation and denied the motions.

The defendant Chief Medical Officer of MDOC filed an interlocutory appeal, on August 25, 2010, of the district court's denial of his motion for summary judgment based on qualified immunity. On April 10, 2010, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit [Circuit Judge Deborah L. Cook] issued an opinion reversing the district court. The court applied a two-step test to qualified immunity claims in deliberate-indifference cases, determining 1) whether, based upon the applicable law, a constitutional violation has occurred; and 2) whether that violation involved a clearly established constitutional right. The court also asked whether plaintiff could prove two elements to prevail on his claim: first, that he suffered from a "sufficiently serious" medical need, and second, that the defendant acted with a "sufficiently culpable state of mind." The court found that the plaintiff proved the first element but not the second. The court found that defendant may not have been aware of the seriousness of plaintiff's condition based on the medical reports, and that the provision of care that plaintiff did receive was based on defendant's medical judgment, not on deliberate indifference.

On May 30, 2012, the district court entered an order granting summary judgment in favor of Defendant Chief Medical Officer of MDOC. On September 19, 2012, the parties stipulated to the entry of an order dismissing the case with prejudice, and with no award by the Court of costs or attorneys' fees. On September 21, 2012, the court dismissed the lawsuit.

Elizabeth Daligga - 06/06/2012
Priyah Kaul - 11/18/2014


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Affected Gender
Male
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Defendant-type
Corrections
Jurisdiction-wide
Disability
Visual impairment
General
Conditions of confinement
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Medication, administration of
Vision care
Plaintiff Type
State Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997 et seq.
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Correctional Medical Services
Medical Services Advisory Committee
Michigan Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description Prisoner in the custody of the Michigan Department of Corrections.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Michigan Clinical Law Program
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
click to show/hide detail
Case Studies Civil Rights Injunctions Over Time: A Case Study of Jail and Prison Court Orders
N.Y.U. Law Review
By: Margo Schlanger (Washington University)
Citation: 81 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 550 (2006)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

  Judicial Policy Making and the Modern State: How the Courts Reformed America's Prisons
By: Malcolm M. Feeley & Edward Rubin (UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law & Vanderbilt School of Law Faculty)
Citation: (1998)
[ Detail ]

Docket(s)
1:07−cv−14644 (E.D. Mich.) 09/21/2012
PC-MI-0028-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Prisoner Civil Rights Complaint 10/30/2007
PC-MI-0028-0001 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Complaint 06/10/2008
PC-MI-0028-0023 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
MDOC Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment 09/12/2008
PC-MI-0028-0005 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiff's Brief in Opposition to MDOC Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment 10/17/2008
PC-MI-0028-0010 PDF | Detail
Defendants Pramstaller, Naylor, Pandya, Clark, and Neighbor's Reply to Plaintiff's Response to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment 10/27/2008
PC-MI-0028-0006 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation on MDOC Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment 12/05/2008
PC-MI-0028-0009 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Accepting Magistrate's Report and Recommendation 02/12/2009 (2009 WL 368248) (E.D. Mich.)
PC-MI-0028-0011 PDF | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendants, Craig Hutchinson, M.D. and Bency Mathai, M.D.'s Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a) and Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) 05/19/2009
PC-MI-0028-0003 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiff's Brief in Opposition to CMS Defendants' (Hutchinson and Mathai's) Motion to Dismiss 06/11/2009
PC-MI-0028-0008 PDF | Detail
Defendants, Craig Hutchinson, M.D. and Bency Mathai, M.D.'s Reply to Plaintiff's Response to Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a) and Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) 06/25/2009
PC-MI-0028-0002 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation on Defendant Hutchinson and Mathai's Motion to Dismiss 07/30/2009
PC-MI-0028-0004 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Accepting Magistrate's Report and Recommendation 09/30/2009 (E.D. Mich.)
PC-MI-0028-0007 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendants, Correction Medical Services, Inc., Craig Hutchinson, M.D., and Bency Mathai, M.D.'s Motion for Summary Judgment Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 12/01/2009
PC-MI-0028-0013 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendants Pramstaller, Clark, Naylor, Pandya, and Neighbors's Motion for Summary Judgment 12/01/2009
PC-MI-0028-0014 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiff's Brief in Response to MDOC and CMS Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment 12/23/2009
PC-MI-0028-0015 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation on Defendants; and Plaintiff's Motion to Amend/Correct Amended Complaint to Add Custom and Policy Claim 03/25/2010 (2010 WL 2898295)
PC-MI-0028-0016 PDF | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Adopting in part and Rejecting in part Magistrate Judge Charles Binder's Report and Recommendation 07/22/2010 (2010 WL 2926464) (E.D. Mich.)
PC-MI-0028-0017 PDF | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Brief for Defendant - Appellant 10/04/2010
PC-MI-0028-0019 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Brief for Plaintiff - Appellee 11/08/2010
PC-MI-0028-0020 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Reply Brief for Defendant - Appellant 11/29/2010
PC-MI-0028-0021 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiff - Appellee's Supplemental Brief 12/01/2011
PC-MI-0028-0022 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan 04/10/2012 (475 Fed.Appx. 575)
PC-MI-0028-0012 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Summary Judgment in favor of Defendant George Pramstaller 05/30/2012 (E.D. Mich.)
PC-MI-0028-0018 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Final Order of Dismissal 09/21/2012 (E.D. Mich.)
PC-MI-0028-0024 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Binder, Charles E. (E.D. Mich.) [Magistrate]
PC-MI-0028-0001 | PC-MI-0028-0004 | PC-MI-0028-0009 | PC-MI-0028-0016 | PC-MI-0028-9000
Cole, Ransey Guy Jr. (Sixth Circuit)
PC-MI-0028-0012
Cook, Deborah L. (Sixth Circuit)
PC-MI-0028-0012
Ludington, Thomas Lamson (E.D. Mich.)
PC-MI-0028-0018 | PC-MI-0028-0024 | PC-MI-0028-9000
Taylor, Anna Katherine Johnston Diggs (E.D. Mich.)
PC-MI-0028-0007 | PC-MI-0028-0011 | PC-MI-0028-0017
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Reingold, Paul (Michigan)
PC-MI-0028-0008 | PC-MI-0028-0010 | PC-MI-0028-0015 | PC-MI-0028-0020 | PC-MI-0028-0022 | PC-MI-0028-0023 | PC-MI-0028-0024 | PC-MI-0028-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Barkman, Cori E. (Michigan)
PC-MI-0028-0005 | PC-MI-0028-9000
Chapman, Ronald W. (Michigan)
PC-MI-0028-9000
Cox, Michael A. (Michigan)
PC-MI-0028-0019 | PC-MI-0028-0021
Dean, Michael R. (Michigan)
PC-MI-0028-9000
Farrell, James T. (Michigan)
PC-MI-0028-9000
Juip, Randall A. (Michigan)
PC-MI-0028-9000
Pignotti, Anthony D. (Michigan)
PC-MI-0028-9000
Purnell, Adam (Michigan)
PC-MI-0028-9000
Restuccia, B. Eric (Michigan)
PC-MI-0028-0019 | PC-MI-0028-0021
Richtarcik, Brian J. (Michigan)
PC-MI-0028-0002 | PC-MI-0028-0003 | PC-MI-0028-0013 | PC-MI-0028-9000
Schneider, Clifton B. (Michigan)
PC-MI-0028-0006 | PC-MI-0028-0014 | PC-MI-0028-0019 | PC-MI-0028-0021 | PC-MI-0028-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -