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