Pre-Trial Dismissals

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Christine Lee Schneemilch et al v Clients

  • Area of Law – Medical Malpractice
  • Venue – Washtenaw Circuit Court / 6th Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Verdict – Dismissed
  • Details – Plaintiff alleged clients misread a mammogram, resulting in delay in diagnosing breast cancer. We argued that Plaintiff failed to allege proximate cause and the trial court granted our Motion for Summary Disposition. Plaintiff appealed and the Court of Appeals issued an unpublished opinion upholding the trial courts dismissal of our clients. The Court of Appeals stated that Plaintiff’s Affidavit of Merit is insufficient to show proximate cause because it did not precisely describe the manner in which breach, if standard, was the proximate cause of Plaintiff’s injury.
  • Attorney – Ronald Chapman, David Mammel

Estate of Emmett Weatherspoon v Client

  • Area of Law – Medical Malpractice
  • Venue – Michigan Court of Appeals
  • Verdict – Overturned an erroneous decision by the lower court
  • Details – The common-law standard of care applies to malpractice actions against nurses. Therefore, the applicable standard of care is the skill and care ordinarily possessed and exercised by practitioners of the profession in the same or similar localities. The trial court's analysis focused on whether the medical care Weatherspoon received was premised on an illegal standard of care, and as such, constituted cruel and unusual punishment. But the case was not based on an allegation of an Eighth Amendment violation. It is based on a claim of medical negligence. The Court of Appeals pointed out the differences between healthcare standards of care in a traditional setting and in a correctional setting, noting that there are extra concerns in the correctional setting. The Court of Appeals overturned the lower court’s order for a new trial and the jury verdict of No Cause was reinstated.
  • Attorney – Ronald Chapman

Rodney Mabry v Clients

  • Area of Law – Civil Rights 42 U.S.C. §1983
  • Venue – US District Court – Eastern District of Michigan/ 6th Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Verdict – Dismissed
  • Details – Plaintiff alleged that clients were deliberately indifferent and violated his Eighth Amendment because they failed to diagnose and treat neurosarcoidosis, which he claimed to have suffered from. The delay may have been negligence but could not support a deliberate indifference claim. The District Court granted our Motion for Summary Judgment and Plaintiff appealed. The Court of Appeals issued an unpublished Opinion stating that Plaintiff failed to show material fact as to his claimed Eighth Amendment violation and, therefore, affirmed the judgment of the District Court, dismissing our clients. It was argued that records showed that our clients aggressively treated Plaintiff and made appropriate request for testing and, therefore, did not violate his constitutional rights.
  • Attorney – Ronald Chapman, David Mammel

Cherunda Fox v Clients

  • Area of Law – Civil Rights 42 U.S.C. §1983
  • Venue – US District Court – Eastern District of Michigan / Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Verdict – Dismissed
  • Details – Plaintiff claimed she suffered urinary tract infections as a result of taking psychiatric medication. She claimed clients’ violated her civil rights by refusing to treat her medical condition. Interestingly, Plaintiff attached her psychiatric examination reports to her complaint showing that she has a delusional disorder related to her belief that her medication causes a variety of infections. It was argued that Plaintiff’s condition was psychological and clients, being physician’s assistants, were not required to treat non-existent delusional symptoms. Rather, it would have been medically inappropriate to offer treatment and encourage her delusions. The Court granted our Motion to Dismiss. Plaintiff later went on to file two appeals with the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which affirmed the trial court’s dismissal and then attempted to file an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • Attorney – Kimberley Koester

Robert Alspaugh v Client

  • Area of Law - Civil Rights 42 U.S.C. §1983
  • Venue – US District Court - Western District of Michigan
  • Verdict – Favorable Report and Recommendation
  • Details – Plaintiff alleges that the Defendants' ignored several conditions, including an alleged broken neck, a broken toe, and chronic hemorrhoids. The Court stated that a claim for the deprivation of adequate medical care has an objective and a subjective component. To satisfy the objective component, the inmate must show that he is incarcerated under conditions posing a substantial risk of serious harm. If the medical need involves minor maladies or non-obvious complaints of a serious need for medical care, the inmate must place verifying medical evidence in the record to establish the detrimental effect of the delay in medical treatment. The Court found that Plaintiff had received extensive and ongoing medical care from Defendants and other medical staff throughout his incarceration based on the medical evidence, despite his claims otherwise. The fact that Plaintiff disagreed with the course of treatment and apparently felt that a more aggressive approach should have been followed by the Defendants doesn't mean that the medical Defendants acted with deliberate indifference to a serious medical need. The Court granted our Motion for Summary Judgment and dismissed clients.
  • Attorney – Ronald Chapman, Kimberley Koester

Burvin Stevenson v Client

  • Area of Law – Civil Rights 42 U.S.C. §1983
  • Venue – US District Court - Eastern District of Michigan
  • Verdict – Favorable Report and Recommendation adopted by Court
  • Details – Plaintiff alleges that the Defendants' failure to treat a hyper cataract in his left eye amounted to deliberate indifference of a serious medical need in violation of the Eighth Amendment. As a result, Plaintiff claims that he has suffered from psychological symptoms, including fear, anger, anxiety, and emotional suffering, as well as, an increased risk of injury due to the resulting lack of peripheral vision, and depth perception. The Plaintiff also made claims that he was discriminated against in violation of Title II of the American with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12131 et seq., and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794. The Court reasoned that the Plaintiff did not allege that he is being excluded from a prison program, service, or activity, or of discrimination because of his disability, which is actionable under the ADA or Rehabilitation Act; but rather his claim is based on incompetent treatment for a medical condition. The Court also concluded that Plaintiff was incapable of demonstrating a genuine issue of material fact with regard to his deliberate indifference claim under the Eighth Amendment. In particular, Plaintiff failed to demonstrate a sufficiently culpable state of mind in the Defendants as their decision was based on a medical determination that the subject cataract surgery was not medically necessary.
  • Attorney – Ronald Chapman, Kimberley Koester

Donald Ray Jennings v Client

  • Area of Law – Civil Rights 42 U.S.C. §1983
  • Venue – Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Verdict – Affirmed dismissal of case by lower court
  • Details – The inmate brought his action against the doctor alleging that the doctor was deliberately indifferent to the inmate's toenail fungus. Although the inmate claimed that his constitutional rights were violated when the doctor refused to properly treat his foot infection, the inmate failed to come forward with any evidence that the failure to treat the infection could have led to severe consequences, such as a systemic infection, amputation of a limb, or even death. Therefore, any delay in treating the inmate's infection did not amount to the deprivation of treatment for a "serious" medical condition within the meaning of the Eighth Amendment. Moreover, there was no evidence suggesting that the doctor at any time deliberately ignored the inmate's medical needs with the intent to inflict pain or prolong any suffering.
  • Attorney – Ronald Chapman, Kimberley Koester

Ismail Raheem v Clients

  • Area of Law – Civil Rights 42 U.S.C. §1983
  • Venue – Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Verdict – Affirmed dismissal of case by lower court
  • Details – The prisoner fell on black-ice in the prison yard. Within three weeks, he was x-rayed and a minimal fracture was discovered. The prisoner's ankle was placed in a cast and he was given crutches. The prisoner sued Defendants, alleging a violation of his Eighth Amendment rights due to deliberate indifference to a serious medical need. Defendants did not refuse to provide the prisoner with medical care and their conduct did not lead to injuries which could have been prevented with timely attention. Although the prisoner may not have been satisfied with the type of medical care he received, the facts established that Defendants were responsive to his medical condition.
  • Attorney – Ronald Chapman, Kimberley Koester

John Umbarger v Client

  • Area of Law – Civil Rights 42 U.S.C. §1983
  • Venue – Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Verdict – Affirmed dismissal of case by lower court
  • Details – The prisoner alleged that Defendants conspired to deny him medical care. The inadequate medical care claim failed because the complaint alleged negligence or disagreement as to treatment, and did not state an Eighth Amendment claim.
  • Attorney – Ronald Chapman, Kimberley Koester

Donald Owens v Client

  • Area of Law – Civil Rights 42 U.S.C. §1983
  • Venue – Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Verdict – Affirmed dismissal of case by lower court
  • Details – The inmate alleged that Defendants violated his Eighth Amendment right to adequate medical care by failing to treat his Hepatitis C virus with Imferon and Ribavirin. Although the inmate adequately alleged that he suffered from an objectively serious medical condition, Hepatitis C virus, the affidavits and medical records established that Defendants were not deliberately indifferent to that condition. A patient's disagreement with his physicians over the proper medical treatment alleged no more than a medical malpractice claim, which was a tort actionable in state court, but was not cognizable as a federal constitutional claim. The inmate submitted no evidence that contradicted or otherwise called into question Defendants' medical assessment or treatment decisions. Because the inmate produced no evidence that Defendants acted with the culpable state of mind necessary to impose liability, the inmate's claim failed.
  • Attorney – Ronald Chapman, Kimberley Koester

Arthur Simpson v Clients

  • Area of Law – Civil Rights 42 U.S.C. §1983
  • Venue – Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Verdict – Affirmed dismissal of case by lower court
  • Details – The prisoner alleged he suffered from several medical conditions that required him to urinate frequently, which caused great difficulty during head count. The prisoner alleged that prison regulations prohibited him from using the bathroom during head count without a detail and from keeping a urinal bottle in his cell. The prisoner filed a grievance, which the medical director denied. He appealed and filed an Eighth Amendment claim against the medical director. The grievance and the complaint were not for inadequate medical care but, rather, for inhumane application of prison policy. The claim failed against the health director and department director because the denial of an appeal did not constitute sufficient personal involvement to impute liability onto supervisory personnel under § 1983.
  • Attorney – Ronald Chapman, Kimberley Koester

Luis Ruiz v Clients

  • Area of Law – Civil Rights 42 U.S.C. §1983
  • Venue – Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Verdict – Affirmed dismissal of case by lower court
  • Details – Plaintiff claimed deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs when the prison medical staff refused to treat him for chronic depression and suicidal tendencies, an elbow injury, and Hepatitis C. Prison medical records showed that he was treated for his elbow injury and received psychological and psychiatric treatment. The treating physician determined that the inmate was a poor candidate for a specific treatment that the inmate requested for his Hepatitis C. The inmate's deliberate indifference claim failed because it was a mere disagreement over his treatments.
  • Attorney – Ronald Chapman, Kimberley Koester

Cameron Fitts v Clients

  • Area of Law – Civil Rights 42 U.S.C. §1983
  • Venue – Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Verdict – Affirmed dismissal of case by lower court
  • Details – The Magistrate Judge properly found that Plaintiff had failed to show any evidence of deliberate indifference as to Defendant's treatment of his Hepatitis C, where there was uncontradicted evidence that the doctor had provided treatment both before and after the alleged denial of treatment. Therefore, Plaintiff appears to allege that his treatment was unsatisfactory and he disagreed with the doctor’s course of treatment. These facts do not meet the standard of deliberate indifference, where Plaintiff has failed to show that the doctor specifically denied him any treatment, or knew of and disregarded any risk to Plaintiff's health.
  • Attorney – Ronald Chapman, Kimberley Koester

Germain Skinner v Client

  • Area of Law – Civil Rights 42 U.S.C. §1983
  • Venue – Eastern District of Michigan
  • Verdict – Case dismissed on motion
  • Details – Plaintiff claims that Bay Medical Center was not the "best choice" for his medical care because Plaintiff needed to be sent to the University of Michigan Medical Center. He further asserts that Defendants cut corners in order to save money by sending him to Bay Medical Center instead of the University of Michigan Medical Center. Treatment notes indicated prison personnel had security issues in sending him to the University of Michigan. The notes did not establish that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's medical needs. In fact, they tend to imply that while there was a desire to transfer Plaintiff to the University of Michigan Medical Center, security issues prevented a transfer from taking place. The notes do not give rise to a genuine issue of material fact as to any indifference on the part of the Defendants in providing him medical attention.
  • Attorney – Ronald Chapman, Kimberley Koester

Peter Raub v Client

  • Area of Law – Civil Rights 42 U.S.C. §1983
  • Venue – Eastern District of Michigan
  • Verdict – Dismissed on motion
  • Details – Plaintiff asserts that there was a serious need for his prison doctor to disclose the Hepatitis C infection to Plaintiff and other treating medical personnel as soon as that information became available. Plaintiff claims that the doctor withheld the Hepatitis C diagnosis for over five months while other doctors prescribed medications contraindicated with the Hepatitis C infection. It is the withholding of information, then, that Plaintiff claims violated his Eighth Amendment rights. To succeed on his claim, the Court explained that the Plaintiff must establish that the doctor was so deliberately indifferent to his serious medical need that he "unnecessarily and wantonly inflicted pain." Setting aside the issue of whether the doctor withheld information regarding Plaintiff's Hepatitis C infection with deliberate indifference, the Plaintiff still failed to establish that the doctor’s withholding of information inflicted unnecessary pain. Further, once the doctor disclosed to Plaintiff and other treating medical personnel that Plaintiff was positive for Hepatitis C, nothing about Plaintiff's condition or treatment changed which showed any withheld information did not affect his treatment.
  • Attorney – Ronald Chapman, Kimberley Koester

Arthur Simpson v Client

  • Area of Law – Civil Rights 42 U.S.C. §1983
  • Venue – Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Verdict – Affirmed dismissal of case by lower court
  • Details – Plaintiff was an elderly prisoner at G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility. He alleges that he suffers from chronic hypertension, a serious kidney disorder, and an enlarged prostate, and that he takes medication to control his blood pressure. As a result of these disorders and his medication, he urinates frequently, as often as three to four times an hour. This biological peculiarity caused him great difficulty during head count, a daily ritual which Simpson alleges often takes more than an hour to complete. Simpson alleged that he once had a medical "detail," or permit, to use the bathroom during count, but that under a new prison policy instituted by the warden, such details were no longer given. He allegedly suffered great pain from the effort to retain his urine, and forced him to urinate on himself during count on several occasions. Simpson filed a prisoner's grievance complaining of this state of affairs, which was referred to one of the prison doctors as an allegation of inadequate medical care. The physician reviewed and denied the grievance, after offering Simpson a urinal bottle and the suggestion that he use the bathroom before and after count. The Court of Appeals found no conceivable set of facts that could show that the physician was deliberately indifferent to Simpson's medical needs. Simpson's grievance, and the substance of his complaint in this action, was not inadequate medical care but rather inhumane application of prison policy. He complained in essence that the policy, or the individuals enforcing it, failed to accommodate to his medically-caused need for bathroom access or some reasonable alternative. If the physician had the power or authority to grant an exemption to the warden's policies, the Court stated, then the doctor’s offer of a urinal would seemingly have resolved Simpson's grievance. If, as implied by Simpson's characterization of the physician’s offer as a "sham," the physician could not grant an exemption, then Simpson sued the wrong official. Either way, the Court held the physician could not have been deliberately indifferent.
  • Attorney – Ronald Chapman, Kimberley Koester

David Fern Hawley v Client

  • Area of Law – Civil Rights 42 U.S.C. §1983
  • Venue – Western District of Michigan
  • Verdict – Favorable Report and Recommendation adopted by court
  • Details – Plaintiff complained of deliberate indifference because snack bags he allegedly needed due to low blood sugar were taken away. The Court found there was no evidence that he suffered from a serious medical condition requiring a special diet. Blood tests performed found to be unreliable, repeatedly establishing that Plaintiff had blood sugar levels within the normal range. Plaintiff had only one test that fell below the normal range. However, he refused a follow up blood test the next day. The inference to be drawn from Plaintiff's refusal for additional medical testing is that he did not suffer from a serious medical condition. In the doctor’s opinion, the medical tests confirmed the dietician's orders to discontinue a hypoglycemic diet and protein snacks. While Plaintiff did not agree with these orders, his disagreement with this course of medical treatment did not state a federal constitutional claim because a difference of opinion between a prisoner and the prison medical staff about medical treatment does not constitute deliberate indifference.
  • Attorney – Ronald Chapman, Kimberley Koester

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