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Hestdalen v. Corrizon Corrections Healthcare

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Northern Division

July 16, 2018




         Plaintiff, a prisoner, seeks leave to proceed in forma pauperis in this civil action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Having reviewed plaintiffs financial information, the Court assesses a partial initial filing fee of $1.70, which is twenty percent of his average monthly deposit. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b). Furthermore, after reviewing the complaint, the Court will partially dismiss the complaint and will order the Clerk to issue process or cause process to be issued on the non-frivolous portions of the complaint.

         Legal Standard on Initial Review

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), the Court is required to dismiss a complaint filed in forma pauperis if it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. To state a claim for relief, a complaint must plead more than "legal conclusions" and "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action [that are] supported by mere conclusory statements." Ashcroft v. lqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A plaintiff must demonstrate a plausible claim for relief, which is more than a "mere possibility of misconduct." Id. at 679. "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. at 678. Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief is a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense. Id. at 679.

         When reviewing a complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), the Court accepts the well-pled facts as true. Furthermore, the Court liberally construes the allegations.

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff, an inmate at Moberly Correctional Center ("MCC"), was born with hereditary bilateral sensorineural hearing loss. Since childhood, plaintiff has required bilateral hearing aids and replacement batteries. He also requires special ear mold replacement tubes to use with the fitted ear piece on his hearing aids. These special ear mold replacement tubes need to be replaced every four to six months.

         Prior to being transferred to MCC on February 9, 2016, plaintiff received the correct tubing for both hearing aids from Southeast Correctional Center ("SECC"). Since being at MCC, however, he has been denied the special ear mold replacement tubes. MCC offers only universal replacement tubes, which do not work with plaintiffs hearing aids. In addition, beginning in early January 2013, plaintiffs left ear began to "plug up as if [plaintiff] were rising rapidly in a plane or diving deep under water," a condition plaintiff calls "a negative vacuum." Plaintiffs left ear began continuously going into negative vacuum, rendering plaintiff completely deaf.

         On March 15, 2016, plaintiffs right hearing aid stopped working; on May 13, 2016, his left hearing aid stopped working. Plaintiff went a month without working hearing aids. MCC then provided plaintiff a hearing aid for his right ear only. This hearing aid included universal hearing aid tubes, which do not work for plaintiff. Plaintiff sought two hearing aids, and the special replacement tubes required for his fitted ear piece. Plaintiff has been told consistently by medical staff at MCC that Corizon policy only allows for only one hearing aid, not two, and will not allow for plaintiffs special replacement tubes.

         Plaintiffs 87-page complaint details his frustrating and complex dealings with prison and medical staff at MCC in his attempt to obtain two hearing aids that work for his particular hearing loss. In short: Dr. Aguilera at MCC requested on three separate occasions that plaintiff be referred to an ENT specialist, and each request was denied. Dr. Aguilera then requested that plaintiff see an outside audiologist, and this audiologist referred plaintiff to an ENT. This referral by the outside audiologist finally resulted in the approval of plaintiff s request to see an ENT.

         On May 4, 2018, plaintiff saw Dr. Thompson, an ENT who was to evaluate plaitniff s Eustachian tube dysfunction. Dr. Thompson examined plaintiffs ears, but because MCC had not forwarded to Dr. Thompson all the test results he needed, Dr. Thompson could not diagnose plaintiffs problem. Plaintiff was told he would have to reschedule the appointment after Dr. Thompson received the proper test results.[1]

         On May 25, 2018, plaintiff was seen by Dr. Stamps at MCC who said the ENT report said that Dr. Thompson found nothing wrong other than that plaintiff needs two hearing aids. Dr. Stamps prescribed plaintiff allergy and decongestant medications, a treatment that has never worked for plaintiffs hearing loss.

         Plaintiff states that his last tube replacement was on April 6, 2017. He is left with one hearing aid that is "nearly useless as the hardened tube distorts speech, making it even more difficult to understand." Plaintiff still suffers negative pressure in his left ear, vertigo, deafness, pain, and the recent onset of a humming noise and foreign pressure in the region of his left ear. His complaint seeks to compel MCC to provide him with an ENT specialist to treat his Eustachian tube dysfunction; to provide reasonable accommodations for his severe hearing impairment; to provide adequate and correct accessories for his hearing device; to remove all Corizon policies that violate the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") and Rehabilitation Act ("RA"), and damages in excess of $2 million.


         Liberally construed, the Court finds that plaintiff has stated a plausible claim under § 1983 for deliberate indifference to a serious medical need. Plaintiffs complaint seeks to sue twenty-five defendants, however, and includes allegations dating back to 2011. The Court finds that some of plaintiff s allegations are time barred, and that many of the named defendants were not personally involved in or directly responsible for the incidents that injured plaintiff. The Court will dismiss plaintiff's time barred allegations and any defendants not personally involved in or directly responsible for plaintiffs alleged constitutional deprivations.

         Statute ...

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