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Pettigrew v. Corizon Medical Services

United States District Court, Fourth Circuit

May 13, 2013

MORRIS J. PETTIGREW, SR. #359809 Plaintiff,


GEORGE L. RUSSELL, III, District Judge.

I. Background

On June 8, 2012, the Court received this 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 Complaint for damages from Morris Pettigrew, Sr., an inmate currently housed at the Western Correctional Institution ("WCI") in Cumberland, Maryland. Plaintiff contends that while housed at the Eastern Correctional Institution ("ECI") on January 23, 2010, he was attacked by eight to ten inmates after the lunch meal had concluded while inmates were lined up in a "meal movement."[1] ECF No. 1. Plaintiff asserts he was covered with chemical spray and cut and stabbed with homemade knives. ECF No. 1.

The thrust of the Complaint concerns Plaintiff's ensuing medical care, or lack thereof. He claims that he was taken to the medical department, where staff would not take pictures of his head, arm, leg and hip injuries. Plaintiff complains he was allowed to "partially" rinse the chemical spray from his eyes, but was not given care for the bloody wounds on his body. He states that he was taken to a medical holding cell, where his pleas for assistance were ignored while other inmates involved in the continuing fight were treated. Plaintiff alleges that he remained on administrative segregation for a week before he was returned to general population. He claims that once back in general population, he made numerous attempts to obtain medical care for unspecified pain and symptoms. Plaintiff asserts he was not seen by medical personnel until February 18, 2010, when he was examined by Physician's Assistant ("PA") Ford, to whom he complained of "greenish" urine, a sharp "pull" in the shaft of his penis, and a pinching sensation in his pelvic area. ECF No. 1 at p. 4. He alleges that Ford refused to order an x-ray or MRI and merely ordered that a culture be conducted. Plaintiff asserts that a urine culture revealed a large amount of leukocytes. He complains that from that one test he was diagnosed with a urinary tract infection ("UTI") and given medication.

Plaintiff alleges that his vital signs were checked and he was given bacitration[2] or Motrin. He complained of blurred vision, slurred speech and loss of function and feeling in parts of his hands, legs and feet. Id. at p. 4. Plaintiff claims that these problems got worse over the course of the next two years, when he experienced bouts of pain, numbness, tingling progressing into "wrenching pain, " paralysis of the thigh, and loss of feeling in both feet. He complains that throughout 2010 and 2011, Dr. Matera and other physicians denied his requests for "physical support" and medical assistance for a previous back and shoulder injury from 2008, symptoms in his rib and pelvic area, sinus pain and a severe nose bleed, a yellowish - "greenlike" fluid draining from his leg and coming out of his mouth, swelling of his wrist, a high calorie diet, and blisters. ECF No. 1 at pp. 5-11). Plaintiff complains that instead of being properly assessed for his "serious medical conditions, " he has been accused of having delusional behavior. He seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, along with compensatory and punitive damages, and prays a jury trial. Id. at pp. 16-17.

In his Supplemental Complaint, Plaintiff states that since his transfer to WCI he had received blood testing, knee and back braces, a cane and an appointment with a physical therapist ("PT") to address his many injuries and symptoms. ECF No. 4.

Defendants have filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment, [3] to which Plaintiff has filed an Opposition, and Defendants have filed a Reply.[4] ECF Nos. 14, 16, & 17. The matter is ready for consideration and may be determined without oral hearing. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2011).[5]

II. Standard of Review

Where a plaintiff proceeds without counsel, his filing is to be "liberally construed" and "held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Erickson v. Pardus , 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007).

Because matters outside the pleadings shall be considered, Defendants' Motion shall be treated as a motion for summary judgment. Summary judgment is governed by Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a), which provides that: "The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." The Supreme Court has clarified that this does not mean that any factual dispute will defeat the motion:

By its very terms, this standard provides that the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact.

See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986) (emphasis in original).

The "party opposing a properly supported motion for summary judgment may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of [his] pleadings, ' but rather must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Bouchat v. Baltimore Ravens Football Club, Inc. , 346 F.3d 514, 525 (4th Cir. 2003) (alteration in original) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)). The court should "view the evidence in the light most favorable to... the nonmovant, and draw all reasonable inferences in [his] favor without weighing the evidence or assessing the witness' credibility." Dennis v. Columbia Colleton Med. Ctr., Inc. , 290 F.3d 639, 644-45 (4th Cir. 2002). The court must, however, also abide by the "affirmative obligation of the trial judge to prevent factually unsupported claims and defenses from proceeding to trial." Bouchat , 346 F.3d at 526 (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Drewitt v. Pratt , 999 F.2d 774, 778-79 (4th Cir. 1993), and citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986)).

In Anderson , 477 U.S. at 249, the Supreme Court explained that in considering a motion for summary judgment, the "judge's function is not himself to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial." A dispute about a material fact is genuine "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Id. at 248. Thus, "the judge must ask himself not whether he thinks the evidence unmistakably favors one side ...

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