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Germain v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc.

United States District Court, Fourth Circuit

August 2, 2013

WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INC., et al. Defendants.


J. FREDERICK MOTZ, District Judge.

Pending is defendants' motion to dismiss or for summary judgment. ECF No. 25. The motion is opposed by plaintiff. ECF No. 38. The court finds a hearing in this matter unnecessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2011). For the reasons stated herein, defendants' motion, construed as a motion for summary judgment, shall be granted in part and denied in part. Additionally, plaintiff's pending motions for preliminary injunctive relief shall be denied in part. ECF No. 17 and 30.


Plaintiff, an inmate confined in North Branch Correctional Institution (NBCI), alleges he sustained injuries during a cell extraction on January 17, 2013, which were not properly addressed by defendants. ECF No. 1. He claims that during the extraction from his cell, officers beat him about the head and face, "busted his lip", knocked his tooth almost completely out of his mouth, punched him on both sides of his body and twisted his left hand and right foot. Id. at p. 4. In addition, mace was deployed. Id.

Following the extraction, plaintiff claims he was taken to the medical unit where he was seen by a nurse, who down-played all of his injuries except for the injury to his mouth which was too great to ignore. Plaintiff asserts the nurse did not perform a physical examination and did not wash the mace from his eyes. He states the nurse also refused to contact a doctor to get permission to give him "a shot of pain killer" and she refused to refer him to a "provider." Id. at p. 5.

Despite his exposure to mace, plaintiff alleges he was not given a shower; rather he was placed in isolation with no running water, sheets or blankets. Id. He claims the water in the cell was not turned on until approximately five hours later, when the shift changed. Corporal Gomer turned the water back on in plaintiff's cell and contacted defendant Autumn Durst, a nurse, regarding plaintiff's injuries. Plaintiff claims that Durst refused to see him, explaining that plaintiff was scheduled to see the dentist in the morning. Id. at p. 5. The following morning plaintiff claims he spoke with defendant Kristi Cortez, a nurse, who was making her rounds on the segregation tier. He states she refused to see plaintiff about his "other injuries" and told him he would be seen by the dentist later that morning. Id. at p. 6.

Plaintiff asserts that later that day he spoke with Lt. Pennington about his injuries and Pennington asked a nurse to check on plaintiff. The nurse did "a quick check on plaintiff" and told him he did not have a broken foot, but that his knee and ankle were sprained. Plaintiff claims the nurse did not address his other injuries and refused to provide plaintiff with any relief for his pain, instead advising him to keep his knee and ankle elevated. Id. at p. 6. She further advised plaintiff that due to the swelling in his knee and right foot, an x-ray would be scheduled for the following Monday, January 21, 2013. Id. at pp. 6-7.

Plaintiff saw the dentist and claims the dental assistant was so alarmed by the appearance of his foot and other injuries, she made a request for a doctor to examine plaintiff. She was advised, however, that plaintiff should submit a sick call slip to see the doctor. Plaintiff's tooth could not be saved and was extracted by the dentist. An x-ray of plaintiff's mouth caused the dentist to become concerned that plaintiff may have a broken jaw, but plaintiff claims the dentist wanted someone with more experience to look at the x-ray. Id. at p. 7.

On January 19 and 20, 2013, plaintiff claims he saw Cortez on the housing unit making rounds. Despite his requests for medical attention, he claims Cortez simply told him to fill out a sick call slip. Plaintiff was in an isolation cell where he alleges he was without the ability to obtain and file a sick call slip. Id. at pp. 7-8. Plaintiff further states that he was provided three sick call slips to fill out "during the 3-11 shift" on January 20, 2013. He states he filled out all three slips and they were placed in the sick call box by the officer who provided them to plaintiff. Id. at p. 8. The following day plaintiff's knee and foot were x-rayed. Later the same day, plaintiff was moved back to his regular cell where he filled out two additional sick call slips. Id.

On January 22, 2013, plaintiff "complained to RN Jodi about his injuries and showed her his swollen right foot." Id. Plaintiff claims the nurse told him that "they might see him later that day, but in the meantime to not use hot water on the right foot and to keep his right leg elevated." Id. at pp. 8-9. Plaintiff claims he did not see Dr. Ottey that day. Id. at p. 9.

On January 23, 2013, plaintiff spoke to Cortez about his injuries and again showed her his swollen foot. Plaintiff claims she again declined to provide him with any pain relief and instead told him to fill out a sick call slip. When plaintiff told Cortez he had already done so, she explained that "it takes time." Id. at p. 9. Plaintiff alleges he again filled out a sick call slip, but as of the date of the filing of this complaint, February 4, 2013, he had not been seen, nor had he received any pain medication. Id. Plaintiff claims he suffers severe headache, body soreness, a swollen right knee and foot, and numbness in his pinky finger on his left hand. Id. at pp. 9-10. He asserts that he is unable to bear weight or lift his right leg. Id.

In an amended complaint, plaintiff alleges he was seen by a dentist, Dr. Graves, on February 8, 2013, who informed him that "tooth #31" needed to be extracted because it was very loose.[1] ECF No. 7 at p. 1. Plaintiff states he was reluctant to have the tooth removed because he was already missing three other teeth in that area; however, he claims Graves gave him "a lot of doomsday scenarios if he did not extract that tooth from [plaintiff's] mouth." Id. at p. 2. Plaintiff claims his reluctance was overcome when Graves promised him he would be provided dentures, but only if the tooth was removed. Id. Plaintiff permitted the removal of the tooth, but claims that impressions were not taken as a first step toward providing plaintiff with dentures which he states he has needed since 2009. Instead, plaintiff asserts the removal of the tooth was used as an excuse to change his diet from a high calorie diet to a mechanical soft diet. As a result of the change in his diet, plaintiff no longer receives an extra snack bag at night and he suffers from extreme hunger pains. Id.

Plaintiff additionally alleges that on February 16, 2013, he began seeing blood in his stool. Plaintiff suspects the ibuprofen he was prescribed for the pain in his ankle was causing him to bleed. He states he submitted a sick call request every day concerning this symptom, but finally felt compelled to return his medications to the nurse and told her it was making him sick and was inadequate to address his pain. ECF No. 7 at p. 3.

In a second amended complaint, plaintiff claims Case Manager Richard Roderick and Warden Bobby Shearin are responsible for denying him medical care because they denied an emergency administrative remedy request concerning his need for medical attention as frivolous. ECF No. 13. Additionally, he claims that from January 18, 2013, prison staff had an x-ray of plaintiff's mouth which showed he had a fractured jaw, but denied medical attention. He claims he did not ...

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