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Schiesser v. Wexford Health C.M.S. Corizon

United States District Court, Fourth Circuit

August 8, 2013

DAVIS ERICH SCHIESSER, #370969 Plaintiff,
v.
WEXFORD HEALTH C.M.S. CORIZON[1] Defendants.

MEMORANDUM

ALEXANDER WILLIAMS, Jr., District Judge.

I. Procedural History

On September 19, 2012, Davis Erich Schiesser ("Plaintiff"), a former Maryland Division of Correction inmate housed at the Eastern Correctional Institution ("ECI"), [2] filed this lawsuit against private health care services companies contracted with the State of Maryland to provide medical services to inmates.[3] (ECF No. 1). He contended that he has a seizure disorder, bipolar disorder with suicidal ideation, and [unintelligible][4] and he is not receiving any care or medication. Plaintiff claimed that he "could kill myself or have a seizure at any time and die." ( Id. at p. 4). He seemingly alleged that he has been hearing voices over the past year and sought release from confinement, proper medical and psychological care, and compensation.

II. Pending Motions

Pending before that Court are Wexford Health Sources Inc.'s ("Wexford") Motion to Dismiss or In the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 14), C.M.S/Corizon's Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 19), and Plaintiff's Opposition. (ECF No. 18). The undersigned has examined the record and finds that no hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6. (D. Md. 2011). For reasons to follow, Defendants' Motions will be granted.

III. Standard of Review

Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a) provides that:

A party may move for summary judgment, identifying each claim or defense-or the part of each claim or defense-on which summary judgment is sought. 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 court should state on the record the reasons for granting or denying the motion.

"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 inferences in her 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)). "The party opposing a properly supported motion for summary judgment may not rest upon mere allegations or denials of [its] pleading, but must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Rivanna Trawlers Unlimited v. Thompson Trawlers, Inc., 840 F.2d 236, 240 (4th Cir. 1988).

IV. Analysis

It is well settled law that a claimant may not recover against a municipality on a respondeat superior theory under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Modell v. Dep't of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 690-695 (1978). To the extent the Complaint names defendants Wexford and C.M.S./Corizon solely upon vicarious liability, Circuit law is clear. Principles of municipal liability under § 1983 apply equally to a private corporation. Therefore, a private corporation is not liable under § 1983 for actions allegedly committed by its employees when such liability is predicated solely upon a theory of respondeat superior. See Austin v. Paramount Parks, Inc., 195 F.3d 715, 727-28 (4th Cir. 1999); Powell v. Shopco Laurel Co., 678 F.2d 504, 506 (4th Cir. 1982). The Complaint may not be brought against C.M.S./Corizon or Wexford. The court's inquiry, however, does not end there.[5]

It is undisputed that Plaintiff is a 33 year old male with a reported history of mental health treatment dating to 1998 for anxiety, depression, and sleep disorder. When admitted to the state prison system in October 2011, he stated that he was being treated with Seroquel, Elavil and Vistaril, as well as Phenobarbital for a seizure condition. (ECF No. 14, Ex. 1 at pgs. 2-6; ECF No. 19, Ex. 2 at pgs. 2-7). Defendants affirm that Plaintiff was placed on the medication at the time of his admission to the Division of Correction and his Phenobarbital was renewed through June 26, 2012. (ECF No. 19, Ex. 2 at pgs. 50, & 64-66).

Defendant Wexford maintains that Plaintiff's current mental health diagnosis is a personality disorder not otherwise specified and that during his confinement, Plaintiff "exhibited manipulative goal oriented behavior directed to seeking specific desired medications and preferred medical/mental health care." (ECF No. 14, Ex. 1 at p. 44; Ex. 2 at Clem Aff.) Wexford claims that due to his mental health conditions, Plaintiff was admitted to Patuxent Institution on August 15, 2012, and remained housed at that facility for one month. ( Id., Ex. 1 at pgs. 23-32 & 36). It is further alleged that Plaintiff was admitted to ECI's infirmary for acute mental health care and to ECI's Administration Segregation Observation Area ("ASOA") for 24-hour suicide observation after expressing suicidal ideation including the taking of his own life by hanging or overdose. ( Id., Ex. 1 at p. 17; Ex.2 at Clem Aff.). According to the treating psychiatrist, Guillermo Portillo, Plaintiff has a self-avowed history of schizophrenia. Portillo noted that Plaintiff claimed he was suicidal because he was not given the "right" medications, he admitted that he abused amphetamines and marijuana earlier in his life, and gave contradictory information regarding his chemical dependency. ( Id., Ex. 1 at p. 33-34).

Upon his transfer to ECI on October 20, 2011, Plaintiff arrived with a blister pack of Elavil, Seroquel, and Vistaril. (ECF No. 19, Ex. 2 at p. 16). The on-site psychiatrist ordered Risperdal to manage Plaintiff's schizophrenia and Elavil to manage his depression. ( Id., at pgs. 17-19). ...


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