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Vaughan v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc.

United States District Court, Fourth Circuit

October 29, 2013

JOSEPH VAUGHAN Plaintiff,
v.
WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INC., et al. Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

DeBORAH K. CHASANOW, District Judge.

Pending is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss or for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 18. Although he was advised of his right to file a response in opposition to Defendants' motion and of the consequences of failing to do so, Plaintiff has not filed anything further in this case. See ECF No. 19. Upon review of the papers filed, the court finds a hearing in this matter unnecessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2011). For the reasons that follow, Defendants' motion, construed as a Motion for Summary Judgment, shall be granted and judgment shall be entered in their favor.

Background

Plaintiff Joseph Vaughan ("Vaughan"), an inmate confined at all times relevant to the Complaint to Western Correctional Institution (WCI), alleges he suffers from chronic back pain which is not properly addressed by medical staff. ECF No. 1 at p. 3. He claims it has been determined by medical staff that he suffers from "serious back pain and that [he] needs surgery, but still nothing has been done." Id. He further alleges that the pain is so severe at times that he cannot walk or sleep at night. Id.

Vaughan states that while held at Chesapeake Detention Facility (CDF), a federal pretrial detention facility, he was sent to Bon Secours Hospital for an MRI of his back. ECF No. 4. He alleges that Dr. Lawrence informed him that the results of the MRI showed he had a "slipped disk and arthritis" in his lower back which could be treated with either a shot or physical therapy. He further claims that during his stay at CDF he was provided Tylenol #3, three times per day as well as Toradal (60 mg), Robaxin (750mg), and Neurontin (600 mg) to treat the pain in his back, but he still suffered pain. Id. at p. 2. Vaughan states he is "only 31 years old" and walks with a cane. Id. He claims that when he was sent back to WCI he was told that staff had determined that nothing was wrong with him and that Dr. Joubert had taken him off the medications he had been provided at CDF. Vaughan claims Joubert told him he would be provided physical therapy for his back, but he has not received it. He alleges that, as a result of being removed from all medications, he cannot stand for "a long time or work out." Id.

According to medical records submitted with his amended Complaint, Vaughan at first told medical providers that his back pain was the result of falling from his dirt bike while running from the police and later claimed his back pain was the result of gunshot wounds. ECF No. 4 at Attachment 1, pp. 2 and 14. Vaughan includes the MRI report which he claims establishes he has a slipped disc and arthritis in his lower back. The report states there is "early degenerative changes L5-S1 more so than L4-5 without central canal stenosis or nerve root compression." Id. at pp. 16-17. Vaughan was sent for the MRI due to "right leg radiculopathy" or pain radiating to his right leg. Id. at p. 16. A physician's order requesting an extra mattress for Vaughan that was written on December 12, 2012, indicates that Vaughan has arthritis of the spine. Id. at p. 22.

Vaughan moves to amend his complaint to include as Defendants Dr. John Morgan, the chronic care doctor at Roxbury Correctional Institution (RCI), where Vaughan is currently confined. ECF No. 14. Vaughan alleges that Morgan has refused to provide pain medications as well as a cane despite Vaughan's pain which he describes as unbearable. Id. In addition, he seeks to remove Dr. Yahya as a Defendant because Vaughan is no longer under Yahya's care. Id. The Motion to Amend shall be granted and, for reasons made clear below, the claims against Morgan shall be dismissed.

Vaughan also filed a Motion for Summary Judgment which seeks, in essence, injunctive relief. ECF No. 16. Vaughan requests an order from this court requiring Defendants to assist with his mobility by providing a cane and physical therapy. Id.

Standard of Review

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 ...

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