United States District Court, D. Maryland
ELLEN LIPTON HOLLANDER, District Judge.
Michael Antonio Hardy, the self-represented plaintiff, filed suit against Dayena M. Corcoran, Warden of the Maryland Correctional Institution, Jessup ("MCI-J"), pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He complains that the Warden was deliberately indifferent to his medical care. Corcoran has filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 9, "Motion"), to which Hardy has filed an opposition (ECF No. 14) and Corcoran has replied. (ECF No. 20). The matter is fully briefed and no hearing is necessary to resolve the Motion. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md.). For the reasons that follow, I will grant the Motion.
Hardy claims that on July 30, 2013, while housed at MCI-J, he injured his left pinky finger "climbing down off the top bunk bed in the morning...." Complaint, ECF No. 1, Part III. He asserts: "The bunk-beds in this institution do not have anything fixed to them that will allow me to climb up and down freely without putting me in danger." Id. Hardy adds that chairs are not allowed in prisoner cells and the "mattress lays on top of a mesh steel." Id. As a result, Hardy's "finger got caught in the semi-oval shaped holes, " and he "lost [his] footing climbing down." Id.
Hardy further alleges that on July 31, 2013, he was seen by a medical provider who recommended ice twice a day, bandaging the finger, an x-ray, and Motrin 600 mg. ECF No. 1 at 3-4. He complains his finger was not bandaged until August 1, 2013, he did not have the x-ray until August 14, 2013, and he never received ice. Id. at 4. Additionally, he maintains that he was instructed by "a male nurse" to stick his hand out through the meal serving slot of his cell for bandaging. Id.
According to Hardy, his finger is swollen, disfigured, and he cannot straighten it. ECF No. 1 at 4. In his view, the Warden is "fully responsible" because she is in charge of operations at MCI-J. Further, he claims that defendant "creates an unsafe environment." ECF No. 1 at 4, 8. Hardy seeks $25, 000 in compensatory damages, $5, 000 in punitive damages, injunctive relief requiring that he be examined by a "Physician-Hand Finger Specialist" and "to have a step ladder affixed to [his] Bunk-Bed." ECF No. 1, Part IV.
Warden Corcoran has moved to dismiss or, alternatively, for summary judgment, on the grounds of lack of administrative exhaustion, failure to state a claim for which relief may be granted, and qualified immunity. ECF No. 9. In support, Corcoran has submitted numerous exhibits, discussed below.
On July 31, 2013, Hardy was seen by Wondaye Deressa, RNP, for an injury to his left pinky finger. ECF 9-2 at 4 (Exhibit 1, Decl. of Barbara Howard, Litigation Coordinator, with numerous attachments, including medical records). Hardy reported that his left pinky finger was caught on wires while he was trying to climb up to his bunk the previous morning. Id. The treatment plan was to "buddy tape" the finger, provide ice for swelling, x-ray the finger, and follow-up afterward. Id.
On August 1, 2013, an order for ice was generated by the medical department. ECF 9-2 (Exhibit 1, at ¶ 3). After such an order is generated, the inmate is provided with a pass, which allows him to come to the medical department to obtain ice as needed. Id. at ¶4.
On August 6, 2013, corrections personnel received Hardy's Administrative Remedy Procedure request ("ARP"), MCIJ-0547-13, dated August 1, 2013, complaining of a dislocated finger and that his medical orders of July 31, 2013, were not being followed. ECF No. 1 at 10; ECF No. 9-3 (Exhibit 2, Decl. of Sergeant Selma Fulgham, MCI-J Administrative Remedy Coordinator, with attachments). Prison records show that during investigation of the ARP on August 14, 2013, Hardy told Officer Chase that "A. Bah, RNC came to his housing unit" on July 31, 2013, and "buddy splinted [Hardy's] 5th digit to the 4th digit as written in the RNP plan of care dated 7/31/13." ECF No. 9-2 (Exhibit 1 at 10). Hardy stated that "he (AB) didn't wrap it particular prison moots his claims for injunctive and declaratory relief with respect to his incarceration there.") right and I took it off, " reporting that he placed no further sick calls to have the issue addressed. Id. See also ECF No. 9-3 (Exhibit 2 at 4).
On August 15, 2013, Hardy's left hand was x-rayed. The results revealed a small avulsion fracture at the base of distal phalanx with flexion deformity at the distal interphalangeal joint. Exhibit 1 at 5. Hardy received an orthopedic evaluation on August 27, 2013, and was diagnosed with "mallet finger (left 5th) secondary to extensor tendon rupture & ? tiny avulsion fracture. Plan is mallet finger splint (6-8 wks)." Id. at 6 and 8. Hardy was scheduled to return to the clinic in four weeks and it was noted that he might require surgery if the splinting failed. Id.
Warden Corcoran responded to the ARP on September 5, 2013, advising that the matter had been investigated and the ARP was dismissed. Exhibit 2 at 4. The response stated, id.:
You stated that the doctors' orders were not followed. When you were interviewed on 8/14/13 you told the nurse that the charge nurse wrapped you[r] fingers but you took it off. You also claimed that you did not receive any medication and the nurse interviewed provided you with Motrin before you left the dispensary on 7/31 and additional Motrin was ordered. It was ordered on the 8/14 per your request. You also reported to the nurse that you did not submit any more sick calls after the initial injury. You were seen on the 31st and submitted an ARP on the 1st leaving minimal time to carry out any orders that were generated. Since that date everything ordered had been completed including generation of a consultation and the appointment is pending. If you experience additional medical issues, please follow the facility sick call process.
Scott Oakley, Executive Director of the Inmate Grievance Office ("IGO"), attests that Hardy filed one grievance with the IGO since July 30, 2013, IGO No. 20131513, filed as an "appeal" from the disposition of ARP-MCIJ-0547-13, in which inmate Hardy complained that medical staff had failed to follow up on medical orders for treatment of his left pinky finger injured on July 30, 2013. ECF No. 9-4 (Exhibit 3, Decl. of Scott S. Oakley, at ¶ 2). The grievance was administratively dismissed by the IGO on October 22, 2013, on the grounds that the grievance against medical staff was beyond the jurisdiction of the IGO, which is limited to complaints against officials and employees of the DOC and ...