United States District Court, D. Maryland
STEVEN W. ALLBRIGHT, Plaintiff,
GARY MAYNARD, RANDY WATSON, KATHLEEN GREEN, WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INC., DR. DAVID M. MATHAIS, DR PAUL MATERA, & DR. SUNDAY NWSOU, Defendants.
PAUL W. GRIMM District Judge.
Steven W. Allbright, a former Maryland inmate, filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as compensatory damages, for alleged Eighth Amendment violations resulting from delays in providing the medical care Allbright requested. He names as defendants the Secretary of the Department of Public Safety & Correctional Services ("DPSCS"), the Regional Director of the Maryland Division of Correction, the Warden of the Eastern Correctional Institution ("ECI"), Wexford Health Sources, Inc., and Drs. David M. Mathais, Paul Matera, and Sunday Nwosu. All Defendants move to dismiss or, alternatively, for summary judgment. Because the undisputed facts show that Allbright's medical care did not amount to "deliberate indifference" in violation of the Eighth Amendment, and Defendants are entitled to judgment as a matter of law, I will treat Defendants' motions as motions for summary judgment and grant them.
I. THE FACTS. AS PLEADED
In his Verified Complaint, ECF No. 1, Allbright states that in June of 2010, he sustained a sports-related injury to his left shoulder and filed a sick-call request complaining of limited range of motion ("ROM") and severe pain. Compl. ¶ 12. He claims that he was seen by a nurse, given pain medication, and no other action was taken. Id. Allbright contends that over the course of the next five months he repeatedly requested medical care and was told he would receive a shoulder consultation, but it was not until November 29, 2010 that an x-ray was ordered for his shoulder. Id. ¶¶ 13-16. He contends, however, that this order was lost and he did not receive the x-ray until three months later, in January of 2011. Id. ¶¶ 18-21.
Allbright provides a timeline of his medical care regarding his shoulder following the x-ray. He alleges that in February of 2011, he was seen by a physical therapist, who "indicated [that there were] clinical signs of Rotator Cuff Pathology. Id. ¶¶ 22. He claims that throughout February and March of 2011, he received physical therapy ("PT") for documented AC joint instability. Id ¶¶ 22-27. Allbright claims that, when he "was seen by [physician's assistant] Jessica Cecil for follow-up, " Cecil exhibited "extreme agitation and lack of interest... toward his medical needs." Id ¶ 26. Allbright contends that in April of 2011, in response to a "complaint" he filed with Senator Barbara Mikulski, he received "legal mail" noting that he had been diagnosed with bursitis. Id. ¶ 31. His request for an "Orthopedic consultation" was denied in May 2011, and he was told that he needed to have a colonoscopy before his shoulder was addressed Id ¶ 34, 36. He had the colonoscopy in early June 2011 and requested a shoulder consultation one week later and two weeks after that. Id. ¶ 38-39. A physician's assistant saw him about his shoulder in early July, but "could not locate last therapist notes" and told Plaintiff he would have to "get back to" him. Id. ¶ 41. Allbright requested care repeatedly and, in September of 2011, he was seen by an orthopedic surgeon and had an x-ray taken and was recommended for an MRI. Id. ¶¶ 43-45, 47, 51. Allbright states that in November of 2011, he was seen by Dr. Paul Matera for shoulder issues and was diagnosed with a rotator cuff tear and mild "tendinosis." Id. ¶¶ 59-60. He claims that in February of 2012, he finally underwent rotator cuff surgery at Bon Secours Hospital ("BSH"). Id. ¶¶ 84.
Allbright additionally complains about the delays in receiving a colonoscopy and treatment for a hydrocelc or hernia. He asserts that, although a urology consult and ultrasound were recommended in 2011 for examination of the hydrocele or hernia, the requests were denied. Compl. ¶¶ 59-65. According to Plaintiff, "Dr. Matera appeared disturbed by this and stated he would immediately resubmit." Id. ¶ 65. Allbright contends that he did not receive a colonoscopy until June of 2011, and despite repeated "sick-call request[s], " he did not receive an ultrasound for his scrotum until June of 2012. Id. ¶¶ 38, 68, 75, 82, 88, 99-101, 122. He "was seen at bon Secours Hopsital for left inguinal exploration with left hydrolectomy [sic] and left orchiopexy, " Id. ¶¶ 126. Allbright claims that he did not receive hernia surgery until January of 2013. Id. ¶¶ 146.
II. PENDING MOTIONS
Defendants ECI Warden Green, DPSCS Secretary Maynard, and Division of Correction Regional Director Watson ("State Defendants"), Dr. Matera, Wexford Health Sources, Inc.,  and Dr. Nwosu have filed motions to dismiss or, in the alternative, motions for summary judgment, ECF Nos. 20, 25, & 30. Defendants rely on materials outside of the pleadings, such as declarations and medical records. Therefore, I shall treat their motions as motions for summary judgment. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d); Ridgell v. Astrue, DKC-10-3280, 2012 WL 707008, at *7 (D. Md. Mar. 2, 2012). Allbright has filed three Motions to Deny or Stay, Defendents [sic] Motion to Dismiss or in the Alternative Motion for Summary Judgment, which I construe as Oppositions. ECF Nos. 28, 38, 39; see Fed.R.Civ.P. 1. Wexford and Nwosu filed a reply to one of Allbright's Oppositions. ECF No. 41. The Court concludes that the pending motions may be determined without hearing. See Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2014).
III. STANDARD OF REVIEW
Summary judgment is proper when the moving party demonstrates, through "particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations..., admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials, " that "there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a), (c)(1) (A); see Baldwin v. City of Greensboro, 714 F.3d 828, 833 (4th Cir. 2013). The Court considers evidence related to a motion for summary judgment in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, drawing reasonable inferences in its favor. See Ricci v. DeStefano, 557 U.S. 557, 586 (2009); see also George & Co., LLC v. Imagination Entm't Ltd., 575 F.3d 383, 392 (4th Cir. 2009).
If the party seeking summary judgment demonstrates that there is no evidence to support the nonmoving party's case, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to identify evidence that shows that a genuine dispute exists as to material facts. See Celotex v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). The existence of only a "scintilla of evidence" is not enough to defeat a motion for summary judgment. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251 (1986). Instead, the evidentiary materials submitted must show facts from which the finder of fact reasonably could find for the party opposing summary judgment. Id. at 252.
IV. PARTIES' ARGUMENTS
The State Defendants maintain that at no point in the complaint has Allbright alleged their participation in or interference with his medical treatment. State Defs.' Mem. 1-2, ECF No. 20-1. They argue that "[t]here is no respondeat superior liability under § 1983." Mem. 6. They submit supporting affidavits. Thomas Sullivan, the Chief Executive Director of the Health Services Unit for DPSCS, declares that the DPSCS has "delegated full operations arid compliance monitoring enforcement over the vendors supplying medical care to Maryland inmates to the Office of the Chief Executive Director of Health Services." Sullivan Decl. ¶ 2, State Defs.' Mem. Ex. A, ECF No. 20-2. He asserts that lilt is the responsibility of the vendor, not correctional staff, to provide medical services under the specifications of the contract." Id. He declares that DPSCS "staff have no personal involvement in the provision of medical care to any Maryland inmate, and have no authority to make decisions concerning any individual inmate's medical care." Id. ¶ 3. Green states that she, Maynard, and Watson do not play personal roles in providing medical treatment and that they have no authority regarding providing medical treatment. Green Decl. ¶ 2, State Defs.' Mot. Ex. B, ECF No. 20-3. According to Green, she "did not interfere with or impede any medical care provided to the Plaintiff while housed at ECI." Id. She states that they "rely on the expertise and opinions of trained medical personnel" in answering any administrative remedy procedure ("ARP") grievance that inmates file concerning a medical care claim. Id. ¶ 4.
In his September 27, 2013 Opposition, Allbright counters that it took twenty months to obtain surgical repair of his rotator cuff, ten months to surgically repair his hydrocele, and sixteen months to surgically repair his hernia. Sept. 27, 2013 Opp'n 2. He contends that his suit against the State Defendants is based upon the fact that prison officials may be held liable for acting with deliberate indifference to his health and safety and that letters and ARPs to Congressional representatives and DPSCS ...