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Rychwalski v. CMS

United States District Court, D. Maryland

August 22, 2014

CMS, et al., Defendants.


GEORGE L. RUSSELL, III, District Judge.

Plaintiff Louis Rychwalski, Jr. ("Rychwalski") filed the above-captioned Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983. Defendants Warden Kathleen Green, Cpt. Robert J. More, William Fisher, Craig Reid, Robert C. McGee, Charles Westbrook, John Bromley, William Maycock, and Paul Ziolkowski ("Correctional Defendants"), Wexford Health Sources, Inc., Correctional Medical Services ("CMS"), Corizon, LLC, Maryam Messforosh, P.A., Jason Clem, M.D., Bruce Ford P.A., Paul Matera, M.D., and Terry Davis, P.A. ("Medical Defendants"), by their attorneys, have filed Motions to Dismiss, or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment.[1] ECF Nos. 20, 25, 44, and 50. Plaintiff has responded. ECF Nos. 24, 30, 47, 48, 49 & 52. After review of the pleadings and applicable law, the Court determines that a hearing is unwarranted. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2014). For the reasons that follow, the Motions to Dismiss, construed as Motions for Summary Judgment, will be GRANTED.


Rychwalski, an inmate then-confined at the Eastern Correctional Institution ("ECI"), alleges that on February 25, 2012, he was returned to the facility after having undergone foot surgery at an outside hospital. Plaintiff returned to the facility in a wheelchair and the ECI dispensary issued him crutches but Correctional Officers Fisher, Reed, and McGee allegedly took them. Then Officers Fisher, Reed, Westbrook, and Moore allegedly wheeled Plaintiff to his cell and told him to get out of the wheelchair. He advised correctional staff that he needed his crutches. Moore replied that he did not have time and instructed Plaintiff to either get out or be dumped out. Plaintiff states that he sat on the floor. ECF No. 1.

During the next shift he was advised that crutches were a security risk. Plaintiff states that he told nurses who came to his cell during pill call to notify the physicians' assistants and doctors that he was being denied crutches. Id . Plaintiff states that he was afraid he would lose his balance and step on his foot causing himself further injury. He states he was insulted and humiliated by staff and inmates for crying and begging correctional and medical staff to assist him. Id.

Plaintiff states that he notified Ziolkowski and Bromley that he had surgery on his great toe to remove screws and have a plate installed. He states they called medical to verify the necessity of using the crutches but nothing happened. He was told that he could not have the crutches in his cell as they posed a security risk. Plaintiff states that he asked to be sent back to medical but no one responded. Id . On March 1, 2012, Plaintiff states P.A. Ford asked him why he did not have his crutches and Plaintiff advised that correctional staff said they were a security risk. Ford indicated that Plaintiff should be in the hospital. Id . The following day Plaintiff was returned to the hospital and provided crutches. Plaintiff alleges that P.A. Messforosh and CMS released him to a unit where he could not have the prescribed crutches. Id . Additionally, he claims that he was forced to hop on one leg for meals and medication for seven days and felt something wrong in his back. ECF No. 31. He states that no doctors would do an x-ray which would have shown damage to his back caused by the deprivation of crutches. Id.

Plaintiff's medical records demonstrate that on February 13, 2012, Plaintiff was admitted to the ECI infirmary in preparation for outpatient surgery on his right foot. ECF No. 20, Ex. 1. Plaintiff was discharged from the infirmary on February 25, 2012, and brought back to ECI Housing Unit ("HU") 4 to complete his disciplinary segregation sentence. Id . Plaintiff was returned to HU 4 in a wheelchair. His crutches were maintained in the HU Control Center as a security measure. Ziolkowski avers that crutches can be used to hinder access to the cell or as a weapon in an assault. The crutches were made available to Plaintiff any time he needed to leave his cell. Id . No crutches are permitted in HU 4 cells. Id., Ex. 2.

Correctional Defendants state that ECI cells are 11 feet by 7 feet. The toilet and sink are within 2.5 feet of the bunk. While housed on disciplinary segregation each inmate is fed all three meals in his cell through a slot opening in the door. To prevent accidental injury while he recovered from his surgery Plaintiff was single celled in HU 4. Id., Ex. 2.

Plaintiff was admitted to the infirmary, upon direction of the medical department, on March 2, 2012. Id., Ex. 1. He was discharged from the infirmary back to HU 4 on March 10, 2012. At that time he was fitted with a "walking cast" and crutches were available whenever he left his cell. Id., Ex. 1.

Plaintiff filed an Administrative Remedy Procedure ("ARP") Complaint regarding the denial of his crutches. Id., Ex. 1. During the ARP investigation, Dr. Clem was contacted regarding Plaintiff's concerns. Clem advised that the crutches were not necessary for in-cell use but were to be made available for Plaintiff's use for out-of-cell activity. Id., Exs. 1 & 3. Plaintiff appealed the denial of the ARPs. The ARPs were consolidated and considered by an administrative law judge ("ALJ") who found Plaintiff failed to show an Eighth Amendment deprivation regarding the denial of crutches from February 25 to March 2. Id., Ex. 4. The ALJ also found no violation of the Eighth Amendment for the deprivation of crutches after March 9, when Plaintiff was provided a walking cast. Id.

Plaintiff's medical records demonstrate that he is a patient enrolled in the chronic care clinic who has a medical and mental health history of depression, psychosis, paranoia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, artropathy in his shoulder, asthma, esophageal reflux, Hepatitis C, chronic pain, back injury, and foot surgery. ECF No. 50, Exs. 1 & 2.

On January 11, 2012, Bruce Ford, P.A. requested podiatric surgery for fusion of Plaintiff's great right toe and removal of a screw in the toe. ECF No. 44, Ex, 1A, pp. 11-15. At this time, Plaintiff's regular medications included Naproxen 375 mg three times per day and Neurontin 300 mg two times per day both for pain relief. Id., p. 18.

Plaintiff was seen by the podiatrist on February 7, 2012, and approved for surgery. Id., p. 516. Plaintiff underwent foot surgery on February 14, 2012, which included a first MPJ fusion with internal fixation, and a deep resection of a prior failed internal fusion, right first metatarsal. Id., pp. 30-35, 520-23, 580-82. After his surgery he was housed in the ECI infirmary. Dr. Matera prescribed Percocet 5/325 mg as needed every six hours for 24 hours. Id., p. 33. Plaintiff was on "medical hold" with no weight bearing with crutches and instructed to elevate his foot when he laid down or sat. Id., p. 33.

Plaintiff remained in the infirmary through February 25, 2012, when he was returned to his housing unit via wheelchair. ECF No. 44, Ex. 1; Ex 1A, pp. 30-99; ECF No. 50, Ex. 1, pp. 1-5. On March 1, 2012, Plaintiff submitted a sick call slip complaining of back and leg pain and requesting crutches, stating he was without crutches since returning to his cell. ECF No. 50, Ex. 1, p. 106. Plaintiff was seen by Bruce Ford, P.A. on March 1, 2012. He reiterated his complaint that he had not been provided crutches and complained that he had been walking on his foot. Ford ordered crutches for one month. Id., pp. 6-7.

On March 2, 2012, Ford noted that custody staff refused to permit Plaintiff to use crutches in his cell due to security concerns, and correctional staff advised that Plaintiff should be kept in the infirmary until the issue was resolved. Correctional Staff advised Ford that the crutches could be kept in "the bubble" on the tier and made available to Plaintiff during out-ofcell activity. Id., pp. 8-9. Ford ordered Plaintiff readmitted to the infirmary until the security issue was resolved or until his follow-up appointment with the surgeon could resolve the need for non-weight-bearing status. Id., pp. 8-9; ECF No. 44, Ex. 1A, pp. 101-10.

Plaintiff was seen by Peter Cuesta, M.D. for his post-operative surgical follow-up on March 8, 2012. ECF No. 50, Ex. 1, pp. 128-30. Plaintiff was provided a walking cast and advised to bear weight with the cast as tolerated. Weight-bearing activities and exercises were discussed and provided to Plaintiff. On that same date, Dr. Clem noted that custody would not allow crutches in HU 4. Id., pp. 10-11.

On March 9, 2012, Clem discharged Plaintiff to HU 4, noting that Plaintiff could ambulate on his walking cast in the cell and crutches would be provided when Plaintiff needed to leave his cell. Id., p. 12. Custody was provided instructions regarding Plaintiff's crutches. Id.

Plaintiff was evaluated by Paul Matera, M.D. on April 12, 2012. Id., pp. 13-14. Plaintiff reported that, except for his cast, his foot felt good. Plaintiff threatened to cut off the cast because he believed his foot was healed. Matera advised Plaintiff that the cast was due to come off in a few weeks. Id . Plaintiff also complained of not receiving medication for his back pain. Matera advised Plaintiff that the pain medication for his foot should work for his back as well. Matera further advised Plaintiff that further evaluation and treatment of his chronic low back pain would be done after the foot issued had resolved. ECF No. 44, Ex., 1A, pp. 173-74.

Plaintiff was seen for follow up with the podiatric surgeon on May 10, 2012. He noted that Plaintiff could ambulate to tolerance and the joints had fused. Id., pp. 513-14, 519.

On June 11, 2012, Plaintiff submitted a sick call slip stating that he needed a slip letting his housing unit know he did not need a wheelchair or crutches. ECF No. 50, Ex. 1, Id., p. 107. The following day, Plaintiff submitted a sick call slip complaining of pain in his right foot and toes and requesting to be seen by a different surgeon. Id., p. 108. Clem approved Tramadol to treat Plaintiff's pain on June 25, 2012. ECF No. 44, Ex. 1A, pp. 196-99. On June 29, 2012, Plaintiff reported not receiving the Tramadol and PA Ford reordered Neurontin. Id., pp. 206-07.

Plaintiff was seen by Jennifer Patterson, R.N. on July 14, 2012, and referred to a physician's assistant for further consultation. ECF No. 50, Ex. 1 Id., p. 15. Plaintiff was evaluated on July 19, 2012 by P.A. Ford. Id., pp. 16-17. Plaintiff advised that he was to be seen for follow-up regarding his foot surgery. Ford advised that he would request recommendations and follow-up. Id.

Plaintiff was again seen by Ford on August 2, 2012, for a chronic case clinic visit related to Plaintiff's asthma and hyperlipidemia. Plaintiff did not express any complaints regarding his foot or back pain. Id., pp. 18-22. Tramadol was renewed. ECF No. 44, Ex. 1A, pp. 211-12.

On August 5, 2012, Plaintiff submitted a sick call slip complaining of foot pain and requesting to see Dr. Matera. ECF No. 50, Ex. 1. Id., p. 109. Plaintiff was seen by Nurse Patterson the following day. Id., pp. 23-24. Plaintiff stated that he was to be seen by a specialist because his foot was not healing properly. Plaintiff complained of pain and stiffness in his "2nd toe." Patterson noted scarring from the surgery and decreased mobility in the 2nd toe. She referred Plaintiff for further consultation. Id . Plaintiff was seen by P.A. Maryam Messforosh on August 16, 2012, in the chronic care clinic for follow-up care for Plaintiff's hepatitis. Examination showed no signs of pain or joint tenderness. Id., pp. 25-26.

Plaintiff refused to be seen by a nurse on August 20, 2012. Id., p. 134. The following day he submitted a sick call slip asking to see Dr. Matera but did not state a basis for the slip. Id., p. 110. On August 31, 2012, Plaintiff was seen by P.A. Ford. Id., pp. 27-28. Plaintiff requested to see Dr. Matera in order to increase his pain medication. Ford advised Plaintiff that his pain medications would be maintained at their current levels and likely tapered off in the near future. Ford noted that Plaintiff walked into the examination room without difficulty and displayed no distress or symptoms of pain other than expressing his irritation at not receiving an increase in pain medication. Plaintiff returned his crutches. Id.

Plaintiff submitted a sick call slip on September 4, 2012, again requesting to see Dr. Matera. Plaintiff indicated his belief that Matera would increase his pain medication. Plaintiff did not indicate he was in pain, only his desire to have the medication increased. Id., p. 111. The following day ...

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