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Hicks v. Green

United States District Court, D. Maryland

April 2, 2015

DARRELL LEE HICKS, #405-906, Plaintiff,


ELLEN L. HOLLANDER, District Judge.

Plaintiff Darrell Lee Hicks, presently incarcerated at Eastern Correctional Institution in Westover, Maryland ("ECI"), claims a violation of civil rights based on deprivation of prescribed medication for his eyes during a fifteen-day period while he was held on administrative segregation. ECF No. 1. Hicks has attached several exhibits to his suit. See ECF No. 1-1. He seeks injunctive relief as well as compensatory and punitive damages.

The correctional defendants, Warden Kathleen Green; Lt. Genesis Copeland; Property Officer Kenneth Stade; Lt. Shytina Drummond; and Administrative Remedy Coordinator Shanika Gustus have filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, motion for summary judgment ("Motion"). ECF No. 13. The Motion is supported by several exhibits. Plaintiff opposes the Motion, ECF Nos. 16 and 17, and has submitted an exhibit.[3]

A hearing in this matter is unnecessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2014). For the reasons that follow, defendants' Motion, construed as one for summary judgment, shall be granted.

Factual Background[4]

Hicks alleges that his chronic care medication for severely dry eyes, [5] "lacri-lube, " was wrongfully and forcibly confiscated from him on July 2, 2014, by Officers Copeland and Stade, ECF 1 at 6, and that it took fifteen days before he received replacement eye drops. Id. at 9. He indicates that on July 3, 2014, he complained to Stade that he needed his medication but received no response. ECF No. 1-1 at 3.[6] Between July 5 and July 13, 2014, additional inquiries and complaints were repeatedly directed to Stade, Copeland, and others. ECF No. 1 at 6-9; ECF No. 1-1 at 6-17. Hicks indicates that he eventually received the eye medication from "Nurse Cathy" on July 15, 2014. ECF No. 1-1 at 18.

Hicks asks the court to "imagine the unnecessary pain he suffered" during the roughly two weeks spent without the prescribed eye drops. ECF No. 16 at 2. He argues that if the correctional defendants cannot be held liable for deliberate indifference to his "serious medical need, " medical staff should be held liable for the delay in providing the medication.[7] Id. He provides no evidence suggesting that the brief delay in obtaining the medication contributed to any serious or lasting injury to his eyes.

Defendants present a somewhat different version of events. Officer Copeland issued Hicks an institutional infraction on July 2, 2014, for using intimidating, coercive or threatening language and demonstrating disrespect or using vulgar language. ECF No. 13-2, Records Declaration of Sgt. Michelle Switalski; ECF No. 13-3, Notice of Inmate Rule Violation. On that same date, Hicks was moved to another cell pending disposition of his infraction. For security reasons, prisoners awaiting disposition of institutional infractions have medication returned to the Medical Department, to be dispensed by medical staff. ECF No. 13-4, Declaration of Captain Walter Holmes, at ¶1. It appears that Hicks's medications were taken from him on that date, consistent with institutional practice.

On July 11, 2014, during a routine cell search, Hicks was found in unauthorized possession of thirty-nine pills, which were confiscated and taken to the Medical Department. ECF No. 13-5, Notice of Inmate Rule Violation.[8] Officer C. Westbrook recommended charging Hicks with violating an institutional rule against possession, use, hoarding or accumulating medication without authorization, and that he be held on administrative segregation pending disposition of the charge. ECF No. 13-5, Notice of Inmate Rule Violation.

On July 14, 2014, Hicks filed Administrative Remedy Procedure ("ARP") ECI 1212-14, asserting that upon receiving the infraction of July 2, 2014, he was moved to another cell, and his medications were confiscated. ECF No. 13-6, ARP ECI 1212-14. However, Hicks withdrew that ARP on August 14, 2014. ECF No. 13-6 at 5; ECF No. 13-7, Declaration of Sgt. Greg Ward, ¶ 5. The Withdrawal Form contained a statement that his complaint cannot be further addressed through the ARP process, and that the failure to exhaust using the ARP process, by withdrawing the ARP, may result in dismissal of the complaint at a higher level. ECF No. 1-1 at 1, ARP Withdrawal Form. A similar ARP filed by Hicks in August of 2014 was procedurally dismissed as repetitive to ECI 1212-14. ECF No. 13-8, ARP ECI 13-80-14; ECF No. 13-6, ¶ 7. Neither ARP was filed as a grievance with the Inmate Grievance Office ("IGO"). ECF No. 13-9, ¶3, Declaration of Scott S. Oakley, IGO Executive Director (stating that no grievances were filed by Hicks since February 4, 2014).

Hicks was seen by medical personnel on July 8, 2014, for complaints of chest pains. ECF No. 13-10 (selected medical records) at 1-2. On July 11, 2014, he attended a Chronic Care Visit. Id. at 4. During these visits, he did not voice concern about the lack of eye drops.

On July 12, 2014, Hicks complained that his dry eye condition was painful and required medication. Id. at 7. The eye medication was provided two days later at a medical visit on July 14, 2014. Id.

I. Standard of Review

Defendants' Motion is styled as a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) or, in the alternative, for summary judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. As ...

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