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Henning v. Armstead

United States District Court, D. Maryland

July 22, 2016

WALTER HENNING Plaintiff
v.
WARDEN LAURA ARMSTEAD, et al. Defendant

          MEMORANDUM

          J. Frederick Motz, States District Judge

         Defendants Damon Fayall and Jill Danzillo[1] filed a motion to dismiss or in the alternative for summary judgment in response to the above-entitled civil rights complaint. ECF 13. Plaintiff was advised of his right to file an opposition response and of the consequences of failing to do so (ECF 15), but has filed nothing further in the case.[2] The court finds a hearing in this matter unnecessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons that follow, Defendants' motion, construed as a motion for summary judgment, shall be granted.

         Background

         At the time plaintiff filed the complaint, and at all times relevant to the claims raised, he was an inmate committed to the custody of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services ("DPSCS") and assigned to Patuxent Institution and Baltimore City Correctional Center ("BCCC"). On or about February 28, 2016, plaintiff was released from custody. Plaintiff names as defendants Warden Laura Armstead, Damen Fayllon, Jill Danzillo, and unknown persons. ECF 2. Because the complaint contains no allegations against Warden Armstead, the complaint will be dismissed as to her and as to "other unknown persons." Plaintiffs claims concern an alleged failure to provide him with proper medical care for Hepatitis C and other disabilities. He alleges that prior to his incarceration, he was found to be disabled and awarded Social Security disability benefits "for specific physical disabilities, cardiovascular disease/disorder." ECF 2 at p. 4. He claims he is a "chronic care" patient with a history of cardiac problems, Hepatitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), mitral valve repair and two hernia surgeries. Id. He claims his disabilities prohibit him from heavy lifting, continuous standing or walking for more than one hour, climbing or balancing on uneven surfaces, weight lifting, and strenuous athletics. Id.

         Plaintiff claims that both the medical staff and correctional staff have ignored the urgency of his medical situation and have failed to treat him for chronic Hepatitis C infection. He states this failure to provide treatment is a breach of the medical care contractor's contract with DPSCS. He further claims that the deliberate indifference of all defendants endangers his health and violates both his federal and state constitutional rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. ECF 2 at p. 5.

         Plaintiff adds that defendants failed to obtain medical records from the Tennessee Department of Correction or from the Office of Disability, Social Security Administration to establish that plaintiff has "health limitations" and to confirm his Hepatitis C infection. He further appears to aver that his poor health entitles him to the appointment of counsel in this case and that defendants failed to timely diagnose and treat him for Hepatitis C infection. ECF 2 at p. 5.

         As relief plaintiff seeks injunctive relief requiring his treatment for Hepatitis C as well as monetary damages. ECF 2 at pp. 6-7.

         Defendants Fayall and Danzillo are health service administrators who do not make medical decisions regarding the care of inmates in the custody of DPSCS. ECF 13 at Ex. 2, pp. 1 - 2. Notwithstanding this fact, defendants provide a summary of the care provided to plaintiff while he was in the custody of DPSCS.

         Plaintiffs medical history includes asthma, gastroesophageal reflux disease ("GERD"), emphysema, COPD, inguinal hernia, and Hepatitis C. In addition, plaintiff has a history of anxiety and depression as well as drug and alcohol abuse lasting over 35 years. Plaintiff received a medical intake upon his arrival at Maryland Reception Diagnostic and Classification Center ("MRDCC") on May 19, 2014. At that time, he reported his medical history as including asthma, GERD, emphysema, inguinal hernia, hernia surgery, and a stent placement in 2006, but did not report that he was physically disabled or that he had Hepatitis C. ECF 13 at Ex. 2, p. 2.

         On May 20, 2014, plaintiffs report of hernia discomfort was addressed by Taryn Adams-Harlee, R.N. Although plaintiff was observed walking to the medical room without assistance or difficulty, he reported his pain as an eight on a scale of one to ten, with ten being the worst pain. Plaintiff reported that he needed surgery to repair his hernia, prompting a referral to a mid-level medical provider the following day. Harlee gave plaintiff 600 mg of Motrin to address his pain. Plaintiff made no mention of Hepatitis C or having a disability during this encounter. ECF 13 at Ex. 2, p. 2.

         The following day plaintiff was seen by Nurse Practitioner Grace Emaselalu for a health assessment. At that time plaintiff reported a history of heroin use, cocaine use, forty years of cigarette smoking (one pack per day), consumption of approximately one gallon of alcohol per day prior to his arrest, and anxiety. He claimed the pain from his hernia had improved from the previous day and the examination revealed the hernia was stable. Plaintiff was also negative for dyspnea, cough or wheezing related to COPD. He was prescribed Naproxen for back pain and Zantac for GERD. Plaintiff was also placed on a list for chronic care clinic to monitor his various chronic medical issues. He did not report a physical disability or Hepatitis C to Emaselalu. ECF 13 at Ex. 2, p. 3.

         On June 20, 2014, plaintiff was seen by Dr. Tewelde for a chronic care visit. Plaintiff told Tewelde that he wanted surgery for his hernia and threatened that if he did not get it, Tewelde would hear from plaintiffs lawyer. He further reported to Tewelde that he had an open heart mitral valve replacement in 2006, but had no heart issues since that time. At this appointment, plaintiff asked for the first time to be prescribed interferon for Hepatitis C. Because there was no record of plaintiff having Hepatitis C and his physical examination was negative for liver or spleen enlargement, Tewelde ordered lab work to test for Hepatitis C antibodies. ECF 13 at Ex. 2, p. 3.

         On July 2, 2014, plaintiff was seen again by Tewelde regarding his hernia. Tewelde noted that the hernia was easily reducible and mild. He instructed plaintiff to avoid any heavy lifting and to avoid pressure building in his abdomen. ECF 13 at Ex. 2, pp. 3-4.

         On July 15, 2014, plaintiff was admitted to the prison infirmary with diarrhea. His admission was a precaution taken in order to avoid possible spread of salmonella to other inmates. Three days later he was discharged from the infirmary and seen by Tewelde. At this appointment, plaintiff claimed he had the hernia since 2013 and wanted surgery on it now that he was in prison. He further stated that he had Hepatitis C for fifteen years and reported both intravenous drug use and tattoos. Tewelde referred ...


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