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Barnes v. Bilak

United States District Court, D. Maryland

October 11, 2016

JUAN BARNES Plaintiff
v.
KRISTA BILAK and WEXFORD HEALTH INC. Defendants

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          DEBORAH K. CHASANOW UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Defendants in the above-entitled civil rights matter filed a Motion to Dismiss or for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 20. Plaintiff filed a response in opposition (ECF No. 24) and Defendants filed a reply (ECF No. 26). Plaintiff then filed four papers in response to Defendants' reply. ECF Nos. 27, 28, 30 and 32. Defendants moved to strike each of Plaintiff's surreplies. ECF No. 29, 31 and 33. No hearing is necessary to resolve the matters pending before the court. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons stated below, Defendants' motions shall be denied without prejudice.

         Background

         Plaintiff's Claims

         In his complaint (ECF No. 1) as supplemented (ECF Nos. 2, 6 and 7), Plaintiff Juan Barnes alleges that he has been denied both pain medication for a chronic pain condition in his hip and leg and treatment for a broken finger.[1] Barnes states that on October 7, 2015, he requested an increase of his pain medication, Tramadol (100 mg), but received no response. Barnes then filed two additional sick call slips on October 12 and 14, 2015, but again received no response. He states that by October 22, 2015, the pain was so unbearable he asked his mother to call on his behalf, but her attempt to speak with medical staff was denied. Barnes claims that he signed a release in 2014 permitting medical staff to discuss his care with his mother. ECF No. 1 at pp. 1 - 2.

         Barnes continued to request treatment for his pain with the assistance of correctional officers, one of whom spoke with Krista Clark[2] directly. Barnes states that, although Clark assured Officer Self that she would look into why Barnes had not been seen, nothing occurred. Barnes states that on October 26, 2015, he wrote a formal inmate complaint regarding his sick call and asked Officer Ipcuss to call Clark about his pain. Barnes states that Clark said she would see him that day, but he was not seen and he did not receive a response from another sick call slip submitted on November 1, 2015. ECF No. 1 at p. 2.

         Barnes states that on November 4, 2015, he broke his finger and informed Officer D. Ellifritz about his injury. Ellifritz called the medical department on Barnes' behalf and reported back to Barnes that their advice was to put a warm compress on his finger and put in a sick call slip. Barnes states that his finger, which he injured in a fall, was swollen and he could not move it. He claims that Ellifritz told the medical staff with whom he spoke that it was “illegal” not to examine Barnes, but they did not change their response and did not view the complaint as one requiring emergent care. Barnes states that he put in a sick call slip for his finger and received no response. ECF No. 1 at pp. 2 - 3.

         Barnes states that on November 5, 2015, Krista Bilak took away all of his medication prescribed for pain (Tramadol) and for psychiatric symptoms of auditory and visual hallucinations (Risperidol). Barnes states that on November 4, 2015, he also received an adjustment ticket for passing a magazine to another inmate, which he admits doing. When the other inmate was found with the magazine, it was discovered that two medications, Tegretol and Neurontin, were hidden inside of it. Barnes states that he does not take those medications, but his prescriptions were revoked regardless. He claims that no effort was made to determine whether the medication found in the magazine was something he had access to before his prescriptions were summarily revoked and he attributes these actions to the fact that he is African American. Barnes claims that there is also video evidence that proves he took his medication in the pill line that day, making it impossible for him to give it to someone else. He alleges that the other inmate, Jeremy Cochran, who was caught with the magazine did not have his prescriptions revoked because he is White. ECF No. 1 at pp. 3 - 4.

         Barnes claims, in the first supplemental complaint, that medical staff were still refusing to see him as of November 18, 2015, even though they had been in the disciplinary segregation unit, where he was housed, seeing other inmates all week. Barnes further states that the Adjustment Hearing Officer found him not guilty on the charge regarding the medication because the pills in question were never confiscated and taken to a nurse for identification. Barnes states that, notwithstanding that fact, Bilak took his medication, including Risperidol and Prozac which he had been prescribed for treatment of his mental health issues. He states that the termination of this medication adversely affected his mental state. Barnes further alleges that his broken finger remained untreated as of November 18, 2015. ECF No. 2 at p. 1.

         In another supplemental filing Barnes states that he still had not been seen by Krista Bilak as of November 24, 2015. He states that several people have tried to tell Bilak that Barnes did not pass his medication to anyone and claims Bilak could simply verify that fact by watching the tier video footage from November 4, 2015, showing that he took his medication in the pill line. He maintains that Bilak's sole motive for removing his health care plan and medication is the fact that he is African American and states that correctional officers will verify that Barnes did not engage in any wrong-doing. ECF No. 5 at pp. 1 - 2.

         Barnes claims that he is the only inmate who is denied access to his medical record despite his numerous requests. He states that the chronic pain, which stems from a healed fracture in his leg, was only effectively treated with Tramadol. Barnes states that prior to receiving Tramadol, he was prescribed Naproxen, Baclofen, Elavil, Mobic, Roboxen, Neurontin, Tegratol, Tylenol, Aspirin, and Motrin, but none of it relieved his pain. He claims that when he asked for his Tramadol dose to be increased, Bilak used the “fact I was caught with someone else's pills” to revoke the prescription. ECF No. 5 at p. 4. He asserts that he could have beaten the charges against him, but he took responsibility for passing the magazine and maintains it had nothing to do with his medications. Id.

         Barnes claims in another supplemental paper that on November 22, 2015, he saw Bilak walking on the tier with an officer who was escorting her to cell 15. He states that he banged on his door and yelled, “why are you doing this to me?” Barnes claims that Bilak turned, looked at him, laughed, and waved as she continued to walk past his cell. ECF No. 6 at p. 2.

         Barnes states in another supplemental complaint that on December 2, 2015, he saw “a spokesperson” for Bilak and claims Bilak was still ignoring him. He states this “Indian man” ordered medication for him, but prescribed a 50 mg dose of Tramadol instead of the 100 mg dose he had requested. The prescription was written for four weeks. ECF No. 7 at p. 1.

         Barnes asserts that he should be receiving the treatment that has proven effective for managing his pain, which was 100 mg of Tramadol. He further alleges that his complaint regarding his finger remained unaddressed in December of 2015. ECF No. 7 at p. 2.

         Barnes alleges that Bilak and “several other Wexford providers” are aware of the pain he suffers based on his hospital and jail medical records, yet they have taken no action in two years to determine the source of his pain. He states that when he broke his femur bone a metal rod was put into his leg and he later developed hip degeneration. The chronic pain he experiences dates back to 2008. ECF No. 11 at p. 1.

         Barnes again alleges that the prescription for 100 mg of Tramadol was unjustly stopped after the November 4, 2015 incident despite the fact that his medication was not a part of that incident. He further claims that he is being denied “all care” and the resulting pain is “interfering with daily activities.” ECF No. 11 at p. 2.

         On January 19, 2016, Barnes filed a complaint with prison staff, asserting that he was seen by William Beeman but was not prescribed pain medication. His complaint received no substantive response because it was written on the wrong form. ECF No. 15 at p. 2, see also ECF No. 15-1. Barnes claims that this refusal ...


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