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Gottleib v. Baltimore County Detention Center

United States District Court, D. Maryland

October 14, 2016

JOHN JOSEPH GOTTLEIB, III, #333-540 Plaintiff



         John Joseph Gottleib is an inmate at the Baltimore County Detention Center ("BCDC"). On January 7, 2016, he filed this Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 against BCDC and "Medical Staff, "[1] presenting claims arising from the treatment he received for an infection in his scrotum. (ECF 1). On January 28, 2016, Gottleib filed a Supplement to the Complaint to name Deborah Richardson, Thomas Fitzgerald, Robert Airey, Nurse Peal, Nurse Zeiders and Dr. El- Bedawi as Defendants. (ECF 5).[2] Gottleib seeks damages of $5 million dollars and his immediate release from incarceration. Id.

         Pending are two separate Motions to Dismiss, or in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment (ECF 16, 21). The first was filed by counsel on behalf of Deborah Richardson, Director of BCDC, Thomas Fitzgerald, Deputy Director of BCDC, and Captain Robert Airey (collectively the "BCDC Defendants"). (ECF 16). The second Motion was filed by counsel on behalf of Defendants Peal, Zeiders, and El-Bedawi (collectively the "Medical Defendants").[3](ECF 21). Consonant with Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975), the Clerk sent notice to Gottleib informing him of his right to file Responses to Defendants' dispositive motions and to file affidavits and exhibits in support. (ECF 17, 22). Gottleib filed Opposition Responses to both dispositive motions, although he filed no declarations. (ECF 18, 23). The BCDC and Medical Defendants then filed separate Replies. (ECF 24, 25). Gottleib then filed an "addendum" Response. (ECF 26). Also pending is Gottleib's Motion for Appointment of Counsel. (ECF 19).

         The issues have been briefed, the matter is ripe for disposition and no hearing is required, see Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md, 2016). Gottleib has adequately presented his claims and no extraordinary reasons are presented to warrant appointment of counsel. For reasons explained below, this Court will GRANT BOTH MOTIONS TO DISMISS (ECF 16, 21), and DISMISS WITH PREJUDICE the claims against the BCDC Defendants and GRANT summary judgment in favor of the Medical Defendants.


         Gottleib alleges that Defendants failed to respond adequately to his medical complaints of a painful and swollen scrotum. Although Gottleib does not specify what constitutional provision has been abridged, Defendants assume he is alleging an Eighth Amendment claim alleging deliberate indifference to a serious medical need. (ECF 16-1 at 3; ECF 21-1). At the time Gottleib alleges the violations occurred, he was a convicted prisoner, serving a sixteen month sentence imposed on October 7, 2015. (ECF 16-4).


         The following facts are not in dispute unless noted. On or about November 20, 2015, [4] at 9:00 am, Gottleib noticed his scrotum was painful and swollen "to the size of a grapefruit." (ECF 1 at 4). He informed an unnamed BCDC correctional officer that he needed to be seen by a medical provider. Gottleib told the officer it was an emergency. Id. Gottleib asked unidentified officers again at 11:30 am and 3:30 pm to see a medical provider. Gottleib asserts when he asked at 11:30 am for a medical escort, the officer commented that Gottleib did not "look so good." (ECF 1 at 4).[5] Meals were served and correctional officers changed shifts during this time.

         Gottleib was escorted to the medical unit that evening, complaining of scrotal swelling and tenderness, fever, and chills. Gottleib informed the nurse that he had noticed a boil in his perineum area the evening before and "popped it." (Declarations of Bonita Cosgrove, BCDC Medical Liaison ECF 16-2.¶ 2; ECF 24-2 ¶3).[6] Defendants indicate Gottleib was treated by Nurse Practitioner Okoye for an indurated boil and fever. ECF 16-2 ¶3; ECF 24-1 ¶3. She diagnosed Gottleib with cellulitis, a common skin infection caused by bacteria.[7] She prescribed Tylenol 650 mg to reduce the fever, an oral antibiotic (Bactrim) for ten days for the infection, and warm compresses twice a day to open the boil. She instructed Gottleib to return to the medical unit in three days for further evaluation. (ECF 1 at 5, ECF 16-2 ¶¶ 2, 3; ECF 24-1 ¶ 3). The parties dispute the identity of the treating medical provider. The BCDC Defendants assert Nurse Practitioner Okoye attended to Gottleib. (ECF 24-1 ¶3). Gottleib claims Memmie Peal examined and treated him. (ECF 23).

         The following day, November 21, 2015, Gottleib continued the prescribed oral antibiotics, but his fever, chills, and scrotal swelling persisted. ECF 1 at 6. At 3:00 pm, he asked to be seen in the medical unit.

         Gottleib was seen by a nurse in the BCDC medical unit at 8 pm. She noted the hardened boil and swelling of the penis and scrotum. Because Gottleib has a history of vasculitis[8] and his medication regimen included Prednisone for reducing inflammation, a determination was made to send him on a non-emergency basis to St. Joseph's Hospital Medical Center for evaluation. (ECF 16-2; ECF-21-2; ECF-24 n. 1). There, Gottleib was treated with intravenous antibiotics and hospitalized overnight. (ECF 1 at 7). A CT scan showed extensive cellulitis but no necrosis. (ECF 21-2 at 7).

         On November 22, 2015, Gottleib was admitted to the University of Maryland Medical Center ("UMMC"). Id. at 7; ECF 16-3 at 1. Gottleib reported to 'UMMC medical staff that "[f]ive days ago, he attempted to pop a boil which had developed in his posterior perineum. Two days later, his scrotum became enlarged, red, and tender with tenderness and pain extending posterior along the perineum." (ECF 21-2). Gottleib was diagnosed with a left sided perineal Fournier Gangrene perineum[9] or necrotizing fasciitis of the scrotum. Id; see also ECF 16-3 at 3. The same day he underwent a surgical procedure to debride his perineum and scrotal areas. (ECF 21 -2 at 7). Further, he was treated with a broad spectrum of antibiotics. Id. The infection proved persistent and another surgical procedure was performed on November 26, 2015. Id. at 9. Gottleib was hospitalized at UMMC for ten days and, according to Gottleib, he underwent three surgical procedures. ECF 1 at 7. The record, however, shows two procedures were performed. (ECF 21-2).

         Gottleib claims that had he been taken for medical treatment immediately after his initial request at and his situation been "taken seriously" at BCDC he would "probably still have my scrotum." Id. at 10. He states he lost approximately one-third of his scrotum as a result of the surgeries and his scrotum is numb and disfigured. (ECF 1 at 7, 10). He also claims his penis is numb. He expresses concern that "[t]his is going to have a negative effect on my sex life for the remainder of my life." Id. at 10.

         Gottleib returned to BCDC on December 1, 2015, where he was placed in the medical isolation unit. UMMC medical staff prescribed antibiotics and pain medications for Gottleib. He also had a Jackson-Pratt (JP) drain in place at the surgery site which needed to be emptied every eight hours. A silver dressing covering the affected area needed to be kept in place for seven days unless it became soiled, (ECF 16-2 ¶ 7; ECF 21-2 at 2, 3; ECF 24-1 ¶ 11). Gottleib was monitored by BCDC medical staff who noted his condition continued improving; he had no infection and his pain was lessening, (ECF 16-2 ¶ 8). BCDC nursing staff on every shift noted that Gottleib's drain was checked and drainage amounts, if any, were recorded. The dressing was reported dry. On December 3, 2015, reinforcement tape was applied. (ECF 24-1 ¶ 11). On December 6, 2015, a clean dressing was applied. The medical note read: "[D]ressings were soiled, so they were changed. There was not fluid to empty from the JP drain. Drain was intact and squeezed to promote suction." Id. The dressings were changed again on December 7 and December 8, 2015, after medical providers examined the wound site for healing and sutures. Id. Gottleib complains the isolation unit was an unsanitary environment for a post-surgical patient with a drain and stitches. He describes the unit as "filthy' and without a working toilet. Gottleib had to use a toilet down the hall. Id. at 8.

         On December 9, 2015, Gottleib was returned to UMMC for follow-up. UMMC medical staff removed the JP drain and his external stitches. (ECF 24-3; ECF 1 at 8). Gottleib's UMMC medical record reports the left and right scrotal closures healed well. (ECF 24-3 at 1). No further follow-up was required. Id. at 2.

         On December 11, 2015, Gottleib was assigned to a BCDC medical ward. (ECF-1 at 8). Gottleib also describes the medical ward as unsanitary but provides no supporting factual allegations. Id.

         On December 22, 2015, Nurse Practitioner Zeiders examined Gottleib after he submitted a sick call request complaining of drainage at the surgical area. (ECF 24-1 ¶ 6). Zeiders observed a small amount of yellow drainage and no swelling around the wound. He concluded the site was healing and was not infected. Zeiders was unable to see, but felt a suture in the left scrotum. Zeiders cleansed the wound in the left pubis area with saline, covered the wound with a band aid, prescribed Tylenol 650 mg. for five days, and referred Gottleib to Dr. El Bedawi for removal of the suture. (ECF 24-1 ¶ 7). The stitches removed at BCDC were absorbable internal stitches because Gottleib's external stitches had already been removed at UMMC. Id.

         On December 24, 2015, Gottleib reported his scrotum was sore and there was leakage at the surgical site. (ECF 1 at 9). The BCDC Defendants indicate Gottleib filed a sick call slip early in the morning on December 25, 2015. He was called to the medical unit on December 26, 2015 at 6:35 am. (ECF 24-1 ¶ 8). He refused to be seen or to sign a refusal of treatment form. Id.

         On December 27, 2015, Gottleib went to the BCDC medical unit and Nurse Practitioner Levy-Still removed several stitches that were irritating his skin. Levy-Still prescribed an antibiotic (amoxicillin) and an anti-inflammatory medication for Gottleib. ECF 16-2 ¶ 11; ECF 24-1 ¶ 9. The medical notes from that visit read:

Inmate came to medical with c/o drainage and blood from scrotum and possibly stitches left in groin from surgery secondary to Fournier Gangrene. Upon further examination, I noted three deep stitches that were probably supposed to be absorbable stitches but were very hard and rigid to touch. Inmate had purulent drainage from the sutured site and a macular, popular rash in the groin and scrotum area. Because the site was healing nicely, I clipped the 3 very tight sutures because they were actually digging into his skin and causing irritation.

         ECF 24-1 ¶ 9.

         Gottleib complains received all three doses of antibiotic medication within a six to eight hour period instead of the ...

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