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Thornton v. University of Maryland Medical System

United States District Court, D. Maryland

November 2, 2016

ERIC REGINALD THORNTON, #275-106 Plaintiff



         Eric Reginald Thornton, a Maryland Division of Correction (“DOC”) prisoner housed at Jessup Correctional Institution (“JCI”), filed a self-represented civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, seeking money damages against Wexford Health Sources, Inc. (“Wexford”) and two of its officers, as well as the University of Maryland Medical System (“UMMS”) and one of its employees, Dr. Jeffery Wolf. (ECF No. 1). Thornton alleged that Wolf negligently performed surgery on his nose in 2008, and that Wexford, the DOC's contractual health care provider, has delayed treatment to correct the problem caused by the surgery. (Id.). Defendants Wexford, UMMS, and Wolf were dismissed by order dated July 5, 2016, and the case proceeded for service of process on Defendants Ashworth and Conn, solely as a civil rights action alleging a failure to provide adequate and appropriate medical care in violation of the Eighth Amendment. (ECF No. 3).

         Defendant Conn, [1] Wexford's CEO, responded to the court's service order, and has filed a motion to dismiss or in the alternative motion for summary judgment, as supplemented. (ECF No. 7). The motion is unopposed.[2] The court finds a hearing in this matter unnecessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons that follow, Defendant's motion, construed as a motion for summary judgment, shall be granted.


         Thornton seeks ten million dollars pursuant to the civil rights act, 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (ECF No. 1 at p. 5). He alleges that he suffered damage to his nasal septum due to medical negligence during a surgery at an area hospital in November of 2008. (Id. at p. 3). Thornton complains that following that surgery, “Wexford took more than 6 years to send [him] back for a follow up with a E.N.T. [ear, nose and throat] specialist” and when he saw the specialist on May 26, 2015, Thornton “had a large perforation (hole) in my septum.” (Id. at pp. 4, 5). Thornton complains that the specialist suggested surgery to close the perforation and the use of Vaseline in the area, but a “year has past [sic] and [he] was issued only one modest tube of Vaseline.” (Id. at p. 5). Thornton states he has lost his sense of smell and taste, has chronic dryness and difficulty breathing, and has developed a bleeding ulcer.[3] (Id.).

         Defendant, who is not a medical care provider, provides a different version of the care provided to Thornton, who suffers from sarcoidosis, [4] hernia, asthma, and septal perforation. On May 26, 2015, Thornton was seen by Anwar Mumtaz, M.D. at Bon Secours Hospital. (ECF No. 8 at p. 1). Dr. Mumtaz notes that Thornton had nose surgery twice, once for the septum and then for sinuses, and has a history of prescription and over-the-counter use of nasal spray. (Id.). Thornton reported frequent nose bleeds and difficulty breathing through the nose, and indicated his middle turbinates previously had been removed. (Id.). A large septal perforation was noted. (Id.). Thornton was told to use saline gel or Vaseline to keep the area moist, and informed that if he wanted surgery, it could be performed by a specialist at a tertiary care facility.[5] He was advised that the success rate for septal closure was limited. (Id.).

         On June 2, 2015, Thornton requested to view his medical records. (Id. at p. 2). On June 8, 2015, he was seen by Emmanuel Esianor, P.A. subsequent to his return from Bon Secours Hospital for treatment of a recurrent nose bleed. (Id. at p. 3). Thornton reported all had gone well, and the doctor had confirmed what he knew about septal perforation. Vaseline was ordered. (Id. at p. 4).

         On July 17, 2015, Thornton submitted a sick call request for dental assistance. (Id. at p. 5). On December 16, 2015, he was seen at the chronic care clinic for sarcoidosis, where he denied any complaints and was deemed asymptomatic. (Id. at pp. 6-7). Examination of Thornton's nose, mouth and throat showed no nasal deformity, and his mucous membranes were normal. (Id.). A non-formulary request for Vaseline was submitted, and approved. (Id. at pp. 8-9).

         On February 17, 2016, Thornton submitted a sick call request regarding headaches caused by sinus infections. (Id. at p. 10). On February 26, 2016, he was seen by Joan Bailey, R.N., then referred to a mid-level provider for treatment. (Id. at p. 11).

         On March 2, 2016, Thornton was seen by Getachew Tefferra, M.D. at the chronic care clinic. (Id. at pp. 12-13). He had no respiratory symptoms. (Id.). Thornton's Vaseline prescription was renewed to July 2, 2016 (id.), and was approved March 8, 2016. (Id. at pp. 14-15).

         On March 8, 2016, Thornton was seen by Emmanuel Esianor, P.A. at a provider sick call, where he complained of a sinus infection and was prescribed one week of 500 mg Amoxicillin. (Id. at pp. 16-17).

         On or about April 9, 2016, Thornton complained of daily nose bleeds. (Id. at p. 18). He was seen on April 23, 2016, by Oladipo Olaleye, R.N.P., and complained of chronic sinus problems, nose bleeding, and difficulty breathing with some nose pain. (Id. at pp. 19-20). Thornton was diagnosed with nasal congestion, but showed no sign of epistaxis (nose bleeds). He was prescribed saline nose spray (id.), and a consult was placed to evaluate closure of the septal perforation. (Id. at p. 21).

         On May 28, 2016, Thornton was seen by Darryl Hill, M.D. at the chronic care clinic, where he denied any pulmonary symptoms, but was noted to have a history of sinus involvement. Prescriptions f or Afrin, saline nasal sprays, and Vaseline were renewed. (Id. at pp. 22-25).

         On June 28, 2016, Thornton submitted a sick call request complaining that infected cuts and bumps were not healing fast enough. (Id. at p. 26). Two days later, on ...

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