United States District Court, D. Maryland
THEODORE D. CHUANG, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Christopher Taylor, currently confined at Maryland
Correctional Training Center ("MCTC",, is
bilaterally hearing impaired, with profound hearing loss in
his left ear and severe hearing loss in his right ear. Taylor
has filed suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 9 1983 ("9
1983") against MCTC; Wexford Health Sources, Inc.
("Wexford",, the health services provider for MCTC;
and individual Wexford medical staff asserting that they
violated his constitutional rights by failing adequately to
treat his hearing loss, at times by failing to provide him
with any hearing aids, and at other times by failing to
provide him with hearing aids for both ears. MCTC has filed a
Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary
Judgment. Wexford and the individual medical staff defendants
(collectively, "the Wexford Defendants") have also
filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for
Summary Judgment. Those motions are now ripe for disposition,
and no hearing is necessary. See D. Md. Local R.
105.6 (2016). For the reasons set forth below, MCTC's
Motion is granted, and the Wexford Defendants' Motion is
granted in part and denied in part.
2010, Taylor informed the MCTC medical provider, at that time
a company other than Wexford, that he was essentially deaf in
his left ear and hearing impaired in his right ear. He asked
to be provided with hearing aids. In July 2010, Taylor was
referred to an audiologist. Seven months later, in March
2011, he was fitted with a hearing aid for his right ear. In
October 2011, Taylor was transferred from MCTC to Patuxent
Institution ("Patuxent"). In approximately February
2012, Patuxent medical staff inadvertently broke Taylor's
hearing aid while trying to clean it. Taylor made multiple
unsuccessful requests to have the hearing aid replaced.
Throughout this time period, Taylor also repeatedly requested
a second hearing aid, for his left ear.
22, 2012, after having no working hearing aid for at least
three months, Taylor was transferred back to MCTC. Although
his MCTC medical intake paperwork stated that he was hearing
impaired and needed hearing aids, Taylor did not receive
hearing aids upon his return. Taylor then began to make
repeated requests for a replacement for his broken right
hearing aid, explaining that he could not hear announcements
by correctional officers and was missing meals because he
could not hear meal calls.
1, 2012, Wexford became the MCTC medical services provider.
On July 12, 2012, Taylor was seen by Wexford staff, who
ordered a referral for an audiology consultation. On July 18,
2012, Defendant Dr. Contah Nimely examined Taylor and
concluded that he had a bilateral hearing impairment, with
the hearing loss more severe in his left ear than in his
right. Taylor told Dr. Nimely that he had had no working
hearing aid for several months and that he had difficulty
communicating without hearing aids.
October 3, 2012, Dr. Ross Cushing, an audiologist, examined
Taylor. Dr. Cushing determined that Taylor's right
hearing aid was damaged beyond repair and recommended
authorization for a new one. On November 2, 2012, Taylor
asked Defendant Janine Griffith, P.A. about the status of his
hearing aids. On November 30, 2012, Dr. Nimely approved the
issuance of one hearing aid to Taylor. He received that
hearing aid on December 17, 2012. At Taylor's request,
Dr. Cushing fitted the hearing aid for his left ear.
in February 2013, Taylor again began to ask about receiving a
second hearing aid, based in part on his belief that the
audiologist would be repairing and returning the damaged
right hearing aid. On February 18, 2013, after Taylor asked
Griffith about the second hearing aid, she consulted with
"central consult coordinators"" who informed
her that Taylor would receive only one hearing aid. Wexford
Mot. Dismiss Ex. 1 ("Wexford R.") at 21, ECF No.
27-1. On June 17, 2013, Taylor told Defendant Richard
Sampong, P.A., during an examination, that he wanted his
right hearing aid back and that he had difficulty hearing
without the second aid. On August 21, 203,, medical personnel
decided to consult with an audiologist to address the issue
of Taylor's right hearing aid.
December 11, 2013, Taylor was again seen by Dr. Cushing. When
Taylor expressed his frustrations about not having two
hearing aids, Dr. Cushing informed Taylor that only one
hearing aid had been authorized. Nevertheless, Dr. Cushing
recommended, "Consider giving inmate second hearing
aid." Wexford R. at 30. On December 16, however, an
update to Taylor's medical records instructed medical
staff to "clarify" with Taylor that the Department
of Corrections "only provides one aid."
Id. at 31.
March 30, 2014, Taylor reported problems with his single
hearing aid. On April 5, 2014, Taylor told Griffith that the
left hearing aid was not working even after a battery change.
At a May 28, 2014 sick-call visit, Taylor informed medical
staff that his left hearing aid was still not working and
complained that he had not been allowed to use amplification
devices that his family had sent because he had not had a
working hearing aid for a long period of time. The following
day, Defendant Lora Cole, R.N. cleaned the hearing aid and
replaced the battery, but the aid still would not work. Cole
told Taylor that an audiology consultation had been
5, 2014, Taylor attended a patient care conference with Cole,
another medical staff member, the MCTC warden, and another
prison representative. At that meeting, the Warden approved
Taylor's use of the amplification devices sent by his
family until Taylor's hearing aid was repaired, and the
parties discussed the possibility of an expedited audiologist
consultation. On June 18, 2014, Dr. Cushing met with Taylor
and repaired his left hearing aid. Based on that same
examination, Dr. Cushing stated in his report, "I
recommend a second hearing aid for his right ear." Am.
Compl. Ex. 1 at 2, ECF No. 4-1. Dr. Cushing also recommended
that, although the devices provided to Taylor by his family
did not provide adequate amplification, Taylor should be
allowed to keep and use one of those devices. Dr.
Cushing's June 2014 report, however, did not result in
Taylor receiving a second hearing aid.
March 26, 2015, when Taylor again began to report problems
with his left hearing aid, Defendant Rebecca Barnhart, R.N.
requested an audiology referral. On April 7, 2015, Defendant
Kelly Murray, P.A. again ordered an audiology referral for
Taylor. On May 8, 2015, Taylor again saw Barnhart to ask
about the status of his audiology referral. Barnhart put in
another request for a consultation. Finally, on July 2, 2015,
Dr. Cushing saw Taylor and concluded that the left hearing
aid was in complete disrepair and had to be replaced. On July
9, 2015, Taylor saw Defendant Matthew Carpenter, P.A. to ask
about the status of his replacement hearing aid. In response,
Carpenter requested another audiology consultation.
August 7, 2015, Taylor filed his original Complaint in this
case. A few days later, on August 13, 2015, Taylor received
his replacement left hearing aid from Dr. Cushing. On
September 3, 2015, Taylor reported to medical staff that his
hearing aid was not functioning properly at work, where he is
in close proximity to heavy machinery. On September 14, 2015,
based on Taylor's report that he needed the settings on
his hearing aid adjusted, Murray requested an audiology
consultation. On December 9, 2015, Taylor was seen by Dr.
Cushing, who adjusted the device. At that session, Taylor
again requested a second hearing aid.
March 3, 2016, Taylor reported that his hearing aid had again
stopped working, and an audiology consultation was ordered.
On April 26, 2016, Wexford was served with Taylor's
Amended Complaint in this case. On May 19, 2016, Dr. Dolph
Druckman, on behalf of Wexford, conducted a review of
Taylor's file to "facilitate ongoing care for claim
of hearing loss." Wexford R. at 65. After noting that
Taylor had a February 2011 audiogram showing profound hearing
loss in his left ear and severe hearing loss in his right
ear, and that Taylor had repeatedly requested a working
hearing aid as well as a second hearing aid, Dr. Druckman
recommended that a new audiogram be conducted. He recommended
against authorizing a second hearing aid "[u]nless there
is a current Audiological opinion (objectively based) that a
second aid is necessary." Id.
following day, on May 20, 2016, Dr. Cushing saw Taylor again
and repaired the left hearing aid. In his report, Dr. Cushing
noted that in addition to the February 2011 audiogram which
had prompted the original issuance of a hearing aid, he had
also performed an audiogram on Taylor in December 2012, when
he had first fitted Taylor for a hearing aid, which revealed
that Taylor's hearing loss was "more
symmetrical." Wexford R. at 66. As part of his May 20,
2016 examination, Dr. Cushing performed a third audiogram,
which showed "severe bilateral mixed hearing loss,
" results that were "consistent" with the 2012
test results. Id. Based on these test results, Dr.