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Jiron v. Clem

United States District Court, D. Maryland

June 2, 2017

ELMER A. GAL VAN JIRON, #332595 Plaintiff,


          Ellen L. Hollander United States District Judge.

         On October 20, 2016, plaintiff Elmer Galvan Jiron, [1] a self-represented inmate incarcerated at the Eastern Correctional Institution ("ECI"), filed a civil rights action against Wexford Health Sources, Inc. ("Wexford"), the private health care contractor serving inmates in the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, and Dr. Jason Clem, the Medical Director at ECI (hereinafter, "Medical Defendants"). In the suit, filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, plaintiff seeks monetary compensation and injunctive relief, i.e., referral to an eye specialist and enforcement of all instructions and prescribed medicines. ECF 1 at 4.

         The Medical Defendants have filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alterative, a motion for summary judgment. ECF 10. It is supported by a legal memorandum (ECF 10-3)[2] (collectively, "Motion") and a number of exhibits.[3] Pursuant to the dictates of Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975), on January 11, 2017, the Clerk of Court informed Galvan Jiron that defendants had filed a dispositive motion; that Galvan Jiron had seventeen days in which to file a written opposition; and that if he failed to respond, the claim against Wexford and Clem could be dismissed, without further notice. ECF 13. Galvan Jiron was granted two extensions of time in which to respond, and he filed an opposition on April 3, 2017 (ECF 19, "Opposition"), along with exhibits, including his own Affidavit. ECF 19-1 at 3-4. The Medical Defendants filed a reply. ECF 20.

         The matter is ready for disposition, and no hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons that follow, I shall construe the Motion as one for summary judgment and GRANT it.

         I. Factual Background

         Galvan Jiron alleges that on or about June 11, 2014, he began to experience a severe eye disorder, resulting in his referral to an eye specialist, "Dr. Summerville." The doctor performed an operation and prescribed specific medicine and instructions to be carried out by the medical department. Plaintiff complains that the medical department did not adhere to the instructions or provide prescribed items (sunglasses, pain medication, and eye drops), he was subjected to severe pain, and he is losing his vision. ECF 1 at 4. Further, plaintiff claims that he sought additional treatment from Dr. Clem and asserts that defendants have been deliberately indifferent to his medical needs. Id.

         The Medical Defendants' materials indicate that Galvan Jiron is a 46-year old male with a medical history significant for pterygium, [4] esophageal disease, constipation, and backache. ECF 10-5, Clem Aff. Dated January 10, 2017[5] On April 30, 2014, while plaintiff was housed at North Branch Correctional Institution ("NBCI"), he was seen by an ophthalmologist, Dr. Michael Summerfield, due to Galvan Jiron's complaints concerning his right eye. Id. ¶ 5. Galvan Jiron reported that he was provided eye drops, but he was not taking them because they did not help. Id. His uncorrected vision in his right eye was 20/20 and 20/25 in his left eye. Dr. Summerfield recommended removal of the pterygium. Galvan Jiron was prescribed Visine-A[6] at that time. Id.

         On June 11, 2014, Galvan Jiron was transferred to the Western Maryland Health System for pterygium removal, with autograft in the right eye, to be performed by Dr. Summerfield. Id. ¶ 6. Galvan Jiron was informed of the risks of the surgery, including blindness or loss of the eye. Id. A local anesthetic was injected and "the pterygium was excised in its entirety." Id. "A graft was then sewn into place over the excised defect." Id. Post-operative drops of Pred Forte and Vigamox[7] were applied and "the eye was patched and shielded." Id; ECF 12 at 18-25. Galvan Jiron was taken to the recovery room. No new medications for the eye were prescribed. Dr. Summerfield was to see Galvan Jiron the following day. ECF 10-5, ¶ 6; ECF 12 at 28-33.

         Galvan Jiron was returned to the Western Correctional Institution on June 12, 2014, and admitted to the infirmary for twenty-four-hour observation. ECF 10-5, Clem Aff, ¶ 7; ECF 12 at 1. He was seen by Delores Adams, R.N., that same day for a complaint of discomfort in his right eye associated with photophobia (abnormal intolerance to light). ECF 10-5, ¶ 7. Adams was unable to inspect the eye due to Galvan Jiron's refusal to open it. Id. Galvan Jiron denied nausea, was able to ambulate independently, and was able to perform his daily living activities without assistance. Id; ECF 12 at 2-3.

         Galvan Jiron was also seen by Dr. Summerfield on June 12, 2014. ECF 10-5, ¶ 8. The ophthalmologist noted that Galvan Jiron's right eye was in '"excellent condition'" and that his uncorrected visual acuity for his left eye was 20/60. Id. Dr. Summerfield noted that plaintiff was ready to be discharged from the infirmary and returned to general population at NBCI. Id; see also ECF 12 at 36.

         On June 14, 2014, Galvan Jiron was seen by Dr. Colin Ottey for a provider visit related to his recent eye surgery. ECF 10-5, ¶ 9. He reported pain and blurred vision. Dr. Ottey noted that Galvan Jiron was photophobic and that he would discuss Galvan Jiron's symptoms with Dr. Summerfield. Id. He ordered Galvan Jiron medically assigned to receive meals in his cell for two weeks. Id; ECF 12 at 6-7. On June 18, 2014, Galvan Jiron was provided a bottle of artificial tears by Kristi Cortez, R.N. ECF 12 at 6-8.

         On June 26, 2014, Galvan Jiron was seen by Nurse Practitioner Janette Clark for complaints of eye pain. ECF 12 at 9-11; ECF 10-5, ¶ 10.[8] She noted that Galvan Jiron had recently had surgery on his right eye and that his sclera was reddened. In addition to his Visine- A, Galvan Jiron was prescribed Pred Forte and artificial tears. His feed-in medical assignment was extended for thirty days, he was provided an eye patch, and he was instructed to tape the eye shut while wearing the patch. Galvan Jiron was referred to Dr. Summerfield for a follow-up visit. ECF 10-5, Clem Aff, ¶ 10; ECF 12 at 9-11.

         Dr. Summerfield saw plaintiff on July 9, 2014. ECF 10-5, ¶ 11. His uncorrected visual acuity in the right eye was 20/200 and 20/20 in his left eye. Id. The corrected vision in the right eye was 20/25. Id. Dr. Summerfield noted that Galvan Jiron's right eye was "doing well." Id; ECF 12 at 37. Moreover, his "poor visual acuity in his right eye was an expected temporary result" of the surgery. ECF 10-5, ¶ 11.

         Dr. Summerfield again examined plaintiff on August 13, 2014. ECF 10-5, ¶ 13; ECF 12 at 38. His uncorrected visual acuity in his right eye was 20/30 and it was 20/20 in left eye. Id; ECF 12 at 38.

         On August 28, 2014, [9] Galvan Jiron was examined by the prison optometrist for eyeglasses. His uncorrected visual acuity was 20/40 in his right eye and 20/25 in his left eye. His corrected visual acuity in both eyes was 20/25. A prescription for glasses was submitted. ECF 12 at 39-40; see also ECF 10-5, ¶ 12.

         On January 15, 2015, and again on April 21, 2015, plaintiff was seen by the prison optometrist. His corrected vision in both eyes was 20/20. Id. ¶¶ 15, 16. There was no notation that he complained of eye pain during the optometry visits. Id.; ECF 12 at 46-49.

         The Medical Defendants allege that Galvan Jiron "voiced no complaints related to his eye between August 13, 2014 and June 4, 2015, " when he submitted a sick-call slip complaining of eye pain. ECF 10-5, Clem Aff, ¶ 14.

         On June 8, 2015, Galvan Jiron was seen by Physician's Assistant Kelly Murray for complaints related to eye pain and other issues. ECF 10-5, ¶ 17. In particular, he complained that he was having difficulty reading with his new glasses, indicating that the eyeglasses caused his left eye to strain while reading. He was referred to the optometrist. Id. He was seen by the prison optometrist on July 14, 2015. Id. ¶ 19. His corrected vision was 20/25 in both eyes. Id; ECF 12 at 50-52.

         On or around November 6, 2015, Galvan Jiron was transferred to ECI. The day after plaintiffs arrival at ECI Galvan Jiron was seen by the prison optometrist for complaints of blurry vision. His corrected vision was 20/25 in both eyes. His eyeglass prescription was updated and he was issued new prescription glasses soon after. Id., ¶ 21; ECF 12 at 53-54.

         Galvan Jiron submitted a request to see the optometrist on June 26, 2016, because his eyes were burning. ECF 20-1 at 6. He reported that he had eye surgery two years earlier and said: "I haven't seen the optometrist at all." Id. He submitted another request to see the optometrist on September 4, 2016, because he claimed his vision was getting worse. Id. at 7. He was seen by Melissa Richbank, R.N., on September 10, 2016. ECF 20-1. And, Sheila Kerpelman, N.P. also saw plaintiff on November 4, 2016, for matters unrelated to his eyes. ECF 20-2 at 2-4. On November 7, 2016, Galvan Jiron was seen by the optometrist ...

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