United States District Court, D. Maryland
DEBORAH K. CHASANOW, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Rivera, a self-represented litigant incarcerated at the
Western Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Maryland
(“WCI”), filed a civil rights complaint under 42
U.S.C. § 1983, claiming that he has been denied proper
medical treatment for a meniscus tear of the left knee first
diagnosed in late 2016. ECF No. 1, pp. 1-2. Rivera states
that the Commissioner of Correction Dayena Corcoran and WCI
Warden Richard Graham, Jr. failed to intervene after he
complained that employees of the prison health care provider,
Wexford Health Sources, Inc. (“Wexford”),
including Nurse Practitioner Peggy Mahler, were ignoring his
condition. Id., pp. 3-6. He seeks money damages and
declaratory relief. Id., p. 19.
Graham and Corcoran (the “Correctional
Defendants”) and Defendants Wexford and Mahler (the
“Medical Defendants”) have filed motions to
dismiss or, in the alternative, motions for summary judgment
(ECF No. 9 and ECF No. 22), which are opposed by Rivera. ECF
No. 16 and ECF No. 26. The Medical Defendants have filed a
reply to Rivera's opposition (ECF No. 27), prompting
Rivera's Surreply (ECF No. 28), which the Medical
Defendants seek to strike. ECF No. 29. After review of the
papers filed, the court finds a hearing on the pending
matters unnecessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md.
2016). For reasons outlined below, the motion filed by the
Correctional Defendants will be granted. The motion filed by
the Medical Defendants will be held in abeyance pending
submission of a status report outlining additional medical
services provided to Rivera subsequent to October, 2017.
matters outside the pleadings are presented in
Defendants' dispositive motions, they shall be considered
motions for summary judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d). Summary
Judgment is governed by Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a), which provides
The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows
that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and
the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Supreme Court has clarified that this does not mean that any
factual dispute will defeat the motion:
By its very terms, this standard provides that the mere
existence of some alleged factual dispute between
the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported
motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be
no genuine issue of material fact.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242,
247-48 (1986) (emphasis in original).
party opposing a properly supported motion for summary
judgment ‘may not rest upon the mere allegations or
denials of [his] pleadings, ' but rather must ‘set
forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue
for trial.'” Bouchat v. Baltimore Ravens
Football Club, Inc., 346 F.3d 514, 525 (4th
Cir. 2003) (alteration in original) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(e)). The court should “view the evidence in the
light most favorable to . . . the nonmovant, and draw all
inferences in her favor without weighing the evidence or
assessing the witness' credibility.” Dennis v.
Columbia Colleton Med. Ctr., Inc., 290 F.3d 639, 644-45
(4th Cir. 2002). The court must, however, also abide by the
“affirmative obligation of the trial judge to prevent
factually unsupported claims and defenses from proceeding to
trial.” Bouchat, 346 F.3d at 526 (internal
quotation marks omitted) (quoting Drewitt v. Pratt,
999 F.2d 774, 778-79 (4th Cir. 1993), and citing Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986)).
parties do not dispute that Rivera has ongoing problems with
knee pain that existed prior to his transfer to WCI. In April
2015, he complained of recurrent knee pain and was referred
for a new knee brace. ECF No. 9-4, p. 32. An x-ray ordered in
May, 2015 showed no evidence of acute fracture, dislocation
or subluxation, so knee conditioning exercises were ordered.
Id., pp. 33-36. At times, Rivera was provided a knee
brace, sleeve, crutches, and cane. Id., pp. 32, 42.
Because he suffers from elevated liver enzymes, his use of
Tylenol for pain must remain below 4 grams. Id., p.
April 25, 2016, Rivera was evaluated by WCI medical personnel
following his transfer from Roxbury Correctional Institution
(RCI). Id., pp. 60-62. He requested a left knee
brace. Id. An examination concerning his knee
indicated no acute disease; nonetheless, an elastic knee
brace was ordered, a Tylenol prescription was renewed, and a
knee-conditioning sheet was given. Id. On May 4,
2016, Rivera was referred for physical therapy and his
medication was changed. Id., pp. 63-65. On June 16,
2016, he was continued on medication, advised to avoid
running or jumping exercises, and was referred for evaluation
for steroid injection. A knee exercise sheet outlining the
exercises was provided so he could exercise on his own.
Id., pp. 66-67.
August and September, 2016, Rivera was referred for knee
injection, provided with a knee sleeve, and approved for
physical therapy. Id., pp. 68-77. On September 15,
2016, he received a physical therapy evaluation with goals to
increase quad strength and to establish a self-management
program. Id., p. 78. Rivera was recertified for
continued physical therapy sessions through December, 2016.