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Stamps v. Weber

United States District Court, D. Maryland

February 22, 2018

RUPERT STAMPS, Inmate Identification No. 443-308, SID No. 415-6306, Plaintiff,
v.
S. SHANE WEBER, JONATHAN HESS, and JOHN DOE, WCI Psychiatrist Dept., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          THEODORE D. CHUANG, United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Rupert Stamps, an inmate at Western Correctional Institution ("WCI") in Cumberland, Maryland, has filed a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. S 1983 in which he complains that he has received inadequate mental health care for depression, in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Defendants Shane Weber and Jonathan Hess have filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment That Motion is now ripe for disposition, and no hearing is necessary. See D. Md. Local R. 105.6 (2016). For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is GRANTED, and the claims against Defendant John Doe, who has yet to be served with the Complaint, are DISMISSED.

         BACKGROUND

         The material facts of this case are not in dispute. Prior to his December 18, 2015 transfer to WCI, Stamps was prescribed Lexapro to treat depression. On December 23, 2015, a psychiatrist at WCI, designated by Stamps as Defendant John Doe, renewed his Lexapro prescription. Defendant Doe, who was responsible for Stamps's mental health medication, is employed by a private mental health services provider under contract to the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. The WCI dispensary did not fill the prescription because Lexapro is a non-formulary medication. As a result, on January 6, 2016, Defendant Doe prescribed Celexa to Stamps as a substitute for Lexapro. Stamps refused the medication, citing "18 to 25" serious side effects of the drug. Supp. Compl. at 4, ECF No. 6. According to Stamps, Defendant Doe did not follow up with him about the new prescription or his general health and did not comply with WCI general procedures for care of inmates with chronic mental health conditions. Stamps has not specified the procedures to which the psychiatrist allegedly failed to adhere. Stamps further asserts that as a result of the prescription change, he was without depression medication for 18 days, causing him distress.

         Stamps filed a grievance about his prescription change. On February 4, 2016, he was seen by a regional psychiatrist in response to that grievance. At that meeting, Stamps asserted that he had been denied his medication for three weeks. He was again offered Celexa as a substitute for Lexapro, but again refused.

         On March 7, 2016, Stamps met with Defendant Hess, a Correctional Psychology Associate, about his antidepressant prescription. Hess is not licensed to prescribe medications. Stamps asserts that when he recounted his difficulties with receiving Lexapro, Hess laughed in response. Hess denies laughing at Stamps or otherwise acting in an unprofessional manner. Stamps also asserts that he asked Hess for a copy of his mental health treatment records but was refused.

         Stamps filed a grievance about the incident, prompting a meeting on March 10, 2016 with Defendant Weber, who was then the Supervisor of Psychological Services at WCI. Weber is not licensed to prescribe medications. According to Stamps, Weber informed him that he stood by Hess, whom he allegedly described as a "dear friend, " and denied Stamps's grievance. Supp. Compl. at 5. For his part, Weber asserts that he explained to Stamps that prison regulations did not permit Stamps to access his mental health records, but that he could be provided a summary of his record. According to Weber, Stamps became angry, prompting Weber to terminate the meeting.

         On March 30, 2016, Hess attempted to meet with Stamps to provide him with a treatment summary that he had prepared, but Stamps refused to meet. According to a treatment summary dated June 7, 2016, Stamps was not receiving any mental health medication at that time.

         Stamps complains that neither Weber nor Hess followed WCI general procedures for care of inmates with chronic mental health conditions, but he does not specify the procedures to which they allegedly failed to adhere. He asserts that both Weber and Hess were unprofessional in their dealings with him, an allegation that both deny, and that Weber failed adequately to supervise Hess.

         DISCUSSION

         In his Complaint under 42 U.S.C. S 1983, Stamps asserts that Weber and Hess have failed to provide him adequate mental health treatment such that they have been deliberately indifferent to his serious medical condition, in violation of his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment Stamps seeks monetary relief. In their Motion, Weber and Hess assert that Stamps's claim should be dismissed, or summary judgment entered in their favor, because Stamps has failed to state and establish a viable Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claim. Defendant John Doe, the WCI psychiatrist who initially prescribed Stamps Lexapro and then changed that prescription to Celexa, has not been served with the Complain..

         I. Legal Standard

         Defendants Weber and Hess have moved to dismiss Stamps's Complaint for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) or, in the alternative, for summary judgment under Rule 56. Where, as here, the nonmoving party has not made a persuasive case that discovery is required, the record appears to be complete, and there is no dispute between the parties on the material elements of the record, it is appropriate to consider Defendants' Motion as a motion for summary judgment See Pisano v. Strach, 743 F.3d 927, 931 (4th Cir. 2015) (noting that a court should hesitate to proceed to summary judgment when there is "necessary information" that might be obtained in discovery); Harrods Ltd. v. Sixty Internet Domain Names, 302 F.3d 214, 244 (4th Cir. 2002) (stating that if a non-moving party believes that further discovery is necessary before consideration of summary judgment that party must file a Rule 56(d) affidavit, and "the failure to file an affidavit ... is itself sufficient grounds to reject a claim that the opportuntty for discovery was inadequate") (citations omitted).

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), the Court grants summary judgment if the moving party demonstrates there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). In assessing the Motion, the Court views the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, with all justifiable inferences drawn in its favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). The Court may rely only on facts supported in the record, not simply assertions in the pleadings. Bouchat v. Bait. Ravens Football Club, Inc.,346 F.3d 514, 522 (4th Cir. 2003). The nonmoving party has the burden to show a genuine dispute on a material fact. Matsushtta Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986). A fact is "material" if it "might affect the outcome of the suit under the ...


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