United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
J. HAZEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Smith, an inmate committed to the custody of the Department
of Public Safety and Correctional Services, brings this civil
rights Complaint alleging inadequate medical treatment after
sustaining a spider bite. ECF No. 4. Defendant Wexford Health
Sources, Inc. ("Wexford") moves to dismiss the
Complaint or in the alternative for summary judgment. ECF No.
12. Smith was advised of his right to file an opposition to
the motion and of the consequences of failing to do so,
see ECF No. 13, but has not opposed the dispositive
motion. No. hearing is required to resolve the matter.
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 and the Complaint as
to the unserved, unnamed defendants shall be dismissed
without further service attempts being made.
alleges that on October 3, 2016, at 8:40 a.m., he reported
being bitten by a spider to Officer W. Hazzard, who contacted
medical staff on Smith's behalf. ECF No. 4 at
Smith states that Hazzard was concerned because Smith's
"body was extremely hot and the surrounding area around
[his] knee and leg had sw[olle]n up and [he] could b[are]ly
walk." Id. Smith claims that, when Hazzard
called medical, he spoke with Sgt. Nhem who provided
assurances that she would have Smith called up to medical
after the nurse returned from rounds on the disciplinary
segregation unit. Id. At 10:15 a.m., when "pill
call" was announced for Smith's housing unit, he
walked to the medical unit with assistance and asked
"Nurse Jessica" if someone was going to see him for
the spider bite. Id. Jessica confirmed with Nhem
that Smith's name was on a list of people to be seen and
asked to see the area where Smith had been bitten. After
Smith showed the nurse and Nhem where he had been bitten, he
returned to his housing unit. Id.
had not been seen by 12:20 p.m., and Hazzard called the
medical unit again on Smith's behalf. Nhem again
reassured Hazzard and Smith that Smith was on a list to be
seen and would be called up for an examination when time
allowed. Id. at 1-2. Smith had still not been seen
when the "4 to 12 shift came in" so he explained
the problem to Officer Tyler. Id. at 2. Tyler called
the medical unit at 6:15 p.m. and he was told to call back in
20 minutes. Id. When no return call was received,
Tyler called again at 9:20 p.m., but he was told again to
call back in 20 minutes. Id.
the reassurances Smith received, he claims he was not seen
for treatment of his spider bite until October 6, 2016, when
he was seen by a nurse. Id. Smith claims the
"only reason" he was seen that day was that he
spoke again with Jessica and told her he had never been seen
even though he had been told numerous times he would be
called up. Id. Smith states that he lifted his
pant-leg to show Jessica the knee where he had been bitten
and claims that at this time it was "leaking yellow,
brown and green stuff out of it." Id. Upon
seeing Smith's leg, he claims Jessica stopped pill call
and told Sgt. Nhem to add Smith as a sick call. Id.
Smith states that when he was finally seen for the bite he
had the wound checked, cleaned, and re-bandaged and was given
Motrin, but no antibiotics for the infection. Id. at
2-3. Smith claims that when he reported for wound dressing on
October 8, 2016, "Nurse Jill" refused to provide it
because Officer Marshall told her not to do so. Id.
at 3. Smith claims that Jill knew he was supposed to be
treated, but she told him she could not see him that day.
asserts that Smith has failed to allege that he required
medical treatment for a serious medical need and that, in any
event, he received appropriate medical care. ECF No. 12.
Wexford further asserts that Smith never submitted a sick
call slip regarding the alleged spider bite, despite his
assertion otherwise. ECF No. 12-3 (Sick Call Slip Records).
Smith was seen on October 6, 2016, and the Progress Note
indicates that his left knee showed signs of infection
including swelling, pain and drainage. ECF No. 12-4. The area
was cleaned with antiseptic soap and water, and Smith was
educated on wound care. Id. An order for wound check
and dressing change was written for the following three days,
and Smith was prescribed Motrin and warm compresses for the
pain. Id. Smith was further instructed to put in a
sick call slip if the symptoms worsened. Id.
Medication administration records indicate that Smith
received treatment for the following three days. ECF No.
12-5. His wound was checked and the dressing was changed on
October 7, 8, and 9, 2016. Id. On October 10, 2016,
the wound was noted as "healed." Id.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
motion is styled as a Motion to Dismiss, or in the
Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment. If the Court
considers materials outside the pleadings, the Court must
treat a motion to dismiss as one for summary judgment.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d). When the Court treats a motion to dismiss
as a motion for summary judgment, "[a]ll parties must be
given a reasonable opportunity to present all the material
that is pertinent to the motion." Id. When the
moving party styles its motion as a "Motion to Dismiss,
or in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment, " as is the
case here, and attaches additional materials to its motion,
the nonmoving party is, of course, aware that materials
outside the pleadings are before the Court, and the Court can
treat the motion as one for summary judgment. See
Laughlin v. Metropolitan Wash. Airports Auth., 149 F.3d
253, 260-61 (4th Cir. 1998). Further, the Court is not
prohibited from granting a motion for summary judgment before
the commencement of discovery. See Fed. R. Civ. P.
56(a) (stating that the court "shall grant summary
judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute
as to any material fact" without distinguishing pre-or
Judgment is governed by Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a), which provides
that "[t]he 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." The Supreme Court has clarified that
this does not mean that any factual dispute will defeat the
motion. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986) ("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, (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 fac s showing that there is a genuine issue for
trial."' Bouchot v. Baltimore Ravens Football
Club, Inc., 346 F.3d 514, 522 (4th Cir. 2003)
(alteration in original) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)). The
court should "view the evidence in the lighl 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., 250 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)).
Smith alleges that he was denied adequate and timely medical
care, the record shows that his treatment complied with that
required by the Eighth Amendment. The Eighth Amendment
prohibits "unnecessary and wanton infliction of
pain" by virtue of its guarantee against cruel and
unusual punishment. Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153,
173 (1976). "Scrutiny under the Eighth Amendment is not
limited to those punishments authorized by statute and
imposed by a criminal judgment." De 'Lonta v.
Angelone, 330 F.3d 630, 633 (4th Cir. 2003) (citing
Wilson v. Setter, 501 U.S. 294, 297 (199L)). In
order to state an Eighth Amendment claim for denial of
medical care, a plaintiff must demcnstrate that the actions
of the defendants or their failure to act amounted to
deliberate indifference to a serious medical need. See
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976).
"Deliberate indifference is a very high standard a
showing of mere negligence will not meet it."
Grayson v. Peed, 195 F.3d 692, 695-96 (4th Cir.
indifference to a serious medical need requires proof that,
objectively, the prisoner plaintiff was suffering from a
serious medical need and that, subjectively, the prison staff
was aware of the need for medical attention but failed to
either provide it or ensure the needed care was available.
See Farmer v. Brennan,511 U.S. 825, 837 (1994).
Objectively, the medical condition at issue must be serious.
See Hudson v. McMillian,503 U.S. 1, 9 (1992) (there
is no expectation that prisoners will be provided with
unqualified access to health care). A medical condition is
serious when it is "one that has been diagnosed by a
physician as mandating treatment or one that is so obvious
that even a lay person would easily recognize the necessity
for a doctor's attention." Iko v. Shreve,535 F.3d 225, 241 (4th Cir. 2008), see also Scinto v.
Stansberry,841 F.3d 219, 228 (4th Cir. 2016) (failure