United States District Court, D. Maryland
L. Russell, III United States District Judge.
MATTER is before the Court on Defendants Jason Clem, M.D.
(“Dr. Clem”) and Angela Frey, R.N.'s
(“Nurse Frey”) (collectively, the “Medical
Defendants”) Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative,
Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 17).Also pending
before the Court is Defendants Captain Shytina Drummond and
CO II Daniel Price's (collectively, the “State
Defendants”) Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative,
Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 31). The Motions are
ripe for disposition, and no hearing is necessary.
See Local Rule 105.6 (D.Md. 2016). For the reasons
outlined below, the Court will grant both Motions.
Ian Brown is a state inmate currently confined at the Eastern
Correctional Institution (“ECI”) in Westover,
Maryland. (Compl. at 1, ECF No. 1). On March 28, 2016, Brown
reported to the medical department complaining he had been
vomiting continuously for the previous two days.
(Id. at 5; Defs.' Mot. Dismiss Ex. 4 at 2-3, ECF
No. 17-4). The nurse instructed Brown to avoid eating until
he had stopped vomiting for twenty-four hours, drink small
sips of water, and remain on bed rest for three days.
(Defs.' Mot. Dismiss Ex. 4 at 3). She advised Brown to
return to the medical department if he did not improve after
three days. (Id.).
filed a “Sick Call Request/Encounter Form” on
April 10, 2016, explaining he had recently recovered from a
“virus” but was sick again. (Defs.' Reply
Opp. Mot. Dismiss Ex. 1 at 30). On April 13, 2016, a nurse
practitioner diagnosed Brown with “acute
pancreatitis” and admitted him to the prison infirmary.
(Compl. at 5; Defs.' Mot. Dismiss Ex. 4 at 5-7). While in
the infirmary, Nurse Frey administered Brown an IV for
dehydration and medicine to treat his nausea. (Defs.'
Mot. Dismiss Ex. 4 at 8). Dr. Clem examined Brown in the
infirmary on April 14, 2016. (Id. at 18-19). The
following day, Dr. Clem re-examined Brown and scheduled him
for a CT scan at Peninsula Regional Medical Center
(“PRMC”). (Id. at 24-25). Brown was
admitted to PRMC later that day. (Id. at 26-29).
at PRMC, Brown was diagnosed with a large cystic lesion
within the pancreatic head, chronic gastritis, and Hepatitis
C. (Id.). Brown underwent a surgical procedure to
treat his pancreatic condition. (Id. at 29). He was
discharged from PRMC on April 27, 2016, at which time he was
prescribed medicine for pain relief. (Id.). Upon his
release from PRMC, Brown returned to the ECI infirmary.
(Id. at 30-31). During his stay in the infirmary,
Brown received instructions for his post-surgery recovery and
was prescribed medicine for pain relief as necessary.
(Id. at 32, 38-51, 53-57). Dr. Clem evaluated Brown
again on April 29, 2016, at which time he extended
Brown's prescription for pain medicine to May 4, 2016,
and prescribed Brown 600 mg of Ibuprofen. (Id. at
36-37). Brown returned to the medical department on May 2,
2016, in an attempt to obtain some type of pain medication
for the “severe pain he was experiencing.”
(Compl. at 5). Dr. Clem evaluated brown in the infirmary at
this time, and concluded that Brown “was in stable
condition and ready to be returned to his housing without any
conditions.” (Clem Aff. ¶ 11, ECF No. 17-5). On
May 25, 2016, after being seen at the Chronic Care Clinic at
ECI, Brown's pancreatitis was deemed resolved.
(Defs.' Mot. Dismiss Ex. 4 at 62-65).
the next several months, Brown complained at times of
abdominal pain and vomiting. (Id. at 66-105). At
other times, Brown described himself as having a good
appetite, with no complaints of nausea or vomiting.
(Id. at 71-74, 76). Brown's medical providers
prescribed him various analgesic pain relievers and
pancreatic enzymes to reduce stomach gasses. (Id. at
66-105). Brown was ultimately referred to a
gastroenterologist for treatment. (Id. at 98-105).
believes he was only prescribed “placebos”
instead of pain medication. (Brown Aff. ¶ 9, ECF No.
24-1). As a result, Brown repeatedly requested to be
prescribed Tramadol. (Defs.' Mot. Dismiss Ex. 1 at 71,
80-82). Brown's medical providers declined to prescribe
him Tramadol, however, because of Brown's history of drug
abuse, Tramadol's addictive nature, and the concern over
the variety and unverified nature of Brown's symptoms.
(Id. at 72; Clem Aff. ¶ 13, 18).
filed ARP ECI-2477-16 on November 16, 2016, alleging that Dr.
Clem failed to refer him to a specialist for post-operative
complications and asserting that Clem's conduct
constituted deliberate indifference to his medical needs.
(Shumaker Decl. at 21, ECF No. 31-5). Plaintiff withdrew the
grievance on December 7, 2016. (Id. at 22).
filed ARP ECI-221-17 on January 25, 2017, alleging Nurse
Practitioner Kerpelman saw him on December 21, 2016 and
advised he needed a special diet that was not available to
ECI; that Dr. Clem would not provide him pain medication; and
voiced other complaints about the provision of health care.
(Id. at 23-24). After investigation, the grievance
was dismissed on February 22, 2107, as Plaintiff's
medical records reflected he received appropriate medical
care. (Id. at 29-37). On November 18, 2016, Brown
filed the instant complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
(2018), naming as defendants “Dr. Jason Clem, RN Angela
Frey, Captain Drummond, RN Vickie, and C/O II Price.”
(ECF No. 1).
Standard of Review
Motion to Dismiss
purpose of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is to test the sufficiency
of a complaint, ” not to “resolve contests
surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the
applicability of defenses.” King v.
Rubenstein, 825 F.3d 206, 214 (4th Cir. 2016) (quoting
Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 243-44
(4th Cir. 1999)). A complaint fails to state a claim if it
does not contain “a short and plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), or does not “state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face, ” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim is
facially plausible “when the plaintiff pleads factual
content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550
U.S. at 556). “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a
cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do
not suffice.” Id. (citing Twombly,
550 U.S. at 555). Though the plaintiff is not required to
forecast evidence to prove the elements of the claim, the
complaint must allege sufficient facts to establish each
element. Goss v. Bank of Am., N.A., 917 F.Supp.2d
445, 449 (D.Md. 2013) (quoting Walters v. McMahen,
684 F.3d 435, 439 (4th Cir. 2012)), aff'd sub
nom., Goss v. Bank of Am., NA, 546 F.App'x
165 (4th Cir. 2013).
considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court must examine the
complaint as a whole, consider the factual allegations in the
complaint as true, and construe the factual allegations in
the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Albright v.
Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 268 (1994); Lambeth v. Bd. of
Comm'rs of Davidson Cty., 407 F.3d 266, 268 (4th
Cir. 2005) (citing Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232,
236 (1974)). But, the court need not accept unsupported or
conclusory factual allegations devoid of any reference to
actual events, United Black Firefighters v. Hirst,
604 F.2d 844, 847 (4th Cir. 1979), or legal conclusions
couched as factual allegations, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
filed his Amended Complaint pro se. Pro se pleadings are
liberally construed and held to a less stringent standard
than pleadings drafted by lawyers. Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quoting Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)); accord Brown v.
N.C. Dep't of Corr., 612 F.3d 720, 722 (4th Cir.
2010). Pro se complaints are entitled to special care to
determine whether any possible set of facts would entitle the
plaintiff to relief. Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5,
9-10 (1980). But even a pro se complaint must be dismissed if
it does not allege “a plausible claim for
relief.” Forquer v. Schlee, No. RDB-12-969,
2012 WL 6087491, at *3 (D.Md. Dec. 4, 2012) (citation and
internal quotation marks omitted).
to a Motion for Summary Judgment
case, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss, or in the
Alternative, for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 28). A motion
styled as a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for
summary judgment implicates the Court's discretion under
Rule 12(d). See Kensington Vol. Fire Dept., Inc. v.
Montgomery Cty., 788 F.Supp.2d 431, 436-37 (D.Md. 2011),
aff'd sub nom. Kensington Volunteer Fire Dep't,
Inc. v. Montgomery Cty., 684 F.3d 462 (4th Cir. 2012).
This Rule provides that when “matters outside the
pleadings are ...