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Henson v. McLaughlin

United States District Court, D. Maryland

August 6, 2018

JAMES A. HENSON, JR. Plaintiff
BEVERLY McLAUGHLIN, et al., Defendants


          James K. Bredar, Chief Judge

         Pending is a motion to dismiss or. in the alternative, motion for summary judgment filed by defendants Beverly McLaughlin, N.P.. Krista Self (f/n/a Swan-Bilak). N.P., Robustiano Barrera. M.D.. Ali Yahya, M.D., Janice Gilmore, R.N., Ava Joubert, M.D.. and Colin Ottey, M.D.[1] ECF 26. Plaintiff has responded (ECF 27) and defendants have replied. ECF 28. Also pending is plaintiffs Motion for Temporary Restraining Order (ECF 30)[2] and defendants' opposition. ECF 31. Upon review of the papers filed, the court finds a hearing in this matter unnecessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons stated below, defendants" dispositive motion will be GRANTED and plaintiffs motion for injunctive relief DENIED.

         I. Background

         The case was instituted upon receipt of a civil rights complaint filed by plaintiff James Henson, an inmate currently confined at the Western Correctional Institution ("WO"). ECF 1. Plaintiff named as defendants Beverly McLaughlin. N.P.. Krista Self (f/n/a Swan-Bilak). N.P., Robustiano Barrera. M.D., Ali Yahya. M.D. and Dr. Carlson. ECF 1 at 1. Plaintiff states that Nurse Practitioner Beverly McLaughlin, Krista Swan-Bilak. and Dr. Barrera denied him effective "daytime" medication for his allergies and for his "severe chronic pain." ECF 1-1 at p. 1. He claims that he requires a sling or a back brace for his pinched sciatic nerve, which causes him extreme lower back pain. Id. He states that he suffers from a "severely damaged left rotator cuff and right shoulder, left arm/hand goes limp and numb without warning." Id. He claims that he has cracked ribs, which cause him numbness. Id. He alleges that rear cuffing triples the pain. Id. He claims that defendants and unnamed prison guards deny him effective pain medication in order to "cover up year after year assaults ("murder")...." Id. Fie seeks the prescription of Ultram and Ncurontin to treat his pain, a sling, back brace. MRI. and surgery. Id.

         Since the filing of this complaint, plaintiff has filed numerous letters with the court. which were docketed as supplements to the complaint. ECF 8. 14. 15. 16, 17. 23 & 24. After the receipt of defendants' dispositive motion, he filed additional documents. ECF 32-34. Together, these documents contain a litany of plaintiffs complaints concerning the entirety of his incarceration.[3] The filings are difficult to decipher as plaintiff regularly files documents previously submitted in other cases and writes across them and around the margins. He references cases, administrative grievances, and filings dating back to the early 2000s. The tilings refer to plaintiffs numerous previously filed cases to support his allegations of regular and continuous problems with prison staff. Those complaints, to the extent they have previously been litigated, will not be considered here. Lastly, to the extent the documents refer to events occurring after the specific events complained of in plaintiffs initial complaint, they are not properly before the court and also will not be considered.

         B. Defendants' Response

         In support of their motion, defendants have submitted various exhibits, including the affidavit of Ava Joubert, M.D., and 74 pages of plaintiff s medical records. ECF 26-4 (Medical Records); ECF 26-5 (Joubert Affidavit).

         Chart updates entered by psychology staff note that throughout 2016, plaintiff was described as reflecting persecutory and delusional ideas. ECF 26-4 at pp. 1-5. He regularly refused passes for appointments, made frivolous requests and claims, and declined to talk to psychology staff. Id.

         Dr. Joubert avers that plaintiff is a 55-year-old inmate, currently housed at WCI, who suffers from hypertension and bilateral shoulder pain. ECF 26-5. ¶ 4. In 2017. it was observed that plaintiff suffered from reduced range of motion in both shoulders; however. Dr. Barrera believed plaintiff was exaggerating his symptoms. ECF 26-5, ¶ 4; ECF 26-4 at p. 15. On March 31. 2017, he was assessed by Roy Carls. M.D., an orthopedist. CF 26-4 at p. 33. Plaintiff advised Carls he was diagnosed with a rotator cuff tear after an MRI. "several years ago." Id. Dr. Carls assessed plaintiff as likely suffering from a rotator cuff tear based on his history as well as acromioclavicular ("AC") joint degenerative joint disease. Id.: ECF 26-5, ¶ 4.

         In order to treat plaintiffs reported pain, he has been prescribed a variety of medications over time, including Tylenol (325 mg and 500 mg). Motrin 800 mg. Amitriptyline Hcl, Cymbalta, muscle rub. and steroid injections. ECF 26-5. ¶ 4. ECF 26-4 at pp. 7. 11, 17. 20, 21, 26. 28. 31. 34, 37, 43, 48, 57, 60. Other than the steroid injection and Amitriptyline Hcl. plaintiff denied receiving any amelioration of his pain relief from these medications. ECF 26-5, ¶ 4; ECF 26-4 at pp. 41. 67 (reporting relief from injection). Instead, he sought the prescription of Ultram or Neurontin to treat his reported pain and admitted to medical staff that he self-medicated with those drugs. ECF 26-5, ¶ 4; ECF 26-4 at pp. 45, 54, 59. Plaintiff refused medical staffs offer to try Tegretol to alleviate pain. ECF 26-5, ¶ 4; ECF 26-4 at p. 59.

         Joubert avers that "Ultram is a narcotic-like drug not indicated for long term treatment of chronic pain. Neurontin is an anticonvulsant with secondary affects on diabetic nerve pain that is not indicated in Plaintiffs diagnosed rotator cuff tear." Id. Joubert also indicates that the use of Neurontin can "implicate reactions to alcohol use. which is a consideration for Plaintiff." Id.: see also ECF 26-4 at p. 60 (indicating plaintiffs "alcohol reduction is continuing.").

         On March 31. 2017. Dr. Carls recommended that plaintiff undergo physical therapy before returning to the orthopedist for further evaluation. ECF 26-5, ¶ 4, ECF 26-4 at pp. 20, 33. Plaintiff was referred for physical therapy (ECF 26-4 at pp. 47-48) but did not appear for his scheduled June 15, 2017, physical therapy evaluation. ECF 26-5, ¶ 4; ECF 26-4 at p. 62. There is no indication in the dispositive motion filed on October 25. 2017. that plaintiff was scheduled to return to the orthopedist for further evaluation or that another physical therapy evaluation was scheduled.

         Plaintiffs hypertension is managed and monitored in the chronic care clinic. ECF 26-5. ¶5. Joubert reports that plaintiff responded well to treatment and was taken off hypertension medication with good results. Id.; see also ECF 26-4 at pp. 26, 59. Staff considered discharging plaintiff from the chronic care clinic, but on June 13, 2017. his blood pressure was elevated. ECF 26-5, ¶ 5; ECF 26-4 at p. 59. As such, it was decided that plaintiffs hypertension would continue to be monitored in the chronic care clinic. His blood pressure is described by Joubert as generally within normal limits without the need for medication, but she notes that if his condition changes, then he will be placed back on medication. Id.

         Joubert indicates that plaintiff sought placement on a high calorie diet but as he has a body mass index that identifies him as obese, a high calorie diet is contra-indicated. ECF 26-5, ¶6; see also ECF 26-4 at p. 60 (describing plaintiffs BMI as 36 and his weight reduction ...

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