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Watkins v. Secretary of Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services

United States District Court, D. Maryland

August 9, 2018

JOVAN WATKINS #438146, Plaintiff,
v.
THE SECRETARY OF DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY AND CORRECTIONAL SERVICES, MCI-J D.O.C. STAFF, STEPHEN T. MOYER, Secretary DPSCS, TIKAYE PARKER, CAPTAIN LILLY, LT. BROWN, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          James K. Bredar Chief Judge

         Self-represented Plaintiff Jovan Watkins, presently incarcerated at Eastern Correctional Institution in Westover, Maryland, brings this civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants, Secretary Stephen T. Moyer, Tikaye Parker, and Lieutenant Janice Brown.[1] See ECF No. 1. Through the Complaint filed on April 26, 2017, and supplemented on May 10, 2017, Watkins alleges that when he was housed at the Maryland Correctional Institution-Jessup (“MCI-J”), Defendants violated his Eighth Amendment right, as well as their own policy and procedures, by refusing to escort him to the medical unit for treatment, as had been directed by a treating physician for a “serious medical need.” Id. at p. 4; ECF No. 6. He seeks $550, 000 in monetary damages. Id. at p. 8.

         On December 21, 2017, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 30. Watkins filed a response on January 4, 2018. ECF No. 32. After review of the record, exhibits, and applicable law, the Court deems a hearing unnecessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). Defendants' Motion shall be construed as a Motion for Summary Judgment and shall be granted.[2]

         Background

         Watkins states that on June 11, 2015, he was transferred from the Baltimore City Detention Center to MCI-J. ECF No. 1, p. 4.[3] While making his bed at MCI-J, he cut the middle finger on his right hand. Id. Watkins had an urgent visit with a medical provider on June 19, 2018, at which time his finger appeared slightly swollen with some blood. ECF No. 30-2, p. 6.

         On June 30, 2015, while Watkins was housed in general population, he saw Dr. Brenda Hall at “K-Hospital” in MCI-J. Id. at p. 13. A culture was taken from the injured site and Watkins was given a 30-day pass to go to K-Hospital for treatment and dressing changes. Id. at p. 14. Watkins asserts that he followed the medical instructions while in general population. ECF No. 1, p. 4.

         On July 10, 2015, the culture came back positive for MRSA.[4] ECF No. 30-2, p. 16. As a result, Dr. Hall placed Watkins on “social isolation” in H-Unit. Id. Dr. Hall's notes from the medical visit indicated a plan that included daily dressing changes and a follow-up appointment in five days. Id. However, the “Medical Assignment” form that was issued by the medical provider directed MCI-J staff only to “provide single cell for ‘Social Isolation' until medically cleared.” Id. at p. 30. The form was silent as to the need for dressing changes.

         Watkins alleges that, from July 10, 2015 through July 15, 2015, MCI-J staff at H-Unit refused to escort him to K-Hospital for dressing changes and treatment. ECF No. 1, p. 5. He also alleges that, from July 10, 2015 through July 14, 2015, H-Unit staff refused to let him shower and did not provide running water to his cell for him to wash his hands. Id. Watkins claims that he was in pain from July 10, 2015 through July 15, 2015, and his finger was swollen and smelled rotten. Id. He alleges that he requested to see a supervisor, and spoke to Defendant Parker. Id. After he told Parker about H-Unit staff's refusal to escort him to K-Hospital, he still was not escorted to medical by H-Unit staff. Id.

         Watkins alleges that he continued to ask to be escorted to medical by H-Unit staff at MCI-J and was denied. Id. at pp. 5-6. He claims that he spoke with Captain Lilly and still was not taken to medical. Id. at p. 6. Watkins's Supplement references Defendant Brown, and alleges that she spoke with him but that he was still not taken to the medical department. ECF No. 6, p. 4.

         According to Watkins, Dr. Hall was informed about the situation on July 15, 2015, at which time she came to see that Watkins was placed in a cell that had running water, given a shower, and escorted to K-Hospital for the treatment and dressing change. ECF No. 1, p. 6. Dr. Hall's notes from that visit indicated that the “finger has shown improvement.” ECF No. 30-2, p. 19. She implemented a plan that included daily dressing changes, daily showers, and a follow-up appointment in five days. Id. In addition, a “Medical Assignment” form was issued directing MCI-J staff to “take patient to medical for daily dressing change” in the afternoons, and to “allow [patient] daily showers until off ‘social isolation.'” Id. at p. 29.

         Watkins had a follow-up examination on July 24, 2015, and the MRSA infection was noted to have resolved. Id. at pp. 24-25. In his Complaint, Watkins claims that he suffered permanent damage to the middle finger of his right hand. ECF No. 1, pp. 7-8.

         Watkins filed several requests for administrative remedy regarding the situation. See generally ECF No. 30-3. Initially, Watkins filed Administrative Remedy Procedure (“ARP”) MCI-J-0744-15 on July 10, 2015. Id. at p. 4. Because it contained multiple issues, ARP MCI-J-0744-15 was denied on July 22, 2015, and Watkins was instructed to resubmit. Id. Watkins resubmitted his request on August 1, 2015, alleging that he was not provided safe housing and was denied proper medical treatment from July 10, 2015, to July 15, 2015. Id. at p. 3. After an investigation, Watkins's request was denied on September 14, 2015, with the following response:

You were treated appropriately by medical for the infection in your finger. You were provided medication, dressing changes and follow up. Medical cannot address the issue with the linens. If you require additional medical intervention please follow the facility sick call process.

Id.

         Before the Warden issued the response, Watkins filed an appeal on August 9, 2015, stating that he had not received a response to his request. Id. at p. 12. At that time, the appeal was dismissed and Watkins was directed to resubmit the appeal by September 5, 2015, along with an original copy of MCI-J-0744-15. Id. Watkins did not resubmit the appeal until September 15, 2015, at which time it was dismissed for failure to resubmit by the due date given. Id. at p. 11.

         Subsequently, Watkins filed a complaint with the Inmate Grievance Office, and an administrative hearing was held on January 7, 2016. Id. at p. 17. On March 17, 2016, the administrative hearing officer denied and dismissed Watkins's grievance after concluding that Watkins failed to establish the MCI-J staff improperly kept him from visiting the prison medical unit from July 11, 2015, until July 15, 2015. Id. at p. 24. The administrative hearing officer also found that ...


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