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Dillard v. Ashraf

United States District Court, D. Maryland

August 10, 2018

JAMES DILLARD, Plaintiff,
v.
MAHBOOB ASHRAF, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          RICHARD D. BENNETT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         The above-captioned civil rights action was filed by self-represented Plaintiff James Dillard on January 10, 2018. Dillard, an inmate currently confined at Western Correctional Institution (“WCI”), initiated this action asserting civil rights violations by Medical Defendants Mahboob Ashraf, M.D. (“Dr. Ashraf”), Brenda Reese, R.N. (“Nurse Reese”), Dennis Martin, R.N. (“Nurse Martin”), and Peggy Mahler, [1] PA/NP (“Nurse Practitioner Mahler”), of the WCI medical department (collectively “Defendants”). ECF No. 1, p. 1.[2] Dillard alleges that he was deprived by Defendants of his diabetes medication and pain medications as a form of punishment, amounting to an Eighth Amendment violation. Id.

         Now pending before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss or, Alternatively, Motion for Summary Judgment filed on April 10, 2018. ECF No. 9. Dillard was advised of his right to file a response, ECF No. 10, and he filed a Motion to Oppose Defendants' motion on June 6, 2018. ECF No. 14. Defendants filed a Reply to Plaintiff's Opposition on June 20, 2018. ECF No. 15. For the reasons stated below, the dispositive motion is construed as a motion for summary judgment[3] and IS DENIED without prejudice.

         Background

         A. Plaintiff's Allegations

         Dillard alleges that he has diabetes, neuropathy, and plantar fasciitis, [4] as well as a previous spinal injury, broken arm, and dislocated shoulder. ECF No. 1, pp. 3-4. As a result of his illnesses and injuries, Dillard has undergone multiple surgeries on his feet and arm, has screws and a deformity in his arm, walks with a cane, and required previous hospitalization which included a six-day, medically-induced coma. Id. According to Dillard, he has been declared permanently partially disabled, id., p. 4, and has taken pain medication for over five years, id., p. 5.

         Dillard alleges that on September 29, 2017, a corrections officer conducted a search of Dillard's cell and confiscated his seizure medication, Primidone, along with his diabetes medication, Metformin. ECF No. 1, p. 3. He claims that he was charged with “hoarding unauthorized medication” and “intent to sell, ” and placed on disciplinary segregation. Id. Dillard further claims that, on the same date, Nurse Reese called Dr. Ashraf to inform him that Dillard had been caught hoarding medications, and that in turn Dr. Ashraf ordered Nurse Reese to discontinue three of Dillard's medications: Primidone, for seizures; Gabapentin (Neurontin)[5], for nerve pain and neuropathy; and Tramadol, for pain caused by previous injury. Id.

         Dillard's cellmate Rodney McNeil, by affidavit, states: “On 9-29-17 . . . I observed [the o]fficer . . . confiscate all of the plaintiffs [sic] medications, including eye drops and ointments.” ECF No. 14-1, p. 1. A September 29, 2017 medical “Administrative Note” indicates that Dillard was “hoarding medication, ” and that a corrections officer found “watch take” medications in his cell, including 21 Primidone (Mysoline)[6] pills, Ultram (Tramadol)[7], and Neurontin, all of which were discontinued at that time per Dr. Ashraf's orders. ECF No. 9-2, p. 7.

         Dillard claims that he did not hoard or sell any medication, and that the Primidone pills were given to him at one time in a “blister pack” of 30 pills. ECF No. 14-1, p. 2. His cellmate's affidavit states that, “[w]hile housed with the plaintiff, [McNeil] never observed him hoard pills or sell pills to other inmates.” Id., p. 1. On October 8, 2017, Dillard alleges he attended an adjustment hearing where he was “cleared” of “hoarding” and “distribution of medication, ” there was a “finding of no wrongdoing, ” and he was released from disciplinary segregation. ECF No. 1, p. 4. An October 6, 2017 “Inmate Hearing Record, ” indicates that Dillard was charged with violations of rules 111, 112, and 114, to which he pleaded not guilty, and that the Hearing Officer dismissed each, as “[u]pon preliminary review . . . [the] Institution request[ed] dismissal due to the fact that the rules charged were not supported.” ECF No. 14-4.

         Dillard claims that he was forced to go without his diabetes medication for 33 days, during which his blood sugar rose from an average of 100 milligrams per deciliter to 250, and reached as high as 409. ECF No. 1, p. 5. As a result, he suffered severe headaches and periods of blindness. Id., p. 5. Dillard also claims that his pain medications were never reordered and he now lives in a “state of constant debilitating pain.” Id. He further alleges that he suffered from eight days of withdrawal, including severe cramps, pain, chills, cold sweats, and discomfort, from September 30, 2017 to October 7, 2017, because pain medications he had taken for five years were abruptly stopped. Id.; ECF No. 14, p. 3.

         According to Dillard, medical staff have been “well aware of the severity of [his] medical conditions and resulting pain.” ECF No. 1, p. 5. After his medications were seized, Dillard states that he filed multiple sick call requests and complaints, “to no avail.” ECF No. 1, p. 4. He filed “Sick Call Request/Encounter” forms on October 1, 16, 21, and 22, 2017, writing that he was in pain and without his “chronic care” medications. ECF No. 14-2, pp. 1-4.

         On October 7, 2017, Dillard was seen by Nurse Martin, ECF No. 1, p. 4; ECF No. 9-2, p. 10, whom he claims did not treat him, reorder his diabetes medications, or refer him to a higher level provider for treatment, ECF No. 1, p. 4.

         On the October 16 sick call request form, Dillard indicated that he had not received his diabetes medication for 18 days. ECF No. 14-2, p. 2. He wrote again on the October 21 form that he had been without the medication for 23 days. Id., p. 3.

         An October 18, 2017 medical visit record indicates that Dillard was seen by Nurse Tammy Buser, to whom he complained, “I want my medications.” ECF No. 14-2, p. 5. The visit record further provides: “The patient was found to be hoarding medications and his pain medications were taken. He fought the ticket and states that he won. He is still not receiving his regular medications. I [am] putting him in with a provider to get this straightened out.” Id.

         On October 24, 2017, Dillard was seen by Nurse Practitioner Mahler, ECF No. 1, p. 4; ECF No. 9-2, p. 12, whom he claims “failed to reorder [his] diabetic medication despite [his] complaints and requests, ” ECF No. 1, p. 4. The October 24 visit record provides: “[Dillard] stated custody took his CC meds on 9/29/17 . . . [and] now he has not had any meds for 24 days for his LBP that radiates down his legs to his feet, . . . ...


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