United States District Court, D. Maryland
J. MESSITTE DISTRICT JUDGE.
response to this civil rights complaint, Defendants Warden
Frank Bishop, CO II Jamey L. Durst, CO II Dustin L. Gursky,
and CO II Dean W, Rounds, Correctional Officers at the North
Branch Correctional Institution (NBCI) filed a Motion to
Dismiss or in the alternative for Summary Judgment. ECF 13.
Plaintiff filed a response in opposition to the
motion. ECF 18. The Court finds no need for a
hearing. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the
reasons that follow, Defendants' motion, construed as a
Motion for Summary Judgment, shall be GRANTED.
Eulista B. Dunn, an inmate committed to the custody of the
Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Sendees
(DPSCS) and currently confined in the North Branch
Correctional Institution, (ECF 5 at p. 2) alleges that
while he was incarcerated at NBCI, Defendants denied him
access to mental health care.
Plaintiff alleges he has been diagnosed with mental health
issues since he was a child. ECF 5 at p. 4. Plaintiff states
that he was placed on disciplinary segregation in 2009 and
remained there on January 5, 2015, when during the night he
began to hear his deceased father's voice in his head but
it sounded as though it was in his cell. Id.
Plaintiff indicates that prior to hearing the voice he had
been thinking, visualizing, and planning ways to commit
suicide. Id. Leading into the morning of January 6,
2016, his father's voice began to tell him that it was
time for him to come join him. Id. Plaintiff claims
that he dealt with the hallucinations for over a week and
that on three different occasions his neighbor called over to
ask who he was talking to. ECF 5 at p. 8.
was scheduled to see the psychologist on January 6, 2016.
Sergeant Puffenberger escorted Plaintiff to see Dr.
Siracusano. ECF 5 at p. 5. Plaintiff explained to Dr.
Siracusano that the medications he was taking were not
effective to treat his mental health issues. Id.
Plaintiff states that he was then asked to step out of the
room because "staff wanted to have a word with
him." Id. Plaintiff states that Defendant
Rounds stepped into the room and lied to Dr. Siracusano
telling him that Plaintiff was selling his psychiatric
medication on the tier. Id. Plaintiff states that
Rounds made the allegation without any evidence as he had
never bene charged with a disciplinary infraction.
Id. When Plaintiff stepped back into the room, Dr.
Siracusano advised him that he was not going to re-assess
Plaintiffs medication but that he would change the
prescription to "crush and float" a procedure
Plaintiff describes as smashing medication in a cup and then
putting water on top to prevent the inmate from hoarding
medication. Id. at p. 6.
states that when he attempted to further advise Dr.
Siracusano of the voices, Rounds grabbed him by his arm and
dragged him out of the room and back to his cell.
Id. at p. 6. Plaintiff states that during lunch, he
refused to eat and held his feed up slot open in order to get
medical attention. Id. Plaintiff explains that this
is a method used in the disciplinary housing unit by inmates
to get attention as if an inmate prevents the slot from
closing all operations are to stop, a security
"bubble" placed on the inmate's door, and a
supervisor notified. Id. If the supervisor cannot
convince the inmate to close the slot, an extraction team is
assembled and the inmate forcibly removed from the cell.
Puffenberger came to Plaintiffs cell and he advised her that
he needed to see psychology staff immediately. ECF 1 at p. 6.
Puffenberger told Plaintiff that she would speak with
"J. Simmon." When Puffenberger returned, she told
Plaintiff that he would be scheduled for an emergency
re-evaluation on January 12, 2016 (which was later
rescheduled for January 13, 2016). At this, Plaintiff agreed
to shut his slot. Id. at p. 6.
appeared at Plaintiffs cell door on January 13, 2016, and
told Plaintiff that Dr. Siracusano refused to see him and
that if Plaintiff did not like the medication he was
prescribed, Siracusano would remove him from all medication.
ECF 5 at p. 7. Plaintiff told Rounds he was suicidal and
needed to see psychology staff, but "Rounds smirked and
walked away." Id. At 11:00 a.m. that day,
Plaintiff sent a letter to psychology associate Beitzel
advising her of the situation. Id.
following morning Defendant Mallow came to Plaintiffs cell
during count. ECF 5 at p. 7. Plaintiff advised Mallow that he
was suicidal and needed to be placed on
"observation/precautions." Id. During
lunch, Plaintiff again held his feed up slot open in an
attempt to receive treatment. Id. Defendant Durst
came to Plaintiffs door and attempted to bribe him by
offering to change his cell assignment, if Plaintiff closed
the slot, but Plaintiff refused.
returned to Plaintiffs door advising Plaintiff that he had
mail from Beitzel but he would only give it to Plaintiff if
agreed to close the slot. Plaintiff declined. ECF 5 at p. 7.
Despite not being seen by psychology staff, Plaintiff allowed
the slot to be closed at dinner time. ECF 5 at pp. 7-8.
"[A]t that time, he decided to follow his father's
advice and recommendation and swallowed about thirty (30) #20
Baclophin Muscle Relaxers with the sole intentions [sic] of
committing suicide." ECF 5 at pp. 7-8.
provide verified business records which include Plaintiffs
medical records along with their declarations.
Bishop, Warden of NBCI, avers that mental health and medical
health services are provided to NBCI inmates by private
health care contractors. ECF 13-3 at ¶ 2 (Bishop Decl.).
Neither Bishop, nor any member of NBCI's staff have
personal involvement in the provision of medical or
psychiatric care to any NBCI inmate. Id. Nor do
Bishop or any NBCI staff have the authority to make decisions
concerning an inmate's medical or psychiatric care or the
authority to order medical providers to perform any
particular procedure or render any particular treatment.
Id. Inmates' health appointment dates and times
are set by the private contractors. An inmate can fill out a
sick call slip to seek evaluation and treatment. The slips
are collected and reviewed by the contractors and appointment
dates and time are determined by the contractor after they
review the sick call requests. ECF 13-3 at ¶ 3. In
responding to complaints regarding the provision of health
care, Bishop states that he and his staff rely on the
reports, assessments and judgments of the health care
contractors. ECF 13-3 at ¶ 4. Bishop denies interfering,
hindering or delaying Plaintiff's access to medical or
mental health care or treatment and is unaware of any
situation where a DPSCS/NBCI employee acted in such a manner.
ECF 13-3 at ¶5. Bishop denies having any prior notice or
indication that Plaintiff had any suicidal intent or ideation
prior to his reported suicide attempt on January 14, 2016.
ECF 13-3 at ¶ 6.
Dean Rounds, Sr., Jamey Durst, Dustin Gursky, and Mallow each
aver that they have no independent recollection of any
conversation with Plaintiff in January of 2016 where he
expressed he was suicidal. ECF 13-4 at ¶ 3. (Rounds
Decl.); ECF 13-5 at ¶ 3 (Durst Decl.); ECF 13-6 at
¶ 3 (Gursky Decl.); ECF 13-10 (Mallow Decl.) Rounds,
Durst, Gursky, and Mallow each aver that if Plaintiff had
expressed suicidal ideation they would have reported the
situation so that if warranted he could be placed under
suicide precautions. Id. Rounds, Durst, Gursky, and
Mallow each deny interfering with, hindering, or delaying
medical or psychological treatment to Plaintiff. ECF 13-4 at
¶ 4; ECF 13-5 at ¶ 5; ECF 13-6 at ¶ 5; ECF
13-10 at ¶4. Rounds, Durst, Gursky, and Mallow further
aver that they had no personal involvement in the provision
of medical or psychological care to Plaintiff and had no
authority to order health care staff to prescribe any
particular medication or perform or render any particular
procedure or treatment. ECF 13-4 at ¶ 5; ECF 13-5
at¶6; ECF 13-6 at¶ 6; ECF 13-10 at¶5. •
Durst and Gursky explain that Plaintiff had a history of
holding open his food slot to disrupt the tier or to get
attention. ECF 13-5 at ¶ 4; ECF 13-6 at ¶ 4. They
explain that if they offered to move Plaintiff to another
tier, it would have been done as an incentive for him to obey
the rules and close his flood slot. ECF 13-5 at ¶ 4; ECF
13-6 at ¶ 4.
Beitzel, a Mental Health Professional Counselor at NBCI,
started working the segregation tier that housed Plaintiff in
August of 2015. ECF 13-8 at ¶¶ 1 & 3. Beitzel
provided psychological services to Plaintiff during the
months before, during, and after his reported suicide attempt
in January of 2016. Id. at ¶3. To her
recollection, Beitzel denies that Plaintiff ever reported to
her that he had any present suicidal ideation. Id. at
to Beitzel, Plaintiff "has a history of acting out when
he hears something he does not like or does not receive
something for which he asks." ECF 13-8 at ¶ 5. As
examples, Beitzel indicates that Plaintiff protests by
holding open his food slot and refusing to be handcuffed for
escort after group therapy sessions. Id.; see also
ECF 13-9 at p. 18 (on 12/1/15 Plaintiff held feed slot, was
disruptive on the tier, and not escorted to group therapy);
p. 55 (on 1/12/16 Plaintiff refused to be handcuffed after
indicates that she spoke with Plaintiff on January 6, 2016,
before his appointment with Dr. Siracusano. ECF 13-8 at
¶ 6. Based on her knowledge of Plaintiff, Beitzel
advised Plaintiff "that he should refrain from selling
or giving his medications to other inmates, from hoarding his
medications, and from losing his composure when he hears
information that he does not like, particularly in
anticipation that Dr. Siracusano might not grant Mr.
Dunn's request for medication changes." ECF 13-8 at
¶ 6; see also ECF 13-9 at p. 39 (Onsite Consult
note dated 1/8/16), Beitzel avers that Plaintiff did not
express any suicidal ideation or appear to be in distress.
ECF 13-8 at ¶ 6. Beitzel affirms that the medical
records attached to her declaration (ECF 13-8 at p. 3)
accurately reflect the substance and conclusions about her
discussions with Plaintiff on January 6, 2016. Id.
at ¶ 7.
Vincent Siracusano is a psychiatrist employed by Mental
Health Management, Inc., who provides psychiatric care to
inmates housed at NBCI. ECF 13-7 at ¶ 1 (Siracusano
Decl.) Siracusano sees patients on a periodic basis.
Id. at ¶ 3. Those visits are noted in the
patient's record as "psych follow up" visits.
Id. Siracusano explains that if an inmate feels the
need to be seen sooner than their regularly scheduled follow
up visit, they may submit a sick call slip. Id. at
¶ 4; see also ECF 13-8 at ¶ 10 (Beitzel
Decl). When an inmate is seen in response to a sick call slip
or on an urgent or emergency basis, it is reflected in the
medical notes. ECF 13-7 at ¶ 5; ECF 13-8 at ¶ 10.
saw Plaintiff on January 6, 2016, for a regularly scheduled
follow up. ECF 13-7 at ¶ 6; see also ECF 13-9
at pp. 25-34 (1/6/2016 Medication Management note). Plaintiff
did not express any suicidal ideation at that time, nor did
he express any urgent conditions or concerns. Id.
Siracusano further avers that Plaintiffs medical records
indicated a recent past history of giving or selling drugs to
other inmates, hoarding drugs, and possessing drugs that were
not prescribed to him. Id. at ¶ 8. Accordingly,
Siracusano ordered that Plaintiffs medications be
administered on a crush and float basis in order to prevent
his abuse of medications. Id. at ¶ 9.
Siracusano avers that "[n]o correctional officer
interfered with my decision concerning the psychiatric
treatment of [Plaintiff.]" (id. at ¶ 10)
and that his decision to continue Plaintiff on his then
prescribed medication was solely made on the basis of sound
psychiatric medicine. Id. at ¶ 7.
his meeting with Siracusano, Plaintiff engaged in a hunger
strike which Beitzel explains was a protest
against Siracusano's ordering his medication to be
provided as crush and float to prevent his hoarding or
sharing the medication. ECF 13-8 at ¶ 7; ECF 13-8 at p.
3; ECF 13-9 at pp. 35. 37, 39. Beitzel also explains based on
her training and experience, familiarity with Plaintiff, and
the statements he made in the complaint, that to a reasonable
degree of certainty in the field of psychology, Plaintiffs
holding of his food slot on January 13 and 14, 2016, was not
for seeking precautions against suicide but in order to
create a disruption in protest of Siracusano's. ordering
his medication be provided on a crush and float basis. ECF
13-8 at ¶ 8.
also indicates that she received a letter from Plaintiff on
January 13, 2016, complaining about Siracusano and some of
his property. ECF 13-8, ¶ 9; ECF 13-8 at p. 4
(Plaintiffs 1/13/16 letter to Beitzel). Beitzel avers that in
her opinion, based on her experience with Plaintiff, if he
was having any suicidal ideation or felt the need ...