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McClain v. Graham

United States District Court, D. Maryland

August 21, 2018

MARTIN CORNELL MCCLAIN, Inmate Identification No. 419-803, Plaintiff,
v.
WARDEN GRAHAM, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          George L. Russell, III United States District Judge

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on Motions to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment filed by Medical Defendants Joubert, Pierce, Barrera, Mahler and Prior (ECF No. 33) and Correctional Defendants Graham, Weber and Baucom (ECF No. 39), to which Plaintiff Martin McClain has filed opposition responses (ECF Nos. 41, 48). Additionally, McClain has filed a Motion requesting summary judgment and preliminary injunctive relief (ECF No. 47). The Court, having reviewed the Motions and supporting documents, finds no hearing necessary. See Local Rule 105.6. (D.Md. 2016). For the reasons outlined below, the Court will grant the Motions filed by the Medical and Correctional Defendants, and deny the Motion filed by McClain.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In a Complaint filed on August 18, 2017, Plaintiff Martin Cornell McClain stated that prison health care providers are deliberately indifferent to his medical needs because they have not provided an egg crate medical mattress, a right hand brace, a right knee brace, new wheelchair seat and back cushions, a cell with handicap rails, and pain medications. McClain, whose Complaint was construed as a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, requests money damages and injunctive relief by which he is provided the medication and supplies sought. (Compl. at 5, 8-9, ECF No. 1).[1]

         McClain states these supplies are needed to address his medical issues, including chronic nerve damage, arthritis, and problems caused by being wheelchair-bound. (Id. at 5). He asserts the items he now requests were provided to him while he was housed at Jessup Correctional Institution (“JCI”), and most of these items were taken from him when he was transferred to Western Correctional Institution (“WCI”) on January 18, 2017, “by the above named defendants.” (Id. at 6).[2] He states he was provided a wheelchair and cane, but was not given a handicapped cell or a medical mattress needed to provide sufficient spine support. (Id.).

         McClain further claims he was unable to lift himself out of a non-medical bed and was therefore forced to sit in his wheelchair to sleep for a period of 45 days, (id.), and that his pain management regimen was discontinued without explanation on June 10, 2017. (Id. at 7). He asserts the assistant warden approved the issuance of his medical supplies on August 4, 2017, but the approval was ignored. (Id.). McClain states that Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (“DPSCS”) directives mandate that upon transfer all ordered medical treatments are to follow the prisoner. (Id. at 7-8).

         McClain is a fifty-year-old prisoner with a significant medical history of Hepatitis C, morbid obesity, hypertension, chronic pain syndrome, and asthma. (Joubert Affidavit ¶ 3, ECF No. 33-5). He was transferred to WCI on January 24, 2017, and was seen by Nurse Practitioner Beverly McLaughlin on February 20, 2017, at the chronic care clinic. (ECF No. 33-4 at 3-6). His hepatitis was stable. McClain a history of spinal stenosis since 1994, a history of right knee displacement, and several gunshot wounds ("GSW") (shot a total of 18 times on two occasions). He was wheelchair dependent due to frequent falls. (Id.). McClain reported that his left hip and back “go out, ” and that he urinated frequently due to bladder reconstruction following a gunshot wound. (ld.). He also reported problems getting to the commode on time. McClain's blood pressure was elevated and his lower limbs were swollen. (Id.). He was prescribed Hydrochlorothiazide and his Neurontin prescription was adjusted to 800 mg twice daily, because WCI provided pill call only twice a day.

         He requested an egg crate mattress and bed rails, and was told the medical provider would speak with a medical team to see what was available. (Id.). Nurse Practitioner McLaughlin noted on February 23, 2017 that egg crate mattresses were deemed a fire hazard and not permitted, and that a gel overlay mattress would instead be ordered. (Id. at 7-9). McClain received the mattress on March 21, 2017. (Id. at 10).

         On March 27, 2017, McClain told a nurse at sick call that his gel cushion on his wheelchair had broken and had been taken by corrections personnel. (ECF 33-4 at 11- 12). The complaint was referred to a provider. (Id.). On April 3, 2017, McClain was seen at sick call because housing unit personnel reported he was unable to move. (Id. at 13-14). Dr. Barrera ordered an injection for Toradol and McClain returned to his housing unit. (Id.). Two days later, on April 5, 2017, McClain reported to Nurse Practitioner Mahler he felt increasing low back pain radiating down his buttocks and legs to his knees, starting in January 2017. (Id. at 15-18). He told Mahler he had been on Elavil, but was found unconscious while taking it in April 2014. (Id.). McClain stated he had tried physical therapy multiple times, but it did not help. (Id.). He denied fever, dysuria, blood in his urine, bowel or bladder incontinence, a history of back surgery, or recent injury, and indicated he had multiple gunshot wounds requiring bladder reconstruction, a history of spinal stenosis, and a right knee replacement. (Id.). A previous thoracic x-ray taken in September 2016 showed no acute osseous abnormality, but noted metallic bullet fragments along the pelvic bone. (Id.). A lumbar x-ray taken July 2016 showed mild degenerative disc disease but no acute osseous abnormality. (Id.). McClain was on Neurontin and Baclofen, which he claimed were ineffective in stopping his pain. (Id.). He stated he used Percocet and Oxycodone when he was on the street and wanted them again. (Id.). McClain used a wheelchair for distance, could only walk a few feet, and was morbidly obese. He was advised to lose weight, do back stretching exercises, do no heavy lifting, continue Neurontin and Baclofen, and start Tramadol, 650 mg twice daily for 60 days. (Id. at 75, 77). Examination revealed no spasm, pain during straight leg raises at 30 degrees, and mild tenderness to palpation of the thoracic and lumbar spine. (Id.).

         On April 22, 2017, McClain complained at sick call of a cold, and requested wrist braces and a wheelchair seat cushion. He was referred to a provider for evaluation of the wrist brace and wheelchair cushion requests. (Id. at 9-20).

         On May 16, 2017, McClain was seen at sick cell by Nurse Practitioner Janette Clark due to his ongoing cough. Clark prescribed Zantac for 30 days to see if the cough was caused by esophageal reflux, and a chest x-ray was ordered. (Id. at 21-22). The request to replace McClain's leaking wheelchair pad was sent to the Director of Nurses, and McClain was told to follow up with a provider in two weeks. (Id.). The x-ray results showed no acute cardiopulmonary disease. (Id. at 23).

         On June 11, 2017, Nurse Practitioner Pierce saw McClain. X-rays of the hip and spine showed no osseous abnormality, showed bullet fragments along the pelvic bone, and revealed that vertebral body heights and disc spaces were preserved. (Id. at 22, 24- 28). McClain was taking Neurontin and Baclofen, and requested an increase of Tramadol, a replacement seat cushion, and wrist braces, because pushing his wheelchair caused wrist pain. (Id.). A consult for physical therapy to strengthen McClain's gait was placed, and he was prescribed Cymbalta 30 mg for 7 days, increasing to 60 mg daily, while tapering McClain off Neurontin and Baclofen. (Id.). The wheelchair cushion and wrist braces were delayed pending evaluation by the physical therapist. (Id.).

         On July 2, 2017, McClain complained at sick call of dizziness, lightheadedness and headache. (Id. at 29-31). He admitted to not taking his blood pressure medication for ten days, and was given Norvasc, a blood pressure medication, on verbal orders of Physician's Assistant Terri Davis. His blood pressure medication was renewed and Amlodipine (Norvasc) was prescribed. (Id.).

         One day later, on July 3, 2017, McClain was seen by Physician's Assistant Terri Pryor for complaints of knee, back, and hip pain that were “ten out of ten.” (Id. at 33- 34). He stated he needed Tramadol and Neurontin as they are the only medications that work, and was told they would not be prescribed because they were not appropriate for him. (Id.).

         On July 5, 2017, McClain complained his medications were changed during his wheelchair assessment. (Id.). On July 10, 2017, he was seen by Nurse Practitioner Mahler, complaining of radiating low back pain and that Cymbalta did not work. McClain indicated he wanted Neurotin and Baclofen, and was told the medications would not be renewed and that Cymbalta was more appropriate for his pain. Mahler's offer to increase the Cymbalta was declined. The consult for physical therapy was scheduled for presentation at collegial review that week, and McClain was advised to lose weight, avoid heavy listing, and do back exercises. His concerns about the use of Tylenol were addressed. (Id. at 36-38).

         On July 27, 2017, McClain told a physical therapist he had not walked in two years. He was able to transfer from his wheelchair to his mattress independently.McClain was assessed as having declining mobility and being morbidly obese, and therapeutic exercises and activity were ...


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