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Houck v. Siracusano

United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division

August 30, 2018

JAMES E. HOUCK, #421-1323, #1474477 Plaintiff,
v.
VINCENT SIRACUSANO, M.D. Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          GEORGE J. HAZEL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending before the Court is Defendant Vincent Siracusano, M.D.'s Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 57. Plaintiff James Houck filed an opposition to Defendant's Motion, ECF No. 60, self-titled filings captioned “Motion for Default to Move Forward with Summary Judgment in my Favor, or Motion for Punitive Damages or Money Damages, ” ECF No. 58, “Motion for Claim for Punitive Damage or Money Damage, ” ECF No. 59, “Motion for Complaint for Relief, ” ECF No. 64, “Motion to Meet with Defendant's Counsel, ” ECF No. 71, and various other filings to supplement his Motions, ECF Nos. 61, 62, 63, 65, 66, 67, 68, 72-78.

         After considering the pleadings, exhibits, and applicable law, the Court finds a hearing unnecessary to resolve the issues. See Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). Siracusano's Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 57, shall be granted and Houck's pending Motions, ECF Nos. 58, 59, 64, 71, 75 will be denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The procedural history and facts of this case were summarized in the Memorandum Opinion, ECF No. 50, issued by the Court on August 15, 2017. The Court incorporates that Memorandum Opinion here, and shall repeat the history and facts of this matter only as necessary to resolve the pending issues.

         Houck is an inmate incarcerated at Western Correctional Institution (“WCI”). Siracusano, a psychiatrist, prescribed psychotropic medication for Houck to treat his schizoaffective disorder. ECF No. 35 at 5.[1] Houck claims he was prescribed Risperdalfor a long time” for his bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, which caused him to develop gynecomastia or enlargement of male breasts, stomach discomfort, and blurred vision. ECF Nos. 1, 3. Houck documents that he was prescribed Risperidone (brand name Risperdal) at WCI, and that he requested to be taken off the medication. Id. ECF No. 25-3; ECF No. 50 n. 2; see also ECF No. 33 at 2, ECF No. 2, ECF No. 37.

         In the Memorandum Opinion issued with its August 15, 2017 Order, the Court found Houck had stated a plausible claim for relief. In denying Siracusano's Motion to Dismiss, the Court noted there were unresolved questions as to whether Houck had alerted Siracusano to the negative side effects of the medication; when Siracusano was alerted to Houck's medical concerns; what actions Siracusano took in response to the concerns; whether Houck was forcibly administered Risperdal or able to decline the medication; and, whether Siracusano's actions in allegedly continuing the prescription, despite Houck's concerns, amounted to deliberate indifference. ECF No. 50 at 12-13. The Court scheduled a deadline for Siracusano to file a dispositive pleading or to advise as to the anticipated duration of trial, ECF No. 51, and Siracusano filed the Motion for Summary Judgment now under consideration.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         In reviewing a motion for summary judgment, the Court must draw all justifiable inferences in the non-moving party's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986) (citing Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 158-59 (1970)). Once a motion for summary judgment is properly made and supported, the opposing party has the burden of showing that a genuine dispute exists. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986). “[T]he mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-48 (emphasis in original). A “material fact” is one that might affect the outcome of a party's case. Id. at 248; see JKC Holding Co. v. Wash. Sports Ventures, Inc., 264 F.3d 459, 465 (4th Cir. 2001) (citing Hooven-Lewis v. Caldera, 249 F.3d 259, 265 (4th Cir. 2001)).

         “A party opposing a properly supported motion for summary judgment ‘may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of [her] pleadings,' but rather must ‘set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.' ” Bouchat v. Balt. Ravens Football Club, Inc., 346 F.3d 514, 525 (4th Cir. 2003) (alteration in original) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)). The Court should “view the evidence in the light most favorable to . . . the nonmovant, and draw all inferences in [her] favor without weighing the evidence or assessing the witness' credibility.” Dennis v. Columbia Colleton Med. Ctr., Inc., 290 F.3d 639, 644-45 (4th Cir. 2002). The court must, however, also abide by the “affirmative obligation of the trial judge to prevent factually unsupported claims and defenses from proceeding to trial.” Bouchat, 346 F.3d at 526 (quoting Drewitt v. Pratt, 999 F.2d 774, 778-79 (4th Cir. 1993)).

         If the parties have filed cross-motions for summary judgment, the Court “must consider each motion separately on its own merits to determine whether either of the parties deserves judgment as a matter of law.” Bacon v. City of Richmond, 475 F.3d 633, 637-38 (4th Cir. 2007) (internal quotation marks omitted). “‘Both motions must be denied if the court finds that there is a genuine dispute of material fact.[ ] But if there is no genuine dispute and one or the other party is entitled to prevail as a matter of law, the court will render judgment.[ ]'” Hicks v. Stanford, No. ELH-14-928, 2016 WL 7426139, at *5 (D. Md. Dec. 23, 2016) (quoting 10A C. WRIGHT & A. MILLER, FED. PRACTICE & PROCEDURE, § 2720 (4th ed.)).

         A federal court must liberally construe pleadings filed by pro se litigants to allow them to fully develop potentially meritorious cases. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Cruz v. Beto, 405 U.S. 319 (1972). The requirement of liberal construction does not mean the Court can ignore a clear failure in the pleadings to allege facts which set forth a claim. See Weller v. Department of Social Services, 901 F.2d 387, 391 (4th Cir. 1990). The Court cannot assume the existence of a genuine issue of material fact where none exists. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c).

         III. DISCUSSION

         Siracusano asserts that he is entitled to summary judgment in his favor because Houck cannot establish that Siracusano acted with deliberate indifference to Houck's medical needs. In support of his Motion, Siracusano has submitted his declaration under oath, ...


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