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Rivera v. Wexford Health Sources

United States District Court, D. Maryland

September 19, 2018

JOSE RIVERA, Plaintiff
v.
WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, et al., Defendants

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          PAUL W. GRIMM UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Jose Rivera filed this civil rights action, alleging that Defendants have been deliberately indifferent to his medical needs. ECF No.1. Defendants have filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 13. Although advised of his right to do so, ECF No. 14, and granted three extensions of time, ECF Nos. 16, 18, 20, Plaintiff has not filed a response to Defendants' dispositive Motion or presented exceptional circumstances excusing such delay, and the time to do so has expired. The matter is now ripe for review. The Court finds a hearing unnecessary. See Loc. R. 105.6. For the reasons that follow, Defendants' dispositive Motion, construed as a Motion for Summary Judgment, is GRANTED.

         PENDING MOTION

         On August 29, 2018, the Court received Plaintiffs fourth Motion for Extension of Time, in which Plaintiff asserts that he has been unable to access the facility library to conduct legal research. ECF No. 21. The Court had granted Plaintiffs three prior Motions for Extension of Time. ECF Nos. 16, 18, 20. In granting the second Motion, the Court informed Plaintiff that no further extensions would be granted. ECF No. 18. However, when Plaintiff protested that he had limited access to the library, the Court granted Plaintiffs third Motion for Extension of Time to respond, extending the time to respond to August 11, 2018, but cautioned Plaintiff that no further extensions would be granted. ECF No. 20. Further, in explaining why resort to the library appeared unnecessary in this case, the Court explained that "a claim of insufficient medical care needs to be substantiated by evidence of the lack of care, not legal analysis." Id. In view of these warnings, the Court denies Plaintiff latest Motion for Extension of Time.

         BACKGROUND

         A. Plaintiffs Complaint

         On January 4, 2018, Plaintiff filed an unsworn Complaint alleging that "Defendants have provided inadequate medical treatment for a very painful knee injury, and then ignored the physician's order for physical therapy. I am in great pain and having difficulty walking. Defendants have ignored my sick call requests for the past 18 months." Compl. 2 (capitalization altered). Plaintiffs Complaint does not contain any other details; nor did he submit any additional filings on the merits.

         B. Defendants Exhibits

         Defendants have submitted Plaintiffs certified medical records from May 2015 through his filing of his Complaint. Med. Recs., ECF No. 13-4. The records reflect that Plaintiff has degenerative joint disease ("DJD") in his right knee which has caused him to suffer pain in the past. Between May 2015 and October 2015, Plaintiff had three visits with prison medical staff regarding his knee pain, underwent an x-ray of his right knee, and was prescribed medication to alleviate pain. Id. at 2-9. In November 2015, Plaintiffs right knee and his right wrist (which Plaintiff does not mention in his Complaint[1]) were evaluated on site by an orthopedic specialist, who recommended that Plaintiff be referred to an outside orthopedic specialist for an arthroscopy. Mat 11-13.

         Following a chronic care visit and an attempted telemed consult in December 2015, Plaintiff was seen by Dr. Krishnaswamy of Bon Secours Baltimore Health System, who also recommended that Plaintiff undergo arthroscopic surgery. Id. at 14-18. Dr. Krishnaswamy performed the surgery on Plaintiffs right knee on March 10, 2016. Id. at 20. At Plaintiffs follow-up appointment, Dr. Krishnaswamy noted that Plaintiff reported "feeling a lot better," that the surgical wounds had healed well, and that Plaintiff had "a range of motion of 10-100 degrees with increasing strength." Id. Although the visit notes reflect that Dr. Krishnaswamy "advised [Plaintiff] to continue range of motion exercises," there is nothing in the notes to suggest that Dr. Krishnaswamy ordered Plaintiff to undergo physical therapy with a medical professional. Id.

         On January 14, 2017, Plaintiff submitted a sick call complaining that he twisted his left knee, causing him to suffer pain and difficulties walking. Id. at 21. Healthcare personnel indicated that he did not appear for the January 22, 2017 appointment that had been scheduled in response to the sick call. Id.

         On April 13, 2017, Plaintiff had a chronic care appointment with Dr. Yonas Sisay regarding his DJD. Dr. Sisay's notes from this appointment state "Pt reports doing well, wants Motrin PRN renewed. Pt says he is actively walking around the [facility] working. Pt reports tendinitis resolved. [C]ame walking without limp. Motrin renewed with Zantac." Id. at 22.

         On July 13, 2017, Plaintiff had another chronic care appointment with Dr. Sisay regarding his DJD. In his notes from this visit, Dr. Sisay stated "Pt reports doing well, wants Motrin PRN renewed. Pt says he is actively working & does 200 push up daily. Pt came walking without limp. Motrin renewed with Zantac." Id. at 24.

         On September 28, 2017, Nurse Yetunde Rotimi performed a routine physical exam on Plaintiff. Id. at 26. According to Nurse Rotimi's notes, Plaintiff "denie[d] any acute comp[l]aints" and reported that his "right knee pain [was] controlled with meds" and that the knee "has swelling, ...


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