United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
STEVEN K.E. BRADFORD, Plaintiff,
AVA JOUBERT, MD., et al., Defendants.
J. HAZEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Steven K.E. Bradford, an inmate incarcerated at Maryland
Correctional Institution-Hagerstown (“MCIH”),
brings this pro se action under 42 U.S.C. §
1983 against Defendants Dr. Ava Joubert, Nurse Practitioner
Maryanne Reimer, and Kim Holding (“Defendants”),
alleging that Defendants failed to provide timely and
adequate medical care in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
Presently pending before the Court is Defendants' Motion
to Dismiss, or in the alternative, Motion for Summary
Judgment. ECF No. 16. Plaintiff has been advised of his right
to file an opposition to Defendants' Motion but has not
done so. ECF No. 18. No hearing is necessary. Loc. R. 105.6
(D. Md. 2016). For the following reasons, Defendants'
Motion, construed as a Motion for Summary Judgment, is
sustained an injury to the left side of his face and eye in
2004 and now experiences chronic pain and migraine headaches.
ECF No. 16-3 at 24-26 (medical records documenting
“left orbital floor facture  13 years
ago”). Previously, Plaintiff was prescribed
Ultram and Lyrica for pain management but voluntarily stopped
taking the medication in April 2011. Id. Plaintiff
alleges that his chronic pain returned in December of 2016
and that Defendants failed to provide him with timely medical
attention and effective treatment. Defendants have provided a
certified copy of Plaintiff's medical records documenting
the treatment Plaintiff received starting in December of
2016, which is summarized herein. See ECF No.
December 9, 2016, Plaintiff submitted a sick call slip
requesting treatment for facial pain. Plaintiff was seen by a
nurse on December 11th and issued a six-day supply
of Tylenol on December 13th. Plaintiff submitted
another sick call slip on December 21st and was
seen by nurse Kira Froude on December 27th, who
referred Plaintiff to a provider for further pain management
treatment. Plaintiff was scheduled to see Reimer on December
30th but did not see her because Plaintiff was a
“no-show.” Plaintiff was again scheduled to see
Reimer on January 6, 2017, but she was detained by an
emergency and unable to see him. Plaintiff submitted another
sick call slip on February 9th, complaining of
“serious” facial pain, and was referred to a
provider after seeing Froude at sick call on February
14th. Plaintiff submitted additional sick call
slips on February 27th and March 6th
and was referred to a provider after seeing a nurse at sick
call on March 7th.
March 21st, Plaintiff was seen by Joubert during a
chronic care visit. Plaintiff stated that his chronic pain
had returned 2.5 months ago but was not bad enough to get
over-the-counter medication. Plaintiff also complained of
headaches. Joubert did not observe Plaintiff to be in acute
distress, prescribed Plaintiff Tylenol, and ordered an x-ray.
The x-ray was conducted on March 23rd and revealed
no issues. Plaintiff submitted another sick call slip on
March 25th, was seen by a nurse at sick call on
March 30th, and was again referred to a provider.
On April 28th, Plaintiff was seen by Reimer and
prescribed Lyrica for pain management. Thereafter,
Plaintiff's medical records indicate that Plaintiff
continued to use the sick call process to see medical
providers for chronic pain management and was provided
various medications, including Lyrica, Ultram, and Tylenol.
Plaintiff did not respond to Defendants' Motion, his
Complaint includes additional exhibits not set forth in the
medical records provided by Defendants. Notably, Plaintiff
has provided a signed declaration from his
“cell-buddy” Joseph Showwel stating that on March
3, 2017, Showwel was seen by Reimer for a medical examination
and that Reimer refused to accept a note written by Plaintiff
requesting further medical treatment that Showwel had
delivered to her. ECF No. 1-10. Plaintiff also included an
Administrative Remedy Response from the Maryland Division of
Correction Headquarters on March 24, 2017, which directed
MCIH to have Plaintiff “seen by a provider as soon as
possible.” ECF No. 1-7.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
motion is styled as a motion to dismiss, or in the
alternative, for summary judgment. A court considers only the
pleadings when deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. Where the
parties present matters outside of the pleadings, and the
Court considers those matters, the court will treat the
motion as one for summary judgment. See Gadsby v.
Grasmick, 109 F.3d 940, 949 (4th Cir. 1997);
Mansfield v. Kerry, No. DKC-15-3693, 2016 WL
7383873, at *2 (D. Md. Dec. 21, 2016). All parties must be
given some indication by the Court that it is treating a
motion to dismiss as one for summary judgment, “with
the consequent right in the opposing party to file counter
affidavits or pursue reasonable discovery.” Gay v.
Wall, 761 F.2d 175, 177 (4th Cir. 1985). When the moving
party styles its motion as one for summary judgment and
attaches additional materials to its motion, the non-moving
party is, of course, aware that materials outside the
pleadings are before the Court, and the Court can treat the
motion as one for summary judgment. See Laughlin v.
Metropolitan Wash. Airports Auth., 149 F.3d 253, 260-61
(4th Cir. 1998). Furthermore, the Court informed Plaintiff by
separate correspondence that a motion for summary judgment
was pending. ECF No. 18.
court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). “This standard provides that the
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 v. Liberty Lobby Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986) (emphasis in original). Thus,
“[t]he party opposing a properly supported motion for
summary judgment ‘may not rest upon the mere
allegations or denials of [his] pleadings,' but rather
must ‘set forth specific facts showing that there is a
genuine issue for trial.'” Bouchat v. Baltimore
Ravens Football Club, Inc., 346 F.3d 514, 525 (4th Cir.
2003) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)) (alteration in original).
Eighth Amendment prohibits “unnecessary and wanton
infliction of pain” by virtue of its guarantee against
cruel and unusual punishment. Gregg v. Georgia, 428
U.S. 153, 173 (1976). In order to state an Eighth Amendment
claim for denial of medical care, a plaintiff must
demonstrate that the actions of the defendants, or their
failure to act, amounted to deliberate indifference to a
serious medical need. See Estelle v. Gamble, 429
U.S. 97, 106 (1976). “Deliberate indifference is a very
high standard-a showing of mere negligence will not meet it .
. . [T]he Constitution is designed to deal with deprivations
of rights, not errors in judgments, even though such errors
may have unfortunate consequences.” Grayson v.
Peed, 195 F.3d 692, 695-96 (4th Cir. 1999).
indifference to a serious medical need requires proof that,
objectively, the prisoner plaintiff was suffering from a
serious medical need and that, subjectively, the defendants
were aware of the need for medical attention but failed to
either provide it or ensure the needed care was available.
See Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 837 (1994).
Objectively, the medical condition at issue must be serious.
See Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 9 (1992) (there
is no expectation that prisoners will be provided with
unqualified access to health care). A medical condition is
serious when it is “one that has been diagnosed by a
physician as mandating treatment or one that is so obvious
that even a lay person would easily recognize the necessity
for a doctor's attention.” Iko v. Shreve,
535 F.3d 225, 241 (4th Cir. 2008). Proof of an objectively
serious medical condition, however, does not end the inquiry.
subjective component requires “subjective
recklessness” in the face of the serious medical
condition. See Farmer, 511 U.S. at 839-40.
“True subjective recklessness requires knowledge both
of the general risk, and also that the conduct is
inappropriate in light of that risk.” Rich v.
Bruce, 129 F.3d 336, 340 n.2 (4th Cir. 1997).
“Actual knowledge or awareness on the part of the
alleged inflicter . . . becomes essential to proof of
deliberate indifference ‘because prison officials who
lacked knowledge of a risk cannot be said to have inflicted
punishment.'” Brice v. Va. Beach Corr.
Center, 58 F.3d 101, 105 (4th Cir. 1995) (quoting
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 844). If the requisite