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Rice v. Foxwell

United States District Court, D. Maryland

January 31, 2019

JAMAHL RICE, Plaintiff
v.
WARDEN FOXWELL, et al. Defendants

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          RICHARD D. BENNETT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         The pro se Plaintiff Jamahl Rice filed the above-captioned civil rights action alleging a variety of claims against medical and correctional staff at Eastern Correctional Institution and Metropolitan Transition Center. ECF No. 1. Defendants filed Motions to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 22 (motion filed by correctional staff); ECF No. 30 (motion filed by medical staff).[1]Although notified of his right to do so, ECF Nos. 23, 31, Plaintiff has not responded to either Motion, and the time for doing so has expired. Nevertheless, his submissions have been liberally construed. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007).

         The matter is now ripe for review. The Court finds a hearing in these matters unnecessary. See Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons that follow, Defendants' dispositive Motions, construed as Motions for Summary Judgment, are GRANTED.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs Complaint identifies several unrelated incidents that occurred at Eastern Correctional Institution (ECI) and Metropolitan Transition Center (MTC). ECF No. I. To facilitate review of these claims, the Court identifies each of Plaintiffs claims followed by Defendants' response (in the form of affidavits and sworn records). (1) Incident with Sorenson & Mathews

         a. Plaintiffs Allegation

         Plaintiff alleges that when he arrived at ECI on July 17, 2017, he informed an unnamed nurse who was responsible for medical clearance that he had a dislocated shoulder. The nurse ignored him and cleared him to be housed in general population. ECF No. 1 at 1. Plaintiff was then returned to his "side of the prison," where he again was reviewed by medical staff, including Nurse Sorenson. Id. Plaintiff claims that he showed Sorenson medical paperwork from another institution stating that his shoulder was dislocated, but Sorenson told Plaintiff he "was lying" and "took [Plaintiffs] paperwork." Id. at 1. Plaintiff raised his voice at Sorenson, prompting Lieutenant Mathews to place Plaintiff on "lock up .. . for disrespect."[2] Id. at 2.

         b. Defendants' Response

         Medical records reflect that, on July 14, 2017, an outside medical provider performed a surgical procedure on Plaintiffs left shoulder. ECF No. 30-4 at 21-22. After being temporarily housed at Jessup Correctional Institution, Plaintiff arrived at ECI-West on July 17, 2017. Id. at 23-25. He was initially evaluated by Amanda Morris who consulted with Dr. Clem before clearing Plaintiff to return to regular housing. Id. at 25. Thereafter, he was sent to the east side of the facility (the apparent location of Plaintiffs unit), where he saw Sorenson before he was to be placed in general population. The notes of Plaintiff s encounter with Sorenson state:

Inmate returned to the west side after being cleared to return to his unit after an off site visit; inmate insists that he is due for a dose of oxycodone which I explained he had no order for and it is not available on the compound. Inmate continues to argue that he needs it and it is ordered. Inmate is moving his affected arm without any issues and will not put his sling on as instructed by myself and the RN.

ECF No. 30-4 at 27.

         Correctional Defendants have submitted a copy of the notice of infraction authored by Mathews relating to this incident. ECF No. 22-3 at 4. The notice alleged that Plaintiff yelled and made aggressive facial expressions" at Sorenson, and that "[a]fter speaking with the medical staff It was determined that [Plaintiff] misrepresented his medical condition by presenting medical documentation that he was not allowed to have from a previous institution.” Id. At his disciplinary heanng. Plaintiff entered into an informal resolution with the institutional representative through which the charges were dismissed and Plaintiff was sanctioned with 10 days of cell restriction. Id. at 8.

         2. Westbrook & Infractions

         a. Plaintiff s Allegation

         Plaintiff states that, after arriving on lock up, "I told Officer Westbrook about the pain I was in and I explained the process I went through up till that point, so I was ignored by Officer Westbrook." ECF No. 1 at 2. Plaintiffs Complaint also alleges that Westbrook frequently harasses him and ''has given [him] at least 6 or 7 infractions for no reason at all." Id. Plaintiff alleges that Westbrook"s actions have "resulted in [him] lo[]sing [his visits] and good days.'' Id. at 4.

         b. Defendants' Response

         Westbrook avers that he reported Plaintiff “for violations of rules governing inmates on a number of occasions, including during July and August 2017I reported inmate Rice's conduct based on my observations, familiarity with rules governing inmate conduct, and duties to promote institutional safety and security." ECF No. 22-8. Defendants have also submitted copies of four notices of inmate rule violation issued against Plaintiff by Westbrook, charging Plaintiff with violations resulting from Plaintiffs refusal to follow instructions to remove his arm from the cell slot. ECF No. 22-3 at 13, 22, 31, 40. As to each of the four rule violations, Plaintiff reached an informal agreement with the institutional representative at the disciplinary hearing whereby Plaintiff pled guilty to at least some of the charges and received a sanction of 60 days' cell restriction. Id. at 18-19, 27-28, 36-38, 45-46. None of the informal agreements involved the loss of accrued good time credits. Id.

         3. Sick Calls Ignored/General Medical Claims

         a. Plaintiffs Allegation

         Plaintiff alleges that upon arriving on lock up following his interaction with Sorenson and Matthews (no date provided), he immediately filed a sick call slip regarding his dislocated shoulder, but "17 days went by" without a response. ECF No. 1 at 2. Plaintiff further claims that, as a consequence of his sick call request being ignored for more than two weeks, the "emergency room Doctors would not touch" Plaintiff when he was sent to the hospital for treatment of his arm on an unspecified date. Id. at 2. The doctors at the outside hospital told Plaintiff to return "in 7 days to discuss emergency surgery. The prison did not honor these instructions. So now [Plaintiff] need[sj surgery because of the neglect." Id.

         Additionally, Plaintiff reports that, as of the date he mailed his (undated) Complaint, he still had a dislocated shoulder requiring surgery and he remained in a great deal of pain. Id. at 2-3. He makes broad allegations that medical staff have failed to treat his shoulder injuries over a period of several months. Id. at 1, 3. Plaintiff does not connect these allegations about his sick calls being ignored or general problems with his medical treatment to any particular Defendant.

         b. Defendants' Response

         Although Plaintiff does not provide the relevant date, the exhibits submitted by Defendants suggest that his placement on administrative segregation occurred on July 17, 2017. See ECF No. 22-3 at 4 (date of Matthew's infraction notice); Corr. Defs' Ex. 4 at 15 (date of interaction with Sorenson). According to Plaintiffs medical records, he was seen by medical providers numerous times in the days following his placement on lock up, including spending several days in the institutional infirmary. Corr. Defs' Ex. 4 at 17-18, 20-21, 32, 34-39 (seen by providers July 19, 20, 24, 25).

         On September 1, 2017, Plaintiff was sent to the emergency department at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) where he underwent a closed reduction of his left shoulder under sedation. Id. at 67-68. He was told to follow up with an orthopedic specialist at UMMC in one to two weeks. Id. However, Plaintiff was already scheduled to see a different orthopedic doctor at Johns Hopkins Hospital (JHH) on September 28, 2017, to address problems with the same shoulder, so no follow-up appointment was made with UMMC. Id. at 82.

         As to Plaintiffs general claims that his medical needs have been ignored, Defendants' exhibits reflect that Plaintiff was evaluated by institutional medical providers scores of times between July 17, 2017 and the filing of this action in early December 2017, including a two-and-a-half month stay for monitoring at the Division of Corrections' infirmary at MTC. ECF No. 30-5 (affidavit from Dr. Clem); see generally Corr. Defs' Ex. 4. Plaintiff was sent to outside medical providers on several occasions, where he underwent orthopedic procedures on his shoulders and medical imaging. See Corr Defs' Ex. 4 at 67-72 (closed reduction and x-ray of left shoulder at UMMC on September 1, 2017); id. at 77-78 (office visit at JHH on Sept. 28, 2017 regarding his left shoulder); id. at 91 (seen by Dr. Mathew at St. Joseph's Hospital for consult on October 16, 2017); id. at 154 (sent to JHH on October 22, 2017, where medical imaging and attempted closed reduction on right shoulder were performed); ECF No. 30-6 (closed manipulation of shoulder at Bon Secours Health System by Dr. Krishnaswamy); see also ECF No. 30-5. During this time, Plaintiff regularly received medication to treat his pain. See ECF No. 30-5 at 9; Corr. Defs' Ex.4.

         4. Fall in ...


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