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Locklear v. MD Dept. Public Safety Correctional Services

United States District Court, D. Maryland

February 1, 2019

ROGER LOCKLEAR, #214-6696, Plaintiff


          Paula Xinis United States District Judge

         Pending before the Court are Correctional Defendants Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (“DPSCS”), Warden Richard J. Graham, Chief of Security Bradley O. Butler, and Correctional Officer Alicia A. Cartwright,[2] and Medical Defendants Nurse Practitioner Janette Clark and Wexford Health Sources, Inc. (“Wexford”) unopposed Motions to Dismiss or in the alternative for Summary Judgment.[3] ECF Nos. 14, 18. The Court finds no need for a hearing. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2018). For reasons that follow, Defendants' motions, construed as Motions for Summary Judgment, shall be GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Locklear, committed to the custody of DPSCS and currently confined at the Western Correctional Institution in Cumberland (“WCI”), alleges denial of medication to treat pain following surgery following a compound fracture to his leg. ECF No. 1 at 3. Liberally construed, Locklear's pro se claim alleges violation of his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. Locklear asserts that his leg is swollen and cannot comfortably support his weight. ECF No. 1 at 5. He seeks $500, 000.00 in damages and injunctive relief “mandating the condition . . . be corrected” and that the prison be subject to “federal oversight” and a “probe targeting corruption.” ECF No. 1 at 3.

         Locklear's prison medical records corroborate that Locklear suffered a compound fracture to the left tibia (shin) “years ago, ” which was repaired surgically with open reduction and internal fixation. Locklear was prescribed Neurontin for nerve damage.[4] ECF No. 14-1 at 4. On March 21, 2017, while housed at the Metropolitan Transition Center (“MTC”), medical personnel examined Locklear and documented that Locklear had normal range of motion and intact sensation in his leg. No swelling was apparent, and Locklear denied numbness, tingling, or tenderness. Id. at 4. Locklear refused Tylenol and Motrin for discomfort and was told he would be referred for his pain management needs. Id.

         On March 27, 2017, while at MTC, Locklear complained of nerve pain and a lack of sensation around his scar. He requested and received a prescription for Neurontin. ECF No. 14-1 at 6-9. The prescription was renewed again on April 25, 2017, July 20, 2017, and September 5, 2017. Id. at 10, 18-19, 20-21.

         In late October of 2017, Locklear was transferred to WCI. ECF No. 14-1 at 24. Defendant Clark, a nurse practitioner, examined Locklear on November 17, 2017 in the chronic care clinic. Clark noted that Locklear walked without a limp and was able to climb on and off the exam table without difficulty or discomfort; that his daily activities were not impaired; and that his extremities appeared normal, with no signs of redness or swelling. Id. at 27. Clark informed Locklear that any request to renew his Neurontin prescription may not be approved. Id. at 31. DPSCS State Medical Director had previously identified Neurontin as a drug susceptible to misuse, overuse or abuse due to its sedative and euphoric effects. ECF No. 14-2, ¶ 12 (Aff. of Dr. Asresahegn Getachew). Accordingly, DPSCS limited Neurontin's use to treat seizure disorders and neuropathic pain (nerve pain) caused by herpes virus or shingles (herpes zoster) per FDA rules. Id. ¶ 13.

         Clark requested approval to renew Locklear's Neurontin prescription which was denied. ECF No. 14-1 at 30-35. Locklear thereafter was weaned off Neurontin, with the doses tapered to 600 mg twice a week for one week, 400 mg twice a week for one week, 200 mg twice a week for one week, and 200 mg once a day for one week. Id. The ultimate medical plan was to substitute Nortriptyline for the Neurontin. Id.

         Less than two months later, on December 3, 2017, Locklear complained to Clark that his lower left leg ached and burned. Locklear also vigorously disputed the wisdom of tapering his Neurontin. ECF No. 14-1 at 36-39. He stated other pain medications such as Elavil, [5] Nortriptyline, [6]and Cymbalta, [7] caused restless leg syndrome, and instead requested Lyrica, [8] which was prescribed. Id. at 39-40.

         On January 24 and 25, 2018, Locklear again complained of leg pain by submitting written sick call slips. Id. at 57-58. On January 27, 2018, Dennis Martin, RN examined Locklear. Martin's records reflect that Locklear had normal range of motion in the leg, normal gait, and could bear weight fully on the leg. Id. at 44.

         On February 8, 2018, Nurse Practitioner Peggy Mahler examined Locklear who complained to Mahler about left leg pain from below the left knee down to the ankle. ECF No. 14-1 at 45-47. Locklear also noted that Motrin did not ease his pain. Mahler proposed that Locklear try Tegretol, [9] but Locklear declined, again expressing a preference for Neurontin or Lyrica. Id. Mahler found mild tenderness below the knee and left leg without any obvious swelling, skeletal tenderness, or joint deformity. Mahler further noted that Locklear enjoyed normal range of motion, walked without a limp, and could lift himself onto and off the exam table without difficulty. Id. Mahler ordered an x-ray, advised Locklear to refrain from running and jumping, and referred Locklear to the Regional Medical Director for evaluation for pain management. Id. An x-ray taken on February 12, 2018 revealed metallic hardware in the tibia, normal anatomical alignment, and no indication of acute injury or bony abnormality. Id. at 63.

         On February 23, 2018, Locklear submitted a sick call slip requesting to be seen for pain medication. Id. at 59. On February 27, 2018, Michael Klepitch RN saw Locklear and noted that Locklear was angry because he could not obtain his desired pain medications. Id. at 48-49. On March 18, 2018, nurse Clark examined Locklear. He complained of intermittent and variable left ankle pain which was made worse by bending, moving, and walking. Id. at 50-52. Again, Clark noted that the pain had not affected Locklear's daily living activities. Nor did Locklear have any trouble getting on and off the exam table, and his leg was not swollen or red. Id.

         At this visit, Locklear suggested that he would no longer wanted Neurontin, but persisted in his quest for Lyrica to treat his “nerve damage.” Id. at 50-52. Locklear was offered Depakote ER[10] to treat his nerve pain, but he that declined that prescription. Id. Plaintiff also refused Elavil, Nortriptyline and Cymbalta. Id. Since that time, Locklear has not complained of nerve pain related to his leg injury.

         II. ...

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