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Jones v. Wexford

United States District Court, D. Maryland

February 15, 2019

STEPHEN B. JONES Plaintiff
v.
WEXFORD Defendant

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          James K. Bredar, Chief Judge.

         Plaintiff Stephen B. Jones, an inmate committed to the custody of the Maryland Division of Correction and confined in the Maryland Correctional Training Center in Hagerstown, Maryland, filed this civil rights suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging he was being denied adequate medical care. ECF 1, ECF 8 (supplemental complaint). In response, the only named defendant, Wexford Health Sources, Inc., moves to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. ECF 10. The motion is opposed by Jones. ECF 12. No hearing is necessary to address the pending matters. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2018). For the reasons that follow, the motion to dismiss will be granted and the complaint shall be dismissed.

         Background

         Jones states that he suffers from chronic low back pain for which he receives chronic care. ECF 1-1 at p. 2. He states that on November 9, 2017, Dr. Tessema discontinued a prescription for Elavil[1] he had been taking for pain management, explaining that he was concerned about Jones's age and the potential for developing heart problems while taking that drug. Id.

         Jones was seen by Lori Slavick, P.A., on December 16, 2017, to receive a replacement for the Elavil he had been taking, but he claims she refused to help him. Id.

         On January 10, 2018, Jones was seen by "Dr. Yvonne," who discussed indications for Neurontin[2] with Jones and notified him that he would be weaned off that medication and placed on Cymbalta[3] instead. Id. Jones states he did not agree with the change in his medication because Cymbalta is "a mental health drug, not a pain medication[]." Id. at p. 3. Nevertheless, he began taking Cymbalta on January 12, 2018, but stopped taking it four days later, citing nose bleeds and dizziness as his reasons for stopping the drug.[4] Id.

         On January 30, 2018, Jones was seen by Dr. Nimely for a chronic care visit. Dr. Nimely prescribed Elavil for Jones's back pain, but made no mention of it causing heart trouble, or problems with blood pressure, due to Jones's age.[5] Id. Although Jones states he was prescribed Elavil, he also states in an administrative remedy procedure complaint (ARP) date February 2, 2018, that he was only receiving Baclofen[6] for pain at that time. Id.

         In an ARP dated January 23, 2018, Jones claimed that a nurse lied to him about referring him to a doctor for review of his medications after he stopped taking the prescribed medication that was making him sick. ECF 1-1 at pp. 7-8. There is no response on the section of the form reserved for a response; Jones indicates that he has been without medication for his lower back pain for two months. Id. In response to an earlier-filed ARP, however, the Warden indicated that while Jones's Elavil prescription was discontinued on November 19, 2017, his Baclofen prescription was increased to a twice daily dose. Id. at p. 32. In yet another ARP response, it is noted that in addition to the increased Baclofen dosage, Jones's prescriptions for Neurontin and Naproxen remained in place. Id. at p. 34.

         On January 31, 2018, Jones filed another ARP complaining that medical staff took away his pain medication and replaced it with mental health medication that is ineffective in treating his pain. ECF 1-1 at pp. 9-10. He threatened that if the Warden did not look into the situation, he would leak the story to "all the news stations around here." Id. at p. 10.

         In an ARP dated January 16, 2018, Jones referenced a rule violation for which he received 40 days cell restriction. ECF 1-1 at pp. 14-16. He claimed he did not "disrespect" the nurse with whom he spoke, but only disagreed with her plan not to refer him to a physician for review of his medications. Id. In another ARP, Jones denied telling the nurse to "go f*ck yourself." Id. at p. 20.

         In one ARP attached to Jones's complaint, the response from the Warden indicates that his complaint alleging he had been denied medical treatment was being dismissed. The response indicated that the complaint was investigated and it was determined that: Jones became belligerent and refused a physical assessment to assist in addressing his requests for pain medication on December 16, 2017; when he was seen again on December 31, 2017, he became confrontational again; and finally when he was seen on January 10, 2018, the indications for Neurontin were discussed with Jones and he was informed he would be started on Cymbalta. ECFl-latp.21.

         Jones seeks compensatory damages as relief for his claim that the discontinuation and changes in his pain medications constitute cruel and unusual punishment. ECF 1 at p. 3.

         In Jones's supplemental complaint, which also consists largely of ARP complaints he has filed concerning his pain medication, he alleges he is being denied care for discriminatory reasons. ECF 8-1 at pp. 3-4. In an April 11, 2018, ARP response, the Warden again indicated Jones's complaint was investigated and it was determined that Jones was currently receiving Baclofen, Amitriptyline, and Ibuprofen for his pain. Id. at p. 4. The balance of the supplemental complaint reiterates his position that medical staff at MCTC are taking pain medications away and substituting "mental health medications" for them.

         Standard for ...


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