United States District Court, D. Maryland
DEBORAH K. CHASANOW UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Plaintiff Tommy Robinson, an inmate currently confined at
Western Correctional Institution (“WCI”), asserts
civil rights violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by Nurse
Practitioner Janette Clark, a prison health care provider
employed by Wexford Health Sources, Inc.
(“Wexford”) and WCI Correctional Defendants,
including Warden Richard Graham, Jr., former Assistant Warden
Ronald S. Weber, Chief of Security Bradley O. Butler, Captain
Marc V. Whiteside, Captain William F. Gordon, and Sergeant
John R. Shaver. ECF No. 1; ECF No. 7.
Order dated May 30, 2018, this case was opened after Mr.
Robinson filed papers in a separate closed case, Robinson
v. Martin, et al., Civil Action No. DKC-17-535 (D. Md.),
requesting to be transported to an outside hospital and
alleging the denial of medical treatment. See ECF No. 8. Mr.
Robinson complied with a court order to supplement his
complaint, and on March 30, 2018, filed a supplement to his
complaint naming State Defendants Graham, Weber Butler,
Whiteside, Gordon, and Shaver, as well as Medical Defendant
Clark, “All Named Medical Staff, ” and “All
Unknown Named DOC Officers.” ECF No. 7.
delineated in the Order instituting this case, Mr.
Robinson's allegations about a blocked colon and
herniated discs were addressed in Robinson v.
Martin, et al., Civil Action No. DKC-17-535 (D. Md.)
(Mem. Op. and Order, ECF Nos. 63, 64) with summary judgment
entered in favor of the Medical Defendants in that case on
February 1, 2018. See Robinson v. Martin, et al.,
Civil Action No. DKC-18-295, ECF No. 8, p. 2, n.1. Mr.
Robinson's orthopedic issues relating to his neck, hip,
back, shoulder and arms, raised for the first time in his
cross-motion for summary judgment in the older case, are to
be addressed in the context of this case, as they were not
timely raised in Robinson v. Martin, et al., Civil Action
No. DKC-17-535 (D. Md.) (see ECF No. 63, p. 14). Thus,
only orthopedic ailments relating to Mr. Robinson's neck,
hip, back, shoulder and arm pain - and these ailments alone -
are addressed here. To reiterate, although Mr. Robinson's
complaint provides a chronology of events dating to the early
1990s and his initial arrest and detention and details a
prior alleged assault by corrections staff at the Maryland
Penitentiary in 1995,  this case is limited to reviewing his
allegations concerning medical treatment for orthopedic
issues relating to his neck, hip, back, shoulder and arms
which were raised after the conclusion of Civil Action No.
response to the complaint, the Correctional and Medical
Defendants have filed motions to dismiss or in the
alternative, motions for summary judgment. ECF Nos. 18 and
30. Although advised of his right to respond and oppose the
dispositive motions (ECF Nos. 19 and 31), Mr. Robinson has
failed to do so in a timely manner. The dispositive motions may
be decided without a hearing. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md.
2018). For the reasons stated below, Defendants'
dispositive motions, construed as motions for summary
judgment, are GRANTED.
Parties' Allegations and Assertions
Mr. Robinson, an “injured and handicap[ped]
wheelchair-bound” 68-year-old inmate (ECF No. 1 at 1),
alleges in his unverified complaint that he is punished by
the State of Maryland, the Department of Public Safety and
Correctional Services (“DPSCS”), and Wexford
employees due to his prior litigation against them. He claims
that on the morning of December 21, 2017, pharmacy
personnel told him his medication was discontinued
even though he had a current prescription that was not due to
expire until January 15, 2018. Id. at 2.
Robinson attaches several Requests for Administrative Remedy
Procedure (ARPs) as exhibits to his complaint. On November 8,
2016, he filed an ARP alleging that the medical department
was discriminating against him by failing to provide him
proper care and treatment. ECF No. 1-2 at 1. On December
21, 2017, Mr. Robinson submitted an ARP complaining that his
pain medication was stopped, effective that date. ECF No.
1-8. He later submitted ARP WCI-3267-17, on December 26,
2017, complaining that his pain medication was abruptly
stopped even though the prescription had not expired. ECF No.
Robinson asserts that he filed sick-call requests on December
21, 2017, December 29, 2017, and January 1, 2018, to
Defendant Clark “because the pain medication was taken
out of the computer by someone.” ECF No. 1 at 5; ECF
No. 1-12. He opines that the attorneys
representing Wexford instruct Wexford employees “not to
do anything” for him (ECF No. 1 at 5) and asserts he
will die soon because of the “evil treatment” he
is receiving at WCI. ECF No. 1 at 6.
supplemental complaint, Mr. Robinson states that his walking
cane was taken from him on March 9, 2018, and his feed-in
status was terminated on March 26, 2018. ECF No.
Robinson claims that “some unknown named medical
workers” and Captain Morgan retaliated against him by
having Captain Gordon send an e-mail on March 9, 2018, to
Sgt. Shaver, who then ordered Officers Lindberg and Patterson
to enter his cell when he was not present and remove his
cane. ECF No. 7 at 2. His requests to have his cane returned
have been ignored and as a result, he cannot walk, has fallen
in his cell, and his legs have become swollen and painful due
to inactivity. ECF No. 7 at 2. He claims that he was placed
on feed-in status on December 23, 2017, and remained on that
status until Monday, March 26, 2018, at 4:45 p.m., at which
time officers told him feed-up status had been discontinued
and would not allow a feed-up worker to deliver his meal. ECF
No. 7 at 3. He claims that his request to speak with a
supervisor was ignored, and he missed the meal. Id.
Mr. Robinson claims that his feed-in status order does not
expire until December 23, 2019. Id.
Robinson claims that he is being harassed, that
“they” are planning to make any excuse to kill
him, and that the medical department, the Security Chief, and
the Warden will “cover it up.” As a result, he
fears for his life. ECF No. 7 at 3. He states that he has not
done anything to anyone, and claims that he is a victim of
racism and discrimination for “no reason” and
claims that he is not receiving any medical treatment or
proper medical care. ECF No. 7 at 3.
Robinson seeks injunctive relief, to include a referral to an
outside orthopedic surgeon and an MRI to address his
orthopedic pain; a TENS unit; replacement of his cane; and
placement on feed-in status. ECF No. 1; ECF No. 7 at 6.
Essentially, he contends that his suffering has increased
because of the Medical and Correctional Defendants'
ongoing violation of the Eighth Amendment.
The Medical Defendant
sole Medical Defendant, Nurse Practitioner Janette Clark,
does not dispute that Mr. Robinson is a 68-year-old prisoner
with a medical history of allergic rhinitis, hyperlipidemia,
hypertension, sleep apnea, obesity, diabetes mellitus, benign
prostatic hyperplastia, hearing loss, COPD, asthma, irritable
bowel syndrome (IBS), and chronic neck, back and hip pain. He
uses a cane, is provided a wheelchair for long distances, and
suffers diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain and
incontinence due to IBS. Affidavit of Asresahegn Getachew,
M.D., ECF No. 18-5, ¶ 4; see also medical
records in DKC-17-535, ECF No. 19-4. Ms. Clark argues that
record evidence demonstrates that Mr. Robinson has failed to
state a constitutional claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
because he has received constitutionally adequate medical
care under the Eighth Amendment.
personnel do not dispute that Mr. Robinson suffers chronic
pain syndrome. ECF No. 18-4 at 5. Mr. Robinson's pain
medication was changed in the fall of 2017, when
Tramadolwas substituted for Tylenol #
3. Mr. Robinson reported during an October
9, 2017 chronic care clinic visit that the new medication
provided some relief for his generalized neck and back pain.
ECF No. 18-4 at 6.
here, Mr. Robinson complained of worsening hip, neck, and
lower back pain during a scheduled medical visit on October
24, 2017. ECF No. 18-4 at 7. Review of prior x-rays showed
mild degenerative disc disease. Id. Although unclear
from the record, Mr. Robinson had been medically assigned to
use a wheelchair with an inmate “pusher” as well
as a cane and walker, and to receive his meals in his cell.
On December 23, 2017, this medical assignment was renewed.
ECF No. 18-4 at 8. Mr. Robinson alleges that Nurse Clark
discontinued his pain medication on December 21, 2017, and
thereafter ignored his December 29, 2017, and January 1,
2018, sick call complaints of pain. He also alleges that his
cane was taken on March 9, 2018, while he was away from his
cell, and his feed-in status terminated on March 26, 2018,
causing him to miss a meal. These allegations form the
impetus for his injunctive relief requests noted above.
Clark asserts that these allegations are not supported by the
uncontroverted medical record, which demonstrates her limited
role in Mr. Robinson's treatment regarding his orthopedic
complaints and steps taken by other health care providers to
address his complaints. Mr. Robinson was given a 90-day
prescription for Tramadol on September 15, 2017. ECF No. 18-4
at 10. On December 21, 2017, the prescription was
inexplicably stopped by pharmacy personnel who do not work
for Nurse Clark or other Wexford personnel, and none of whom
are named in this lawsuit. ECF No. 18-5, Affidavit of
Asresahegn Getachew, M.D. at ¶ 9.
Robinson claims that his sick call requests of December 29,
2017, and January 1, 2018, were ignored. However, on January
5, 2018, Nurse Clark corrected the delivery problem and Mr.
Robinson's Tramadol prescription was again provided. ECF
No. 18-4 at 9.
records further note that following a January 23, 2018
telemedicine conference concerning an unrelated urology
problem, Mr. Robinson's complaint of back pain was
addressed. ECF No. 18-4 at 22. A notation in Mr.
Robinson's chart states that he was receiving Tramadol
twice daily as of January 12, 2018, and that the medication
would be continued until April 12, 2018. ECF No. 18-4 at 24.
An earlier x-ray of the lumbar spine had revealed grade
anterolisthesis of L5 and S1, with no acute abnormality,
leading to a diagnosis of mild degenerative disease of the
spine. ECF No. 18-4 at 22, 67. Dr. Getachew avers that the
January 23 conference related to the need for cardiac
clearance to provide Mr. Robinson a prostate biopsy, and