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Haughie v. Weber

United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division

March 21, 2019

ROBERT HAUGHIE, SID #255085, Plaintiff,
v.
RONALD S. WEBER, et al., Defendants.[1]

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          GEORGE J. HAZEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pro se Plaintiff Robert Haughie, an inmate incarcerated at Western Correctional Institution (“WCI”) in Cumberland, Maryland, brings this civil action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Acting Assistant Warden Ronald S. Weber, C.O. II Alicia A. Cartwright, C.O. II James M. Bennett (collectively, “Correctional Defendants”), and Odittie, [2] Burnice Swan, R.N., Brenda Reese, R.N., Beverly McLaughlin, N.P., Michael Klepitch, R.N., and Ryan Browning, L.P.N. (collectively, “Medical Defendants”). ECF Nos. 1, 6. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants have falsified documents, denied him medication and a wheelchair that fits, hindered his access to Administrative Remedy Procedure (“ARP”) grievance forms, and retaliated against him for filing suit. Id. He seeks monetary damages and injunctive relief. Id.

         On April 13, 2018, the Medical Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 27. On June 11, 2018, the Correctional Defendants also filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 38. Plaintiff filed responses opposing Defendants' motions (ECF Nos. 29, 43), as well his own Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF Nos. 48, 50), to which Medical Defendants responded (ECF Nos. 49, 52). After review of the record, exhibits, and applicable law, the Court deems a hearing unnecessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2018). Defendants' motions shall be granted and Plaintiff's motion shall be denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff, a 58-year-old male inmate at WCI, has had brain tumor surgery as well as diagnoses of sciatica, hypertension, Hepatitis C, and joint disease. See generally ECF Nos. 27-5, 27-6.[3]

         On March 16, 2017, while Plaintiff was incarcerated at Maryland Correctional Institution-Jessup (“MCI-J”), he was seen by Dr. Yonas Sisay in the chronic care clinic. ECF No. 27-5 at 2. At that time, Plaintiff had residual motor weakness on the right side and reported that walking was becoming more difficult. Id. Plaintiff complained of one to two headaches per week, with photophobia, [4] but no nausea or vomiting. Id. A cervical spine x-ray performed on September 30, 2016, revealed extensive degenerative disc disease. Id. Plaintiff was prescribed Verapamil[5] for hypertension and migraine prophylaxis. Id.

         Also on March 16, 2017, Plaintiff had a case conference with Dr. Sisay and other medical providers regarding Plaintiff's request for a wheelchair. Id. at 5. Plaintiff stated that his leg wobbling was not improving and he felt he was a fall risk. Id. It was explained to Plaintiff that MCI-J was not a wheelchair facility and that a prescription for a wheelchair would result in transfer to another facility. Id.

         Plaintiff continued to see Dr. Sisay from March through June of 2017. See Id. at 6-13. On April 11, 2017, Plaintiff had another case conference regarding the use of a wheelchair. Id. at 8. Dr. Sisay agreed that Plaintiff was a fall risk and that a wheelchair should be ordered. Id. Plaintiff understood that he would be transferred to a wheelchair facility. Id.

         On May 18, 2017, Plaintiff was seen by Dr. Sisay at chronic care clinic. Id. at 10-11. Plaintiff was informed that his wheelchair had been delivered and that he would be transferred when a slot at a wheelchair facility became available. Id. Plaintiff reported that his neck pain was not controlled by Neurontin[6] and requested that it be changed to Lyrica.[7] Lyrica was prescribed. Id. In addition, Plaintiff was informed that a consultation with an Ear, Nose and Throat (“ENT”) specialist at University of Maryland Medical System (“UMMS”) was approved. Id.

         On June 5, 2017, Plaintiff received his wheelchair, and on June 6, 2017, he was transferred to WCI. Id. at 12-14. On June 10, 2017, Plaintiff was seen by Holly Pierce, N.P. for a scheduled visit. Id. at 15-17. Plaintiff was issued a wooden cane while his walker was being processed in property department. Id. He was wearing a wrist brace and requested a knee brace for the left knee, which was assessed as not indicated. Id. Plaintiff complained of a small lump in the right hand, assessed as a sesamoid bone. Id. Plaintiff disagreed with the x-ray assessment. Id. Plaintiff also had two cysts on his back for which a surgical consultation was ordered. Id. A physical therapy consultation for gait strengthening, as well as the ENT consultation, were requested. Id. At that time, Plaintiff's prescription for Verapamil 120mg once daily was continued for hypertension. Id.

         On June 14, 2017, Plaintiff was seen by Defendant Beverly McLaughlin, N.P. for a provider sick call. Id. at 18-20. Plaintiff was noted to have right-sided weakness, numbness to the right side of the tongue and face, left wrist carpal tunnel, bilateral knee pain, and numbness to the right lower leg and top of the right foot. Id. Plaintiff was advised that his initial Lyrica prescription had not been approved, and he would be started on Neurontin 600mg 2 tablets twice daily. Id. On June 15, 2017, however, a non-formulary request for Lyrica was approved and Neurontin was discontinued. Id. at 20-22.

         On June 22, 2017, Plaintiff was seen by Stephen Ryan, a physical therapist. Id. at 23. Plaintiff was able to perform sit/stand transitions independently and was able to maintain static standing balance. Id. Plaintiff could transfer from chair to table with close supervision but was unable to walk or perform dynamic balance activities. Id. The physical therapist's goal was to increase strength bilaterally in the upper and lower extremities. Id. Plaintiff returned for physical therapy on June 28 and 30, 2017. Id. at 24-25. Plaintiff had no complaint of pain, nor did he have any new complaints during those follow-up sessions. Id.

         On July 20, 2017, Plaintiff was again seen by Stephen Ryan. Id. at 26. Plaintiff was able to stand and transfer with caregiver assistance, and he was noted to have balance and cognitive issues. Id. Six additional sessions of physical therapy were recommended so that Plaintiff could become independent in static standing and transfers. Id.

         On July 31, 2017, Plaintiff's prescription for Neurontin for back pain was reinstated, and his prescriptions for Fioricet for headaches, and Verapamil were renewed. Id. at 27-28. On August 1, 2017, Plaintiff was seen by Peggy Mahler, N.P. at chronic care clinic. Id. at 28-30. She assessed that Plaintiff's hypertension was controlled with current medications, his headaches were controlled with Fioricet, and his Hepatitis C virus was asymptomatic. Id. Plaintiff stated that his chronic back pain was controlled with Neurontin 1200mg twice daily, and he no longer needed Lyrica. Id.

         On August 11, 2017, Plaintiff was seen by Mahler for an infected cyst on his back. Id. at 31-32. Plaintiff was prescribed Bactrim, an antibiotic. Id.

         On August 14, 2017, Plaintiff was seen by Mahler during a scheduled visit. Id. at 33-34. Mahler noted the physical therapist's recommendation for six more sessions and requested a consultation. Id. At that time, the infection on Plaintiff's back was assessed as healed and wound care was discontinued. Id. Plaintiff's blood pressure was elevated, but he declined a cardiovascular diet. Id.

         On August 28, 2017, Plaintiff was seen by Mahler for his annual physical exam. Id. at 35-38. Plaintiff reported facial numbness with sharp pain on the right side of his head after undergoing brain surgery on January 1, 2016, to remove a tumor. Id. Plaintiff reported headaches with nausea but no visual disturbance or vomiting. Id. Plaintiff stated that Fioricet helped but he would wake at 1:00 a.m. with a headache and “nothing to take.” Id. Plaintiff refused NSAIDs. Id. He was prescribed Excedrin Migraine as needed. Id.

         On September 6, 2017, Plaintiff's chart was updated by Mahler. Id. at 39. Plaintiff had refused to go to the ENT specialist at UMMS for a consultation because “he did not know why he was going.” Id. Mahler explained to Plaintiff that an ENT assessment of his speech function was recommended prior to receiving voice therapy, and Plaintiff agreed to reschedule the appointment. Id.

         On September 14, 2017, the physical therapist noted that Plaintiff reached an optimum level of functional mobility and had obtained the optimum benefit from physical therapy. Id. at 40. As a result, the physical therapist recommended a follow-up in 4-6 months for any change in status. Id.

         On October 25, 2017, Plaintiff was seen by Defendant McLaughlin. Id. at 41-45. Plaintiff complained that he was not able to purchase some items from the commissary due to his peanut allergy. Id. It was explained to Plaintiff his allergy restrictions could not be discontinued as his allergy was life-threatening. Id. McLaughlin noted Plaintiff's history for chronic low back pain, bilateral knee pain, left wrist pain, and right elbow pain. Id. Plaintiff was advised that Neurontin would not be renewed for an extended period. Id. A tapering dose was ordered and Plaintiff was prescribed Cymbalta[8] instead. Id.

         On November 17, 2017, Plaintiff was seen by Defendant McLaughlin at provider sick call. Id. at 46-47. Plaintiff complained that he had not received the paperwork for his wrist brace and right elbow and knee sleeves, that his wheelchair was falling apart, and that Cymbalta did not work and gave him diarrhea. Id. Plaintiff stated that he wanted only Neurontin for pain. Id.

         On December 4, 2017, Plaintiff was seen by Defendant Michael Klepitch, R.N. at nurse sick call. Id. at 48. Plaintiff complained of pain and wanted copies of the orders changing his medications. Id. Plaintiff “stormed out” when he was refused copies. Id.

         On December 10, 2017, Plaintiff was seen by Janette Clark, N.P. at provider sick call. Id. at 49-51. Although Plaintiff's Cymbalta was not discontinued, Plaintiff reported that he stopped taking Cymbalta because it gave him diarrhea. Id. Plaintiff was noted to have chronic pain in his hips and knees and degenerative changes in his cervical spine. Id. He was assessed as being “essentially wheelchair bound” and could transfer from wheelchair to bed with much difficulty. Id. Clark requested a consultation with the clinical pharmacist for a pain management regimen. Id.

         On January 11, 2018, Plaintiff was seen by Mahler at chronic care clinic. Id. at 52-55. At that time, Plaintiff's hypertension was stable, his Hepatitis C was asymptomatic, and he reported non-radiating low back pain, bilateral feet and knee pain, and right shoulder pain. Id. Plaintiff continued to refrain from taking Cymbalta because it gave him diarrhea; therefore, it was discontinued. Id. Plaintiff stated he tried Elavil, nortriptyline, and tegretol but they did not work. Id. Plaintiff declined steroid injections for his knees but was agreeable to one for his right shoulder. Id. On January 15, 2018, a non-formulary request for another 120 days of Fioricet was placed. Id. at 56-57.

         On January 31, 2018, Plaintiff was seen by Dennis Martin, R.N. at nurse sick call. Id. at 58-59. Plaintiff complained that he was still being offered Cymbalta but the provider discontinued it on January 15, 2018. Id. Martin notified the pharmacy about stopping Cymbalta. Id.

         On April 7, 2018, Plaintiff was seen by Clark at chronic care clinic. Id. at 60. Plaintiff's hypertension and Hepatitis C were stable, and his March 1, 2018 consultation with UMMS ENT was noted to recommend proceeding with speech therapy without ENT intervention. Id. Clark noted that Plaintiff's wheelchair needed repair and she placed a request for repair. Id. Clark also ordered a new ...


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