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Hamilton v. Washington Co. Det. Ctr.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

April 26, 2019




         In response to this civil rights complaint Defendants Long, Rowe, Mullendore, Washington County Board of Commissioners, Washington County Detention Center, and Washington County Sheriffs Department move to dismiss or for summary judgment in their favor. ECF 13.[1] Self-represented Plaintiff Larry Hamilton was notified of his right to file an Opposition Response and of the consequences of failing to do so (ECF 16), but has not opposed the motion. No. hearing is necessary for the disposition of the matters pending before the Court. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2018). For the reasons that follow, Defendants' motion, construed as one for summary judgment, shall be granted.


         A. Complaint Allegations (ECF 1 and ECF 4 (supplemental complaint))[2]

         At the time he filed this complaint Hamilton was an inmate at the Washington County Detention Center (WCDC). He claims that at the time of his arrival, August 7, 2018 (see ECF 4 at p. 3), he was seen by medical staff employed by Correct Care Solutions and he informed them that he had undergone reconstructive knee surgery in 2012; that he takes "Zantac 150" to treat a stomach ulcer; and that he cannot tolerate milk. ECF 1 at p. 3. He explains that he was in a car accident in December 2017, during which he sustained a back injury and re-injured his knee. Id. Hamilton claims that the information he provided to medical staff was ignored and he was assigned to a cell on the top tier and assigned to a top bunk. Id.

         On August 25, 2018, Hamilton filed a grievance concerning the medical staff because his numerous attempts to get his cell assignment changed to a lower tier and lower bunk were unsuccessful. ECF 4 at p. 4. He claims that an ear infection he sustained made it more difficult to get down from the top bunk and that he told both detention center staff and medical staff about his difficulty. Id.

         On September 5, 2018, while coming down from the top bunk, Hamilton asserts he became dizzy and his knee popped in and out of place. ECF 1 at p. 5. As a result, Hamilton fell to the floor, striking his face on the desktop in the cell and cracking a tooth in half. Id. When Hamilton was seen for his injury the next day, he claims he received Motrin, but did not have x-rays or other tests performed, nor did he see a dentist. Id., see also ECF 4 at pp. 4 & 6.

         On September 6, 2018, Hamilton received a response for the grievance he filed, but claims "there has not been a remedy." ECF 1 at p. 5.

         Hamilton claims that on September 9, 2018, he asked to see a medical provider because his blood pressure was between 98/120 and 104/160. ECF 4 at p. 5. Despite asking to be seen three days in a row, Hamilton claims he was "maliciously refused" each day causing him "mental anguish and emotional distress." Id. Hamilton adds that despite his reported problems, he remained assigned to the top tier and top bunk. ECF 1 at p. 5.

         Hamilton adds that since August 8, 2018, he has been "negligently subjected to taking showers in mold," was denied meals on two occasions as a form of punishment, and had his diet changed by non-medical staff. Id. at p. 6. Hamilton clarifies his claim regarding meals and states that he was "maliciously" removed from the "lactose diet" as a form of punishment and was forced to eat under threat of being put "in the butt naked room." ECF 4 at pp. 6, 7. He states that his tooth remains cracked and has not yet been seen by a dentist. ECF 1 at p. 6. He further claims that he was "never given ice" for his "swollen hand," nor was he seen by medical staff for his swollen knee. ECF 4 at p. 6. Hamilton claims that all of the noted conduct and conditions constitute negligence and deliberate indifference. He seeks compensatory damages; an order requiring his treatment by specialists for his ear, knee and for headaches; and an award of 5 million dollars "to build a better Medical Dept." ECF 1 at p. 7.

         B. Defendants' Response (ECF 13 (motion), ECF 15 (sealed medical records))

         Hamilton was detained in WCDC on August 8, 2018, on charges of first and second degree assault and theft. See ECF 13-3 (docket for State of Maryland v. Hamilton, Case C-21-CR-18-724 (Wash. Co. Cir. Ct.)). Defendants provide a copy of Warden Long's response to Hamilton's September 6, 2018, in which he complained about a swollen knee and back and lack of access to Zantac. ECF 13-4. The response includes a report to Warden Long from the Health Services Administrator who stated:

Hamilton did not indicate knee surgery or back injury during his medical intake. He complained of his right hand hurting. During his physical examination, the hand was noted to be swollen and painful. An x-ray was done and the x-ray was negative. During the physical exam the knee and back were negative for any deformities. His knee surgery is over 5 years old and does not warrant a lower bunk or lower tier at this time. He placed a sick call request today c/o knee pain after falling off his bunk. He will be seen on nurse sick call within the next 24 to 48 hours per protocol for this.
As for the Zantac, he did not indicate ulcers and denied taking any medications prescribed by a physician. We have obtained health records and nothing has confirmed the diagnosis of ulcers that he states. Zantac is non-formulary and a diagnosis must be verified before approval is attempted. He has been ordered Turns twice a day.

ECF 13-4 at p. 2. Based on this assessment, Warden Long did not require action to be taken in response to ...

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