United States District Court, D. Maryland
L. Hollander United States District Judge
Thompson, a self-represented Maryland prisoner confined at
the Maryland Correctional Training Center
(“MCTC”), filed suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
against Charles Opoku, Aisha Haynes, Derrick Garnett, Jules
Rene, Daniel Morgan, Kurt Moore, Dean Gadson, Andrew Jackson,
Cpl. Lewis, and Stephen Standback, employees of the Prince
George's County Detention Center (“PGCDC”)
(collectively, the “Correctional Defendants”),
and Saba Asrat and Corizon, Inc. (“Corizon”)
(collectively, the “Medical
Defendants”). Plaintiff alleges that while he was a
pretrial detainee at PGCDC he was assaulted by the
Correctional Defendants and that the Medical Defendants
denied him constitutionally adequate medical care for the
resulting injuries. ECF 1.
Gadson, Haynes, Jackson, Lewis, Moore, Morgan, Rene, and
Stanback have answered the suit. ECF 18. The Medical
Defendants have moved to dismiss or, in the alternative, for
summary judgment (ECF 20), supported by a memorandum (ECF
20-1) (collectively, the “Motion”) and exhibits.
Plaintiff opposes the Motion. ECF 26; ECF 31; ECF 32; ECF 33.
And, he has submitted exhibits. The Medical Defendants have
replied. ECF 28; ECF 34.
has filed a request for injunctive relief. ECF 35. It is
opposed by the Medical Defendants. ECF 36.
hearing is necessary to resolve the motions. See
Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2018). For the reasons that follow,
the Medical Defendants' Motion shall be granted and
plaintiff's motion for injunctive relief shall be denied.
was 23 years old at the relevant time. ECF 26-2 at 36. He
alleges that on September 28, 2015, while housed at the
Prince George's County Detention Center, he asked
correctional officer Opoku for a pencil, but Opoku signaled
him to “‘go away.'” ECF 1 at 7.
Plaintiff next asked officer Best for a pencil, but Opoku
prevented Best from providing the pencil and again told
plaintiff to “‘go away'” and directed
plaintiff to return to his cell. Id. As plaintiff
walked away, Opoku followed him and the two exchanged words.
Id. Opoku raised his left arm, hitting
plaintiff's shoulder with his hand. Id.
Plaintiff reacted by striking Opoku in the face with a closed
fist, knocking him unconscious. Id.
Haynes pushed plaintiff into his cell and stated,
“‘now they are about to come fuck you
up.'” Id. Haynes left and then within one
minute an emergency response team (“E.R.T.”) came
to plaintiff's cell. Id. Plaintiff “stuck
his hands out of the slot” in order to be handcuffed,
but he was directed by an officer to “get on the
ground.” Id. Plaintiff responded that he would
come out of the cell and get on the ground. Id. An
unidentified officer then lifted his mace in an attempt to
spray plaintiff. Id. Plaintiff backed away from the
cell door, which then opened, and plaintiff, who had been
talking to his cellmate, “balled up to protect his face
. . . .” Id. The officers then entered his
cell and stomped, kicked, punched, and maced him.
Id. at 7-8. Plaintiff states that the officers
continued to “beat” him even after he was
handcuffed, and also maced him. Id. at 8.
the altercation, plaintiff was escorted to the medical unit
by staff and seen by Nurse Saba Asrat. Id. Plaintiff
advised Asrat that his “face and back hurts like
hell” but Asrat said he was
“‘ok'” and he was placed in the medical
unit holding cell. Id. Plaintiff states that he was
bleeding and in “very bad shape.” ECF 26 at 8.
Because it was the change of shift, plaintiff was placed in
an isolation cell in the medical unit. ECF 1 at 8. Later that
evening, plaintiff went to the glass at his cell and sought
help from an unidentified nurse, telling her that he believed
something was broken and he needed x-rays. ECF 26-3, ¶
10. She responded that it was late and that she would need to
call the doctor. Id.
that day, when a correctional officer sought to have
plaintiff moved to housing unit H-5, solitary confinement, he
was seen by another nurse who was responsible for clearing
him for the move. ECF 1 at 8. Plaintiff threatened to kill
himself and the nurse instructed the officers to place him
back into the medical isolation cell, where he was put on
suicide watch. Id. Due to plaintiff's threats of
self harm, plaintiff was seen by Dr. Hernandez. ECF 26-1,
¶ 11. He advised Hernandez that he was afraid of the
E.R.T. officers who had threatened him, telling him they were
not done with him. Id. Plaintiff also told Hernandez
that he needed medical attention because his face and back
hurt badly. Id. Hernandez indicated he would relay
the information to medical staff. Id.
alleges that on September 29, 2015, while being escorted by
Officer Jackson, he was placed “under a camera”
and assaulted by Officers Jackson, Lewis and Standback. ECF 1
at 8. After the assault, further along in his escort, Jackson
again placed plaintiff “under a camera” and
assaulted him again. Id.
October 1, 2015, plaintiff was seen by a nurse and doctor.
Id. at 9. He reported face, jaw, and back pain.
Id. X rays were ordered. Id. Plaintiff was
transported to the emergency room that evening. Plaintiff
advised emergency room personnel that that he was in an
altercation two days earlier, although the hospital record
also says that the pain began four days earlier. ECF 26-2 at
35. The emergency room notes reflect that plaintiff offered
no complaints, except pain to his lower neck. Id. at
of plaintiff's head, eyes, and nose were all normal, with
a note that the head was atraumatic. Id. at 37.
Tenderness was observed over plaintiff's back.
Id. He was prescribed Percocet for pain relief.
had a “primary diagnosis” of “spinous
process fracture of C7 and T1 after assault” and
received a prescription for Ibupofen. Id. at 36. The
“Doctors Notes” stated, id.: “Not
an unstable fracture, pain controlled and no neuro deficits
or risk of further injury. Patient can wear collar for
comfort and f/u with NSGY (Amini). Pain control as
well.” Id. Similarly, the discharge notes
indicated a “stable fracture, but can be
painful.” Id. at 40. And, the discharge notes
further reflect that plaintiff had facial swelling and pain.
scan indicated that, in addition to the fractures at ¶ 7
and T1, “There is bilateral nasal bone fractures. There
is an old left orbital wall fracture” Id. at
opposition to the Motion, plaintiff alleges, for the first
time, that Corizon “acted [with] deliberate
indifference to the need to train its employees to treat
serious medical condition, such as those presented by the
plaintiff during his commitment in the Upper Marlboro
Detention Center.” ECF 26 at 2. Plaintiff also claims
that Corizon “failed to adequately train and supervise
Defendants Nurses and medical staff in treating
patients...” Id. Additionally, he alleges that
Corizon provides less medical care than they contract to
provide in order to maximize their profits. Id. at
Medical Defendants' Response
support of their motion, the Medical Defendants submitted
various exhibits, including the affidavits of Saba Asrat,
R.N., and Meskerem Asresahegn, M.D., as well as relevant
portions of plaintiff's medical records. ECF 20-2 (Asrat
Declaration); ECF 20-3 (Asresahegn Declaration I); ECF 23-1
(medical records); ECF 34-1 (Asresahegn Declaration II).
evaluated plaintiff on September 28, 2015, at 1:59 p.m.,
shortly after the first altercation with staff. ECF 20-2,
¶ 5; ECF 23-1 at 1-2. Although plaintiff's blood
pressure and pulse were recorded as slightly elevated, it was
also noted that he was not in acute distress. Plaintiff's
face was swollen, but Asrat denies that plaintiff complained
of facial or back pain. She explains that she did not refer
plaintiff to a higher-level medical provider because she did
not believe that plaintiff had suffered a fracture or any
other significant injury. ECF 20-2, ¶ 5.
also noted that plaintiff could be admitted to the isolation
cell in the medical unit for further observation,
she advised plaintiff to contact medical staff if his
symptoms worsened. ECF 20-2, ¶ 5. In her
Declaration, Asrat explains that if plaintiff later developed
complaints those would have been addressed by nursing staff
who performed rounds in the medical unit. Id.
Further, she avers that plaintiff showed an understanding of
self-care, which symptoms to report, and when to return for
follow up care. Id. The record demonstrates that
Asrat's interaction with plaintiff on September 28, 2015,
was the only interaction between Asrat and plaintiff during
the relevant time period. ECF 23-1 at 1-19.
the examination, Asrat discussed plaintiff's condition
with Nurse Emily Bello. ECF 20-2, ¶ 5. In light of the
swelling on plaintiff's face, they contacted the on-call
doctor to obtain an order for Naproxen, a non-steroidal
anti-inflammatory medication (“NSAID”), which
relieves swelling and pain. Asrat explains that as a
Registered Nurse she was not authorized to order medication
for plaintiff. Bello called the doctor, who ordered the
Naproxen, which plaintiff received later that day.
avers that she was not aware of plaintiff's
“complaints of neck and facial complaints.” ECF
20-2, ¶ 10. She denies that plaintiff complained to her
of pain and did not appear to be in acute distress after the
altercation of September 28, 2015. Id. Asrat
specifically denies that she denied plaintiff medical
treatment or otherwise disregarded or ignored his medical
needs. Id., ¶ 11. She avers that she relied on
her medical judgment while treating plaintiff and is not
aware of any policy, custom, or practice of Corizon that
harmed or injured plaintiff. Id.
than two hours later, Bello observed plaintiff in the
isolation cell. ECF 23-1 at 3.Plaintiff's face remained
swollen, but he sat calmly on his bed. Id.
10:00 p.m. that night, after plaintiff was advised that he
was going to be moved to Housing Unit 5, plaintiff reported
he was suicidal, and Nurse Admassu Zewdiensh placed him on
suicide watch in the medical unit. ECF 23-1 at 4. No.
complaints of pain were noted. Id. While plaintiff
was on suicide watch on September 29, 2015 and September 30,
2015, he did not express any complaints of jaw, neck, or back
pain to the various medical providers who treated him.
Id. at 5-14.
October 1, 2015, plaintiff stated that he had difficulty
chewing, his jaw and back hurt, and his left eye was blurry.
Id. at 16. Dr. Asresahegn ordered x-rays of
plaintiff's neck and of his face because of observed
facial bruising. Id. at 19. The x-rays showed
fractures of the C6 and C7 spinous processes (bony
projections off the back of each vertebra at the bottom of
the neck). Id. at 26; ECF 20-3, ¶ 10. No.
fractures were observed in plaintiff's facial bones,
nasal bones, jaw, or periorbital bones. ECF 23-1 at 23.
was taken to the hospital, where a CT scan showed fractures
of the C7 spinous process and a fracture of the T1 spinous
process. Id. at 28-29. A CT scan of plaintiff's
lumbar spine showed no abnormalities. ECF 20-3, ¶ 10;
ECF 23 at 30. The CT scan of plaintiff's head revealed an
old fracture of the left lateral orbital wall that Dr.
Asresahegn avers was not sustained as a result of the
altercations. ECF 20-3, ¶ 10; ECF 23 at 31. No. acute
facial injuries were observed. Id. Plaintiff was
provided with cervical collar and Tylenol #3 and discharged
to the PGCDC. Id.; ECF 23-1 at 32.
Medical Defendants maintain that although plaintiff's
emergency room record referenced bilateral nasal fractures
(ECF 33-1 at 5-6), the finding was erroneous. ECF 34-1,
¶ 4. They assert that neither the x-rays of October 1,
2005, nor the CT scan of plaintiff's head, showed a nasal
fracture. ECF 34-1, ¶ 4. Additionally, the discharging
physician did not indicate that any further treatment was
required for an injury to plaintiff's nose. Lastly, Dr.
Asresahegn explains that to the extent plaintiff's nose