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Murray v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

June 11, 2019

MELVIN WAYNE MURRAY Plaintiff
v.
WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INC., RUTH PINKNEY, P.A., Defendants

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          RICHARD D. BENNETT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         In response to this civil rights complaint, Defendants Wexford Health Sources, Inc. and Ruth Pinkney move to dismiss or for summary judgment in their favor. ECF 37 & 43. Self-represented Plaintiff Melvin Wayne Murray also filed a motion for summary judgment, which is best construed as an opposition to Defendants' motion. ECF 39. Defendants have replied. ECF 49. 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, is GRANTED and Plaintiffs motion DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Plaintiffs Allegations

         At the time he filed this Complaint, Murray was an inmate at the Eastern Correctional Institution (ECI).[1] He claims that during his chronic care clinic visits he complained to the Physician's Assistant (PA) (presumably Defendant Pinkney) about the symptoms of his conditions, which included chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a hernia, and tardive dyskinesia (TD). ECF 1 at p. 3. The PA refused to refer him to a physician or to send him to an outside hospital for additional diagnostic testing. Id. at XX.[2]

         Specifically, Murray complains that the only treatment rendered for his COPD was to prescribe him two inhalers. ECF 1 at 4. He claims that Pinkney has refused to allow him to be seen by a physician and that his COPD has worsened. Id. at 4, 6.

         Murray also claims that Pinkney is aware of his TD which he describes as a chronic eye nerve condition caused by an overdose of Risperdal. Id. at 5. He claims that on two occasions he suffered serious side effects that left his eye blurry and caused constant blinking. Id. He states that the disease cannot be cured but can be treated. Id. He alleges that Defendants have failed to treat this condition or have delayed treatment for his vision, and he seeks referral to a neurologist and to be provided a Botox injection. Id. at 6. He also indicates that surgery could be performed to correct his condition. Id. Murray claims that Defendants' refusal to provide him access to a physician is improperly based on security and cost saving concerns, and that the medication he requires is on a restricted list. Id. at pp. 6-7.

         Lastly, Murray claims that he suffers from recurrent hernia issues which cause bowel problems. ECF 1 at p. 7. He states that he underwent surgery in 2010 but the Defendants refuse him additional treatment. Id. He claims that they have not prescribed medication to treat his hernia symptoms, nor will they refer him to a doctor or outside hospital for testing because they do not believe that the hernia is serious. Id. Murray reports that when he coughs he "balls up in pain” Id. Murray has been provided a "belt" to treat the hernia, which he indicates worsens the pain and causes irritation. Id. Murray seeks referral to an outside hospital for additional diagnostic testing or treatment. Id.

         B. Defendants' Response

         Defendants submit exhibits, including the affidavits of Jason Clem, M.D. and relevant portions of Murray's medical records from February 5, 2015 through October 17, 2018, when Murray attended a tele-med evaluation performed by Dr. Herjit S. Bajaj, a neurologist with Bon Secours Hospital. ECF 37-5 (Clem Affidavit); ECF 43-2 (Clem Affidavit II); ECF 37-4 (medical records 2/5/15-5/3/18); ECF 43-1 (medical record 10/17/18).

         Defendants state that Murray has a history significant for an abscess, hypertension, COPD, asthma, seasonal allergies, eczema, chronic left should pain, glaucoma, abdominal and inguinal hernias. They indicate he also suffers from an eye condition that is either blepharospasm (an abnormal, involuntary blinking or spasm of the eyelids)[3] or TD (a side effect that may occur with certain medication used to treat mental illness that may appear as repetitive, jerking movements in the face, neck, and tongue).[4] Dr. Clem avers that Murray has received appropriate medical care for his conditions. ECF 37-5, ¶¶ 6, 7, 8; ECF 43-2, ¶ 4.

         1. Eye Condition

         Dr. Clem explains that TD is a disorder that results in involuntary jerking movement of the tongue, lips, face, trunk, and extremities. ECF 37-5, ¶ 5. It can be caused by long-term treatment with dopamine antagonists such as Risperdal. Murray, who presents with blinking of the eyes, admitted he suffered from involuntary movements prior to taking Risperdal. Id. Dr. Clem explains that it is unusual for TD to occur in the absence of neuroleptic medication. Given that Murray's symptoms predated his use of Risperdal, Clem opines that it could indicate that his symptoms were not caused by TD but rather were blepharospasm or psychogenic in nature. Id.

         Murray's medical records demonstrate that he was seen by an ophthalmologist, Dr. Summerfield, on February 5, 2015. Dr. Summerfield who regularly treated Murray for glaucoma, diagnosed Murray as suffering from blepharospasm in both eyes, and indicated that Botox treatment should be considered if Murray's condition became problematic. ECF 37-4 at 2.

         Murray did not complain of excessive blinking during his chronic care visit on June 25, 2015, or during examinations on July 17 and 21, 2015. ECF 37-4 at pp. 4-8, pp. 11-13, 14-15. He also did not complain of excessive blinking in August of 2015, when he was seen by medical staff after being exposed to pepper spray. ECF 37-4 at p. 16.

         Murray was again evaluated by Dr. Summerfield on August 27, 2015. ECF 37-4 at 18. His vision was 20/20 in one eye and 20/25 in the other. Symptoms of either blepharospasm or TD were observed; however, Dr. Summerfield noted that Murray was doing well and would continue to be monitored. Id. Dr. Summerfield did not recommend any additional treatment for the blepharospasm. Id.

         Over the next several months Murray was regularly seen by medical staff but did not complain of excessive blinking during the examinations, which occurred on September 3 and 22, 2015, October 28, 2015, December 24, 2015, and January 22, 2016. ECF 37-4 at 19-20, 21-23, 24-26, 27, 34-36.

         Murray again saw Dr. Summerfield on February 4, 2016. ECF 37-4 at 37. His vision was 20/25 in one eye and 20/30 in the other, and the blepharospasm was assessed as stable. Id. On February 26, 2016, during chart review, Sheila Kerpelman N.P. noted that Dr. Summerfield had not renewed Murray's prescription for Xalatan (a medication to treat glaucoma)[5] but the plan was to continue the medication. Id. at 38-41. Murray was referred to optometry for new glasses. Id.

         Over the next several months Murray continued to be seen by medical staff but did not offer any complaints regarding his eyes. On May 17, 2016, Murray was seen by N.P. Kerpelman in the chronic care clinic. ECF 37-4 at 42-48. Examination of his eyes was unremarkable and he did not complain of excessive blinking. Id. Murray was examined in the chronic care clinic on August 17, 2016, November 16, 2016, and February 27, 2017, but did not complain of excessive blinking on any of these occasions. ECF 37-4 at 53-60, 61-63, 64-68. He was seen on March 20, 2017 by a nurse for a sick call visit but did not complain of excessive blinking. Id. at 69-70.

         On November 13, 2017, during a chronic care visit, Murray complained that he had been blinking a lot and had excessive tearing. ECF 37-4 at 78-83.

         He did not offer any complaints regarding his eyes when he was seen in sick call on January 2, 2018. ECF 37-4 at 84-86.

         After a chronic care clinic on January 22, 2018, an optometry consult was placed due to Murray's complaints of excessive blinking. ECF 37-4 at 88-94. On February 5, 2018, P.A. Cyran submitted a neurology consult to evaluate Murray's excessive blinking. Id. at 95-101. Cyran noted Murray's history of glaucoma and treatment by an ophthalmologist. She also noted that she discussed Murray's condition with a psychiatrist who recommended a neurological work up. Id. Cyran documented Murray's history of Risperdal use, including his report that he suffered facial contractions prior to being prescribed Risperdal in 2007, and that after he stopped taking Risperdal his facial tics continued. Id.

         On February 5, 2018, the request for neurology consultation was deferred and an alternative treatment plan to continue to monitor Murray was recommended. ECF 37-4 at 102. It was noted that the neurological complaint did not interfere with Murray's activities of daily living and were likely psychologically related. Id.

         On April 13, 2018, Murray was evaluated again by Cyran in the chronic care clinic. ECF 37-4 at 106-112. He complained that the movements of his eyes and mouth were bothersome and interfering with his quality of life and that his medical needs were not being met. His history of Risperdal use was reviewed and his condition was discussed with psychiatry staff who indicated that they did not believe the condition was psychiatric in nature. Id. After discussing Murray's condition with the Medical Director, a second request for a neurological consult was placed. Id.

         Murray was examined by Dr. Summerfield on May 3, 2018. ECF 37-4 at 113. Dr. Summerfield noted the abnormal movements and recommended that Murray be evaluated by a neurologist. Id. He also ...


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