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Clark v. McLaughlin

United States District Court, D. Maryland

August 29, 2019

HAMMEL J. CLARK, Plaintiff,
v.
BEVERL Y McLAUGHLIN, RNP, RUBUSTIANO BARRERA, M.D., MAHBOOB ASHRAF, M.D., STEPHEN D. RYAN, Physical Therapist, and WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INC. Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          THEODORE D. CHUANG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Hammel J. Clark, an inmate at the Western Correctional Institution ("WO") in Cumberland, Maryland, has filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Beverly McLaughlin, RNP; Rubustiano Barrera, M.D.; Mahboob Ashraf, M.D.; Stephen D. Ryan, Physical Therapist; and Wexford Health Sources-, Inc. ("Wexford"). Clark alleges that while he was incarcerated at WO, he was denied constitutionally adequate medical care to treat his left shoulder rotator cuff tear. Defendant Stephen D. Ryan was not served with the Complaint. The remaining Defendants have filed a Motion to Dismiss or Alternatively for Summary Judgment. Having reviewed the briefs and submitted materials, the Court finds no hearing necessary. See D. Md. Local R. 105.6. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion will be granted.

         BACKGROUND

         On March 22, 2016, Clark submitted a sick call request in which he complained of pain in his left shoulder which he attributed to a March 15 or 16 altercation with a correctional officer. He was evaluated by Nurse Amy Booth on March 24, 2016 and was provided with a sling. He already had prescriptions for pain medications. On March 29, 2016, he filed another sick call request complaining that despite his March 24 medical visit, he was not able to raise his arm without pain and that hot water did not alleviate the pain.

         On April 1, 2016, Clark, with his arm still in a sling, was evaluated by Defendant Beverly McLaughlin, a registered nurse practitioner, who noted that Clark remained in pain and had limited movement in his shoulder. She requested an x-ray of Clark's left shoulder. On April 3, 2016, Clark submitted a sick call request in which he inquired about the results of the shoulder x-ray and requested a magnetic resonance imaging test ("MRI") of his spine and shoulder. The x-ray was read on April 6, 2016 and showed "no evidence of an acute fracture, dislocation or subluxation." Defs.' Mem. Supp. Mot. Dismiss ("Mot. Dismiss") Ex. 2 at 3, ECF No. 14-4.

         On April 6, 2016, Defendant Dr. Robustiano Barrera evaluated Clark and noted recurrent dislocation in his left shoulder. Dr. Barrera also noted that Clark's range of motion was diminished and referred him to the on-site orthopedist, Dr. Carls. Clark's prescriptions for painkillers were renewed. On April 10, 2016, Clark filed a sick call request because his shoulder was "pop[p]ing out" and was painful. Mot. Dismiss Ex. 1 at 7, ECF No. 14-3. On April 20, 2016, Dr. Barrera again submitted a request that Clark be seen by Dr. Carls.

         On April 23, 2016, Clark filed another sick call request asking whether he could see a doctor again because his shoulder continued to ache and was stiff, was popping out, and was painful. Although medical personnel noted that the request for an orthopedic consultation had been placed, no further action was taken. On May 3, 2016, Clark again requested to see Dr. Barrera. On May 5, 2016, Dr. Barrera evaluated Clark again. Clark reported that his left shoulder would become dislocated when he tried to push himself off his wheelchair. He was advised to have another x-ray to determine the type of dislocation and was referred for physical therapy. Later that day, Dr. Barrera decided that Clark should not use the sling in order to "prevent developing frozen shoulder." PL's Opp'n Mot. Dismiss Ex. 4 at 9, ECF No. 17-8. The second x-ray was negative.

         On May 6, 2016, Clark again filed a sick call request complaining of pain in his shoulder and that his shoulder continued to "pop out of place" even when he was sleeping. Mot. Dismiss Ex. 1 at 10. On May 17, 2016, Clark was evaluated by Defendant Stephen Ryan, a physical therapist. The goals for physical therapy were to decrease symptoms and improve elevation and strength. Clark returned for physical therapy on May 18, 2016.

         On May 21, 2016, Clark filed another sick call request relating to continuing pain from the dislocation of his left shoulder. Although Clark was undergoing physical therapy, Clark asserted that such therapy caused pain and would not prevent his shoulder from popping out. Clark submitted additional sick call requests about his shoulder on May 27, 2016 and June 1, 2016. On June 1, Clark was examined by Nurse Dennis Martin, who noted that Clark was in compliance with his medication and physical therapy and that an orthopedic consultation request had been made on April 20, 2016. On June 2, 2019, Ryan noted modest improvements and recommended six more sessions of physical therapy.

         On June 18, 2016, McLaughlin evaluated Clark and submitted a third request that Clark's left shoulder be evaluated by an orthopedist. The same day, Clark submitted a sick call request expressing concern about his shoulder and spine. On June 24, 2016, McLaughlin requested that Clark receive additional physical therapy for his left shoulder. A collegial review team of medical professionals denied the requested orthopedic consultation in favor of continuing physical therapy.

         On July 5, 2016, Clark submitted a sick call request in which he sought an explanation for why the request for an orthopedic consultation was denied and requested an MRI. The next day, on July 6, McLaughlin evaluated Clark and encouraged him to complete the scheduled physical therapy first, then if his symptoms worsened or recurred, to return for reevaluation of the need for an orthopedic consultation. Clark continued with physical therapy throughout July and during early August 2016. On August 4, 2016, Ryan discharged Clark from physical therapy, concluding that the optimum benefit had been obtained even though Clark still had significant issues with his shoulder.

         On that day, Clark filed another sick call request and complained that despite the physical therapy, he was unable to lift his arm above the level of his shoulder. On August 6, 2016, Clark was evaluated by Nurse Kristi Cortez. Clark reported his pain as seven on a scale of 1 to 10. Nurse Clark noted that he was continuing to receive Neurontin to relieve pain.

         On August 16, 2016, Clark was evaluated by Krista Bilak, another registered nurse practitioner. Where the physical therapy had not improved Clark's shoulder, he could not lift his arm above shoulder level, and his shoulder continued to dislocate, Bilak submitted a request for an MRI of Clark's left shoulder. On September 7, 2016, Clark submitted a sick call slip asking to see a doctor other than Defendant Dr. Mahboob Ashraf. Dr. Ashraf then met with Clark to address his concerns. Clark submitted additional sick call requests on September 18, 2016 and October 11, 2016 complaining about his shoulder pain and asking about the delay in his receiving the requested MRI.

         On November 2, 2016, Clark underwent the MRI, which showed arthritic changes of the glenohumeral joint, a narrowing of the joint space, chondromalacia, joint margin osteophytes, and subarticular cystic changes at the glenoid. The MRI further revealed that Clark's glenoid labrum was degenerated and there was mild AC joint arthropathy. However, there was no swelling in the joint, the long head of the bicep tendon was ...


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