United States District Court, D. Maryland
Xinis United States District Judge
Wayne Roper, an inmate currently confined at Eastern
Correctional Institution (“ECI”), filed suit
against Defendant Wexford Health Sources, Inc.
(“Wexford”), asserting that he received
constitutionally inadequate medical care in violation of his
Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual
punishment. ECF No. 1, pp. 1, 4-6. Roper also brings common
law medical malpractice claims. Id., p. 4. Wexford
now moves for dismissal or alternatively summary judgment in
its favor. The Court has reviewed all pleadings and finds a
hearing unnecessary. See Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md.
2018). For the reasons discussed below, the Court grants
parties have attached records which this Court considers in
the light most favorable to Roper. It is undisputed that
Roper, age 51, suffers from hepatitis C, hypertension,
backache, high cholesterol and esophageal reflux. ECF No.
10-4; ECF No. 10-5, ¶ 4. Consequently, Roper is
considered a chronic care patient who is seen, at a minimum,
every 90 days in the facility's chronic care clinic, and
more frequently if medically necessary. ECF No. 10-5, ¶
Wexford maintains that the clinic attempts to see inmates
within 30 days of arrival to a new facility, ECF No. 10-5
¶ 5, Roper avers that as of January 1, 2019, he had not
yet been seen in the chronic care clinic since his transfer
to ECI on October 31, 2018. ECF No. 1, pp. 4-5. The medical
record reveals that on October 26, 2018, Roper had been seen
in the clinic while housed at Dorsey Run Correctional
Facility, and was provided with 33 tablets of Elavil
(amitriptyline) 50 mg and 21 Baclofen tablets, 20 mg.
ECF No. 10-4, p. 2. During his intersystem transfer, Wexford
personnel examined Roper again on October 29, 2018 while he
was at Central Maryland Correctional Facility. Id.,
p. 3. At that examination, Roper was given 50 mg.
amitriptyline, 50 mg. of Atenolol,  600 mg. of Gemfibrozil,
mg. of Omeprazole twice a day, as well as 20 mg. of Baclofen
and 25 mg. of hydrochlorothiazide. Id.
arrived at ECI on October 31, 2018 and was assessed that same
day by Wexford medical personnel. At that intake evaluation,
Roper voiced no complaints and was continued on all six
medications until December 9, 2018. ECF No.10-4, pp. 4-5.
his transfer to ECI, Wexford medical personnel treated Roper
on November 8, 2018, for complaints of headaches; at that
time Roper expressed his concern that he had not yet been
seen in the chronic care clinic because his medications were
due for renewal. ECF No. 10-4, p. 7. Roper again complained,
via sick call slips on November 11, 13, and 15, 2018, that he
had not yet been seen in the chronic care clinic and that he
had run out of blood pressure medication. Id., pp.
December 5, 2018, Roper was seen in the chronic care clinic
for the first time since moving to ECI 35 days before. ECF
No. 10-5, ¶ 8; ECF No. 10-4, pp. 11-16. During that
visit, Roper reported that he had been taking his medications
as prescribed, but that he was experiencing headaches and had
not yet received eyeglasses prescribed to him before
transfer. Id., p. 11. At the visit, Roper was
screened for prostate disease, his medications were renewed
and modified to address his symptoms, his bottom-bunk orders
were renewed, and he was scheduled for follow up clinical
appointments to assess his cardiovascular and hepatitis C
status, as well as to address pain management to be scheduled
in three months. Id., pp. 11-13. Shortly after the
December 5 visit, Roper filed suit.
Standard of Review
moves to dismiss the Complaint or alternatively for summary
judgment in its favor. A motion to dismiss brought pursuant
to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules if Civil Procedure
tests the sufficiency of the Complaint. When reviewing such a
motion, the Court all well-pleaded Complaint allegations as
true and most favorably to the plaintiff. Venkatraman v.
REI Sys., Inc., 417 F.3d 418, 420 (4th Cir. 2005),
citing Mylan Labs., Inc. v. Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130,
1134 (4th Cir. 1993); Ibarra v. United States, 120
F.3d 472, 473 (4th Cir. 1997). To survive a motion to
dismiss, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual
matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-78 (2009) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). “A claim has facial
plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that
allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. “But where the
well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than
the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged
-- but it has not ‘show[n]' -- ‘that the
pleader is entitled to relief.'” Id. at
679 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).
the parties have also submitted evidence that go beyond the
facts averred in the Complaint. Accordingly, the Court may
construe the motion as one for summary judgment brought
pursuant to Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. Summary judgment is proper where no genuine issue
as to any material fact entitles the moving party to judgment
as a matter of law. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c);
see also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 250 (1986); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 322 (1986). The movant bears the burden of demonstrating
no genuine issue of material fact. See Fed. R. Civ.
P. 56(c); Pulliam, 810 F.2d at 1286 (citing
Charbonnages de France v. Smith, 597 F.2d 406, 414
(4th Cir. 1979)). “A party opposing a properly
supported motion for summary judgment ‘may not rest
upon the mere allegations or denials of [his] pleadings,'
but rather must ‘set forth specific facts showing that
there is a genuine issue for trial.'” Bouchat
v. Baltimore Ravens Football Club, Inc., 346 F.3d 514,
522 (4th Cir. 2003) (alteration in original) (quoting
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)). When assessing the propriety of summary
judgment, the Court views the evidence in the light most
favorable to the nonmoving party and draws all inferences in
his favor. Dennis v. Columbia Colleton Med.
Ctr., Inc., 290 F.3d 639, 644-45 (4th Cir.
Eighth Amendment prohibits “unnecessary and wanton
infliction of pain” through the guarantee against cruel
and unusual punishment. Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S.
153, 173 (1976). “Scrutiny under the Eighth Amendment
is not limited to those punishments authorized by statute and
imposed by a criminal judgment, ” De'Lonta v.
Angelone, 330 F.3d 630, 633 (4th Cir. 2003), and may
include claims premised on denial of medical care. To sustain
this claim, the plaintiff must demonstrate that
defendants' acts or omissions amounted to deliberate
indifference to a serious medical need. See Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976).
indifference is a very high standard - a showing of mere
negligence will not meet it. . . . [T]he Constitution is
designed to deal with deprivations of rights, not errors in
judgments, even though such errors may have unfortunate
consequences.” Grayson v. Peed, 195 F.3d 692,
695-96 (4th Cir. 1999). To demonstrate a defendant's
deliberate indifference to a serious medical need, the
plaintiff must show that, objectively, he was suffering from
a serious medical need and that, subjectively, the prison
staff were aware of the need for medical care but failed to
provide it or assure that necessary care was available.
See Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 837 (1994).
Objectively, the medical condition at issue must be serious.
See Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 9 (1992). A
medical condition is serious when it is “one that ...