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Krell v. Queen Anne's County

United States District Court, D. Maryland

October 3, 2019

QUEEN ANNE'S COUNTY, et al., Defendants.


          James K. Bredar, Chief Judge.

         This case arises out of the arrest of Edwin Krell ("Plaintiff') and his subsequent confinement at Queen Anne's County Detention Center ("QACDC"). In March 2018, Plaintiff filed a twelve-count complaint bringing federal and state law claims against numerous state and local officials, as well as Queen Anne's County. (Compl., ECF No. 1.) In December 2018, this Court dismissed several of these claims and parties, leaving two sets of defendants: (1) the warden of QACDC, LaMonte Cooke, and (2) two of the state troopers that arrested Plaintiff. (Memo. Op. Mot. Dismiss, ECF No. 27.)

         Plaintiff brings his claims against Warden Cooke ("Defendant") under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Compl. ¶¶ 67, 95.) He alleges that Defendant was deliberately indifferent to his medical needs in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment (Count I) and the Eighth Amendment (Count III). (Id.) Discovery has been completed, and Defendant moves for summary judgment on both claims.[1] (M.S.J., ECF No. 51.) The motions have been fully briefed. No. hearing is required. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant Defendant's motion for summary judgment on both claims, [2]

         I. Factual Background

         On March 3, 2015, Plaintiff was arrested on a felony drug charge by the Maryland State Police and brought to QACDC. (Krell Depo. 10:14-21, 96:7-12, ECF No. 69-1.) Plaintiff alleges he arrived at the facility with a right shoulder dislocation and a torn subscapularis tendon. (Opp'n Mem. at 3, ECF No. 68.) Despite a well-chronicled history of shoulder problems, Plaintiff attributes the injury to one of the arresting officers who allegedly pulled him up by the handcuffs during his arrest. (M.S.J. Ex. 5, ECF No. 53-4; Krell Depo. 106:9-13.) Defendant was made aware of Plaintiffs injury, in general terms, by a jail official during intake. (Cooke Depo. 23:4-6, ECF No. 69-2.)

         On March 4, 2015, the day after Plaintiff arrived at the detention center, jail officials took him to a medical facility in Queenstown and then subsequently to the Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland Medical Center. (Krell Depo. 212:4-21.) While at Shock Trauma, Plaintiff was diagnosed with a dislocated shoulder and a closed reduction of the shoulder was performed. (Opp'n Mem. Ex. C at 1, ECF No. 69-3.) During this visit, a decision was reached that Plaintiff should have shoulder surgery. (Id. at 3.) The discharge instructions stated that Plaintiff should follow up with a surgeon-Dr. Gilotra-within one to two days to schedule an appointment for pre-operative surgical planning. (Id.) Plaintiff returned to QACDC but no appointment with Dr. Gilotra was ever scheduled. (Krell Depo .218:15-21, 219:1-5.)

         Plaintiff would ultimately spend one month at QACDC as a pretrial detainee. (M.S.J. Ex. 1 at 0007, ECF No. 53 .)[3] During this time, he filed four Health Services Requests, which described severe pain and loss of mobility and sensation in his shoulder, arm and hand. (Opp'n Mem. Ex. F-I, ECF Nos. 69-6-69-9.) The requests were filed with Conmed-QACDC's third party medical provider-and each was acknowledged by Lona Ecker, an RN at the facility. (Id.; Cooke Depo. 26:4-7.) Plaintiff also filed one Inmate Request Form asking how his pain would be managed, but it is unclear which jail official received it. (Opp'n Mem. Ex. U, ECF No. 69-21.)

         During his time at QACDC as a pretrial detainee, Plaintiff also had three additional appointments with medical providers. On March 8, 2015, Plaintiff was seen at Chester River Hospital Center for numerous complaints, including chest pain. (M.S.J. Ex. 1 at 0135-0142.) His shoulder was x-rayed at QACDC two days later. (Id. at 0206.) On March 18, 2015, Plaintiff saw an orthopedic surgeon-Dr. Stephen D. Brown-who ran further diagnostic studies on Plaintiff's shoulder and recommended a follow-up appointment "on or around" April 1, 2015. (Opp'n Mem. Ex. D at 4, ECF No. 69-4.) But on April 2, 2015, Plaintiff posted bail and was released from QACDC. (M.S.J. Ex. 1 at 0007.) Upon his release, Conmed provided Plaintiff written instructions to follow up with an orthopedic surgeon. (Id. at 0119-0122.)

         Plaintiff subsequently pled guilty and returned to QACDC on November 6, 2015 to serve his sentence. (Id. at 0006; Krell Depo. 96:7-12.) During the time he had been outside of QACDC custody, Dr. Brown had performed surgery on Plaintiffs shoulder to repair what post-operative notes described as a "[m]assive Bankart tear subscapularis tendon rupture with retraction impingement." (Opp'n Mem. Ex. E at 1, ECF No. 69-5.) When Plaintiff returned to the detention center, his arm was in a metal brace, which jail officials confiscated. (Opp'n Mem. Ex. J., ECF No. 69-10.) Plaintiff informed Defendant and Conmed staff that he needed physical therapy three times per week, though Conmed did not receive medical documentation supporting such a treatment plan nor any other medical records related to the surgery Dr. Brown performed. (M.S.J. Ex. 1; M.SJ. Mem. Supp. at 12, ECF No. 51-1.)

         Plaintiff remained at QACDC until January 19, 2016. (M.S.J. Ex. 1 at 0001.) During this approximately two and one-half month period, Plaintiff attended two physical therapy appointments; he contends he should have been receiving physical therapy three times per week. (Opp'n Mem. Ex. K, ECF No. 69-11.) Plaintiff also attended a follow-up appointment with Dr. Brown on November 25, 2015. (M.S.J. Ex. 8 at ¶ 034-038, ECF No. 53-7.) Conmed staff occasionally supplied him with ice for his shoulder, but not as often as Plaintiff believed he needed. (Opp'n Mem. Ex. M, ECF. No. 69-13.)

         During his time at QACDC as a post-conviction inmate, Plaintiff filed seven Inmate Grievances complaining of severe shoulder pain and expressing concern that his shoulder would be "messed up for life" if he did not get more frequent physical therapy, (Opp'n Mem. Ex. L-R, ECF Nos. 69-12-69-18.) Defendant signed and acknowledged each of these grievances. (Id.) Defendant was in regular contact with Conmed staff about getting Plaintiff physical therapy, and informed Plaintiff in writing of these efforts. (Cooke Depo. 118-131; Opp'n Mem. Ex. L-R.) Defendant speculated that the reason Conmed was having difficulty securing a physical therapist is that outside medical providers can be reluctant to treat inmates in their offices. (Cooke Depo. 127:1-9.) During this period, Defendant met frequently with Plaintiff to discuss his "medical situation," including up to "two or three times in one day." (Id. 39:10-19.)

         Eventually Conmed staff approached Defendant about the possibility of Plaintiff serving the remainder of his sentence at home, where Plaintiff would have better access to physical therapy. (Id. 44:2-8.) Defendant relayed this option to Plaintiff orally and in writing and suggested Plaintiff discuss the matter with his attorney. (M.S. J. Ex. 1 at 0041; Cooke Depo. 119:5-7.) Plaintiffs attorney eventually obtained the court's permission for Plaintiff to serve the remainder of his sentence on home detention, and Plaintiff was released from QACDC on January 19, 2016. (M.S.J. Ex. 1 at 0001.) Two years later, on March 2, 2018, Plaintiff filed his complaint. (Compl.)

         II. Standards of Review

         A. ...

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