United States District Court, D. Maryland
W. GRIMM, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Enow's pro se Complaint alleges that Dr. Talmadge Reeves
provided him inadequate medical care in violation of his
rights under the Eighth Amendment. ECF No. 1. Dr. Reeves
previously filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative,
Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 25), which I denied
without prejudice to renewal. ECF Nos. 38, 39. Dr. Reeves
thereafter renewed his dispositive motion and filed the
pending Supplemental Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative
for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 41. Enow, a Maryland inmate in
the custody of the Division of Correction, filed a verified
Response in Opposition with a request for a settlement
conference. ECF Nos. 48, 52. The matter is ripe for
disposition, and no hearing is necessary. See Local
Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2018). For the reasons discussed below,
Dr. Reeves' Supplemental Motion (ECF No. 41), will be
treated as a Motion for Summary Judgment and granted.
Enow's claims are dismissed with prejudice.
claims that on February 17, 2017, Dr. Reeves discontinued his
medication for Zoloft, a psychotropic drug, without notice or
due process, in violation of his rights under the Eighth
Amendment. ECF No. 1 at 7, ¶ 8; ECF No. 48 (“Pl.
Opp'n”) at 2, ¶ 3. Enow denies that he was
hoarding this medication. Pl. Opp'n at 3, ¶ 8.
facts germane to this issue were summarized in my Memorandum
Opinion dated February 16, 2018. ECF No. 38 at 20. On January
25, 2017, Dr. Reeves saw Enow for psychiatric treatment, at
which time Dr. Reeves noted that Enow was being seen every 12
weeks to monitor the Zoloft he was prescribed for depression.
Id. On February 13, 2017, Nurse Victoria Midgette
reported that Enow was found hoarding 20 Zoloft pills.
Id. The following day, Dr. Reeves discontinued the
Zoloft prescription without seeing Enow due to concerns about
hoarding. Id. On March 24 and 25, 2017, Enow
submitted sick call slips stating that he was not receiving
his anti- depressant medicine and, in the March 24, 2017 sick
call slip, he complained of suffering heart palpitations,
chest pain, pain attacks, and other symptoms. Id.
10, 2017, Dr. Reeves saw Enow for the “12 week”
check-up, although more than 12 weeks had passed since the
last visit on January 25, 2017. Enow told Dr. Reeves that he
was “prescribed Zoloft 50 mg. and he was breaking it in
two [be]cause it cause[s] his stomach to bubble.”
Id. In response to the concern expressed by Enow,
Dr. Reeves prescribed Zoloft 25 mg. Id. Dr. Reeves
continued to see Enow after the medication was discontinued
in February 2017 and decided to reorder the medication at
half strength at his next appointment because Enow had been
on the medication for many years. Decl. of Dr. Reeves, ECF
No. 25-3 (“Dr. Reeves Decl. I”), at ¶ 5. Dr.
Reeves advised Enow that in the future he needed to refuse
the medication instead of pretending to take it or to hoard
it. Id. Dr. Reeves states that it is standard prison
policy to discontinue medication if an inmate is hoarding it.
Id. at ¶ 7.
these facts, I determined there remained a genuine dispute of
material facts making summary judgment inappropriate. ECF No.
38 at 21. Specifically, at issue was (1) whether Enow was
hoarding medication, and if he was not, whether Dr. Reeves
was aware the report of hoarding was incorrect; (2) if Enow
was hoarding his medication or Dr. Reeves was unaware the
report was inaccurate, did the abrupt discontinuation of the
medication without seeing the patient for more than twelve
weeks, despite Enow's complaints about adverse effects
from the discontinuance, violate acceptable medical
standards; (3) whether the discontinuation of the medication
caused the injuries alleged and, if so whether Dr. Reeves was
aware or should have been aware of the possible adverse
effects; and (4) whether Dr. Reeves knew or should have known
about the sick call slips complaining of adverse effects.
order to establish an Eighth Amendment claim, Enow must show
that Dr. Reeves' actions amounted to deliberate
indifference to a serious medical need. See Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). There is no underlying
distinction between the right to medical care for physical
ills and its psychological and psychiatric counterpart.
Bowring v. Godwin, 551 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1977);
see also DePaola v. Clarke, 884 F.3d 481, 486 (4th
Cir. 2018) (“Courts treat an inmate's mental health
claims just as seriously as any physical health
indifference to a serious medical need requires proof that,
objectively, a prisoner was suffering from a serious medical
need and that, subjectively, the prison staff were aware of
the need for medical attention but failed to either provide
it or ensure it was available. See Farmer v.
Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834-37 (1994); see also Heyer
v. U.S. Bureau of Prisons, 849 F.3d 202, 209-10 (4th
Cir. 2017); King v. Rubenstein, 825 F.3d 206, 218
(4th Cir. 2016); Iko v. Shreve, 535 F.3d 225, 241
(4th Cir. 2008). Objectively, the medical condition at issue
must be serious. See Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S.
1, 9 (1992) (“Because society does not expect that
prisoners will have unqualified access to health care,
deliberate indifference to medical needs amounts to an Eighth
Amendment violation only if those needs are
‘serious.'”); Jackson v. Lightsey,
775 F.3d 170, 178 (4th Cir. 2014). The subjective component
requires “subjective recklessness” in the face of
the serious medical condition. See Farmer, 511 U.S.
at 839 (1994); see also Anderson v. Kingsley, 877
F.3d 539, 544 (4th Cir. 2017).
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
judgment, even though such errors may have unfortunate
consequences.” Grayson v. Peed, 195 F.3d 692,
695-96 (4th Cir. 1999). “[A]ny negligence or
malpractice on the part of . . . doctors in missing [a]
diagnosis does not, by itself, support an inference of
deliberate indifference.” Johnson v. Quinones,
145 F.3d 164, 166 (4th Cir. 1998). Further, “[a]
prisoner's disagreement with medical providers about the
proper course of treatment does not establish an Eighth
Amendment violation absent exceptional circumstances.”
Lopez v. Green, No. PJM-09-1942, 2012 WL 1999868, at
*2- 3 (D.Md. June 4, 2012) (citing Wright v.
Collins, 766 F.2d 841, 849 (4th Cir. 1985)).
Reeves' Supplemental Response
Reeves states that on February 13, 2017, a psychiatric nurse
informed him that Enow was found hoarding his
medications. Declaration of Dr. Reeves, ECF No. 41-1
(“Dr. Reeves Decl. II”) at 1 ¶ 4. The nurse
documented that she had discussed with Enow stopping his
medication due to hoarding and “Enow was aware of
same.” Id. Dr. Reeves explains psychiatric
nurses are trained to provide mental health treatment and he
relies on them as an “extra set of eyes and ears”
to provide information including misuse of psychotropic
medication. Id. at 1-2 ¶¶ 4, 5. Dr. Reeves
states that had Enow disputed hoarding his medication, the
psychiatric nurse would be expected to so indicate in her
email and she did not. Dr. Reeves indicates Enow later
admitted to him that he was hoarding medication. Id.
at 1-2 ¶4. Dr. Reeves maintains that it was reasonable
for him to rely on the nurse's report about the ...