United States District Court, D. Maryland
RAYMOND W. MATHIS, Plaintiff,
LT. RICHARD D. HAGUE, MARY ELLEN BRYAN, R.N., MAKSED CHOUDRY, M.D., CORIZON HEALTH, INC., Defendants.
L. Hollander United States District Judge
self-represented plaintiff, Raymond W. Mathis, an inmate
currently incarcerated at the Roxbury Correctional
Institution (“RCI”) in Hagerstown, Maryland,
filed suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against
defendants Lt. Richard D. Hague; Mary Ellen Bryan, R.N.;
Maksed Choudry, M.D.; and Corizon Health, Inc.
(“Corizon”). ECF 1. Mathis claims that defendants
were negligent in misplacing his medical records and denying
his medical needs, causing his injured hand to heal
improperly. Id. at 4.
Hague has moved to dismiss or, in the alternative, for
summary judgment, pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure 12(b) and 56. ECF 9. The motion is supported by a
memorandum of law (ECF 9-1) (collectively, “Lt.
Hague's Motion”) and several exhibits. Similarly,
Nurse Bryan, Dr. Choudry, and Corizon (collectively, the
“Medical Defendants”) filed a dispositive motion.
ECF 19. The Medical Defendants' motion is supported by a
memorandum of law (ECF 19-1) (collectively, the
“Medical Defendants' Motion”) and several
exhibits. The exhibits include extensive medical records for
plaintiff, maintained by the Maryland Division of Correction
(“DOC”). ECF 19-4 at 1-119.
to Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir.
1975), the court informed Mathis that the failure to file a
response in opposition to the defendants' motions could
result in dismissal of his Complaint or a judgment against
him. ECF 10; ECF 20. Mathis did not respond to either motion.
matter is now ripe for disposition. Because Mathis is
self-represented, his submissions are liberally construed.
See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007);
see Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(f) (“All pleadings shall
be so construed as to do substantial justice”); see
also Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972) (stating
that claims of self-represented litigants are held “to
less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers”); Bala v. Cmm'w of Va. Dep't of
Conservation & Recreation, 532 Fed.Appx. 332, 334
(4th Cir. 2013) (same). But, the court must also abide by the
“‘affirmative obligation of the trial judge to
prevent factually unsupported claims and defenses from
proceeding to trial.'” Bouchat v. Baltimore
Ravens Football Club, Inc., 346 F.3d 514, 526 (4th Cir.
2003) (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Drewitt
v. Pratt, 999 F.2d 774, 778-79 (4th Cir. 1993), and
citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317,
323-24 (1986)), cert. denied, 541 U.S. 1042 (2004).
review of the record, exhibits, and applicable law, the court
deems a hearing unnecessary. See Local Rule 105.6
(D. Md. 2018). Lt. Hague shall be dismissed from the suit.
The Medical Defendants' Motion shall be construed as a
motion for summary judgment and shall be granted.
fell in the shower on April 20, 2019, and injured his left
hand. ECF 19-4 at 55, 84.Thereafter, Nurse Carl Gibson saw Mathis
for complaints of a left finger deformity. Id. Upon
examination of Mathis's left hand, Nurse Gibson spoke to
Dr. Choudry, who ordered that Mathis be transferred to a
hospital for further evaluation. Id. Mathis was
evaluated and treated at the Meritus Medical Center.
See ECF 19-4 at 21-34.
hospital, Mathis received an x-ray, which showed acute
fractures of the distal fourth and fifth metacarpal shafts,
and mild lateral displacement of the proximal fifth left
metacarpal. Id. at 24. A medical provider performed
a manipulation to reduce the fifth metacarpal, and
immobilized Mathis's hand with a splint. Id. at
26. Mathis tolerated the procedure well, and post-reduction
x-rays confirmed alignment of the fracture. Id.
Mathis was discharged and advised to follow up with an
orthopedist in one week. Id.
to plaintiff, a few days later, on April 25, 2019, Lt. Hague
“grabbed” him while he was at the RCI library and
took him to the medical unit in order to have his splint
removed and searched for possible hidden contraband. ECF 1 at
4-5. Nurse Bryan removed the splint and, according to Mathis,
this caused his left hand to “immediately shift,
” and it resulted in “extreme pain.”
Id. Mathis asserts that Nurse Bryan improperly
repositioned the splint, two inches out of place, causing the
molding to be pushed into his hand, and the placement was not
corrected until the following day. Id. at 4, 6.
Mathis claims that he was not given ice or Tylenol for three
days and he could not sleep due to the pain and discomfort.
Id. He states that he was not seen by a doctor for
about five weeks after the incident and was not transported
for a follow up with an orthopedic specialist. Id.
at 4, 9. Mathis alleges that as a result, his hand “is
now practically healed out of place and has to be rebroke
[sic] in order to be repaired properly.” Id.
Bryan does not dispute that on April 25, 2019, Mathis was
escorted to the medical unit by officers who requested that
she assess whether there was any contraband placed under the
dressing on his left hand. ECF 19-5 (Declaration of Nurse
Bryan) at 2; see ECF 19-4 at 60. She removed the two
elastic bandages around Mathis's left hand while leaving
the sleeve, padded dressing, and splint intact, and found no
contraband. ECF 19-4 at 60. Nurse Bryan noted that
Mathis showed good circulation and did not complain while she
reapplied the two ACE bandages. Id. At the time of
that visit, Mathis had an active prescription for Tylenol,
which was in effect until May 10, 2019. Id.
that day, Mathis returned to the medical unit, stating that
his cast was not in the proper place and needed to be
redressed. Id. at 62. Mathis indicated that he would
be “suing everyone” because his cast was not
supposed to be removed until his orthopedic follow up.
Id. Due to Mathis's threat of bringing suit,
Nurse Marion Diaz advised him that she would not redress the
cast and instead referred him for an appointment with a
provider the next morning. Id.
April 26, 2019, Nurse Marie Nguimbus saw Mathis after being
informed that he had complained of shortness of breath.
Id. at 64-65. During the visit, Mathis denied having
shortness of breath but complained that a nurse had unwrapped
his ACE bandage without an orthopedic order and his arm was
hurting. Id. He indicated that he would be suing the
State and the medical department. Id. Upon
examination, Mathis's fingertip sensation was noted to be
intact, his cast was in place, and his fingers were warm,
with normal capillary refill. Id.
that day, upon the request of the nursing staff, Dr. Choudry
saw Mathis for complaints of chest pain and a displaced cast.
Id. at 66. Dr. Choudry noted that Mathis's cast
was unwrapped and “slightly displaced
anteriorly.” Id. He repositioned the cast and
wrapped it with an ACE bandage. Id. Dr. Choudry
explained that he could not locate Mathis's hospital
discharge documents, so he asked the medical administration
to resend them. ECF 19-3 (Declaration of Dr. Choudry) at 4.
7, 2019, upon receiving the documents, Dr. Choudry submitted
a consultation request for an orthopedic follow up to
evaluate Mathis's hand fracture. ECF 19-4 at 68-70. Dr.
Choudry explains that although Mathis was originally advised
to follow up with an orthopedist within one week, in the
prison setting, it may take four to eight weeks to arrange an
appointment and, if necessary, transportation, for
non-emergent care. ECF 19-3 at 3. According to Dr. Choudry,
Mathis's follow up orthopedic evaluation was scheduled in
the normal course of business. Id.
reported to the medical unit on May 9, 2019, for a follow up
to his left hand injury. ECF 19-4 at 72. At that time,
Crystal Jamison, P.A. ordered a new x-ray and noted that
Mathis had a pending consultation with an orthopedic
specialist. Id. She also noted dorsal angulation of
the fourth and fifth metacarpals and minimal edema.
Id. During the visit, Mathis reported that he took
his splint off at times because his arm itched, but he had no
complaints or concerns. Id.
25, 2019, Mathis refused appointments to address three
requests for health care and an informal request for care.
Id. at 74. Nurse Bryan noted that Mathis reported to
the daily medication line without a cast or splint on his
hand. Id. When she asked why, Mathis did not answer.
26, 2019, Nurse Bryan noted in Mathis's medical record
that a housing unit officer called to ask if Mathis was
supposed to remove his splint or cast. Id. at 75.
According to the officer, Mathis had removed his splint and
was using his hand in the recreation hall. Id. Nurse
Bryan reviewed Mathis's chart and indicated that he was
not supposed to remove his splint. Id.
Bryan saw Mathis on May 30, 2019. He was seeking an update
regarding a surgical consult. Id. at 76-77. At the
time of that visit, Mathis had a splint on his hand, and
Nurse Bryan encouraged him to use his splint as directed.
Id. Nurse Bryan then referred him to a medical
was unable to attend his orthopedic visit on June 7, 2019,
because his housing unit was on lockdown. Id. at 78.
On June 18, 2019, Dr. Choudry requested another evaluation by
an orthopedist. Id. at 86-87.
saw orthopedic surgeon Lawrence Manning, M.D. on July 8,
2019, in follow up for his fractured fingers. Id. at
84. Dr. Manning noted that the range of motion
(“ROM”) in Mathis's fifth metacarpal was
slightly deficient but that his neurovascular systems were
intact. Id. Dr. Manning assessed Mathis with a
healed closed fracture of the left fifth metacarpal and
ordered a new x-ray of his left hand, ROM exercises, and a
follow up in six to eight weeks. Id.
24, 2019, Nurse Bryan saw Mathis for his hand, lower back,
and right index finger complaints, and noted that he would be
seen by PA Jamison later that day. Id. at 97. During
the visit with PA Jamison, an x-ray was ordered, per Dr.
Manning's recommendation. Id. at 100-02.
Bryan saw Mathis on August 1, 2019, for complaints of a lump
on his left jaw, a growth on his left cheek, and a growth on
his right index finger. Id. at 104. However, Mathis
voiced no complaints regarding his left hand. Id.
That same day, PA Jamison noted that Mathis's x-ray was
scheduled for the end of August, and that she would wait for
the results to determine the status of his fracture before
referring him back to an orthopedist. Id. at 106-07.
refused an x-ray of his left hand on August 12, 2019, stating
that his hand had healed. Id. at 99. On September 5,
2019, Mathis again refused an x-ray of his hand, stating:
“It's healed. It's pointless.”
Id. at 110-11. On September 9, 2019, PA Jamison saw
Mathis, who expressed no concerns or complaints, and stated
that he did not wish to have any additional treatment or
follow up. Id. at 112-13. PA Jamison noted that
Mathis's left hand exhibited full ROM and no deformity.
Choudry saw Mathis on October 10, 2019, to assess his chronic
health issues. Id. at 117-18. At that time, Mathis
made no complaints regarding his left hand. Id. at
119. Dr. Choudry avers that the medical staff continues to
monitor Mathis's medical complaints, including those
related to his left finger fractures. ECF 19-3 at 8.
are no records showing that Mathis filed a request for
Administrative Remedy Procedure (“ARP”) regarding
the incident or his medical care. Nor did he file a complaint
or grievance with the Inmate Grievance Office
(“IGO”). ECF 9-2 (Declaration of Sarah Fisher);
ECF 9-3 (Declaration of Samiyah Hassan).
Standard of Review
motions are styled as motions to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6) or, in the alternative, for summary judgment under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. A motion styled in this manner implicates
the court's discretion under Rule 12(d) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure. See Kensington Vol. Fire Dept.,
Inc. v. Montgomery Cty., 788 F.Supp.2d 431, 436-37 (D.
a court “is not to consider matters outside the
pleadings or resolve factual disputes when ruling on a motion
to dismiss.” Bosiger v. U.S. Airways, Inc.,
510 F.3d 442, 450 (4th Cir. 2007). However, under Rule
12(b)(6), a court, in its discretion, may consider matters
outside of the pleadings, pursuant to Rule 12(d). If the
court does so, “the motion must be treated as one for
summary judgment under Rule 56, ” and “[a]ll
parties must be given a reasonable opportunity to present all
the material that is pertinent to the motion.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d); see Adams Housing, LLC v.
The City of Salisbury, Maryland, 672 Fed App'x 220,
222 (4th Cir. 2016) (per curiam). But, when the movant
expressly captions its motion “in the
alternative” as one for summary judgment, and submits
matters outside the pleadings for the court's
consideration, the parties are deemed to be on notice that
conversion under Rule 12(d) may occur; the court “does
not have an obligation to notify parties of the
obvious.” Laughlin v. Metro. Wash. Airports
Auth., 149 F.3d 253, 261 (4th Cir. 1998).
district judge has “complete discretion to determine
whether or not to accept the submission of any material
beyond the pleadings that is offered in conjunction with a
Rule 12(b)(6) motion and rely on it, thereby converting the
motion, or to reject it or simply not consider it.” 5C
Wright & Miller, Federal Practice & Procedure §
1366, at 159 (3d ed. 2004, 2011 Supp.). This discretion
“should be exercised with great caution and attention
to the parties' procedural rights.” Id. at
149. In general, courts are guided by whether consideration
of extraneous material “is likely to facilitate the
disposition of the action, ” and “whether
discovery prior to the utilization of the summary judgment
procedure” is necessary. Id. at 165-67.
judgment is generally inappropriate “where the parties
have not had an opportunity for reasonable discovery.”
E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. v. Kolon Indus.,
Inc., 637 F.3d 435, 448-49 (4th Cir. 2011); see
Putney v. Likin, 656 Fed. App'x 632, 638 (4th Cir.
2016) (per curiam); McCray v. Maryland Dep't of
Transportation, 741 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Cir. 2015).
However, “the party opposing summary judgment
‘cannot complain that summary judgment was granted
without discovery unless that party had made an attempt to
oppose the motion on the grounds that more time was needed
for discovery.'” Harrods Ltd. v. Sixty Internet
Domain Names, 302 F.3d 214, 244 (4th Cir. 2002) (quoting
Evans v. Techs. Applications & Serv. Co., 80
F.3d 954, 961 (4th Cir. 1996)); see also Dave &
Buster's, Inc. v. White Flint Mall, LLLP, 616 Fed.
App'x 552, 561 (4th Cir. 2015).
raise adequately the issue that discovery is needed, the
nonmovant typically must file an affidavit or declaration
pursuant to Rule 56(d) (formerly Rule 56(f)), explaining why,
“for specified reasons, it cannot present facts
essential to justify its opposition, ” without needed
discovery. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(d); see Harrods, 302 F.3d
at 244-45 (discussing affidavit requirement of former Rule
56(f)). “[T]o justify a denial of summary judgment on
the grounds that additional discovery is necessary, the facts
identified in a Rule 56 affidavit must be ‘essential to
[the] opposition.'” Scott v. Nuvell Fin.
Servs., LLC, 789 F.Supp.2d 637, 641 (D. Md. 2011)
(alteration in original) (citation omitted). A nonmoving
party's Rule 56(d) request for additional discovery is
properly denied “where the additional evidence sought
for discovery would not have by itself created a genuine
issue of material fact sufficient to defeat summary
judgment.” Strag v. Bd. of Trs., Craven Cmty.
Coll., 55 F.3d 943, 954 (4th Cir. 1995); see McClure
v. Ports, 914 F.3d 866, 874-75 (4th Cir. 2019);
Gordon v. CIGNA Corp., 890 F.3d 463, 479 (4th Cir.
2018); Amirmokri v. Abraham, 437 F.Supp.2d 414, 420
(D. Md. 2006), aff'd, 266 Fed.Appx. 274 (4th
Cir. 2008), cert. denied, 555 U.S. 885 (2008).
nonmoving party believes that further discovery is necessary
before consideration of summary judgment, the party fails to
file a Rule 56(d) affidavit at his peril, because
“‘the failure to file an affidavit . . . is
itself sufficient grounds to reject a claim that the
opportunity for discovery was inadequate.'”
Harrods, 302 F.3d at 244 (citations omitted). But,
the nonmoving party's failure to file a Rule 56(d)
affidavit cannot obligate a court to issue a summary judgment
ruling that is obviously premature. And, a court
“should hesitate before denying a Rule 56(d) motion
when the nonmovant seeks necessary information possessed only
by the movant.” Pisano v. Strach, 743 F.3d
927, 931 (4th Cir. 2014).
the Fourth Circuit has placed “‘great
weight'” on the Rule 56(d) affidavit, and has said
that a mere “‘reference to Rule 56(f) [now Rule
56(d)] and the need for additional discovery in a memorandum
of law in opposition to a motion for summary judgment is not
an adequate substitute for [an] affidavit, '” the
appellate court has “not always insisted” on a
Rule 56(d) affidavit. Id. (internal citations
omitted). According to the Fourth Circuit, failure to file an
affidavit may be excused “if the nonmoving party has
adequately informed the district court that the motion is
premature and that more discovery is necessary” and the
“nonmoving party's objections before the district
court ‘served as the functional equivalent of an
affidavit.'” Id. at 244-45 (internal
citations omitted); see also Putney, 656 Fed.
App'x at 638; Nader v. Blair, 549 F.3d 953, 961
(4th Cir. 2008). “This is especially true where, as
here, the non-moving party is proceeding pro se.”
Putney, 656 Fed. App'x at 638.
has not filed an affidavit under Rule 56(d). As to the
Medical Defendants, I am satisfied that it is appropriate to
address their Motion as one for summary judgment, as this
will facilitate resolution of the case. As to Lt. Hague, I
shall construe his motion as one to dismiss under Rule
defendant may test the legal sufficiency of a complaint by
way of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). In re
Birmingham, 846 F.3d 88, 92 (4th Cir. 2017); Goines
v. Valley Cmty. Servs. Bd., 822 F.3d 159, 165-66 (4th
Cir. 2016); McBurney v. Cuccinelli, 616 F.3d 393,
408 (4th Cir. 2010), aff'd sub nom., McBurney v.
Young, 569 U.S. 221 (2013); Edwards v. City of
Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 243 (4th Cir. 1999). A Rule
12(b)(6) motion constitutes an assertion by a defendant that,
even if the ...