Hinds v. Edwards et al

Filing 44

RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION recommending that 26 Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment be granted and that Plaintiff's claims be dismissed with prejudice; and recommending that 41 Plaintiff's Motion to Compel be denied. Objections to R&R due by 3/18/2009. Signed by Magistrate Judge Beth Deere on 4/4/09. (hph)

Download PDF
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT E A S T E R N DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS E A S T E R N DIVISION T IM O T H Y M. HINDS A D C # 650268 V. P E T E R EDWARDS C A S E NO. 2:08CV00086 JMM/BD P L A IN T IF F DEFENDANT R E C O M M E N D E D DISPOSITION I. P r o c e d u r e for Filing Objections: T h e following recommended disposition has been sent to United States District C o u rt Judge James M. Moody. Any party may serve and file written objections to this re c o m m e n d a tio n . Objections should be specific and should include the factual or legal b a sis for the objection. If the objection is to a factual finding, specifically identify that f in d in g and the evidence that supports your objection. An original and one copy of your o b je c tio n s must be received in the office of the United States District Court Clerk no later th a n eleven (11) days from the date you receive the Partial Recommended Disposition. A c o p y will be furnished to the opposing party. Failure to file timely objections may result in waiver of the right to appeal questions of fact. M a il your objections and "Statement of Necessity" to: C lerk , United States District Court E a ste rn District of Arkansas 6 0 0 West Capitol Avenue, Suite A149 L ittle Rock, AR 72201-3325 II. B a c k gro u n d : O n May 9, 2008, Plaintiff, an inmate currently incarcerated at the East Arkansas R e g io n a l Unit of the Arkansas Department of Correction ("ADC"), brought this action p ro se under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that his constitutional rights have been violated (d o c k e t entry #3). Specifically, Plaintiff claims that Defendant Peter Edwards acted with d e lib e ra te indifference to his medical needs by initially refusing to prescribe for him the m ig ra in e medication Amitriptyline and then discontinuing his Amitriptyline prescription o n two occasions. Plaintiff requests compensatory and punitive damages.1 D e f en d a n t Edwards has filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (#26), and Plaintiff h a s responded to the Motion (#31). In Defendant Edwards's Motion, he argues that P la in tif f essentially disagrees with the course of treatment he provided Plaintiff and, there fo re, Plaintiff fails to state a constitutional claim, as a matter of law. The Court ag ree s. Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (#26) should be GRANTED. In a d d itio n , Plaintiff's pending Motion to Compel (#41) should be DENIED. III. D is c u s s io n : A. S u m m a r y Judgment Standard S u m m a r y judgment is appropriate when the evidence, viewed in the light most f a v o ra b le to the nonmoving party, presents no genuine issue of material fact. FED. R. In his Complaint, Plaintiff originally named Larry Norris as a party Defendant. H o w ev er, the Court previously dismissed all claims against Mr. Norris (#14). 2 1 C IV. P. 56; Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986); Anderson v. Liberty L o b b y , Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 246 (1986). Once the moving party has successfully carried its b u rd e n under Rule 56(c), the nonmoving party has an affirmative burden to go beyond the p le a d in g s and by depositions, affidavits, or otherwise, designate "specific facts showing th a t there is a genuine issue for trial." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(e); Mosley v. City of N o r th w o o d s , 415 F.3d 908, 910-11 (8th Cir. 2005) ("The nonmoving party may not `rest o n mere allegations or denials, but must demonstrate on the record the existence of s p e c if ic facts which create a genuine issue for trial.'" (quoting Krenik v. County of Le S u e u r, 47 F.3d 953, 957 (8th Cir. 1995))). If the opposing party fails to carry that burden o r fails to establish the existence of an essential element of its case on which that party w ill bear the burden of proof at trial, summary judgment should be granted. See Celotex, 4 7 7 U.S. at 322. "Although it is to be construed liberally, a pro se complaint must c o n ta in specific facts supporting its conclusions." Martin v. Sargent, 780 F.2d 1334, 1 3 3 7 (8th Cir. 1985). B. D e lib e ra te Indifference P riso n officials or their agents violate the Eighth Amendment if they commit "acts o r omissions sufficiently harmful to evidence deliberate indifference to [an inmate's] s e rio u s medical needs." Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106, 97 S.Ct. 285 (1976). The E ig h th Circuit Court of Appeals has interpreted this standard as including both an o b je c tiv e and a subjective component: "The [plaintiff] must demonstrate (1) that [he] 3 su f f e re d [from] objectively serious medical needs and (2) that the prison officials actually k n e w of but deliberately disregarded those needs." Dulany v. Carnahan, 132 F.3d 1234, 1 2 3 9 (8th Cir. 1997). "The prisoner must show more than negligence, more even than g ro s s negligence, and mere disagreement with treatment decisions does not rise to the le v e l of a constitutional violation." Estate of Rosenberg v. Crandell, 56 F.3d 35, 37 (8th C ir. 1995). Here, Plaintiff complains that Defendant Edwards acted with deliberate in d if f ere n c e to his medical needs by initially refusing to prescribe the migraine m e d ic a tio n Amitriptyline for him, and then discontinuing his Amitriptyline prescription o n two occasions. In his Motion for Summary Judgment, Defendant Edwards contends th a t Plaintiff essentially disagrees with the treatment he provided Plaintiff and, therefore, P la in tif f fails to state a constitutional claim. In support of his Motion, Defendant E d w a rd s provides his sworn affidavit regarding the course of treatment provided to P la in tif f , as well as excerpts from Plaintiff's medical records. Based upon the evidence provided, it appears that Defendant Edwards first e v a lu a te d Plaintiff on May 22, 2007. At that time, Plaintiff requested a prescription for A m itrip tylin e to treat depression. During that examination, Plaintiff also informed D e f en d a n t Edwards that he had attempted suicide a number of times. Defendant Edwards d e n ie d Plaintiff's request for Amitriptyline based upon the number of adverse reactions th a t could result from taking this medication, including suicidal thinking and behavior. 4 D e f en d a n t Edwards provided Plaintiff a prescription for Celexa.2 Defendant Edwards c o n c lu d e d that Plaintiff probably suffered from pedophilia and borderline personality d i s o r d e r .3 D e f en d a n t Edwards next examined Plaintiff on September 14, 2007, two days after P lain tiff had attempted suicide. At that time, Defendant Edwards discovered that a unit p h ys ic ia n had provided Plaintiff an Amitriptyline prescription. Defendant Edwards chose to discontinue the prescription based upon the number of adverse reactions possible and P la in tif f 's suicidal tendencies. Defendant Edwards also discontinued Plaintiff's Celexa p re sc rip tio n at that time based upon Plaintiff's statements that it was not effective and his o w n conclusion that medication could provide little help in treating Plaintiff's personality d isord er. D e f en d a n t Edwards examined Plaintiff twice in November 2007. On November 1 5 , 2007, Defendant Edwards learned that a nurse practitioner had provided Plaintiff In his affidavit, Defendant Edwards states that he does not provide Amitriptyline in prison settings based upon the serious nature of this medication. Defendant Edwards e x p la in s that an overdose of this drug "oftentimes result[s] in death" (#26-2 at p.2). In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that after he told Defendant Edwards about his h is to ry of suicide attempts, Defendant Edwards stated "Ha! And you didn't succeed, what a shame!" (#3 at p.4). This allegation was not addressed by either Defendant Edwards in h is Motion for Summary Judgment or Plaintiff in his Response to the Motion for S u m m a ry Judgment. However, even assuming that this statement was made, it is insu ff icien t to support a constitutional claim under 1983. Verbal abuse and mere th re a te n in g language from prison officials are not actionable under 1983. See M c D o w e ll v. Jones, 990 F.2d 433, 434 (8th Cir. 1993); Hopson v. Fredericksen, 961 F.2d 1 3 7 4 , 1378 (8th Cir. 1992); and Martin v. Sargent, 780 F.2d 1334, 1338 (8th Cir. 1985). 5 3 2 a n o th e r prescription for Amitriptyline. Defendant Edwards again discontinued the p re sc rip tio n based upon Plaintiff's risk of suicide. Again, Defendant Edwards concluded th a t Plaintiff's personality disorder did not lend itself to treatment through medication. In his Motion for Summary Judgment, Defendant Edwards argues that he e x e rc ise d his own medical judgment in treating Plaintiff. In doing so, he considered all re lev a n t factors in determining what medications to administer to Plaintiff. The Eighth C irc u it Court of Appeals has specifically stated that "[p]rison doctors remain free to e x e rc is e their independent medical judgment." Dulany, 132 F.3d at 1240 (citing Long v. N ix , 86 F.3d 761, 765 (8th Cir. 1996)). See also Givens v. Jones, 900 F2.d 1229, 1232 (8 th Cir. 1990) (prison doctors "must make treatment decisions on the basis of a multitude o f factors, only one of which is the patient's input"). Further, although other medical p e rs o n n e l provided Amitriptyline for Plaintiff, such a disagreement in treatment does not e sta b lis h a constitutional violation.4 See Noll v. Petrovky, 828 F.2d 461, 462 (8th Cir. 1 9 8 7 ) (stating that disagreement between physicians regarding treatment "raises question o f medical judgment; it does not show deliberate indifference"). In addition, Plaintiff has f a ile d to provide any evidence that the medical treatment Defendant Edwards provided w a s "grossly incompetent." Dulany, 132 F.3d at 1240. "Mere negligence or medical The Court notes that in his affidavit, Defendant Edwards states that when he d is c o v e re d that the unit physician had prescribed Amitriptyline to Plaintiff, he discussed h is decision to discontinue this medication with the unit physician, and the unit physician c o n c u rre d in his decision. 6 4 m a lp ra c tic e [] are insufficient to rise to a constitutional violation." Estelle, 429 U.S. at 1 0 6 .5 Plaintiff cannot create a question of fact by merely stating that he "did not feel [he] re c eiv e d adequate treatment." Dulany, 132 F.3d at 1240. Accordingly, the Court finds th a t Defendant Edwards is entitled to summary judgment. C. M o tio n to Compel In Plaintiff's Motion to Compel, he requests copies of documents regarding an in ter n a l affairs investigation of Defendant Edwards. Any such documents do not relate to th e issues pending in this lawsuit. Further, in the Motion, Plaintiff seems to request c o p ie s of his own medical records. However, according to Plaintiff's statements, he p re v io u s ly was provided access to his medical records. As a result, Plaintiff has been a f f o rd e d the opportunity to rebut the evidence presented in Defendant's Motion for S u m m ary Judgment and is not entitled to copies of his medical records. Plaintiff's M o tio n to Compel (#41) should be DENIED. IV . C o n c lu s io n : T h e Court recommends that Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (#26) be G R A N T E D and that Plaintiff's claims be DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. The Court a ls o recommends that Plaintiff's Motion to Compel (#41) be DENIED. In Plaintiff's Response to the Motion for Summary Judgment, he states that D e f en d a n t Edwards "did [commit] malpractice by discontinuing [his] Amitriptyline that w a s prescribed by a medical doctor." In addition, in his Complaint, Plaintiff requests m o n e ta ry damages for both negligence and malpractice. Such allegations are insufficient to support a constitutional claim. See Estelle v. Gamble, supra. 7 5 D A T E D this 4th day of March, 2009. ____________________________________ U N IT E D STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 8

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?