Hinds v. Edwards et al
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)
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
R E C O M M E N D E D DISPOSITION
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
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
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]
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.
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
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
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
D A T E D this 4th day of March, 2009.
____________________________________ U N IT E D STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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