Arnold v. Corizon Medical Services et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER..IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that defendants motion for summary judgment (#19) is GRANTED. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiffs motions (#22, #23) are DENIED. Signed by District Judge Stephen N. Limbaugh, Jr on 2/10/16. (MRS)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
MICHAEL L. ARNOLD,
CORIZON, INC., et al.,
Case No. 1:15-cv-62 SNLJ
MEMORANDUM and ORDER
Plaintiff, a prisoner at Southeast Correctional Center (“SECC”) in Charleston,
Missouri, filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 lawsuit alleging violations of his constitutional
rights against defendants Corizon Medical Services (“Corizon”), Dr. Michael Hakala,
Dana Degen, Dr. Paul Jones, and Lawrence Roussin, R.N. (“Corizon Defendants”).
Plaintiff’s complaints arise from treatment of a kidney stone and subsequent infection
that resulted in a hospital stay. Plaintiff contends that defendants were deliberately
indifferent to his serious medical need in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the
United States Constitution. Defendants have moved for summary judgment (#19)
because they contend plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies in accordance
with the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996 (“PLRA”).
The facts of this matter are uncontested except where indicated. Plaintiff filed a
complaint based on the same facts in 2013 (Case No. 1:13cv121). Defendants were
granted summary judgment based on plaintiff’s failure to exhaust his administrative
remedies. Because the facts are the same (appearing nearly identically in both
complaints), the Court will recite the facts as set forth in the 2013 summary judgment
memorandum and order:
The events alleged in the complaint begin on January 26, 2013, when
plaintiff alleges he started to pass a kidney stone. He saw Dr. Jones for an
endocrinology and cardiovascular chronic care appointment, during which
he reported he was not feeling well and was passing a kidney stone.
Plaintiff says Dr. Jones did nothing. Plaintiff then saw Nurse Dana Degen
at approximately 10:30 p.m.. Plaintiff alleges that Nurse Degen told a
corrections officer that the officer could not call a “Code 16,” so plaintiff
was forced to “self-declare” and walked to medical in extreme pain.
Plaintiff contends that Nurse Degen gave him Ibuprofen and told him to
return to his cell. Plaintiff alleges that on the afternoon of January 27, 2013,
a “Code 16” was called and he was seen by medical and sent to the hospital
where he was septic with low blood pressure, a high white blood cell count,
and pneumonia. Plaintiff alleges he was discharged from the hospital on
February 4, 2013. He still had not passed the kidney stone, and he had a
catheter and drain tube and a PIC line in his right arm. Plaintiff alleges he
saw Dr. Hakala on February 22, 2013 for complaints of pain and requested
to be returned to the hospital, but Dr. Hakala denied Plaintiff’s request and
refused to assist him with a dirty catheter or to provide antibiotics. Plaintiff
alleges he tested positive for an infection on March 9, 2013 and was given
antibiotics. Then, he says he saw Dr. West on March 18, and Dr. West
removed the kidney stone, drain tube, and catheter, and he installed a stent
between plaintiff’s bladder and left kidney. Plaintiff says that Dr. West told
him that the PIC line would have to be removed by the person who inserted
it, but, instead, Nurse Roussin removed the PIC line. Later, on March 20,
plaintiff saw Dr. Hakala for pain, but Dr. Hakala would give him nothing
stronger than Tylenol, which plaintiff said was insufficient. On March 25,
plaintiff attempted to pick up a prescription, but that it was not given to him
for three days, and he suffered painful urination during that time without
the medication. Finally, plaintiff alleged that in May 2013 he was
diagnosed with an infection caused by his kidney stone. The doctor
allegedly told plaintiff he had not previously been on antibiotics long
enough to kill the particular strand of bacteria. One week later, plaintiff’s
urine test results were negative for infection. However, on May 23, 2013,
plaintiff went to medical after he began to shake uncontrollably and
suffered chest pains, at which time his culture was positive for infection
and he was started on IV antibiotics. Plaintiff alleges there were some
issues with the IV working, but on May 30, Nurse Roussin put in an IV that
worked and tested a new sample of plaintiff’s urine showing no problems.
The IV was removed, and plaintiff was returned to his housing unit.
(Case No. 1:13cv121, Dkt. #46.)
Prisoners incarcerated at SECC are subject to the Missouri Department of
Corrections (“MDOC”) Grievance Procedure, which provides that a prisoner must file an
Informal Resolution Request (“IRR”) within 15 days of an alleged incident. If an inmate
is unsatisfied with the IRR response, he may file an Offender Grievance within seven
calendar days of his receipt of the IRR response. If an inmate wishes to appeal the
grievance response, he must then submit an Inmate Grievance Appeal within seven
Here, plaintiff filed an IRR on March 21, 2013. The IRR was directed only at
defendant Dana Degen and stated that plaintiff received ineffective medical treatment
from Degen on January 26, 2013. Plaintiff stated at the end of his IRR that it was
delayed “because of possible retaliation while [he] was in TCU.” The IRR response
stated that his IRR had been filed outside the 15-day deadline and was therefore denied.
Plaintiff filed a Grievance and Grievance Appeal thereafter, and each was denied due to
his untimely filing of the IRR. Plaintiff filed this lawsuit, and defendants have moved for
summary judgment based on plaintiff’s failure to exhaust his administrative remedies.
Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), a district court may grant a
motion for summary judgment if all of the information before the court demonstrates that
“there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). The
PLRA “requires immediate dismissal of all claims brought by inmates with respect to
prison conditions . . . under 42 U.S.C. § 1983...until ‘such administrative remedies as are
available are exhausted.” Gibson v. Weber, 431 F.3d 339, 341 (8th Cir. 2005) (citing 42
U.S.C. § 1997e(a)). The Missouri Department of Corrections (“MDOC”) has developed
an administrative grievance procedure for inmates to internally grieve complaints against
MDOC and its staff; the procedure requires that the inmate file an informal resolution
request (“IRR”), an inmate grievance, and, finally, an inmate grievance appeal. See
Foulk v. Charrier, 262 F.3d 687, 694 (8th Cir. 2001); Dashley v. Corr. Med. Serv., 345 F.
Supp. 2d 1018, 1022-23 (E.D. Mo. 2004). Not only is the inmate required to exhaust the
administrative remedies available to him under PLRA, but he is required to properly
exhaust those administrative remedies. Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 93 (2006).
Plaintiff claims that the defendants’ course of conduct violated his constitutional
rights. However, as this Court held in plaintiff’s first lawsuit, plaintiff’s complaint
ultimately fails again because he failed to exhaust his administrative remedies prior to
initiating his lawsuit, as required by 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a).
Under the plain language of section 1997e(a), an inmate must exhaust
administrative remedies before filing suit in federal court. Thus, in
considering motions to dismiss for failure to exhaust under section
1997e(a), the district court must look to the time of filing, not the time the
district court is rendering its decision, to determine if exhaustion has
occurred. If exhaustion was not completed at the time of filing, dismissal is
Johnson v. Jones, 340 F.3d 624, 627 (8th Cir. 2003). The record --- which plaintiff here
does not dispute --- shows that plaintiff filed just one grievance at SECC. Plaintiff filed
an IRR on March 21, 2013 complaining that he had received inadequate medical
treatment from Dana Nix (now Degen) on January 26, 2013. Pursuant to the MDOC
grievance procedure, any offender who wishes to file an IRR must do so within 15 days
from the alleged incident. Plaintiff’s IRR was denied because it was not timely filed.
Plaintiff again admits this point in his complaint, but he states that his failure to file
within 15 days should be excused because (1) he was in the hospital where he could not
file grievances, and (2) he feared retaliation from medical staff if he complained.
Plaintiff was hospitalized January 27 and discharged February 4. The 15-day deadline to
file an IRR for events occurring January 26 would have been February 10 --- plaintiff had
been back at SECC for six days by then, thus he was not in the hospital for the duration
of the 15-day filing period. Plaintiff offers no explanation for why or how he feared
retaliation from medical staff for filing an IRR.
Furthermore, plaintiff failed to file any
IRR against any of the other defendants in this case --- rather, his one and only IRR
focuses solely on the January 26 events and the actions of Nurse Degen.
Plaintiff states that he was denied medication that alleviated his painful urination
symptoms after he turned in his IRR. He does not state that he was denied the medication
in retaliation for filing the IRR, however, and he does not allege that defendant Degen
was responsible for the alleged denial of the medication. Furthermore, although plaintiff
surely had grounds to file additional IRRs complaining of treatment (such as the
medication deprivation and other allegedly unsatisfactory encounters with staff), plaintiff
filed nothing --- even after his kidney stone was resolved and he was returned to the
Unlike in plaintiff’s earlier case, which was filed before the grievance process was
completed, plaintiff filed this lawsuit after completing the grievance process. See Jones
v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 204 (2007). However, the law requires that prisoners properly
exhaust their administrative remedies, Woodford, 548 U.S. at 93, and plaintiff did not do
Plaintiff’s sole IRR was against one defendant --- Nurse Degen --- only, and it
was filed out of time. Plaintiff failed to file IRRs against any of the other defendants.
Defendants have established that there is no disputed issue of material fact, and that they
are entitled to dismissal of plaintiff’s claims in accordance with the PLRA’s exhaustion
requirement. The defendants’ motion will therefore be granted.
Plaintiff seeks appointment of counsel and a response to some questions he poses
in Documents #22 and #23. Plaintiff states that the individual helping him with his
lawsuit has been put in administrative segregation and that plaintiff could not adequately
represent himself. However, plaintiff’s case is straightforward, and plaintiff shows
himself to be articulate and able to express himself. The motions are denied for the same
reasons plaintiff’s earlier motion for appointment of counsel was denied in the Order
dated October 5, 2015 (#18).
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that defendants’ motion for summary judgment
(#19) is GRANTED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff’s motions (#22, #23) are DENIED.
day of February, 2016.
STEPHEN N. LIMBAUGH, JR.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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