United States District Court, N.D. Florida, Tallahassee Division
DEMESIO E. WILSON, Plaintiff,
CORIZON HEALTH INC., Defendant.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Michael J. Frank United States Magistrate Judge.
prisoner civil rights case, brought under 42 U.S.C. §
1983, is before the court on Defendant Corizon Health,
Inc.'s motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 68) and
evidentiary materials (ECF Nos. 36, 67). Plaintiff has
responded in opposition (ECF No. 71) with evidentiary
materials (ECF No. 72). Defendant filed a reply. (ECF No.
73). For the reasons set forth below, Corizon's motion
should be granted.
an inmate of the Florida Department of Corrections
(“FDC”), is currently confined at Marion
Correctional Institution in Lowell, Florida. At the time of
the events giving rise to this lawsuit, Plaintiff was
confined at the Wakulla Correctional Institution. (ECF No. 1
at 2). Plaintiff's complaint names four defendants: (1)
Corizon, a private company contracting with the FDC to
provide medical services to inmates at Wakulla Correctional
Institution; (2) V. Cruse, a medical professional employed by
Corizon; (3) Julie L. Jones, the former Secretary of the FDC;
and (4) A. Kirkland, a medical professional employed by
Corizon. (ECF No. 1 at 1-2). Plaintiff claims that the
Defendants delayed and denied proper medical treatment for
his injured neck and spine, in violation of the Eighth
Amendment of the United States Constitution. (Id. at
2-4 ¶¶ 9-18).
relief, Plaintiff seeks a declaration that the Defendants
violated his constitutional rights, an injunction, $2, 500,
000 in compensatory damages against each defendant jointly
and severally, and $2, 500, 000 in punitive damages against
each defendant jointly and severally. (Id. at 5-6
¶¶ 26-30). He sues each defendant in their
individual and official capacities. (Id. at 1).
September 19, 2018, on motion of the Defendants, and upon the
recommendation of Magistrate Judge Charles A. Stampelos,
District Judge Robert L. Hinkle dismissed Defendants Cruse,
Jones, and Kirkland. (ECF No. 52); Wilson v. Jones,
2018 WL 4518987, at *4-5 (N.D. Fla. Aug. 14, 2018),
adopted by 2018 WL 4518582 (N.D. Fla. Sept. 19,
2018). Upon recommendation of Judge Stampelos, Judge Hinkle
denied the motion to dismiss as to Defendant Corizon,
directed the case to proceed against Defendant Corizon, and
ordered Corizon to answer Plaintiff's Complaint. (ECF No.
53). A scheduling order was issued on October 23, 2018,
providing for a discovery period through January 31, 2019.
(ECF No. 57). Following an extension of time to file
dispositive motions, on February 28, 2019, Corizon filed its
Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 68).
facts recounted below are drawn from Plaintiff's verified
complaint (ECF No. 1) and the evidence in the record (ECF
Nos. 36, 67, 72). Whenever the parties offer conflicting
accounts, the undersigned “set[s] forth the facts,
drawn from the evidence presented, in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff.” Snow v. City of
Citronelle, 420 F.3d 1262, 1265 (11th Cir. 2005).
January 16, 2014, Plaintiff fell while exiting his upper
bunk, striking his neck and spine. (ECF Nos. 1 at 2; 72 at
23). Plaintiff reported the fall to the officer in charge of
‘G' dorm and requested to go to emergency sick
call. (ECF No. 72 at 23). The officer denied the request.
(Id.; ECF No. 1 at 2 ¶ 10). Later that day,
Plaintiff's symptoms-difficulty breathing, numbness in
his arms and legs, “limping uncontrollably”-did
not improve and he made a second request to go to emergency
sick call. A dorm officer denied this request. (ECF Nos. 1 at
2 ¶ 11; 72 at 23). Plaintiff alleges that for four days
he was denied access to the medical clinic by several dorm
officers. (ECF No. 1 at 3 ¶ 12).
January 20, 2014, after reporting severe pain in his neck,
difficulty balancing, shaking of his hands, and dizziness,
prison personnel allowed Plaintiff to go to sick call.
Licensed practical nurse Virginia Cruse (“Cruse”)
examined Plaintiff. (Id.; ECF Nos. 36-1 at 1; 72 at
4, 23). At this visit, Plaintiff complained of tingling in
his hands. (Id.). Cruse noted that Plaintiff was
favoring his left leg and was limping. She, therefore,
prescribed ibuprofen and instructed Plaintiff to return to
the clinic if his symptoms worsened. (Id.). Cruse
told Plaintiff that under FDC and Corizon's medical
emergency policy, a slip and fall accident did not constitute
a medical emergency. (ECF No. 72 at 23-24). Plaintiff
completed a sick call form and submitted it. (Id.).
January 23, 2014, Plaintiff, unable to ambulate on his own or
stand for long periods of time, was taken to sick call by
wheelchair where he was again seen by Cruse. (ECF Nos. 36-1
at 2-3; 72 at 5-6, 24). At this visit, Plaintiff complained
of tingling in his left limbs and right hand, weakness in his
left leg and right arm, and sharp pain in his lower back.
(Id.). Cruse noted that Plaintiff's right hand
was weaker than his left and that he walked with an
“unsteady gait.” (Id.). Cruse also noted
that, while explaining his symptoms, Plaintiff stood up
straight, did not lose his balance, put weight on his left
leg, and used his hands freely. (Id.). Cruse
concluded that Plaintiff's motor and sensory functions
were normal and that the medical examination did not support
Plaintiff's alleged symptoms. (Id.). Cruse
observed that when she denied Plaintiff's request for a
walker and a low bunk assignment, he “became wobbly and
walked with spastic movements.” (ECF Nos. 36-1 at 4; 72
at 7). Cruse, therefore, sent Plaintiff to the infirmary for
further evaluation. (Id.).
January 29, 2014, Plaintiff was seen by Amy Kirkland
(“Kirkland”), an advanced registered nurse
practitioner (“ARNP”). (ECF Nos. 36-1 at 5; 72 at
8). Kirkland noted that Plaintiff needed help getting on the
exam table and that he had fine tremors in his left hand.
(Id.). Following consultation with a Dr. Shubert, an
MRI, chest x-ray, and urine toxicology were ordered.
(Id.). On January 30, 2014, Plaintiff was referred
to Tallahassee Diagnostic Imaging “for evaluation and
diagnostic plan” and to rule out a “Cerebellar
Stroke.” (ECF Nos. 36-1 at 6-7; 72 at 8-9). The MRI
report noted “scattered areas of punctate leukomalacia
primarily in subcortical white matter but also in
periventricular regions, ” and “a prior area of
subcortical ischemic change in left superior parietal lobe
near vertex, ” but found no “acute infarct or
mass.” On February 4, 2014, a request for consultation
was submitted. (ECF Nos. 36-1 at 8-10; 72 at 11-13).
March 6, 2014, Plaintiff was examined by a neurologist at the
Regional Medical Center (“RMC”). (ECF Nos. 36-1
at 11; 72 at 14). On that same day, based on the
recommendation of the neurologist, Plaintiff was transferred
to a hospital where surgeons performed “an anterior and
then posterior laminectomy” for “cervical
myelopathy”-compression of the spinal cord. (ECF Nos.
36-1 at 12-13; 72 at 15-16). Plaintiff was discharged to the
RMC on March 19, 2014, with instructions to have his wound
dressing changed daily, was permitted to perform activities
to the extent he could tolerate them, and was instructed to
undergo physical and occupational therapy. (Id.).
After March 19, 2014, however, Plaintiff did not see a
medical professional for any additional treatment or physical
April 22, 2014, Plaintiff was transferred to Florida State
Prison-West. (ECF Nos. 36-1 at 14; 72 at 17). Plaintiff now
walks “with a severe limp and numbness in [his] arms
and legs.” (ECF No. 72 at 25).
Summary Judgment Standard
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure states that a court
“shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In order to prevail on a motion for
summary judgment, the moving party must show that the
nonmoving party has insufficient evidence to support his case
or that an affirmative defense precludes the nonmoving party
from prevailing at trial. See Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2552-53
(1986). If the moving party successfully negates an essential
element of the nonmoving party's case, the burden shifts
to the nonmoving party to come forward with evidentiary
material demonstrating a genuine issue of fact for trial.
“mere existence of some alleged factual
dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise
properly supported motion for summary judgment; the
requirement is that there be no genuine issue of
material fact.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510 (1986)
(emphasis in original). A dispute is “genuine” if
the “evidence is such that a reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the nonmoving party.”
Id.; Hickson Corp. v. N. Crossarm Co., 357
F.3d 1256, 1260 (11th Cir. 2004). A fact is
“material” if it “might affect the outcome
of the suit under the governing law.”
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248, 106 S.Ct. at 2510;
Hickson Corp., 357 F.3d at 1259; see Haves v.
City of Miami, 52 F.3d 918, 921 (11th Cir. 1995)
(“The mere existence of some factual dispute will not
defeat summary judgment unless that factual dispute is
material to an issue affecting the outcome of the
case.”). The nonmoving party must show more than the
existence of a “metaphysical doubt” regarding the
material facts. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v.
Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 106 ...