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Caruthers v. Corizon Health Service, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Jacksonville Division

September 23, 2019

CORIZON HEALTH SERVICE, INC., et al., Defendants.


          TIMOTHY J. CORRIGAN, United States District Judge.

         I. Status

         Plaintiff, an inmate of the Florida penal system, is proceeding on an Amended Complaint (Doc. 12), as supplemented (Doc. 51), against Corizon, a former medical provider for the Florida Department of Corrections; Trek McCullough, the Director of Nursing for Corizon; Christina Mandeville, LPN; Shayla Moore, LPN; Jeremy Moore, LPN; Marcia[1] Taylor, LPN; and Donna Washington, LPN.[2] Plaintiff claims that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs between January 2015 and May 2015 at Columbia Correctional Institution - Annex.

         Before the Court is Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 73), with exhibits (Docs. 72, 74). Plaintiff has responded (Doc. 79). The Court permitted the filing of Defendants’ Reply (Doc. 82) and Plaintiff’s Sur-Reply (Doc. 83). The Motion is ripe for review.

         II. Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint

         Before entering the FDOC, Plaintiff was partially paralyzed, confined to a wheelchair, and was suffering from several long-term medical issues. He has a neurogenic bladder condition which causes him to have muscle contractions and spasms, and requires him to use a “supera pubic catheter;” he also has “daily sciatic nerve pain” and “decubitis [u]lcers” from being in a wheelchair. To accommodate these issues, Dr. Marceus provided Plaintiff with medical passes for supplies to clean and dress the area around the catheter, Ibuprofen 600mg for pain, Oxybutynin for bladder spasms, and a donut cushion for hemorrhoids.

         On January 27, 2015, Plaintiff was in medical for his biweekly catheter changing, and he “complained of very severe pain in the bladder area, heavy discharge of reddish/yellow pus[] around the open incision that was very irritated[, ] and [he] reported the open and very heavily leaking discharge (dec[u]bitis [u]lcer, pressure sore) on left buttocks near the rectum area, and the chronic prostate severely swollen.” A nurse took a urine sample and wound culture, and Plaintiff was advised that he would receive the results in about 1 week. About 10 days later, Plaintiff sent a sick-call request to medical requesting the results, but he did not receive a response despite the fact that the lab report showing multiple infections had been received 3 days after the culture and sample were taken.

         On February 12, 2015, “Plaintiff reported to medical in severe pain due [to] the U.T.I. and the complications of the decubitis [u]lcer getting worse, leaking through clothes.” Defendant S. Moore helped Plaintiff gather the necessary items to change his catheter. Plaintiff advised her of “the complications and severe pain he was suffering” and requested that she access the results of his recent tests. She refused to do so because she was “very busy” and only working part-time. She also “did not/or would not refer Plaintiff to the doctor.”

         The next day (February 13, 2015), Plaintiff reported to medical to receive his weekly supplies for his catheter, but he “was denied these items by medical staff, and was told to report on Monday because no[]one []was available[] to distribute these supplies.” According to Plaintiff, “this is a repeated issue on not getting supplies in a timely manner, ” which leaves him “subjected to dangerous bacteria that causes these infections” because his wounds are left uncovered.

         On about February 16, 2015, “Plaintiff was placed in solitary confinement” and all of his keep-on-person medications and bandage supplies were taken. The next day (February 17, 2015), he notified Sergeant Carter, [3] who “[i]mmediately took Plaintiff” to medical to see Defendant J. Moore. Despite Plaintiff explaining his issues and need for medications and dressing supplies, Defendant J. Moore “refused to give Plaintiff any substitute meds or any dressing supplies, ” and he told Plaintiff that “he was going home in a couple of hours and worked part time, ” “he was not reviewing any files for the lab results[, ] and was not giving Plaintiff any supplies[.]” He then “threw his pen on the desk, and told Sgt. Carter to take the Plaintiff back to his cell and told [Plaintiff] to sign up for sick-call, but stated he didn’t have any sick-call forms.”

         Two days later, February 19, 2015, Plaintiff told Defendant Washington and another nurse that he needed his pain medication and dressing supplies for the “open leaking wound and open incision for the catheter [s]ite, ” and he also “needed to be seen by the doctor for possible M.R.S.A. Staph infection and follow-up on the lab result, taken on Jan. 27th, 2015.” Plaintiff provided both nurses with handwritten sick-call requests (not on the sick-call form because no forms were available), but both nurses refused to help him.

         The next day, February 20, 2015, Defendant Mandeville provided Plaintiff with his hemorrhoid cream and lactulose. Plaintiff advised her that he needed his pain and bladder spasm medications and dressing supplies, but she responded that she did not have any medication or supplies and did not have time to review his medical file. When Plaintiff told her that he had been denied dressing supplies for more than a week and a half, she told him to sign up for sick-call but she did not have any sick-call forms.

         Plaintiff submitted another sick-call request on February 23, 2015, and he submitted a grievance on February 28, 2015. On March 1, 2015, Plaintiff showed Defendant J. Moore his supply pass and advised him that he needed pain medication and dressing supplies “for open wounds that were leaking heavy discharge, ” but Moore responded that he was busy and refused to provide any assistance. Then, on March 2, 2015, Plaintiff asked Defendant Mandeville for pain medication and dressing supplies for his “open incision catheter [s]ite, and [to] cover the pressure sore that . . . was leaking heavily everywhere, ” but “she refused.” According to Plaintiff, at this point in time, he had gone 17 days without pain medication and over 25 days without dressing supplies and a donut cushion. He notes that no sick-call announcement was made in the confinement wing on March 4, 2015, which is “common practice.”

         On March 5, 2015, Plaintiff was seen by a nurse who renewed his pain medication and bladder spasm medication, and she had Dr. Marceus prescribe antibiotics for the infection. His catheter was changed, and he was provided with 3 days’ worth of supplies to clean and bandage his open wounds and 2 days’ worth of Ibuprofen, but no bladder spasm medication because it was not available. Plaintiff does not believe that his antibiotics were fully administered.

         On March 9, 2015, Defendant Mandeville refused to provide Plaintiff with any pain medication. On March 11, 2015, Plaintiff requested pain medication, and Defendant Mandeville provided him with Oxybutynin (bladder spasm medication) but denied him any pain medication. The next day, March 12, 2015, Defendant Mandeville refused to review Plaintiff’s medical chart and again denied him pain medication.

         On March 13, 2015, Defendant Taylor provided Plaintiff with gauze pads only, and she said she would return with the correct supplies, but she did not. Plaintiff was left to use “soiled rags to clean wounds and [had] no protective cover for the incision [s]ite.” Plaintiff advised Sergeant Stone on March 14, 2015, that he needed to be seen by medical. However, Sergeant Stone advised that “‘he called medical twice, apparently they [were] not coming.” Plaintiff submitted another sick-call request on March 15, 2015, “putting nurse on notice and requesting Ibuprofen (10 days since doctor wrote order).”

         Due to his severe pain and distress, Plaintiff declared a medical emergency on March 16, 2015. He was seen by a nurse and Dr. Marceus. Dr. Marceus ordered additional testing. On March 17, 2015, Defendant Washington or another individual “took control of the cultures from Plaintiff’s cell for processing, ” but “to the best of Plaintiff’s knowledge and belief these specimens were never followed up on, or monitored by Corizon.” Also on March 17, 2015, Defendant Mandeville provided Plaintiff with a prescription for Ibuprofen that had been written on March 12, 2015. According to Plaintiff, he had gone 31 days without pain medication.

         Defendants Mandeville and Taylor provided Plaintiff with an array of dressing supplies on March 20, 2015. The supplies, however, were not correct, and Defendants “refused to gather the right supplies, and took back what they brought.” They advised Plaintiff that they should have gone home already and they were not making any more trips to medical. Sergeant Carter was present and told Plaintiff, “‘[They’re] trying to kill you.’”

         On March 23, 2015, Plaintiff asked Defendant Mandeville for a sick-call form and explained that he did not have his weekly supplies, but she responded that she did not have any sick-call forms or supplies to give him. “Plaintiff was left another week to clean with a soiled rag and to cover the wound the best he would to keep fluids from spreading everywhere.” One week later, on March 30, 2015, Plaintiff was released from solitary confinement. On April 1, 2015, he was seen by medical concerning a UTI and open wound cultures that were taken on March 16, 2015. However, the cultures were not processed properly which resulted in additional delay. On April 3, 2015, additional cultures were taken by Defendant Washington, but not properly processed.

         Plaintiff reported to medical on April 10, 2015, to follow up on the lab results. The “nurse searched the computer for lab results to no avail, due to improper processing.” On April 13, 2015, “Plaintiff reported to psychology call out” and he declared a medical emergency “due to the severe pain and suffering and emotional stress from a prolonged delay in . . . timely treatment for the U.T.I. [and] open wounds.” A nurse “proceeded to explain to Plaintiff that the ‘sensitivities’ were not being analyzed by the lab because [the] . . . nurses sending specimens were not following proper procedure for analysis.”

         On April 14, 2015, a nurse advised Plaintiff that he was positive for a urine infection (staph), but the antibiotic would take one week to arrive. On April 17, 2015, Plaintiff saw Dr. Marceus, explained all of his concerns, and requested a referral to a urologist. Dr. Marceus said, “‘Corizon will not allow him to refer [Plaintiff] to an outside doctor, they are trying to cut costs.’” On May 6, 2015, Plaintiff met with Defendant McCullough about not receiving adequate treatment. Defendant McCullough advised that Corizon “‘would not approve an outside consult to a urologist or gastrologist due to budget restrictions.’”

         “As a combined accumulation of Corizon . . . and the incompetency of the nursing staff, Plaintiff has a[nd] continues to suffer needlessly which are completely intentional failures after the chief medical doctor has ordered treatment to be carried out.” As relief in this case, he seeks declaratory relief and monetary damages.

         III. Governing Legal Principles

         A. Standard of Review

         “‘Summary judgment is appropriate where there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.’” Hinkle v. Midland Credit Mgmt., Inc., 827 F.3d 1295, 1300 (11th Cir. 2016) (quoting Jurich v. Compass Marine, Inc., 764 F.3d 1302, 1304 (11th Cir. 2014)); see Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). “A genuine issue of material fact exists when the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Bowen v. Manheim Remarketing, Inc., 882 F.3d 1358, 1362 (11th Cir. 2018) (quotations and citation omitted); see Hornsby-Culpepper v. Ware, 906 F.3d 1302, 1311 (11th Cir. 2018) (“Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, there is no genuine issue for trial.” (quotations and citation omitted)). In considering a ...

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