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Lamb v. Norris

August 25, 2006



I. Introduction

This matter is before the Court on the defendants' motions for summary judgment (DE ##73, 78). Plaintiff has filed responses to defendants' motions (DE ##83, 86). Defendant Kingsland has filed a motion to deem facts admitted (DE #80), and plaintiff has responded with a motion for leave to file a late response, together with an opposition to defendants' motion (DE ##81, 89)

Plaintiff, a state inmate currently incarcerated at the Quachita River Correctional Unit of the Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC), filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of his Eighth Amendment rights by defendants based on incidents which occurred while he was incarcerated at the Grimes Unit in February, 2003. Specifically, plaintiff alleges that he was bitten by a spider in his cell on February 6, 2003, and when he appeared at the Infirmary on February 12, 2003, defendant Kingsland stated that she did not have time to treat him and that he should submit a sick call request and return to the Infirmary the next day. Plaintiff was treated at the Infirmary the next day for his bite. Plaintiff also alleges that defendant Maples, the Warden of the Unit, was deliberately indifferent by failing to ensure that plaintiff's cell was sprayed for spiders, since plaintiff had suffered two bites in January, 2003, and also failed to ensure the plaintiff received proper treatment. Plaintiff asks for monetary relief from the defendants.

II. Undisputed Facts

Based on a review of the motions and affidavits, responses and exhibits, the Court finds the following undisputed facts. Plaintiff was treated at the Grimes Unit Infirmary in January, 2003 for two spider bites. Plaintiff did not know that spiders were in his cell until he was bitten. He received antibiotics and pain medication and a script to have daily dressing changes. On February 6, 2003, plaintiff received another spider bite and went to the Infirmary on February 11, 2003. Before being treated, plaintiff was called away for a meeting, and did not return. The nursing assessment of this visit did not note any emergent symptoms or findings and plaintiff was instructed to complete a sick call request slip. Plaintiff returned to the Infirmary on February 12, 2003, but was not treated (the parties dispute whether plaintiff filed a sick call request for treatment). He returned again to the Infirmary on February 13, 2003, without a sick call slip, and was treated as a walk-in patient and was prescribed antibiotics and pain medication. Plaintiff was again treated on February 14, 2006. Plaintiff filed a grievance that same date, and defendant Maples responded to that grievance on February 20, 2003, stating that he was forwarding plaintiff's grievance to medical personnel for a response. Plaintiff returned to the Infirmary for a follow-up appointment with the doctor on March 3, 2003, at which time the doctor noted that plaintiff's wound was healing "very well", was pink and "almost healed." DE #74-6.

III. Summary Judgment Motions

A. Defendant Kingsland

In support of her motion, defendant states that plaintiff can not support his Eighth Amendment claim against her because he can not show that he was injured by a one-day delay in treatment for his bite, nor can he show that her response to him was deliberately indifferent to his health and safety. In support of her motion, defendant also attaches an affidavit of Dr. Roland Anderson, Regional Medical Director for Correctional Medical Services, Inc. (CMS), which contracts with ADC to provide medical services to the ADC inmates. Dr. Anderson reviewed plaintiff's medical records, together with his allegations, and concluded that there was no medical evidence to support a finding of harm in the oneday delay of treatment. Furthermore, Dr. Anderson notes that had plaintiff completed a sick call slip for treatment on February 12, 2003, he would have been treated by infirmary personnel. Although plaintiff claims that he suffers from a scar as a result of defendant's mistreatment, Dr. Anderson states in his affidavit that spider bites often leave a scar, regardless of whether medical treatment is received, and that a one-day delay in treatment would have no significant medical consequences to the healing of the bite.

Defendant also notes in her motion, and provides plaintiff's medical records in support, that plaintiff failed to appear for dressing changes for his two prior bites on February 6, 2003 and February 7, 2003, and could have had his third bite addressed on those dates had he kept his appointments. Finally, defendant states that even if she told plaintiff she was too busy to treat him on February 12, 2003, and that he should complete a sick call request form and return the next day, such conduct does not support a finding of deliberate indifference. Defendant notes that Tylenol is available to all inmates, without a prescription, at the pill call window four times daily, and that such was available to plaintiff for treatment of any discomfort he was experiencing.

B. Defendant Maples

In support of his motion, defendant Maples provides an affidavit and receipts to show that the barracks are serviced by pest control on a monthly basis, and that individual cells are sprayed at the requests of inmates or staff. In addition, defendant Maples responded to plaintiff's grievance, submitted February 14, 2003, by forwarding it to medical personnel for their investigation and response. Defendant states that as a non-medical employee, he is not involved in the medical treatment of the inmates, and any attempts to hold him liable based on his supervisory capacity can not be maintained pursuant to a § 1983 action.

C. Plaintiff's Responses

In response to the defendants' motions, plaintiff states that CMS (non-party) condoned a policy of failure to provide adequate medical care, as documented by a Department of Justice study completed in late 2003. In addition, plaintiff states that defendant Kingsland's decision to delay treatment of his bite constituted deliberate indifference to a serious medical need. Plaintiff also states that defendant Maples can not provide proof that plaintiff's cell was treated following the bites which occurred ...

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