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Williams v. Mobley

January 25, 2007



I. Introduction

This matter is before the Court on the defendant's motions for summary judgment (DE ##166, 176). Plaintiff has filed responses in opposition to the motions (DE ##183, 184).

Plaintiff, a state inmate incarcerated at the Maximum Security Unit of the Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC), filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against defendants, alleging deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs and denial of adequate medical care and treatment by defendants from March, 2003 until December, 2003, while he was incarcerated at the East Arkansas Regional Unit. Specifically, plaintiff alleges that he suffered from hemorrhoids (rectal bleeding), migraine headaches, stomach problems and foot problems, and requested to see a Unit physician beginning in March, 2003. Plaintiff states that he filed an emergency grievance about the situation in October, 2003, and was not seen by a physician until December 13, 2003. Plaintiff asks for monetary relief from defendants, who include ADC officials Mobley, Harmon, Banks, Jackson, and James, together with several employees of Correctional Medical Services, Inc. (CMS), which contracts with the ADC to provide medical care and treatment to state prison inmates: Yarbrough, Crawford, Montgomery, Spears, Jones, Driver, and Ousley (hereinafter referred to as the "medical defendants").

II. Summary Judgment

A. ADC Defendants' Motion

In their motion for summary judgment, defendants state that plaintiff can not support his claim for deliberate indifference against them, and he can not establish a detrimental effect of any delay in his medical treatment. Plaintiff's allegations against each of the defendants, and defendants' arguments for dismissal, are as follows:

1) Defendant Jackson failed to honor plaintiff's request to see an infirmary doctor on October 20, 2003. Plaintiff complained of rectal bleeding and migraine headaches, and told Jackson he had been suffering from those symptoms for several months. Defendants note that defendant Jackson did sign an emergency grievance for the plaintiff, and that since plaintiff had been suffering from the symptoms for several months, it was reasonable for Jackson to believe that plaintiff's situation did not involve an emergency. Defendants state that plaintiff presents no evidence to support a finding of deliberate indifference against defendant Jackson.

2) Defendant Banks was deliberately indifferent to plaintiff's needs because he was informed of his medical situation through the grievance system. Defendants state that plaintiff admitted in his deposition that he did not actually speak with defendant Banks until 2004, after he was seen by the Unit physician. Defendants state that plaintiff fails to show any deliberate indifference on the part of Banks.

3) Defendant James, according to plaintiff's deposition, is supposed to make the warden aware of situations arising from the grievance process. Defendants state that this is a conclusory statement and does not show that defendant consciously disregarded a risk of harm to plaintiff.

4) Defendant Harmon was informed of plaintiff's medical situation. Plaintiff admitted in his deposition that Harmon referred plaintiff's grievances to the CMS Infirmary. Defendants state that defendant Harmon is not medically trained and was required to refer medical matters to CMS employees.

5) Defendant Mobley did not ensure that plaintiff's problems were addressed. Defendants note that plaintiff admits in his complaint that defendant responded to his grievances and found, on December 31, 2003, that plaintiff's grievance did have merit. Defendants state that plaintiff doesn't allege any specific actions Mobley took or did not take which would support a finding of deliberate indifference.

Based on these allegations by plaintiff against the ADC defendants, the defendants state that plaintiff fails to support a claim against them for denial of medical care. Defendants note that officials who lack medical expertise can not be held liable for the diagnostic decisions of the medical staff, citing Keeper v. King, 130 F.3d 1309, 1314 (8th Cir. 1997). Defendants further note that none of them are part of the medical staff and that they fulfilled their obligations by referring plaintiff's complaints to the proper medical personnel. Furthermore, defendants state that plaintiff does not support a finding that his medical situation constituted a serious medical need. Plaintiff's complaints included headaches, upset stomach, foot problems and hemorrhoids, none of which would cause a layperson to recognize the need for immediate medical attention. In addition, defendants note that although plaintiff was scheduled to see the Unit physician on December 7, 2003, he refused to see him. Defendants state that if plaintiff's condition was serious, he would not have refused to see the doctor on that date. Finally, defendants state that they are protected from liability by qualified immunity.

B. Plaintiff's Response

In his response, plaintiff states that his allegations against the ADC defendants are sufficient to support a claim for denial of medical care. Plaintiff states that he made numerous attempts to receive proper medical treatment for his conditions and that defendants, plaintiff's caretakers, were responsible for ensuring proper medical care and treatment. Plaintiff claims to have endured long periods of suffering while waiting for defendants to take action, and that ...

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