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Brown v. Wilson

June 13, 2007



I. Introduction

This matter is before the Court on the defendants' motions for summary judgment (DE ##80, 89). Plaintiff has filed responses in opposition to the motions (DE ##84-86, 93-95).

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 with respect to their treatment of his left jaw pain and mild bi-temporal swelling, beginning in June, 2003, while plaintiff was housed at the North Central Unit and following his transfer to the Maximum Security Unit.*fn1 Plaintiff asks for monetary relief from ADC defendant Max Mobley, and defendants George Wilson, Charlotte Green, Dr. Nnamdi Ifediora, and Jody Lefevers, employees of Correctional Medical Services, Inc. (CMS), which contracts with the ADC to provide medical care and treatment to state prison inmates.

According to plaintiff's complaint and mostly undisputed facts set forth by the parties, plaintiff was injured in an altercation at the North Central Unit on June 12, 2003, and as a result, suffers from jaw pain and a frequent swelling of the side of his head when he eats. He states that following the incident, he was examined "too aggressively" by defendant Lefevers, who was employed as a nurse at the Unit. He was later transferred to the Maximum Security Unit, where at some point he was referred to an outside physician, Dr. Burnett, who ordered a CT scan for plaintiff.

This scan was conducted on December 20, 2003.

In August, 2004, plaintiff was examined by defendant Ifediora for the same jaw complaints, and defendant noted that the previous CT scan was "unremarkable" (DE #91, Ex. 3). During an examination, defendant Ifediora asked plaintiff to eat food in his presence so he could try and determine the source of plaintiff's problem. Dr. Ifediora ordered a second CT scan, which was performed on August 20, 2004, together with a follow-up visit to Dr. Burnett on August 24, 2004. At that time, Dr. Burnett recommended that plaintiff receive an outside consultation with an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist, to determine if plaintiff suffered from a sinus duct occlusion. After Dr. Ifediora received the results from the second CT scan, which was also unremarkable, he requested that plaintiff receive an outside consult from an ENT specialist. This consult was submitted to the CMS Medical Director, Dr. Roland Anderson, for approval, who deferred the consult recommendation.

After September, 2004, plaintiff did not submit any additional sick call requests or informal resolutions concerning his jaw and facial problems, stating that he did not believe further complaints would be reviewed, and also because he was tired of defendant Ifediora treating him with different methods and medications each time he saw plaintiff.

Plaintiff stated in his deposition that he continues to suffer constant jaw pain and swelling after he eats. He states that he also named defendant Wilson in his complaint, because as regional vice president for CMS, he should have been placed on notice about plaintiff's complaints. He also states that defendant Green, the Health Services Administrator at the Unit, failed to follow-through on nursing protocols and doctor's orders and failed to personally respond to plaintiff's request for an interview.

II. Defendant Mobley's Summary Judgment Motion

A. Defendant Mobley's Motion

Defendant Mobley, formerly employed by the ADC as Deputy Director for Health and Correctional Programs, states that until he retired in December, 2006, his duties included reviewing inmate appeals of responses by CMS to health-related grievances. He further states in his affidavit (DE #81, Ex. A) that the purpose of such reviews was not to make diagnostic or treatment decisions, or to overrule those decisions, but rather, to ensure that an inmate's medical complaints were responded to by CMS. Mobley further states that he is not a medical doctor, does not diagnose or treat medical problems of any inmate, including plaintiff, and has never attempted to influence any medical decisions relating to plaintiff. He also states that he has no independent recollection of receiving correspondence from the plaintiff, and his office has no record of such.

In light of such, defendant states that plaintiff's allegations against him should be dismissed for failure to state a claim, citing Keeper v. King, 130 F.3d 1309, 1314 (8th Cir. 1997), where the court held that claims of medical indifference should be filed against the individuals directly responsible for the inmate's medical care. Defendant further states that the general responsibility for supervising the operations of a prison is insufficient to establish personal involvement required to support liability, citing Camberos v. Branstad, 73 F.3d 174, 176 (8th Cir. 1995). Defendant maintains that he responded to all plaintiff's grievance appeals (five are mentioned with respect to this complaint), and has no recollection of receiving any outside correspondence from plaintiff. Finally, defendant also states he is protected from liability by sovereign and qualified immunity.

B. Plaintiff's Response

Plaintiff alleges that by having the authority to decide whether a grievance appeal has merit, Mobley therefore has authority with respect to the medical decisions made concerning the diagnosis and treatment of inmates by CMS. Plaintiff admits defendant responded to his grievance appeals, but states he failed to refer these problems to the necessary health personnel who could take care of treating his serious medical needs. In his deposition (DE #91, Ex. 1), plaintiff states defendant Mobley had the general supervisory authority over CMS, and his actions in finding no merit to his grievances amounted to deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. Finally, plaintiff alleges he wrote ...

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