United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Pine Bluff Division
Don Cook, an Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC) inmate,
filed a pro se complaint on February 27,
2015. Cook filed an amended complaint on August
7, 2015, and a second amended complaint and exhibits on
September 21, 2015. Cook named as defendants Advanced
Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) Estella Bland and William
Warren, a physician. Cook's claims against Warren were
dismissed without prejudice on January 21, 2016. Doc. No. 59.
to Cook, he was sent to the ADC's Cummins Unit in October
of 2013 after a hospital stay following an assault at another
unit. Cook claims he arrived at the Cummins medical ward for
treatment with a broken nose and jaw, head fractures, and
cuts. Cook asserts that he continued to have pain, as well as
vision and neurological problems, after his release to
general population. He asserts that despite these medical
problems, every time he sought medical care, he saw Bland,
who became angry and disrespectful, and made it clear she had
no plans to do anything else to help him. Doc. No. 15.
deposition testimony more specifically identifies his claims
against Bland. He claims Bland violated his constitutional
rights when she did not renew prescriptions for a shower
chair and a non-wool blanket on January 23, 2014, and that
she exhibited unprofessional conduct toward him during a
medical visit on February 25, 2015. Doc. No. 72-2, pages
31-33 & 47-48. Cook claims he needed a shower chair
because he had difficulty standing in the shower, and a
non-wool blanket because wool “breaks [him] out.”
Doc. No. 72-1, page 11, Doc. No. 72-2, page 39.
5, 2016, Bland filed a motion for summary judgment, a brief
in support, and a statement of facts on the merits of the
case. Doc. Nos. 70-72. Cook filed a response on July 8, 2016,
and Bland filed a reply on July 15, 2016. Doc. Nos. 74 &
75. For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants the
Standard of review
Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary
judgment is proper “if the pleadings, depositions,
answers to interrogatories and admissions on file, together
with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine
issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is
entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(c); Celotex v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 321 (1986).
When ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court must
view the evidence in a light most favorable to the nonmoving
party. Naucke v. City of Park Hills, 284 F.3d 923,
927 (8th Cir. 2002). The nonmoving party may not rely on
allegations or denials, but must demonstrate the existence of
specific facts that create a genuine issue for trial.
Mann v. Yarnell, 497 F.3d 822, 825 (8th Cir. 2007).
The nonmoving party's allegations must be supported by
sufficient probative evidence that would permit a finding in
his favor on more than mere speculation, conjecture, or
fantasy. Id. (citations omitted). A dispute is
genuine if the evidence is such that it could cause a
reasonable jury to return a verdict for either party; a fact
is material if its resolution affects the outcome of the
case. Othman v. City of Country Club Hills, 671 F.3d
672, 675 (8th Cir. 2012). Disputes that are not genuine or
that are about facts that are not material will not preclude
summary judgment. Sitzes v. City of West Memphis,
Ark., 606 F.3d 461, 465 (8th Cir. 2010).
essentially alleges that Bland violated his constitutional
rights by denying him adequate medical care. The Eighth
Amendment's proscription of cruel and unusual punishment
obligates prison officials to provide adequate medical care
to inmates in their custody. Estelle v. Gamble, 429
U.S. 97, 102-03 (1976). To succeed on an inadequate medical
care claim, a plaintiff must allege and prove that: (1) he
had objectively serious medical needs; and (2) prison
officials subjectively knew of, but deliberately disregarded,
those serious medical needs. Dulany v. Carnahan, 132
F.3d 1234, 1239 (8th Cir. 1997). Additionally, the Eighth
Circuit has held that a “prisoner must show more than
negligence, more even than gross negligence, and mere
disagreement with treatment decisions does not rise to the
level of a constitutional violation.” Estate of
Rosenberg by Rosenberg v. Crandell, 56 F.3d 35, 37 (8th
Cir. 1995). However, “‘[g]rossly incompetent or
inadequate medical care can constitute deliberate
indifference, as can a doctor's decision to take an
easier and less efficacious course of treatment.'”
Warren v. Fanning, 950 F.2d 1370, 1373 (8th Cir.
1991) (quoting Smith v. Jenkins, 919 F.2d 90, 93
(8th Cir. 1990)).
Chair/Non-wool Blanket Prescription Claims
contends Bland denied him prescriptions for a shower chair
and a non-wool blanket on January 23, 2014, in deliberate
indifference to his serious medical needs. The medical
records provided by Bland in support of her summary judgment
motion indicate that Cook's treating physician, Dr.
William Warren, saw Cook for hypertension on January 21,
2014, two days before he was seen by Bland in the
complained-of visit. In his clinic notes from that visit, Dr.
Warren indicated that Cook “has scripts for non-wool
blanket, use of tennis shoes for medical purposes: these are
not warranted.” Doc. No. 72-1, page 4. There was no
mention of a shower chair prescription.
call on the following day, Cook told the staff medical
provider that his non-wool blanket, shower chair, and tennis
shoe prescriptions needed to be renewed. He stated his
vision was still blurry after being assaulted and “the
nerves in his neck jump” and were painful.
Id., page 10. It was noted that Cook had a non-wool
prescription that was good until April 21, 2014, but that the
shoe and shower chair prescriptions were terminated
“8/13.” He was referred to “provider”
for evaluation of neck pain. Id.
was seen by Bland the next day, January 23, 2014. Bland's
notes from that visit state that Cook “presents with
requests for multiple items: shower chair, tennis shoes,
non-wool blanket. He states that he has difficulty standing
in the showers and neck pain related to the position that he
has to take watching television or to write. He can't lay
on the lt.side of his head without feeling pain....”
Id., page 11. Bland's examination appears to
address his varied complaints and requests. She evaluated
Cook's neck, remarking he had full range of motion and no
recent injury. She reviewed a November 2013 X-ray. She
documented a normal exam. She also did “wool patch
testing, ” with negative results. Finally, Bland
examined Cook's feet, finding no structural abnormalities
or lesions, even nails, intact pulses, and good range of
motion. Id. Bland explained the medication and
treatment plan in place to Cook. She informed Cook
“that Dr. Warren has already told him on that non-wool
blankets, shower chairs, and prescribed footwear are not
medically indicated.... He was informed that his skin test
for wool allergy was negative and that he may use any blanket
issued by the state.” Id.
Cook's deposition, he testified that the first barracks
to which he was assigned at Cummins had no shower chair, but
“a couple of months down the road, ” he was
transferred to a barracks with a built-in shower chair. Doc.
No. 72-2, page 35. During the time that he was required to
shower without a chair, he was able to lean ...