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Parham v. Vestal

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division

December 18, 2017

JERRY PARHAM PLAINTIFF
v.
BARBARA VESTAL DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          SUSAN O. HICKEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff proceeds in this matter pro se and in forma pauperis pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Currently before the Court is Defendant Barbara Vestal's Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 25). Plaintiff has filed a Response to the Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 28).

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Jerry Parham filed the instant Complaint in accordance with 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that, while he was incarcerated at the Ouachita River Unit, Defendant Barbara Vestal violated his constitutional rights when she failed and refused to give him one dose of gabapentin during the morning pill call on June 23, 2015. (ECF No. 2, 28).

         Plaintiff had a cervical fusion in March 2015. (ECF No. 27, Ex. A, pp. 6, 14). On May 4, 2015, Dr. Vowell began to taper Plaintiff off of tramadol, a narcotic medication which he had been taking for pain. (ECF No. 27, Ex. A, p. 1, 9; Ex. B). On May 5, 2015, Dr. Vowell prescribed gabapentin for Plaintiff to take twice daily. (ECF No. 27, Ex. A, p. 2; Ex. B). Gabapentin is an anti-seizure medication which is also used to relieve nerve pain. (ECF No. 27, Ex. B).

         Plaintiff had a checkup with neurology on May 8, 2015. He was recorded to have improved left side strength, but still some weakness. (ECF No. 27, Ex. A, pp. 3-4; Ex. B). On May 14, 2015, Dr. Vowell noted, “x-ray of cervical spine stable position of interbody plate as well as screws.” (ECF No. 27, Ex. A, p. 5; Ex. B). On May 20, 2015, a prescription for ibuprofen, 600 mg to be taken three times a day, was renewed and set to expire in September. (ECF No. 27, Ex. A, p. 5, Ex. B). Plaintiff received ninety (90) 600 mg tablets of ibuprofen, to keep on-person, on June 5, 2015. (ECF No. 27, Ex. A, pp. 16-17, Ex. B).

         On June 23, 2015, Plaintiff only received one dose of gabapentin, administered in the evening. (ECF No. 27, Ex. A, p. 18; Ex. B).

         Plaintiff was seen in the clinic the following day, on June 24, 2015, and made no reference to any issue as a result of receiving only one dose of gabapentin on June 23, 2015. (ECF No. 27, Ex. A, p. 10; Ex. B).

         Nannette Vowell, M.D., reviewed Plaintiff's medical records and is familiar with his medical care as a treating physician of Plaintiff. (ECF No. 27, Ex. B). According to Dr. Vowell, missing a single dose of gabapentin would not have had a detrimental effect on Plaintiff's cervical spine health. (ECF No. 27, Ex. B). Dr. Vowell further opined that missing a single dose of gabapentin did not cause any lasting damage (ECF No. 27, Ex. B) because gabapentin is a symptomatic medication-not a medication that reverses neuropathic pain. It provides only temporary relief from pain; thus, worsening a disease process is not possible by missing a dose of this medication. (ECF No. 27, Ex. B).

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Summary judgment is appropriate if, after viewing the facts and all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986), the record “shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). “Once a party moving for summary judgment has made a sufficient showing, the burden rests with the non-moving party to set forth specific facts, by affidavit or other evidence, showing that a genuine issue of material fact exists.” National Bank of Commerce v. Dow Chemical Co., 165 F.3d 602, 607 (8th Cir. 1999).

         The non-moving party “must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586. “They must show there is sufficient evidence to support a jury verdict in their favor.” National Bank, 165 F.3d at 607 (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986)). “A case founded on speculation or suspicion is insufficient to survive a motion for summary judgment.” Id. (citing Metge v. Baehler, 762 F.2d 621, 625 (8th Cir. 1985)). “When opposing parties tell two different stories, one of which is blatantly contradicted by the record, so that no reasonable jury could believe it, a court should not adopt that version of the facts for purposes of ruling on a motion for summary judgment.” Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007).

         III. ANALYSIS

         The Eighth Amendment prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment prohibits deliberate indifference to prisoners' serious medical needs. Luckert v. Dodge County, 684 F.3d 808, 817 (8th Cir. 2012). To prevail on his Eighth Amendment claim, Plaintiff must prove that the Defendant acted with deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. Estelle v. Gamble,429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). The deliberate indifference standard includes “both an objective and a subjective component: ‘The [Plaintiff] must demonstrate (1) that [he] suffered [from] objectively serious medical needs and (2) that the prison officials actually knew of but ...


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