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Cassell v. Griffin

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Pine Bluff Division

January 26, 2018

HAROLD DAVEY CASSELL, ADC #73885 PLAINTIFF
v.
RORY GRIFFIN, Deputy Director, Arkansas Department of Correction, et al. DEFENDANTS

          RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION

         The following Recommended Disposition (“Recommendation”) has been sent to United States District Judge Billy Roy Wilson. Any party may file written objections to this Recommendation. Objections must be specific and include the factual or legal basis for disagreeing with the Recommendation. An objection to a factual finding must specifically identify the finding of fact believed to be wrong and describe the evidence that supports that belief.

         An original and one copy of the objections must be received by the Clerk of this Court within fourteen (14) days of this Recommendation. If no objections are filed, Judge Wilson can adopt this Recommendation without independently reviewing all of the evidence in the record. By not objecting, you may also waive any right to appeal questions of fact.

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff, Harold Davey Cassell ("Cassell"), is a prisoner in the Cummins Unit of the Arkansas Department of Correction (AADC"). He has filed this pro se § 1983 action alleging that, since April of 2015: (1) Defendants Dr. Jeffrey Stieve ("Dr. Stieve"), RN Dana Peyton ("RN Peyton"), APN LaSonya Griswold ("APN Griswold"), APN Estella Bland ("APN Bland"), and Correct Care Solutions, LLC., ("CCS") failed to provide him with constitutionally inadequate medical care for hepatitis C; and (2) ADC Deputy Director for Health and Correctional Services Rory Griffin ("Griffin") failed to take corrective action after reading his grievances and a letter challenging the medical care he was receiving for that illness.[1] Doc. 2.

         Dr. Stieve, RN Peyton, APN Griswold, APN Bland, and CCS have filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on the merits of Cassell's inadequate medical care claim, a Brief in Support, a Statement of Undisputed Facts, and a Reply. Docs. 56, 57, 58, & 73. Cassell has filed two Responses, a Brief in Support, and a Statement of Disputed Facts. Docs. 70, 71, 72, & 75.

         Griffin has separately filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on the merits of Cassell's corrective inaction claim, a Brief in Support, a Statement of Undisputed Facts, and a Reply. Docs. 62, 63, 64 & 74. Cassell has filed a Response, a Brief in Support, and a Statement of Disputed Facts. Docs. 67, 68, & 69.

         Before addressing the merits of the Motions for Summary Judgment, the Court will summarize the relevant facts giving rise to Cassell's claims:[2]

         1. Dr. Stieve is the Regional Medical Director for CCS, which is a corporation that provides medical services to ADC prisoners. He also is the chairman of the CCS hepatitis review committee, which meets monthly to monitor the progress and treatment of prisoners with hepatitis. Doc. 57, Ex. 5.

         2. In 1999, Cassell was diagnosed with hepatitis C ("HCV"). During the next fifteen years, ADC medical providers unsuccessfully treated Cassell's HCV with two different courses of drug therapy. As result of his chronic HCV, Cassell has esophageal ulcers and stage 3 liver cirrhosis.[3] He also has tuberculosis, hypertension, and low platelets. Doc. 57, Ex. 2 at 60-62; Ex. 5.

         3. On April 20, 2015, Dr. Stieve started Cassell on a twelve week course of Harvoni, which was "the standard for care at that time" for relapsing HCV patients in Cassell's genotype. Cassell completed that treatment in July of 2015. Doc. 57, Ex. 5 at 2-3.

         4. On October 13, 2015, laboratory tests revealed that Cassell's HCV had relapsed. Doc. 57, Ex. 1 at 92-93, Ex. 5.

         5. On November 4, 2015, APN Griswold examined Cassell; told him that his HCV had relapsed; renewed his medications; and explained that his condition would be regularly monitored in the prison infirmary. Doc. 57, Ex. 1 at 96.

         6. On December 1, 2015, Cassell sent RN Peyton a Request for Interview asking if APN Griswold had contacted Dr. Stieve about further HCV treatment. Doc. 2 at 27.

         7. On December 10, 2015, APN Bland examined Cassell; renewed his medications; and explained that the hepatitis review committee was deciding whether there were any further drug treatment options. Doc. 57, Ex. 1 at 97.

         8. On January 18, 2016, Dr. Stieve recorded in Cassell's medical records that: (a) "there is no current evidence that repeating this treatment [Harvoni] for the same duration or a longer course of treatment is of benefit to this patient's HCV infection;" and (b) "should the patient's condition worsen, or should other treatments become available, they will be discussed for their appropriateness for this patient in the scheduled hepatitis committee meetings." Dr. Stieve also ordered that Cassell's condition be routinely monitored in the prison infirmary. Doc. 57, Ex. 2 at 1.

         9. Thereafter, Cassell was monitored in the prison infirmary, where his blood levels and enzymes where ...


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