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Purifoy v. Williams

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Harrison Division

October 3, 2018

GEORGE J. PURIFOY PLAINTIFF
v.
JERRY WILLIAMS, Jail Administrator, Carroll County Detention Center, CCDC; ANDREA MORRELL, Shift Supervisor, CCDC; MELISSA EASTER, Sergeant/Accounts Officer, CCDC; A. LEMUS, Sergeant/Shift Supervisor, CCDC DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          TIMOTHY L. BROOKS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff George J. Purifoy filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He proceeds pro se and in forma pauperis. This case arises out of Plaintiff's incarceration in the Carroll County Detention Center ("CCDC"). Plaintiff maintains his constitutional rights were violated in the following ways: (1) he was denied adequate medical care, primarily for hypoglycemia;[1] (2) he was served an inadequate diet; (3) he was charged exorbitant prices for basic hygiene items and over-the-counter medications; (4) his access to televised news was limited to one or two channels consisting of "a nonstop barrage of political brainwashing"; (5) his possession of reading material was unfairly restricted, and he was not allowed to have material mailed to him; and (6) he was denied pastoral visits and church services. Plaintiff has named as Defendants to this action the Jail Administrator, Lieutenant Jerry Williams; two shift supervisors, Sergeant Andrea Morrell and Sergeant A. Lemus; and the accounts officer, Sergeant Melissa Easter. The case is now before the Court on the Defendants' Motion Summary Judgment (Doc. 22). Plaintiff has responded to the Motion, see Doc. 26, and the matter is now ripe for decision.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff was booked into the CCDC on March 23, 2017. (Doc. 24-2 at 1). He had no medication with him. His weight was noted as 170 pounds, and his height was 5'11". Id.

         A. Medical Care

         During his deposition, Plaintiff testified that he had been hypoglycemic his entire life. (Doc. 24-10 at 18). He claimed that if he did not get enough to eat, he would start feeling lightheaded and shaky and sometimes pass out, but if he got something to eat, he would be fine. He also confirmed that in the free world, he would carry a snack with him in case he started feeling lightheaded. Id.

         With respect to medical treatment for hypoglycemia, Plaintiff testified that he had not seen a doctor on a regular basis in 20 to 30 years. Id. at 19. Instead, he only saw a doctor when something was wrong. Id. He preferred managing his hypoglycemia on his own, through diet, and he testified that he had never taken any medication for this condition. Id. at 19, 20. He also did not measure his blood sugar on a regular basis. Id. at 21. According to Plaintiff, his normal weight is about 180 pounds, but he does not believe his weight affects his hypoglycemia. He testified that his episodes of hypoglycemia would sometimes occur every few weeks or every few months, but other times would occur more frequently, such as every day for a month. Id. at 22.

         Shortly after he was incarcerated at the CCDC, Plaintiff began experiencing nose bleeds, bleeding gums, bloody stool, and problems with urination. Id. at 26. According to Plaintiff, he informed the jail staff about these symptoms, but he was ignored. About a week or so after he entered CCDC custody, on March 31, 2017, Plaintiff submitted a medical request in which he stated he had informed booking staff of his hypoglycemia and had received no medical attention. (Doc. 24-5 at 1). He stated that he was beginning to have tremors in his hands, his vision was sometimes cloudy in the evening, and he occasionally had vertigo. Id. Plaintiff also complained in the grievance that the meager rations he was served at the jail were insufficient to maintain his blood sugar level. Id. He claimed that since he had no money in his jail account, he could not purchase commissary items to supplement his diet. Id. Nurse W responded in writing to his grievance, noting, "I have added this for you." Id.

         According to Plaintiff, on April 2, 2017, he began receiving a snack at night. (Doc. 24-10 at 60). Plaintiff testified that for most of the month of April, he was in solitary confinement and did not have access to a kiosk. Id. at 45. He indicated that he was rarely let out of the cell during that time. Id. On April 25, 2017, Plaintiff asked staff if he needed to see the doctor to have his hypoglycemia addressed. (Doc. 24-5 at 2). He said he had mentioned this condition during intake and had made a request to see a doctor at that time, but he had not received any attention. Nurse W responded in writing that Plaintiff was already receiving a peanut butter sandwich at night. Nurse W also indicated that the extra sandwich was on his med list, and that the jail did not provide snacks during the day.

         On May 17, 2017, Plaintiff submitted a request stating he noticed jaundiced bruising appearing on his left leg and was beginning to experience some pain. Id. at 4. Nurse W responded that jaundiced bruising simply indicates a healing bruise. She advised Plaintiff to have "Bing" look at it the next day at med pass. Id.

         According to Plaintiff, Officer Collins handled the issue of his bruising by taking pictures and sending them to Dr. Bell. (Doc. 24-10 at 44). On May 18, 2017, Dr. Bell put Plaintiff on a low dose of aspirin and Ibuprofen. (Doc. 24-4 at 1). Plaintiff was told he was put on the list to see the doctor.

         On June 22, 2017, Plaintiff asked that his prescriptions for 81 mg aspirin and 600 mg Ibuprofen be renewed. (Doc. 24-5 at 5). Nurse R responded that the medications had been ordered. Plaintiff testified he did not ask to see a doctor with respect to this request because he had already been told by Officer Collins that he was on the list to see the doctor. (Doc. 24-10 at 48).

         On July 15, 2017, Plaintiff submitted a request stating he had been told by Officer Collins that the doctor wanted to see him. (Doc. 24-5 at 6). He also complained of having "occasional chest pain and possible circulatory problems." Id. He was told that he would see the doctor the following month.

         On August 4, 2017, Plaintiff submitted a request stating he had been passed over several times for doctor's visits and wanted to make sure he was not forgotten the next time the doctor came. Id. at 7. He stated he was experiencing several problems including recent bleeding in his soft tissues and stool. Id. Nurse R responded that he was on the list to see the doctor on August 18th.

         On August 14, 2017, Plaintiff submitted a request stating he was having increasing difficulty with his symptoms of hypoglycemia. Id. at 8. He complained that the extra peanut butter sandwiches he had been receiving in the evenings hardly contained any peanut butter. He also asserted that the "meager diet provided here simply isn't enough calories to get me through between mealtimes." Id. Nurse R responded that he would be seeing the doctor on Friday and should talk to him about it.

         Plaintiff testified that he was seen by Dr. Bell on Friday, August 18, 2017. (Doc. 24-10 at 55, 60). Plaintiff talked to Dr. Bell about his hypoglycemia. Dr. Bell ordered Plaintiff's blood sugar to be tested twice a day for one week, put him on double portions and a high protein diet, and continued his nighttime snack. Id:, Doc. 24-4 at 2. Plaintiff's weight was recorded as 160 pounds on that date. (Doc. 24-4 at 2). Plaintiff indicated during the medical visit that he did not believe it was necessary to test his blood sugar so long as he had enough to eat. (Doc. 24-10 at 61). Dr. Bell, however, stated that he wanted to see what Plaintiff's blood sugar was, so he ordered that it be tested.

         Plaintiff testified that with respect to his diet, the kitchen staff claimed he was just put on a high protein diet, which meant he received an "extra piece of tofu with [his] meal." (Doc. 24-10 at 55). Plaintiff testified he was not sure who had prevented him from receiving double portions, but he knew that Sergeant Easter was "over the kitchen." Id. He testified that he did not believe Sergeant Easter had any reason to deprive him of a medically ordered diet. Id. at 56.

         On August 21, 2017, Plaintiff submitted a request stating that the doctor had put him on a special diet because he was 25 pounds underweight, but the evening snack he was receiving consisted only of "two pieces of bread with barely any peanut but[t]er scraped across one piece." (Doc. 24-5 at 9). He stated this was a direct threat to his personal health. Sergeant Lemus noted that he had seen an inmate putting two tablespoons of peanut butter on the sandwiches the previous morning. Nurse R also responded that two tablespoons was more than enough peanut butter for a snack.

         On August 23, 2017, Plaintiff submitted another request about the peanut butter sandwiches. (Doc. 24-5 at 10). He said "[t]here is nowhere near two tablespoons of peanut butter on these sandwiches and anyone that says so hasn't looked at them and is lying or is completely blind." Id. He stated he showed two officers the sandwiches on different dates to prove how little peanut butter had been placed on them. In response, Nurse R confirmed that she had been told that two tablespoons of peanut butter was placed on each sandwich. Plaintiff submitted a second request that same day for medical attention, in which he claimed he was not receiving his ointment or vitamins. (Doc. 24-5 at 11). In response, Nurse R stated that both items were on the medical cart.

         On August 28, 2017, Plaintiff submitted another grievance about his blood sugar not being tested twice a day as ordered by the doctor. (Doc. 24-3 at 21). He claimed his blood sugar had only been tested successfully on one occasion since the doctor gave the order. Nurse R responded that she would look into it. On September 5, 2017, Plaintiff submitted another grievance, claiming nothing had been done yet about this issue. The following day, Nurse R replied that the order was back on the list for his blood sugar to be tested two times a day for a week.

         On August 29, 2017, Plaintiff asked for his multi-vitamin to be administered at night. (Doc. 24-5 at 12). Nurse R responded that she had changed it. On September 12, 2017, Plaintiff submitted a request stating that his blood sugar was still not being monitored per the doctor's instructions. (Doc. 24-5 at 13). He claimed that it had been only taken once since his last complaint. Nurse R responded that she would look into it. Then, on September 15, Nurse R sent Plaintiff a note stating that she had not realized they were low on supplies to get his blood sugar tested. She informed him that supplies had been ordered and once they were received, she would order his blood sugar to be taken.

         On October 9, 2017, Plaintiff submitted another grievance about his medical care, explaining that he had been asking to see the doctor for two weeks, and he was told the list for the month was full, so he would have to wait until the next month. (Doc. 24-3 at 29). Lieutenant Williams responded in writing, indicating that he had talked to medical staff, and Plaintiff would be seen by the doctor that same month, on October 20, 2017. Plaintiff was also told that if he felt he had additional medical concerns that rose to the level of an emergency, he should not hesitate to inform the staff.

         Plaintiff's medication sheet indicates that his blood sugar was to be checked daily from October 18, 2017, until October 21, 2017. (Doc. 24-4 at 4). The sheet that covers dates from April 2, 2017, to October 18, 2017, contains no other order for blood sugar checks. The only change in his diet that appears on the medication sheet is the addition of the peanut butter sandwich at bedtime on April 2, 2017.

         Plaintiff was next seen by the doctor on October 20, 2017. (Doc. 24-4 at 3). Plaintiff was complaining of stress, anxiety, and poor sleep. His weight was noted to be 165 pounds. Dr. Bell ordered Plaintiff to have double portions of food at supper time and for his blood sugar to be checked as needed. On October 24, 2017, Plaintiff submitted a request stating that the doctor had authorized double portions of food, and the tofu he had been receiving was making him constipated. A handwritten note in Plaintiff's medical file stated that the double portion order "was added to [his]list 10/25/17." Id.

         Plaintiff testified that he did not know if any of the Defendants were aware of all the delays he had been experiencing in trying to see the doctor. (Doc. 24-10 at 49). However, he assumed that the Defendants knew because "they're the ones that are in charge," and "they're the ones that are running the show here." Id. Plaintiff testified he never directly talked to Lieutenant Williams about his medical care. Id. at 49-50. However, Lieutenant Williams was involved in the grievance process and "there's been some that he's chimed in on." W.at50.

         With respect to Sergeant Morrell, Plaintiff testified that he did not believe she was involved in any way with his medical grievances. Id. at 51. Plaintiff also testified that he did not know if either Sergeant Easter or Sergeant Lemus was aware of his having been told by Officer Collins that the doctor wanted to see him. Id. at 51-54.

         Plaintiff also did not know if the Defendants were personally involved in his medical care. Id. at 53-54. None of the Defendants was present when Plaintiff was seen by the doctor. Id. at 54. Plaintiff also testified that he never had a discussion with any of the Defendants about his medical care, and none of them ever tested his blood sugar levels. Id. at 65.

         With respect to the existence of any Carroll County policy or custom, Plaintiff testified that "someone was not following the doctor's order." He conceded, however, that this was not a policy of the County. Nevertheless, Plaintiff maintains the facts "clearly demonstrate negligence on the part of the Defendants in that they failed in their administrative capacity to assure the execution of valid orders from a licensed medical professional." (Doc. 26 at 2).

         B. Diet

         Plaintiff submitted grievances about his diet on the following days:

6/8/2017-food being served by other inmates; one of them rubbed his eyes and was picking his nose and then handed out my food and drink;
6/10/2017-inmates still handing out my food; did not receive milk this morning;
6/16/2017-situation regarding inmates handing out my food has not been rectified;
6/17/2017-breakfast tray served by another inmate and Corporal Madel was in the pod;
6/19/2017-over weekend and this morning inmates allowed to pass trays;
6/22/2017-situation regarding inmates handing out trays not getting rectified; inmates "cherry picking for larger portions;" inmates "scratching" themselves; he asked that the inmates at least be given gloves;
6/26/2017-inmates delivering trays;
6/28/2017-inmates serving trays;
7/5/2107-inmates serving trays;
7/24/2017-food portions have become miniscule and unevenly divided; cornbread and brownie have been tiny slivers where as other inmates' helpings were twice as big; inmate server laughed when ...

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