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De Rossitte v. Correct Care Solutions, Inc.

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

November 19, 2018

CHRISTOPHER EUGENE DE ROSSITTE PLAINTIFF
v.
CORRECT CARE SOLUTIONS, INC.; DR. NANETTE VOWELL; and NURSE MELLISA L. GIFFORD DEFENDANTS

          ORDER

          Susan O. Hickey United States District Judge

         Before the Court is a Report and Recommendation filed on August 10, 2018, by the Honorable Barry A. Bryant, United States Magistrate Judge for the Western District of Arkansas. ECF No. 92. Plaintiff has filed timely objections. ECF No. 103. The Court finds this matter ripe for consideration.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff brings the present lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for alleged denial of medical care and retaliation related to his pursuit of legal action. Plaintiff also alleges a claim for “medical injury under Arkansas state law.” ECF No. 14, p. 9. Plaintiff is currently incarcerated in the Arkansas Department of Correction.

         In the instant Report and Recommendation, Judge Bryant considered Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction (ECF No. 76) in which Plaintiff requests preliminary injunctive relief in the form of an order directing Defendant Correct Care Solutions, Inc. to “provide diagnosis and treatment for the persistent pain in the tissues of [Plaintiff's] face and head.” ECF No. 76, p. 4. Upon examining Plaintiff's motion under the applicable standard, [1] Judge Bryant concluded that the motion should be denied, finding: (1) it was questionable whether Plaintiff's claims for denial of medical care will succeed on the merits, (2) Plaintiff failed to demonstrate he will suffer irreparable harm, (3) the balance of harms favors Defendants, and (4) that the public interest would not be served by the issuance of preliminary injunctive relief.

         DISCUSSION

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 646(b)(1), the Court will conduct a de novo review of all issues related to Plaintiff's specific objections. For the sake of clarity, the Court will separately address the four Dataphase factors and any of Plaintiff's arguments[2] that are applicable to each in the order in which Judge Bryant discussed them.

         A. Likelihood of Success on the Merits

         As noted above, this case is based, in part, on alleged denial of medical care and the injunctive relief Plaintiff seeks regards that claim. Judge Bryant found that it was questionable whether Plaintiff would succeed on the merits of his denial of medical care claim.

         The Eighth Amendment prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment prohibits deliberate indifference to prisoners' serious medical needs. Luckert v. Dodge Cnty., 684 F.3d 808, 817 (8th Cir. 2012). To prevail on his Eighth Amendment claim, Plaintiff must prove that Defendants 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 deliberately disregarded those needs.'” Jolly v. Knudsen, 205 F.3d 1094, 1096 (8th Cir. 2000) (alterations in original).

         To show that he suffered from an objectively serious medical need, Plaintiff must show he “has been diagnosed by a physician as requiring treatment” or has an injury “that is so obvious that even a layperson would easily recognize the necessity for a doctor's attention.” Schaub v. VonWald, 638 F.3d 905, 914 (8th Cir. 2011). To satisfy the subjective prong of deliberate indifference, “the prisoner must show more than negligence, more even than gross negligence, and mere disagreement with treatment decisions does not give rise to the level of a constitutional violation. Deliberate indifference is akin to criminal recklessness, which demands more than negligent misconduct.” Popoalii v. Corr. Med. Servs., 512 F.3d 488, 499 (8th Cir. 2008) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

         Further, it is well settled that a “prisoner's mere difference of opinion over matters of expert medical judgment or a course of medical treatment fail[s] to rise to the level of a constitutional violation.” Nelson v. Shuffman, 603 F.3d 439, 449 (8th Cir. 2010) (alteration in original). An “inmate must clear a substantial evidentiary threshold to show the prison's medical staff deliberately disregarded the inmate's needs by administering inadequate treatment.” Id.

         Judge Bryant found that, at this stage of the litigation, it is questionable whether Plaintiff's claim for denial of medical care will be successful on the merits. Specifically, Judge Bryant focused on the requirement that Plaintiff have a serious medical need and noted that Plaintiff had failed to mention the alleged pain in his face and head during multiple recent sick calls. Judge Bryant found that this failure undermined both Plaintiff's claim that he has a serious medical need requiring immediate medical attention as well as the argument that he had a condition that was “so obvious that even a layperson would easily recognize the necessity for a doctor's attention.” Judge ...


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