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Forrester v. Page

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Western Division

September 23, 2019

JERRY WAYLAND FORRESTER PLAINTIFF
v.
RUSTY PAGE, Sergeant; GARRY STEWART, Doctor; MONTE MUNYAN, Nurse; and ANDREW HUMPHREY, Officer, Faulkner County Detention Center Unit 1 DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION [1]

         Plaintiff Jerry Wayland Forrester ("Forrester") has filed this pro se § 1983 action alleging that, while he was incarcerated at the Faulkner County Detention Center ("FCDC"): (1) Defendants Sergeant Rusty Page ("Sgt. Page"), Officer Andrew Humphrey ("Officer Humphrey"), Dr. Garry Stewart ("Dr. Stewart"), and Nurse Monte Munyan ("Nurse Munyan") failed to provide him with constitutionally adequate medical care for back injuries he sustained, on October 11, 2017, when he fell while getting out of a transport van; and (2) Dr. Stewart denied him medical care in retaliation for Forrester previously filing a lawsuit against him. Docs. 2 & 6.[2] Forrester named all Defendants in their individual and official capacities, but his only requested relief is monetary damages.

         Defendants have filed a Motion for Summary Judgment arguing they are entitled to judgment, as a matter of law, on all of Forrester's claims. In support of their Motion, they rely on a Memorandum of Law and a Statement of Indisputable Material Facts. Docs. 36, 37 & 38. Although notified of his right to file a Response, Forrester has not done so. See Doc. 39. Thus, all issues are fully joined and Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment is ready for disposition.[3]

         I. Facts

         Before addressing the merits of Defendants' arguments, the Court will summarize the relevant facts, all of which are undisputed.[4]

         1. On July 29, 2017, Forrester was booked into the FCDC. Doc. 38, Ex. A-l at 38 (Arrest/Booking).

         2. On August 7, 2017, he informed FCDC medical personnel that, in November 2016, he underwent back surgery, during which rods and screws were affixed to his spine. The FCDC obtained Forrester's prior medical and pharmacy records and placed them in his medical file. Id., Ex. A-3 at 13-64, 67-124 & 129-38 (Medical File). Those medical records confirmed that Forrester had undergone back surgery.

         3. From August 2017 through early October 2017, Dr. Stewart, the physician for FCDC, prescribed various pain and anti-inflammatory medications to address Forrester's complaints of chronic lower back pain. Those medications included ibuprofen, naproxen, diclofenac, meloxicam, tylenol, and prednisone. Id., Ex. A-3 at 65-66, 139-40, 144-54, 198-218, & Ex. B % 2 (Stewart Aff).

         4. On October 11, 2017, Forrester was transported in a van from FCDC Unit 2 to FCDC Unit 1. As he exited the van, he fell and injured his lower back. Doc. 2 at 4.

         5. On October 12, 2017, at 10:49 a.m., Forrester submitted an Inmate Medical Request, stating: "I need to see doctor A.S.A.P. I fell out of your van last night and I hurt myself bad. I need an MRI so you people need to help me. Thank you." Doc. 38, Ex. A-4 at 59 (Inmate Medical Requests).

         6. Later on October 12, Forrester submitted another Inmate Medical Request and two FCDC grievances, all asserting that he had hurt his back, was losing feeling in his leg, and needed to go to the hospital. Id., Ex. A-4 at 58, & Ex. A-2 at 40-41 (FCDC Grievances).

         7. On October 12, at 4:33 p.m., Nurse Munyan submitted the following written response to Forrester's Inmate Medical Requests: "You were observed and did not appear to be in distress. You were able to get up off the floor, walk around, move your mat and lay back down again without grimacing. You will be seen during sick call tomorrow." Id., Ex. A-4 at 58-59.

         8. Also on October 12, Dr. Stewart reviewed Forrester's chart and wrote: "May take OTC NSAIDS [nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs]. No evidence of fall and no evidence of neurological changes. Continue conservative care for possible low grade contusion. Encourage low impact stretching exercises." Id., Ex. A-3 at 155-56.

         9. On October 12 at 5:28 p.m. and 5:48 p.m., Sgt. Page responded in writing to Forrester's two grievances. His responses stated that "the Dr. [was] coming to see [Forrester] tomorrow, " and that he needed to submit any medical complaints in an Inmate Medical Request. Id., Ex. A-2 at 40-41.

         10. On October 13, 2017, Forrester was seen in the FCDC medical clinic by unidentified medical staff. According to the chart notes, the following interaction took place between Forrester and the medical provider:

Jerry Forrester, 203, Back pain: States his last surgery was Nov 2016 where rods were placed, he has 9 more months of time here at FCSO, he fell out of the van two days ago hurting his left knee and exacerbating pain in his lower back and initiating numbness of right leg which is getting worse every day. BIL cap refill and temperature are bilaterally equal of BLE, no discoloration of lower right extremity, his knee has no sign of trauma and he stated the swelling had gone down and feels better. He verbally states understanding that there is nothing wrong with his leg and that it is most likely related to nerve issues in his back. He is requesting an MRI to make sure nothing is seriously wrong with his back. Ibuprofen 800 mg BID causes him stomach pain and has requested it be stopped, done, he is on meloxicam 15 mg q24 and naproxen 500 bid and diclofenac 75 bid. When observed from tower he does not grimace or limp, lowers himself to mat on floor and gets up off of floor without prolonged action or grimace but limps into clinic making pain faces. He was at Unit One yesterday when [Dr. Stewart] reviewed his chart at Unit Two and stated no change in POC [point of care].

Id., Ex. A-3 at 157-59.

         11. On October 16, 2017, Forrester submitted an Inmate Medical Request stating he needed to see the doctor.[5] Id., Ex. A-4 at 57-58.

         12. On October 19, 2017, Dr. Stewart evaluated Forrester for back pain. He noted Forrester's prior back surgery and his complaint that the current point of care had provided no improvement in his chronic back pain. Dr. Stewart also noted that the nurse had "watch[ed] Mr. Forrester on the monitor last week without evidence of pain or restriction of ADL [activities of daily living]." Based on his physical examination of Forrester, Dr. Stewart told him to continue taking the prescribed naproxen for his lower back pain.[6] Id., Ex. A-3 at 160.

         13. Shortly after seeing Dr. Stewart on October 19, Forrester filed an Inmate Medical Request and a FCDC grievance, both stating that Dr. Stewart was "denying [him] medical treatment" by not sending him to the hospital or ordering an MRI. Id., Ex. A-4 at 57, & Ex. A-2 at 35. Nurse Munyan provided the following response to the Inmate Medical Request: "This nurse cannot answer for the doctor and the decisions he makes. What he is saying is that you can't put someone with metal rods into a MRI." Id., Ex. A-4 at 57. Sgt. Page responded to Forrester's grievance by advising him to submit a medical request. Id., Ex. A-2 at 35.

         14. On October 20, 2017, Forrester filed two Inmate Medical Requests, asking if would be going to the hospital soon. On October 21, 2017, he filed an Inmate Medical Request stating his "left leg is getting worse everyday" and he needed to "get... to hospital." Nurse Munyan responded that Dr. Stewart must order "a trip to the hospital and he has not done so." Id., Ex. A-4 at 56-57.

         15. On October 23, 2017, Forrester appeared in Faulkner County Circuit Court and pleaded guilty to the criminal charges against him. He was sentenced to sixty months in the Arkansas Department of Correction ("ADC"). See State v. Forrester, Faulkner Co. Cir. Ct. Case No. CR 2016-608 (Oct. 23, 2017 Sentencing Order).[7]

         16. Later on October 23, 2017, Forrester submitted four Inmate Medical Requests, stating that, because he was "ADC bound, " he needed to get to the hospital for an MRI "A.S.A.P." Doc. 38, Ex. A-4 at 52-55. In the last request, he stated:

Listen you know and the doctor knows that I've got two rods in my lower back and you both keep putting off getting the proper medical treatment that I need. I fell in the bathroom over at unit 2[8] and then I fell getting out of the van over here at unit 1. Are you going to keep denying me medical treatment that you both know that I should be getting. If you keep denying you're going to be in my 1983 lawsuit. The doctor got served you will be next.

Id., Ex. A-4 at 52. On the morning of October 24, Nurse Munyan responded to Forrester's requests, informing him that, because he had been sentenced to the ADC, the FCDC medical staff was now required to obtain approval from the ADC before providing him with any of the requested medical care. Nurse Munyan instructed him to submit his medical complaints on an ADC Health Service Request Form ("HSRF"), which would then be faxed to the ADC for action. Id., Ex. A-4 at 52-55.

         17. On October 24, 2017, Forrester filed five Inmate Medical Requests. Nurse Munyan again responded that all medical treatment needed to be approved by the ADC and instructed him to complete an ADC HSRF. Id., Ex. A-4 at 49-51.

         18. On October 26, 2017, FCDC medical staff faxed a HSRF to the ADC, requesting approval for Forrester's medications. Id., Ex. A-4 at 42-43.

         19. On October 25, 2017, Forrester completed an ADC HSRF, stating:

I have 2 rods in my lower back and I fell out of the transport van and my left leg is going numb. Every day it gets worse. I need an MRI to see what is done when I fell. ...

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