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Davidson v. Helder

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

December 19, 2019

BILLY JAMES DAVIDSON PLAINTIFF
v.
SHERIFF TIM HELDER, Washington County, Arkansas; MAJOR DENZER; and DR. KARAS DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          P. K. HOLMES, III, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         In this civil rights action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Plaintiff, Billy J. Davidson, contends his constitutional rights were violated while he was incarcerated in the Washington County Detention Center (“WCDC”). Davidson names as Defendants Washington County Sheriff Tim Helder, Major Randall Denzer, and the WCDC physician, Dr. Robert Karas. Davidson contends his constitutional rights were violated when the Defendants exhibited deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs and when Sheriff Helder and Major Denzer acted with deliberate indifference in the handling of his medical grievances.

         The case is before the Court on the Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 22-24). Plaintiff has responded (ECF No. 32) to the Motion. The Motion is ready for decision.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Davidson was incarcerated at the WCDC from October 6, 2018, until his transfer to the Arkansas Department of Correction (“ADC”) on February 26, 2019. (ECF No. 24-2 at 2 & ECF No. 24-4 at 57). During his incarceration, Davidson submitted numerous grievances and medical requests about suffering from anxiety, needing to be seen by a psychiatric nurse, being off his medication, having a bleeding esophageal ulcer, having blood in his stool, his need for an endoscopy, and his need to see an orthopedic physician due to an injury to his hand. See (ECF No. 24-4 at 71-154).

         Caregiver Johnathan Beckham[1] saw Davidson on October 15th. (ECF No. 24-4 at 63). It was noted that Davidson reported a hiatal hernia and a bleeding ulcer. Id. Davidson complained of continuous acid. Id. Davidson requested a prescription for Omeprazole.[2] Id. Caregiver Beckman noted that he would request review for the possible issuance of a prescription. Id. The records indicate Davidson was seen by Nurse Dockery the following day and a prescription for Omeprazole was written.

         The medical records indicate Davidson was seen by “psyc” Nurse Sheila Bryant, on October 16th. (ECF No. 24-4 at 64). Davidson reported anxiety, agitation, mood swings, and trouble sleeping. Id. He was prescribed Prozac[3] for anxiety. Id. at 47. On October 17th, Davidson asked for a medication other than Prozac for anxiety. Id. at 71. His request was denied. Id. On October 18th, Davidson asked for Buspar, [4] which he indicated his physician had said was closer to Xanax.[5] Id. He also asked that his chili serving be substituted with other food because of the onions and chilies. Id. His requests were denied. Id. He was provided with a second blanket to elevate his head. Id. He was told he could pick out the onions and chilies unless he had a documented allergy. Id.

         Davidson submitted a second request explaining that he could not eat onions and chilies because he had a bleeding ulcer in his esophagus. (ECF No. 24-4 at 71). In response, he was told to pick them out. Id. Davidson stated that Prozac was for depression not anxiety. Id. In response, Davidson was told that Prozac was for anxiety and panic disorders and that he would not receive Xanax at the WCDC. Id. at 72. On October 19th, Davidson was told his ulcer was being treated with Omeprazole and that they did not use Buspar for “new treatment of anxiety.” Id. at 74. He was also told he could choose not to eat any foods he desired to and he should provide medical verification of food allergies. Id.

         On October 20th, Davidson advised medical that the Prozac was making him feel weird and dizzy. (ECF No. 24-4 at 74). He again requested Buspar. Id.

         On October 21st, Davidson submitted a grievance stating he needed his antibiotics prescribed “months back” by the Washington Regional Medical Center (“WRMC”); he had a bleeding ulcer in his esophagus and blood in his stool; and he needed an endoscopy. (ECF No. 24-3 at 5). According to Davidson, the antibiotics had been stolen before he could take all of them. (ECF No. 24-4 at 82). The grievance was transferred to medical. (ECF No. 24-3 at 5). Davidson's WRMC records were requested. (ECF No. 24-4 at 74).

         The WRMC records show Davidson was admitted on October 26, 2017, and released October 28, 2017. (ECF No. 24-4 at 29). An upper endoscopy was done and it “revealed esophagitis and an ulcer around 30 cm along with sloughing distal to this ulcer, nonobstructing Schatzki ring and slight oozing from the ulcer, diffuse gastropathy in the stomach.” Id. His discharge medications were Augmentin for ten days, Omeprazole, Carafate, [6] and a daily multi-vitamin. Id.

         On October 22, 2018, Nurse Practitioner Kelley Hinely stated that she had reviewed Davidson's WRMC emergency room records. (ECF No. 24-3 at 5). Nurse Hinely stated that Davidson had only been placed on antibiotics for ten days. Id. Nurse Hinely stated that the other medications had been reordered in accordance with the emergency room records. Id. Prescriptions were written that day for Omeprazole and Carafate. (ECF No. 24-4 at 75-77).

         Davidson was seen on October 22nd by Nurse Andrew Eisele. (ECF No. 24-4 at 78). Davidson appeared anxious and reported increasing depression. Id. He again requested Buspar. A review was made of positive coping skills, such as journaling, reading something positive, physical activity during the day, and counting when going to sleep. Id. His prescription for Prozac was discontinued. Id. at 78.

         On October 23rd, Davidson was seen by Dr. Karas. (ECF No. 24-4 at 80). Dr. Karas noted that Davidson had a long history of anxiety. Id. Davidson reported having tried Buspar and that it worked. Id. Dr. Karas approved the use of Buspar and wrote a prescription for fourteen days. Id. at 79. Prescriptions were also written for fish oil and magnesium. Id. at 80.

         Davidson submitted another grievance on October 25th. (ECF No. 24-3 at 6). He asserted that he needed the endoscopy done for his bleeding ulcer and blood in his stool and needed antibiotics. Id. Davidson maintained his medical rights were being violated. Id. He also asked that he not be given food trays with chili or onions. Id. The grievance was reassigned to medical services. Id. On October 26th, Davidson was seen by Nurse Dustin Sanders. (ECF No. 24-4 at 82). Davidson's vital signs were stable. Id. Davidson reported “coffee ground like emesis in the morning with his reflux.” Id. Davidson reported his ulcer was bleeding and again asked for the antibiotics that WRMC had prescribed. Id. A bland diet was ordered for Davidson. Id. at 82. Note was made he could not “have spicy or onions” in his diet. Id. On October 28th, Davidson notified medical that the Carafate was causing stomach cramps and diarrhea. Id. at 83. The prescription was discontinued the following day. Id. at 84. On October 29th, Davidson was seen by Nurse Hinely. Id. at 83. Nurse Hinely ordered a blood check for h. pylori, [7] a stool check for blood, and a complete blood count. Id. at 84.

         Davidson submitted a medical request on October 30th. (ECF No. 24-3 at 20). Davidson stated he was cramping and fatigued as a result of vitamin deficiency, that his ulcer was bleeding, and he needed one Ensure a day. Id. Davidson also indicated he doubted medical staff had obtained his antibiotics for his throat yet or an appointment for an endoscopy. Id. Nurse Dominguez responded that Davidson had been brought to medical and was being taken care of. Id.

         On October 31st, Davidson sent a request to Corporal Mulvaney stating that he had gastroesophageal reflux disease (“GERD”), there was blood in his stool, and he needed an endoscopy done because of a life-threatening bleeding esophageal ulcer. (ECF No. 24-3 at 15). Davidson indicated that the prior year he had been allowed out of jail by Judge Beaumont. Id. Davidson asked if Corporal Mulvaney would let his public defender know of his concerns. Id. In response, Corporal Mulvaney said he did not get involved in medical decisions. Id. Corporal Mulvaney printed the request and gave it to medical staff. Id. Davidson also submitted a medical request asking for an endoscopy to be done. (ECF No. 24-4 at 87).

         On November 1st, Nurse Hinely responded in writing to Davidson's complaint about blood in his stool by notifying him that his H. pylori test was negative. (ECF No. 24-3 at 6 & ECF No. 24-4 at 88). Nurse Hinely stated the WRMC medical records were from October 2017. Id. Nurse Hinely asked what antibiotic Davidson was supposed to take. Id. Nurse Hinely also noted that they found no history of antibiotics when they reconciled his medication. Id.

         On November 1st, Davidson submitted a grievance asking to see a throat physician as he was having trouble swallowing his food. Id. at 7. The grievance was reassigned to medical services and Davidson was advised that he was placed on medical call. Id.

         On November 1st, a stool test was positive for blood. (ECF No. 24-4 at 86). Blood tests also showed Davidson was anemic. Id. at 89. He was prescribed iron and Ensure. Id.

         On November 1st, Davidson injured his left middle finger on a weld on his bunk. (ECF No. 24-7 at 23). In his deposition, Davidson testified that there was a cyst or knot of some kind on that finger that had been there for three or four years. (Id. at 24-27). The cut nicked the knot. Id. at 25. He was taken to the medical office and examined by Nurse Hinely. (ECF No. 24-4 at 89). She noted he had a 1.5 cm cut on his left palmar surface of his left middle finger (existing contracture noted). She closed the cut with two sutures and applied antibiotic ointment and a dressing. Id. Nurse Hinely noted Davidson suffered from chronic gastric ulcer, anemia, contracture left middle finger, laceration left middle finger, Etoh (alcohol) dependence, and anxiety. Id. The plan was to stop Buspar and add Olanzapine, [8] Omeprazole, Amoxicillin, [9]iron, and Ensure. Id. at 88-89. The sutures were to be taken out in ten days and the stool sample was to be repeated in two weeks. Id.

         On November 2nd, Davidson asked Lieutenant Ake if he knew what Davidson's “OR [own recognizance] status” was. (ECF No. 24-3 at 16). Davidson stated that he had blood in his stool, trouble getting food down, and that the “pain is high” in his finger. Id. In response, Corporal Mulvaney advised Davidson that the medical department was well aware of his “medical issues and they are dealing with them accordingly.” Id. With respect to his being released on OR, Davidson was advised that he would need to speak to his attorney about this issue. Id.

         Davidson submitted a grievance on November 2nd stating that his finger was not sealing up, the nurses said they “don't have time, ” and he needed to see an orthopedic physician. (ECF No. 24-3 at 8). The grievance was reassigned to medical services. Id.

         On November 2nd, Davidson asked if the court was aware of his bleeding esophageal ulcer, the cut on his finger that required two stitches and would not hold, and his need for an endoscopy. (ECF No. 24-3 at 23). He stated that it was painful to eat. Id. If the court was not aware of his medical condition, Davidson asked that it be told since he did not have an attorney. Id. Davidson also asked to see his orthopedic physician, Dr. David Yakin, about his finger, which he stated was very painful. (ECF No. 24-4 at 90). Davidson submitted two other requests on November 2nd stating he needed to see Dr. Yakin; the cut on his finger was “coming apart” and he could not keep it from bleeding, his pain level was “high;” and asking if an endoscopy had been scheduled. (ECF No. 24-3 at 21-22); (ECF No. 24-4 at 90-91). Davidson reported problems getting his food down. (ECF No. 24-4 at 90).

         On November 2nd, a note was made by Dr. Karas, with regard to Davidson's throat complaints, that Davidson was not seen because he was recently seen by provider-in this instance, Nurse Hinely on November 1st. (ECF No. 24-4 at 89-90). A note was made by Nurse Hinely to recheck Davidson's complete blood count in two weeks. Id. at 90. With regard to Davidson's complaints about his finger, on November 3rd, Nurse Sanders made a note in the medical records indicating that only one stitch had come out and the wound was bleeding only a small amount. Id. at 91. Nurse Hinely was consulted and advised that the one stitch was sufficient so long as the wound had not reopened. Id.

         On November 5th, Davidson submitted a request again asking if the court was aware of his bleeding ulcer and the cut on his finger. (ECF No. 24-3 at 23). If not, he asked if medical staff could let them know. Id. He also stated he needed an endoscopy and that it hurt to “get my food down.” Id. On November 8th, Nurse Kelley responded: “thanks for the update.” Id.

         On November 6th, Davidson wrote to Corporal Mulvaney asking why he was not on OR. (ECF No. 24-3 at 17). Davidson indicated that “Dr. Kelly” had recommended that he be released on OR because of his bleeding ulcer, his hand needing orthopedic attention, and the blood in his stool. Id. Corporal Mulvaney responded that the medical staff had not recommended Davidson's release on OR. Id. In any event, even if they had, Corporal Mulvaney pointed out it was not the medical staffs' decision to make. Id. Davidson was advised to speak with his attorney. Id. Corporal Mulvaney stated he had sent Davidson's requests to the public defenders' office. Id.

         Davidson submitted a second request on November 6th asserting that Nurse Kelly had recommended that he be released on his OR and that he thought jail staff could recommend that he be released on his OR. (ECF No. 24-3 at 18). Davidson wrote that he was asking for help; he indicated he would sign a waiver; and he asserted that he was unable to contact his attorney. Id. Corporal Mulvaney responded that he had spoken to medical provider Nurse Hinely and she had not recommended that Davidson be “OR'd out.” Id. Corporal Mulvaney stated that the medical staff was well aware of his ulcer issue and his finger/hand injury and Davidson was being treated for both. Id. Corporal Mulvaney indicated he did not know what “waiver” Davidson was referring to and that Davidson would have to speak with his attorney. Id.

         Davidson submitted a request on November 7th stating that medical would not respond to his requests and reporting that his stitches had come out. (ECF No. 24-3 at 1). The request was reassigned to medical services. Id.; (ECF No. 24-4 at 92). On November 7th, Corporal Mulvaney noted the following from an e-mail from Nurse Hinely: she did not recommend OR for Davidson for any medical reason; Davidson was being treated for chronic ulcer which was first documented in the emergency room in October of 2017 and reported by him during a prior detention; and Davidson was receiving treatment for the injury to his finger. (ECF No. 24-3 at 19).

         On November 8th, Nurse Hinely added Davidson to the provider call list so that his finger could be assessed. (ECF No. 24-4 at 92). Davidson's records were requested from Advanced Orthopedics. Id. at 93. Note was made that after the records were reviewed, they would consider referral for evaluation of the left contracted digit. Id. at 93. Referral to a gastro-intestinal (“GI”) physician would also be considered if Davidson's complete blood count was worse, there was evidence of a “GI” bleed, or there was blood in the stool. Id. at 94. Davidson was prescribed seven more days of protein shakes and a double blanket. Id. at 93-94.

         Davidson's records from Advanced Orthopedic Specialists show that Davidson was seen on August 2, 2017, by Dr. Yakin. (ECF No. 24-4 at 1). Davidson had a healing nondisplaced fracture of the middle third of scaphoid bone of his right wrist and an old ulnar styloid fracture. Id. at 7. A “[t]humb spica exos brace” was placed to immobilize the hand. Id. at 8. Davidson was to be seen again in six weeks. Id. He requested narcotic pain medicine but given that his breath smelled of alcohol, Dr. Yakin declined and recommended the use of NSAIDs.[10] Id.

         Davidson was next seen on September 20, 2017. (ECF No. 24-4 at 14). He reported having pain, stiffness, swelling, weakness and a decreased range of motion on the right side. Id. X-rays were taken, and Dr. Yakin noted they showed a “displaced scaphoid fracture, becoming a non union” due to Davidson not wearing the brace properly. Id. at 16 & 21. Dr. Yakin concluded surgery was needed to fix the fracture. Id. at 17. Dr. Yakin noted the surgery could be done when Davidson was released. Id. at 21.

         On October 18, 2017, Davidson saw Dr. Yakin for a follow-up visit and complained of his right wrist swelling. (ECF No. 24-4 at 24). Davidson reported that the wrist had been bothering him for months and that it was getting worse with swelling, weakness and pain on the right side. Id. X-rays showed: “loose body in right wrist and ulnar styloid nonunion and persistent scaphoid fracture non union.” Id. at 27. Dr. Yakin ordered a computerized tomography (“CT”) scan of the right wrist. Id. Davidson was diagnosed as suffering from chronic pain syndrome. Id. Davidson was going to be referred to another physician for pain management. Id. at 28.

         The CT scan of Davidson's right wrist was performed on October 30, 2017. (ECF No. 24-4 at 43). The CT scan showed a “mildly displaced scaphoid wrist fracture which demonstrates no evidence of healing, ” osseous fragments, a mildly displaced ulnar styloid fracture, mild widening of the scapholunate interval suggesting ligament injury, and mild to moderate osteoarthritis. Id. No other medical records were submitted concerning the 2017 visits with Dr. Yakin.

         On November 8, 2018, Davidson submitted a grievance stating that medical would not respond. (ECF No. 24-3 at 2). He was advised that the grievance would be reviewed and investigated by a sergeant.[11] Id. With respect to medical, Davidson was told that “[m]edical will need to clear some of your request[s] before you will be able to communicate with them further.” Id. Davidson also submitted a medical request asking for his extra blanket. (ECF No. 24-4 at 94). Additionally, he asked the status of his hand appointment with Dr. Yakin and for an endoscopy. Id.

         Davidson submitted a medical request on November 9th asking if he had an appointment with Dr. Yakin's office. (ECF No. 24-3 at 24); (ECF No. 24-4 at 94). Davidson reported that his hand was swollen in the palm area and the edges of the cut were not staying together. (ECF No. 23-4 at 24). He stated he was in a lot of pain and believed he had nerve damage. Id. Davidson also asked that his second blanket be approved again. Id. He did not understand why it was taken away. Id. Davidson submitted a second medical request the same day asking about the status of his appointment with Dr. Yakin and also whether he was going to get an endoscopy done. Id. at 25. In response, Davidson was placed on review. Id. Nurse Hinely reviewed his file and decided no change in his care was needed. (ECF No. 24-4 at 95).

         On November 11th, Davidson thanked Lieutenant Foster for speaking with him the day before. (ECF No. 24-3 at 3). Davidson indicated he would like to be released on his OR due to his medical situation. Id. He stated he had full coverage insurance to pay for the care he needed. Id. He pointed out that he had a bleeding ulcer in his esophagus and his hand was healing but something was wrong with his hand and he needed it looked at by an orthopedic physician. Id. Davidson stated again that the jail was responsible for his hand since the injury was the result of a bad weld on a bunk. Id. Lieutenant Foster did not respond, at least not via the kiosk. Id.

         On November 12th, note was made in the medical records that an appointment should be made “for chronic 3rd middle finger left contracture.” (ECF No. 24-4 at 96). The appointment was noted to be non-urgent. Id. Nurse Hinely also noted that Davidson had behavioral problems at a prior appointment with Dr. Yakin and had been terminated as a patient by Ozark Orthopedic. Id. An appointment was made for Davidson to see Dr. Yakin on November 30th. Id.

         On November 14th, Davidson submitted a grievance stating that medical would not tell him if he was being scheduled to be seen by an orthopedic physician. (ECF No. 24-3 at 10). The grievance was reassigned to medical services. Id. Nurse Dominguez answered that for security reasons they could not tell him if an appointment had been made for him. Id.

         Davidson submitted a grievance dated November 15th, stating that medical had taken away his prescription for Ensure even though he had been told another prescription would be entered. (ECF No. 24-3 at 11). Davidson indicated he had lost six pounds in a week. Id. He also asserted that nothing was being done about his swollen finger and hands. Id. The grievance was reassigned to medical services. Id. Davidson wrote that he was appealing this grievance response. Id. Corporal Mulvaney responded to the appeal stating he had spoken with Nurse Hinely about this issue several times and that Davidson had an ...


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