Allen v. W. Corr. Inst.

Decision Date21 August 2017
Docket NumberCivil Action No. ELH-15-3498
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Maryland

Jerome Leslie Allen, a self-represented Maryland prisoner, filed a civil rights suit against a host of defendants, alleging a variety of claims. ECF 1; ECF 7; ECF 8. In general, Allen alleges retaliation; deprivation of pain medication; deprivation of food; denial of adequate medical care; and conspiracy by correctional officers who "stood around and watched" while he was the victim of "hate crimes." ECF 1 at 3-4.

Defendants Wexford Health Sources, Inc. ("Wexford") and Robustiano Barrera, M.D. ("Medical Defendants") have filed a motion to dismiss. ECF 20 ("Medical Motion"). Defendants Western Correctional Institution ("WCI"); Lieutenant Curran P. McKenzie; Sergeant Thomas C. Menges; and Sergeant Jason A. Daddysman ("Correctional Defendants") have filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. ECF 29 ("Correctional Motion").1 The summary judgment motion ("Correctional Motion") is supported by hundreds of pages of exhibits. See ECF 29-3 to ECF 29-17. Plaintiff opposes both motions. ECF 22; ECF 31. He has also submitted exhibits. The Medical Defendants replied. ECF 25.

No hearing is necessary to resolve the motions. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons that follow, I shall construe the Correctional Motion (ECF 29) as a motion for summary judgment and grant it. I shall also grant Wexford's motion to dismiss (ECF 20). However, I shall deny the motion to dismiss (ECF 20) as to Dr. Barrera.

I. Factual Background

Allen is a State inmate confined at the WCI in Cumberland, Maryland. He filed suit on November 17, 2015, initially naming only WCI and Wexford as defendants. ECF 1. Allen alleged that on October 26, 2015, he went to officers in his housing unit asking for assistance, claiming that he was being deprived of food because his medical "feed-in" papers were rescinded and that he did not receive pain medication because his bedrest papers were rescinded. Id. at 3. Plaintiff indicated that he advised Lt. McKenzie that he was suffering from back pain but McKenzie sent him back to his building. While plaintiff was returning to his unit, his legs gave out and he fell, hitting his head. Plaintiff got up to walk but fell and hit his head again. Id. According to Allen, he was denied medical attention by both custody and medical staff and was taken to lock-up. Id.

I directed plaintiff to file a supplemental complaint naming the individuals who he believed were responsible for the alleged mistreatment and the facts supporting his claim as to each named defendant. ECF 3. In response, Allen filed a letter indicating he was unable to comply with the court's directive while housed in the "Western Correctional Region." ECF 4. He asked for a transfer from WCI. Id. The letter, construed as a request for injunctive relief, was denied on February 26, 2016 (ECF 5), and plaintiff was given an additional 21 days to supplement his Complaint, as previously directed. Id.

Plaintiff filed correspondence in March 2016 (ECF 7), with an exhibit. The submission was construed as a supplemental complaint adding additional defendants.2 ECF 9. In his supplemental filing, plaintiff asserted generalized allegations regarding interference with mail; racism; retaliation from unidentified correctional and medical staff; inadequate medical care; and "fear for [his] life." ECF 7 at 1.3 Further, plainitff claims that he has suffered from harassment, and was called "black and dumb." Id. He states that he reported these comments to "Lt. Hendricks/Dtoglia?" and she took a report. In addition, plaintiff claims the medical department refuses to see him, despite his many health problems. Id. Plaintiff indicates that he filed suit because of malicious intent, gross negligence, and "hate crimes." Id.

Additionally, plaintiff alleges that he filed administrative remedy procedure (ARP) complaints but they were dismissed because he could not identify the officers involved, as they were not wearing name tags. ECF 7 at 1. Plaintiff claims that he contacted Lt. Menges, the ARP coordinator, about the problem with the lack of name tags but Menges took no corrective action, leaving him to believe that Menges is part of the "organization as well." Id. Because of these difficulties, plaintiff maintains that he could not use the ARP process. Id. Plaintiff adds that the Warden "is in on it." Id.

In his supplemental filing, plaintiff specified that on October 8, 2015, he was transferred from "MCI-H Hospital" to WCI in order to participate in the "wheelchair program" and undergo rehabilitation and physical therapy. ECF 7 at 1. He asserts that he was instructed by doctors to get out of his wheelchair whenever he could and to exercise, including playing basketball, and if he did not do so his condition would worsen. On October 16, 2015, he went to the small recreation yard where he got out of his wheelchair and played basketball by himself. He claims that cameras would show he struggled and once his body tightened up, he sat back in the wheelchair. He indicates that he was so weak that he had to obtain assistance from another inmate to return to his housing unit.

On October 20, 2015, at approximately 8:45 a.m., Allen was called to the medical unit and given "feed-in" status because of his arthritis. ECF 7 at 1. Plaintiff brought the papers to Housing Unit 3 and provided a copy to the 8-4 shift sergeant and returned to his cell. Id. A few minutes later the unidentified sergeant came to his cell and asked plaintiff for the rest of his papers. The sergeant then "balled" up the papers and said: "'If you want to eat go to chow hall.'" Id. Plaintiff explained his situation but the sergeant "began acting in an uncivilized manner." Id.

Later that day, plaintiff was told to return to the medical unit. At that time his wheelchair was confiscated by Sgt. Daddysman. Id. Plaintiff reports that Dr. Barrera said: "'I know, but they want me to take it.'" Id. Plaintiff returned to Housing Unit 3. He states that he tried to walk the long distance but his "body kept locking up . . . ." Id.

On October 23, 2015, his legs repeatedly gave out on him and he was taken to medical where he was given "feed-in" status until he could be evaluated by the doctor. He states the food came to his cell on the first day but from the 24th to 26th of October 2015, he had problems with the staff, who deprived him of his food trays. Id.

On October 26, 2015, Allen was advised that he was no longer on "feed-in" status. Id. at 2. Plaintiff went out on "the walk" to seek assistance from officers outside of his unit. When he made it to the chow hall and explained his situation, an officer took him to medical. Id. at 2. Lt. McKenzie came to medical and discussed plaintiff's situation with him. McKenzie directed plaintiff back to his housing unit because his "wife had been calling the institution." Id. Plaintiff asked McKenzie if he could get something for his pain because his body continued to "lock up" on him. McKenzie directed plaintiff to return to his building. On the way back to his housing unit, plaintiff passed officers, asked for help, but was ignored. Id.

As plaintiff was getting close to his housing unit, his legs gave out and he fell, hitting his head. ECF 7 at 2. Plaintiff got up and tried to walk but his legs gave out again, and again he struck his head. Allen indicates that he only remembers "bits and pieces" and when he woke up "they were pushing me to lock-up." Id. Plaintiff states he asked for medical attention repeatedly but his requests were ignored or denied. Id. According to Allen, during the events of October 26, 2015, unidentified officers laughed and cackled and otherwise made fun of him over the walkie-talkies. Id.

Later, the officer in Housing Unit 4 (the segregation unit) called Lt. McKenzie to find out why plaintiff was on lock-up. McKenzie stated that plaintiff had refused housing and was issued a ticket. Id. Plaintiff told the unidentified officer that he needed medical attention and that he was not refusing housing. The officer advised McKenzie that he was sending plaintiff back to his unit. Plaintiff states that "an hour later he received a ticket with a bunch of lies." Id.; see also ECF 22-2 at 3 (alleging McKenzie falsified the notice of inmate rule infraction).

According to plaintiff, a week passed before he was seen for the injuries to his face and head. The nurse told him that he had to be referred to the doctor. ECF 7 at 2; see also ECF 22-2at 2. On November 5, 2015, Allen was taken to Bon Secours Hospital for an "electromyogram." It was determined that he had existing medical problems, including nerve impingement and spondylosis. ECF 7 at 2; see also ECF 22-2 at 2.

Plaintiff states that while he was housed at "JCI," he filed a complaint with officers and they mailed the complaints to the chief of security at WCI. ECF 7 at 2.4 On November 8, 2015, a lieutenant interviewed plaintiff and said that he would be "in touch." Id. Plaintiff advised that he did not have any fear of other inmates but that he feared the officers and medical staff. He states that during this time he submitted sick call slips and ARPs but was threatened by officers about writing ARPs. Id. According to Allen, he continued to seek help from unnamed correctional officers but his requests were repeatedly denied or ignored. Id.

Plaintiff also claims that during this time he demanded to have an adjustment hearing. On November 5, 2015, an adjustment hearing was held and Allen was given 60 days of disciplinary segregation. Plaintiff claims that the officers, along with the Hearing Officer, David Sipes, produced "fraudulent paperwork." Id.

In addition, plaintiff alleges that unidentified correctional officers refused to provide him with a copy of his account printout, despite his...

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