Henson v. Corizon Health LLC

CourtUnited States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. District of Arizona
PartiesChristopher James Henson, Plaintiff, v. Corizon Health LLC, et al., Defendants.
Docket NumberCV 19-04396-PHX-MTL (DMF)
Decision Date16 September 2021
Michael T. Liburdi, United Stales District Judge

Plaintiff Christopher James Henson, who is currently confined in Arizona State Prison Complex (ASPC)-Florence, East Unit brought this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 116.) Defendants move for summary judgment (Docs 152, 161, 164). Although Plaintiff was informed of his right and obligation to respond to Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment, [1] and was granted several deadline extensions (Docs. 173, 178, 203, 210, 213), Plaintiff failed to respond, and the time to do so has expired.[2]. . . . . .

I. Background

On screening of Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint (Doc. 116) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), the Court determined that Plaintiff stated constitutional claims against Defendants Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) Director David Shinn, Corizon Health, Centurion of Arizona, Nurse Practitioner Dorothy Igwe, Contracting Monitoring Bureau Director David Robertson, Supervisor Vanessa Headstream, Dr. Rodney Stewart, Medical Director Thomas Lutz, Facility Health Administrators Adam Perkins and Trina Randall, Nursing Supervisors Elizabeth Pontious and Phyllis Raney, and ADC Office of Publication Review employees Tray Williams and Diane Miller and ordered them to respond to the respective claims against them. (Docs. 70, 117.) The Court subsequently dismissed Defendants Williams and Miller pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c). (Doc. 162.) The Court also dismissed Defendant Lutz for failure to timely serve. (Doc. 179.)

In Count 1 of the Second Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that he was diagnosed with Hepatitis B and C while incarcerated in the ADC and that “ADC, Corizon, and Centurion have a policy, practice, and custom of monitoring prisoners with HCV [Hepatitis C] instead of providing treatment or cures.” Plaintiff alleges that they have failed to monitor or treat his Hepatitis B and C “due to financial incentive.” (Doc. 116 at 6.)

Plaintiff claims that while confined in ASPC-Eyman in late 2017, he began noticing that he was easily fatigued and had a loss of appetite, aching joints, pain in his lower back around his kidneys, and pain in stomach and lower abdomen. Plaintiff submitted a health needs request (HNR) form and was seen by a nurse practitioner who ordered blood laboratory tests. The December 2017 blood test showed Plaintiff had “elevated AST & ALT scores.” Plaintiff claims elevated AST & ALT levels are present in individuals who have chronic Hepatitis C. In February, March, and September 2018, Plaintiff's blood tests also showed abnormally elevated AST & ALT levels. Plaintiff claims the nurse practitioner ordered a “hepatitis panel in May 2018 that confirmed that Plaintiff had been recently infected with Hepatitis B. He contends his Hepatitis B is dormant but has the potential to “re-activate or flare-up.” Plaintiff alleges that having a Hepatitis B/C coinfection can potentially put him at risk for liver disease progression, decompensated liver disease, and “HCC.”[3] He claims there are medications available that can cure Hepatitis B and C. (Id. at 7.)

Plaintiff alleges he was transferred to ASPC-Florence in October 2018. He submitted an HNR form on December 3, 2018, requesting Hepatitis B and C treatment, and was seen by a nurse that day. Plaintiff requested information regarding his viral load, the genotype for his Hepatitis C, and what forms of Hepatitis B he had been exposed to. The nurse did not know and referred Plaintiff to the providers' line. On December 15, 2018, Plaintiff had a teleconference with a certified family nurse practitioner regarding his chronic care. Plaintiff requested information regarding his viral load, enzyme levels, and Hepatitis C genotype. The nurse practitioner indicated he did not know this information because the prior providers had not ordered those types of tests, but the nurse practitioner ordered a “full blood lab that included viral load, log-10, fibrosis screening and inflammation screening” and explained that Defendant Corizon's Hepatitis committee would have to approve and order the genotype test. (Id. at 7-8.)

Plaintiff claims he was called to the medical department on December 17, 2018, to see Defendant Igwe for chronic care. He states he had seen the nurse practitioner two days earlier for chronic care and this demonstrates a lack of “centralized coordination.” Plaintiff asserts Defendant Igwe would not address Plaintiff's medical issues or concerns, would not allow Plaintiff to take notes, and, when Plaintiff requested a liver biopsy and Hepatitis B and C treatment or cures, Igwe said Plaintiff did not “get to dictate treatment or who provides the treatment.” Plaintiff contends the results of the tests ordered by the nurse practitioner showed Plaintiff had abnormally high AST, ALT, viral load, and “Log-10”; minimal fibrosis, [4] and significant liver inflammation. (Id. at 8-9.)

Plaintiff asserts that he submitted an informal complaint on December 28, 2018, regarding Hepatitis B and C treatment, but ADC and Defendant Corizon chose not to take corrective action. He alleges he submitted a grievance on January 22, 2019, but Defendant Perkins stated that Plaintiff's “current APRI score [wa]s 0.871[, ] which did not warrant treatment.” Plaintiff claims the APRI method is “unreliable for testing conclusions” and more than half of individuals with fibrosis or cirrhosis will not have APRI scores of 2.0 or higher. He contends other methods, such as liver biopsies “reliably determine if a person is suffering from fibrosis or cirrhosis and what stage of advancement it is at.” (Id. at 10.)

Plaintiff claims he was called to the medical department on January 29, 2019, but Defendant Igwe refused to see Plaintiff because Plaintiff had allegedly cursed at her. Plaintiff claims he submitted another HNR on February 11, 2019, seeking a liver biopsy and Hepatitis B/C treatment and indicating, at the top of the form, that he was “begging for [Defendant Igwe's] help.” (Id. at 9.)

Plaintiff claims he saw Defendant Igwe on February 18, 2019, and the genotype test was approved. Plaintiff claims the test was conducted three days later and showed that Plaintiff had “genotype 3.” Plaintiff alleges that available data suggests that “fibrosis progression occurs most rapidly in patients with genotype 3” and that it is recommended that almost all individuals with chronic Hepatitis C receive direct acting antiviral drugs. (Id.)

Plaintiff alleges that on May 12, 2019, he submitted an HNR to Defendants Igwe and Stewart requesting Hepatitis B and C treatment. In response, Plaintiff was told that the provider had explained the Hepatitis C treatment and criteria and that he could submit an inmate letter. (Id.)

Plaintiff alleges that on July 1, 2019 and July 29, 2019, he submitted HNRs to Defendant Centurion requesting Hepatitis C treatment. He had labs taken on August 13, 2019, which showed elevated AST and ALT levels. Plaintiff claims Defendant Igwe told him “that monitoring is sufficient treatment.” (Id. at 12.)

Plaintiff claims that at some unspecified time, he told Defendant Igwe he was experiencing “unbearable” stomach pain and pain in his body. He had previously been prescribed Excedrin, but Defendant Igwe “constantly removed/discontinued” the prescription and has refused to provide [Plaintiff] with adequate pain management medication. In February, April, June, and July 2019, Plaintiff requested pain management medication from Defendant Igwe, and Defendant Igwe prescribed alpha lipoic acid, even though she knew that does not relieve Plaintiff's pain. Defendant Igwe told Plaintiff that Defendants Stewart, Robertson, Corizon, and Centurion “ordered all employees not [to] give pain medications that help.” (Id. at 11.)

Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Corizon is required by its “own contractual agreement to the Performance Measure Stipulation[]s set forth in Parsons v. Ryan to develop treatment plans and document them in the medical record within 30 days of identifying that an inmate has a chronic disease. Plaintiff claims that “monitoring” Hepatitis C is not “treatment” and that ADC and Defendant Corizon have chosen to “cherrypick [a] select few to receive [direct acting antivirals] . . . with fina[n]cial incentive/cost/profit in mind.” Plaintiff claims Defendants completely disregarded his medical concerns, took no action at all, and were deliberately indifferent. (Id. at 10.)

Plaintiff alleges he is a qualified individual under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Rehabilitation Act (RA) and that Defendants Corizon and Centurion have “denied [him] the benefit of services by being subjected to discrimination.”[5] Plaintiff asserts that his Hepatitis C “substantially limits one or more of [his] major life activities” including eating, bending over, and sleeping. (Id. at 13.)

Plaintiff alleges that as a result of these events, he has suffered liver scarring, fatigue, dark urine, clay-colored stool, abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, loss of appetite, nausea, and joint pain. (Id. at 6, 14.)

In Count 2, Plaintiff alleges that after noticing a cyst on the right side of his scrotum in December 2017, he submitted an HNR and was seen by the nurse practitioner in December 2017 or January 2018. The nurse practitioner examined the cyst and recommended an ultrasound, which was approved by Utilization Management. He claims he went to the ultrasound in February 2018 so a plan of treatment could be established, but no further diagnostic testing has been “recommended/requested via [the Utilization Management...

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