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Murray v. Matheney

United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia, Charleston Division

October 17, 2017




         Pending before the court is Defendant Sandra May's Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF No. 215]. The plaintiff filed a Response [ECF No. 234], and the defendant filed a Reply [ECF No. 248]. The motion is now ripe for adjudication. For the reasons stated below, the defendant's motion is GRANTED.

         I. Background

         a. April 1, 2013 Incident

         On April 1, 2013 at around 4:00 p.m., the plaintiff, Garland Murray, was stabbed by another inmate while incarcerated at the Mount Olive Correctional Complex (“MOCC”). Mem. Law Supp. Def. Sandra May's Mot. Summ. J. 1 (“Def.'s Mem.”) [ECF No. 216]. After the stabbing, the plaintiff was transferred to the medical unit at MOCC where he was evaluated by the defendant, Sandra May. Id. at 2. The defendant is a licensed physician's assistant who is employed by Wexford Health Sources, Inc. at MOCC. Id.

         The plaintiff alleges that after he was stabbed, the defendant “refused to treat [his] serious wounds and injuries, [and] delayed access to medical surgery for seven hours.” Pl.'s Resp. to Def. Sandra May's Mot. Summ. J. (“Pl.'s Resp.”) 1 (emphasis omitted) [ECF No. 234]. The plaintiff alleges that when he arrived at the medical unit he told the defendant he could not breathe, and she responded that nothing was wrong with him and that he should return to his cell. Id. at 4. According to the plaintiff, the defendant told him she “would give him some band aids later, and that in the meantime he could press his shirt, which had been cut off of him for the examination, to his wounds.” Id. The plaintiff contends that the defendant never listened to his lungs despite his repeated statements regarding his inability to breathe. Id.

         The plaintiff maintains that he refused to return to his cell and that guards threatened him with mace. Id. The plaintiff says that he continued to refuse, telling them that he could not breathe and felt like he was dying. Id. Then the officers left the room with the defendant. Id. At 6:40 p.m., the defendant ordered the plaintiff to be transferred to the hospital. Id.

         The plaintiff was transported to Montgomery General Hospital (“MGH”), where it was determined that he had a collapsed lung. Id. at 5. Since the hospital did not have the equipment necessary to treat the plaintiff's injury, he was transferred to the trauma center at Charleston Area Medical Center (“CAMC”). Id. The plaintiff arrived at CAMC at 10:51 p.m. Id. The plaintiff was treated at CAMC, and was discharged on April 3, 2013. Def.'s Mem. 2.

         b. The Plaintiff's Stay in the Infirmary-April 3-4, 2013

         When the plaintiff was discharged from CAMC, he was returned to MOCC, where he was placed in the medical infirmary. Id. CAMC provided the plaintiff with a copy of his discharge instructions, which he provided to the medical staff at MOCC. Pl.'s Resp. 5. The plaintiff alleges that the defendant treated him in the infirmary. Id. The defendant, however, alleges that she only treated the plaintiff one time after he returned from the hospital, on May 22, 2013, well after the defendant was released from the infirmary. Def.'s Mem. 8. While in the infirmary, the plaintiff was given a band aid and A ointment to apply to his wounds. Pl.'s Resp. 5. The plaintiff alleges that “[h]is wounds were not cleaned, he was not provided access to a shower, and he was not provided the prescribed medication, even though he advised Ms. May that he was still in pain and in contravention of the CAMC discharge orders.” Id.

         c. After the Plaintiff was Released From the Infirmary

         The plaintiff was released from the infirmary on April 4, 2013. Def.'s Mem. 2. According to the plaintiff, when he was returned to his solitary confinement cell, he “continued to request treatment, including by pressing his emergency call button, filing grievances, and filling out sick calls.” Pl.'s Resp. 5. The plaintiff alleges that the defendant “continued to refuse to comply with the CAMC discharge orders to keep the wound cleaned and bandaged and treat [the plaintiff's] pain from his recovery from surgery.” Id. The defendant argues that this is not true, and that the plaintiff repeatedly refused medical treatment after he returned to his cell. Def. Sandra May's Reply to Pl.'s Resp. to Def. Sandra May's Mot. Summ. J. 17 (“Def.'s Reply”) [ECF No. 248]. The plaintiff alleges that other nurses who responded to his sick calls advised him that the defendant was a level above them, and that the defendant would not permit them to refer him to see the defendant or the other medical staff because he was fine. Pl.'s Resp. 5-6. The plaintiff alleges that without proper cleaning and treatment, his wound became infected and his neck wound swelled and filled with pus. Id. at 6. The defendant contends that the plaintiff did not develop an infection as a result of his wounds. Def.'s Mem. 14. The plaintiff alleges that as a result of the stabbing and the failure to timely and properly treat his wounds, he “continues to suffer difficulty breathing and ongoing pain in his arm/collarbone area, as well as significant anxiety.” Pl.'s Resp. 6.

         II. Procedural Background

         On August 26, 2016, the plaintiff filed his second amended complaint. Am. Compl. (“Am. Compl.”) [ECF No. 112]. On September 9, 2016, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss. Def. Sandra May's Mot. Dismiss Amend. Compl. [ECF No. 115]. The court granted this motion as to the plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment claim, West Virginia State Constitutional claim, and negligence claim. Order [ECF No. 134]. The court, however, allowed the plaintiff's claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 to proceed. Id.

         On June 23, 2017, the defendant filed this motion for summary judgment. The motion argues that summary judgment is proper because: (1) the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction because the plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”) and West Virginia Prison Litigation Reform Act (“WVPLRA”); and (2) even if the plaintiff did exhaust his administrative remedies, the plaintiff has not proffered any evidence that creates a genuine issue of material fact that the defendant violated the plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights.

         III. Legal Standard

         To obtain summary judgment, the moving party must show that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). “Facts are ‘material' when they might affect the outcome of the case.” Lester v. Gilbert, 85 F.Supp.3d 851, 857 (S.D. W.Va. 2015) (quoting News & Observer Publ'g. Co. v. Raleigh-Durham Airport Auth., 597 F.3d 570, 576 (4th Cir. 2010)). “A genuine issue of material fact exists if . . . a reasonable fact-finder could return a verdict for the non-movant.” Runyon v. Hannah, No. 2:12-1394, 2013 WL 2151235, at *2 (S.D. W.Va. May 16, 2013) (citations omitted); Williams v. Griffin, 952 F.2d 820, 824 (4th Cir. 1991) (“Disposition by summary judgment is appropriate . . . where the record as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-movant.”). The moving party bears the burden of showing that “there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986).

         In considering a motion for summary judgment, the court will not “weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). Instead, the court will draw any permissible inference from the underlying facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587-88 (1986). Summary judgment is appropriate when the nonmoving party has the burden of proof on an essential element of his or her case and does not make, after adequate time for discovery, a showing sufficient to establish that element. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322-23. The nonmoving party must satisfy this burden of proof by offering more than a mere “scintilla of evidence” in support of his or her position. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252. Likewise, conclusory allegations ...

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