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Redleski v. Proctor

United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia

June 13, 2018





         On May 21, 2015, the pro se plaintiff, Douglas Andrew Redleski (“Redleski”), filed a state civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, naming as defendants the following individuals: Warden Marvin C. Plumley (“Plumley”); Debbie Hissom, RN, BSM (“Hissom”); David Proctor, Practicing Physician (“Dr. Proctor”); and Tristen Tenney, RN, HSA (“Tenney”) (Dkt. No. 1). Redleski contends that the defendants denied him proper medical care for his diabetes, in violation of the Eighth Amendment, during his time at Huttonsville Correctional Center (“HCC”) (Dkt. No. 1).

         Redleski alleges particularly that the defendants, among other things, failed to order him a diabetic diet or necessary snacks, test his glucose levels at the appropriate time and frequency, consult him before changing his insulin levels, or provide him with education or a dietician to assist with managing his diet. Id. at 8-17. He claims that this treatment demonstrates a “likelihood of future injury, ” and seeks $1, 000 per day and injunctive relief regarding future care. Id. at 18.

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636 and LR PL P 2, the Court referred the case to the Honorable Michael J. Aloi, United States Magistrate Judge, for initial screening and a Report and Recommendation (“R&R”). Thereafter, Plumley and Hissom moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim (Dkt. No. 25), and Dr. Proctor and Tenney moved to dismiss for insufficient service (Dkt. No. 30). After receiving an R&R on the motions from Magistrate Judge Aloi (Dkt. No. 52), the Court granted Plumley and Hissom's motion to dismiss, but converted Dr. Proctor and Tenney's motion to dismiss to a motion to quash and granted it (Dkt. No. 54).

         Dr. Proctor and Tenney then waived service (Dkt. Nos. 58; 59), and, on May 9, 2016, filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim (Dkt. No. 61). In support, the defendants argued that Redleski has already “had his day in [c]ourt” because he adjudicated a related petition for habeas corpus in the Circuit Court of Randolph County, West Virginia (Dkt. No. 62 at 2). They further argued that Tenney should be dismissed for lack of personal involvement, and that Redleski's complaint generally fails to state a claim for deliberate indifference. Id. at 3-10.

         On February 14, 2017, Magistrate Judge Aloi entered an R&R recommending that the Court deny Dr. Proctor and Tenney's motion to dismiss (Dkt. No. 72). He concluded that much of the complained of conduct occurred after Redleski's state court action and is not precluded by Redleski's prior habeas proceeding. Id. at 10. In addition, Magistrate Judge Aloi reasoned that Redleski's complaint stated a claim for deliberate indifference against both Dr. Proctor and Tenney. Id. at 14. Because no party objected, the Court adopted the R&R on March 6, 2017, and recommitted the case to Magistrate Judge Aloi for entry of a schedule (Dkt. No. 75). Thereafter, the case referral was reassigned to the Honorable James E. Seibert, United States Magistrate Judge.

         Now pending is the motion for summary judgment filed by Dr. Proctor and Tenney (Dkt. No. 132). On April 23, 2018, Magistrate Judge Seibert recommended that the Court deny the defendants' motion (Dkt. No. 144), concluding that disputes of material fact preclude summary judgment as to whether either Dr. Proctor or Tenney was deliberately indifferent. Id. at 15-16. Dr. Proctor and Tenney objected to this recommendation, contending, among others, that Tenney “was not responsible for the plaintiff's medical care and had no authority to make decisions regarding the plaintiff's treatment” (Dkt. No. 153 at 2). The defendants also renewed their “argument that claims arising prior to May 27, 2013, are barred by the statute of limitations.” Id.


         When considering a magistrate judge's R&R made pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), the Court must review de novo those portions to which objection is timely made. Otherwise, “the Court may adopt, without explanation, any of the magistrate judge's recommendations to which the [parties do] not object.” Dellacirprete v. Gutierrez, 479 F.Supp.2d 600, 603-04 (N.D.W.Va. 2007) (citing Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 199 (4th Cir. 1983)). Courts will uphold portions of a recommendation to which no objection has been made unless they are “clearly erroneous.” See Diamond v. Colonial Life & Accident Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005).


         A. Deliberate Indifference

         Redleski's remaining claims in this case center on his allegation that Dr. Proctor and Tenney were deliberately indifferent to his diabetes mellitus. The Eighth Amendment prohibits the infliction of “cruel and unusual punishments.” U.S. Const. amend. VIII. In the context of medical treatment, such punishment occurs when a prison official exhibits “deliberate indifference to serious medical needs of [a] prisoner[].” Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976). “A deliberate indifference claim consists of two components, objective and subjective.” Jackson v. Lightsey, 775 F.3d 170, 178 (4th Cir. 2014).

         1. The Objective Prong

         Under the first prong, an inmate must complain of a deprivation “sufficiently serious” to be deemed “extreme” because it poses “a serious or significant physical or emotional injury resulting from the challenged conditions” or “a substantial risk of such serious harm resulting from . . . exposure to the challenged conditions.” De'Lonta v. Angelone, 330 F.3d 630, 634 (4th Cir. 2003). In medical needs cases, “[o]bjectively, the inmate's medical condition must be ‘serious' - ‘one that has been diagnosed by a physician as mandating treatment or one that is so obvious that even a lay person would easily recognize the necessity for a doctor's attention.'” Jackson, 775 F.3d at 178 (quoting Iko v. Shreve, 535 F.3d 225, 241 (4th Cir. 2008)).

         The defendants do not dispute that Redleski's diabetes is a serious medical need (Dkt. No. 133 at 16), nor could they. Scinto v. Stansberry, 841 F.3d 219, 228 (4th Cir. 2016). Moreover, the defendants admit that Redleski's average blood glucose levels were higher than normal while he was being treated by Dr. Proctor (Dkt. No. 132-1 at 2-3). Viewing these facts in the light most favorable to Redleski, there is a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether elevated glucose levels are themselves a serious injury or create a substantial risk of such injury. See ...

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