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Brown v. United States Department of Justice

United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia

January 23, 2019

RODERICK BROWN, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE; MARK S. INCH, Director, Bureau of Prisons; RUBY MEMORIAL HOSPITAL; MOHAMAD SALKINI; BARBARA VON BLANCKENSEE, former Warden, FCI Morgantown; JOHN F. CARAWAY, Regional Director, BOP South Central Regional Office; RENEE CROGAN, Retired Assistant Health Services Administrator, FCI Morgantown; TIMOTHY TOMPKINS, Management Coordinator, FCI Morgantown; KENNETH MONTGOMERY, Lieutenant, FCI Morgantown; and BRIAN PLAVI, Correctional Counselor, FCI Morgantown, Defendants.

          Keeley Judge

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          MICHAEL JOHN ALOI UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         On August 17, 2017, the pro se Plaintiff, a former federal inmate[1] initiated this case by filing the instant Bivens[2] civil rights complaint. ECF No. 1. Along with his complaint, Brown filed a motion to proceed as a pauper. ECF No. 2. By Order entered August 22, 2017, Brown was granted permission to proceed as a pauper without payment of any portion of a filing fee. ECF No. 5.

         On April 3, 2018, the undersigned conducted a preliminary review of the complaint, determined that summary dismissal was not warranted at that time, and directed the Defendants to answer the complaint. ECF No. 8. Plaintiff was given an additional thirty days in which to identify the Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) John Doe defendants; and the Clerk was directed to issue 60-day summonses and forward copies of the complaint to the United States Marshal Service (“USMS”) to effect service of process upon the remaining named defendants. Id.

         On April 17, 2018, Defendant Mohamad Salkini (“Salkini”) filed a motion to dismiss with a memorandum in support. ECF No. 12.

         On April 19, 2018, Plaintiff filed a response, identifying the previously-unnamed BOP defendants. ECF No. 13. Plaintiff filed a supplemental response regarding the previously-unnamed BOP defendants on April 20, 2018, attaching a copy of a Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) request and a copy of the Order to Answer. ECF No. 14.

         On April 24, 2018, because Plaintiff was proceeding pro se, a Roseboro Notice was issued. ECF No. 17. On April 26, 2018, Defendant Ruby Memorial Hospital (“RMH”) filed a Motion to Dismiss with an attached memorandum in support and a copy of its Corporate Disclosure Statement. ECF Nos. 23, 24. A second Roseboro Notice was issued on May 1, 2018. ECF No. 26.

         On May 3, 2018, a second Order to Answer was issued to the newly-identified BOP defendants. ECF No. 27.

         On May 18, 2018, Plaintiff filed a response in opposition to Defendant Salkini's Motion to Dismiss. ECF No. 31. On May 24, 2018, Plaintiff filed a response in opposition to Defendant RMH's Motion to Dismiss. ECF No. 36. On May 31, 2018, Defendant RMH filed a reply. ECF No. 38. On June 4, 2018, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Default Judgment against Defendant United States Department of Justice “(DOJ”), Defendant Mark S. Inch (“Inch”) and Defendant B. Von Blanckensee (“Von Blanckensee”). ECF No. 39.

         On June 6, 2018, Defendants DOJ, Inch, Von Blanckensee, J.F. Caraway (“Caraway”), Renee Crogan (“Crogan”), T. Tompkins (“Tompkins”), and B. Plavi (“Plavi”), (collectively, “the Federal Defendants”) filed a Motion to Substitute Defendants and Clarify Electronic Docket, to correct misspellings in several of their names. ECF No. 41. By Order entered June 7, 2018, the Federal Defendants' Motion to Substitute Defendants and Clarify Electronic Docket was granted. ECF No. 42.

         On June 11, 2018, the Federal Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss with a memorandum in support, attaching a sworn declaration with attachments. ECF No. 43. That same day, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Leave to File a Motion to Strike Defendant[] [Salkini's] Reply Brief to the Plaintiff's Response Motion and Plaintiff's Response to Defendant[] [Salkini's] Reply Motion. ECF No. 44. On June 12, 2018, a third Roseboro Notice issued. ECF No. 45.

         On June 19, 2018, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Compel Discovery. ECF No. 47. By Order entered the same day, Plaintiff's discovery motion was denied without prejudice as premature. ECF No. 49.

         On June 21, 2018, Plaintiff filed a “Request for Leave to Reply to the Defendant[] [Salkini's] Second Attempt at Dismissal of Plaintiff's Complaint.” ECF No. 50. On June 22, 2018, Plaintiff filed a Response in Opposition to the [Federal] Defendant[]s[‘] Motion to Dismiss. ECF No. 51. That same day, Defendant Salkini filed a Response in Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File Motion to Strike and Motion to Strike Plaintiff's Surreply. ECF No. 52. By Order entered June 25, 2018, Plaintiff's Request for Leave to Reply to Defendant Salkini's Second Attempt at Dismissal of Plaintiff's Complaint was construed as a Motion to File Surreply and denied. ECF No. 53.

         On July 9, 2018, Plaintiff filed a “Motion for Reconsideration of the Court's June 19, and June 25, 2018 Orders” and an “Expert Witness Affidavit in Support of Complaint.” ECF Nos. 55, 56.

         This matter is now pending before the undersigned for an initial review and Report and Recommendation pursuant to LR PL P 2 and 28 U.S.C. § 1915.

         II. The Pleadings

         A. The Complaint

         In the complaint, filed without a memorandum in support, and in very brief and general terms, without providing any detail as to the facts, Plaintiff raises claims of denial of adequate medical care; systemic racism and racial bias in mental health care; medical malpractice; discrimination and retaliation; and violation of his rights to free speech and to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. ECF No. 1 at 7 - 9. Plaintiff's complaint indicates that the acts complained of occurred at FCI Morgantown in Morgantown, West Virginia. Id. at 4.

         Plaintiff maintains that he has exhausted his administrative remedies with regard to his claims. Id. at 4 - 5. He contends that as a result of Defendants' actions, he is now impotent, maimed, and suffers from depression. Id. at 9.

         As relief, he seeks a hearing, a jury trial, and unspecified damages “sought in the complaint.” Id.

         B. Defendant Salkini's Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 12

         Defendant Salkini argues that the complaint should be dismissed pursuant to Fed.R.Civ. P. 12(b)(6), because

1) Plaintiff failed to comply with mandatory pre-suit filing requirements as set forth in the West Virginia Medical Professional Liability Act (“WVMPLA”);
2) the complaint does not allege facts sufficient to support a cause of action for medical malpractice; despite having referred to an attached memorandum, none was attached; and
3) the complaint should be dismissed pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2), 12(b)(4), and 12(b)(5), because Plaintiff failed to timely serve Dr. Salkini within ninety days of the filing of his complaint.

ECF No. 12 at 1.

         C. Plaintiff's Response in Opposition to Defendant Salkini's Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 31

         Plaintiff's response in opposition, for the first time, provides specific detail regarding Defendant Salkini's alleged racism toward Plaintiff, and the malpractice Salkini allegedly committed before, during, and after a bladder stone removal procedure he performed on Plaintiff on or about June 27, 2016. ECF No. 31 at 2 - 3.

         Specifically, Plaintiff contends that prior to his surgery, Salkini delayed treatment for his “serious medical condition” by “initiat[ing] a year-long billing process while the Plaintiff suffered abdominal and leg pain, [and had] frequent[] . . . blood in his urine.” Id. at 2 - 3. He contends that Salkini and his staff harbored racist feeling against him, and the male staff appeared to “take issue” with the size of his genitalia. Id. at 3.

         He avers that after being told preoperatively that he would have a “pin size incision in his side, ” Salkini left him with a 6 or 7-inch incision. Id. at 3; see also ECF No. 31-4 at 3. Plaintiff contends that his surgery was not performed in a “standard operating room like other non-black patients, ” but in a “back corner dirty room.” ECF No. 31 at 3. He alleges that after he woke up in recovery, he vomited and later that evening, his blood pressure “surge[d] dangerously high, ” [id.] but that despite these “post-surgery complications, ” he was discharged without any further treatment or instruction on how to take care of his incision or the Foley catheter that was “surgically inserted into him.” Id. He was told he would be seen in follow up in two weeks, but before that, he developed an infection, so the catheter was removed by non-hospital personnel. Id. At his two-week follow-up visit with Salkini, “despite being informed of Plaintiff's post-surgery complications and illness, a nonskilled hospital employee following Salkini's instruction . . . attempted to re-insert the catheter without the use of anesthesia.” Id. When Plaintiff became upset, “Salkini and the hospital employees recognize[d] their mistake . . . called the procedure off” and discharged him with no post-surgery x-ray or examination of his wounds. Id.

         Plaintiff further alleges that “during the surgery Salkini deliberately or accidentally severed several nerves resulting in impotence, back and lower leg pain” for Plaintiff. Id. at 4. He implies that this was done because of racial animus toward him. Id. These complications caused him to develop “suicidal depression, ” resulting in his being declared disabled by the Social Security Administration. Id. at 5. In an attached affidavit, he also contends that his wife, who is twenty years younger than he, “left me due [to] my post-surgery state of mind [and] inability to perform sexually.” ECF No. 31-4 at 4.

         Plaintiff asserts that “all defendants named in the complaint either work for the . . . [DOJ] and or BOP or are paid by them for their services.” Id. at 6. Therefore, he concludes, because RMH and its employees, like Dr. Salkini, have enjoyed a 30-year long multi-million-dollar business relationship with the BOP, Salkini and RMH are agents of the BOP. Id. at 6.

         Finally, for the first time, he alleges that Salkini demonstrated “clear deliberate indifference to his rights to free of racial bias healthcare [sic], medical malpractice and discrimination.” Id.

         Plaintiff attaches a sworn affidavit from “Expert Witness Nicole Farmer, LPN [ECF No. 31-1];” a copy of an April 10, 2018 FOIA request from him to the RMH Medical Records department, seeking “copies of all public records that show and describe[] the outcome of kidney stone [sic] removal proceedings perform[ed]by Dr[.] Mohamad Salkini on a racial base . . . [copies of] all disciplinary action taken against Dr. Salkini over the last ten years and any [and] all racial complaints filed against same doctor and RMH over the same period (last ten-year)” [ECF No. 31-2 at 2]; and his own sworn affidavit, alleging additional factual detail. ECF No. 31-4. He also produced a thumb drive containing copies of some of his RMH medical records. ECF No. 31-3.

         D. Defendant Salkini's Reply, ECF No. 36

         Defendant Salkini reiterates his argument that the complaint should be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. He asserts that the Court may not consider any information Plaintiff provides that was not included in Plaintiff's complaint, and that Plaintiff's affidavit, attached to his response, must be disregarded, because such consideration of the same would convert Plaintiff's response into a Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 36 at 1 - 2.

         Further, Salkini notes that Plaintiff's response still fails to address his failure to comply with the mandatory pre-suit filing requirements of the WVMPLA; fails to allege sufficient facts to state a medical malpractice claim; and does not even allege that Dr. Salkini was acting under the color of federal law when he treated Plaintiff. Id. at 1 - 6.

         Dr. Salkini argues that Plaintiff's many other claims, including his new claim of “bad faith” against Dr. Salkini[3] and “the undersigned”[4] for failing to respond to his FOIA request, raised for the first time in his response in opposition to Salkini's dispositive motion, should likewise be disregarded. Id. at 2. Finally, Salkini reiterates his argument that the complaint should be dismissed for failure to timely effectuate service. Id. at 7.

         E. Defendant RMH's Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 23

         Defendant RMH argues that the complaint should be dismissed pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) because

1) Plaintiff fails to state a Bivens claim upon which relief can be granted against RMH;
2) Plaintiff failed to comply with the mandatory pre-suit notice of the WVMPLA requirements before initiating suit against RMH; and
3) Plaintiff's claims may be barred by the applicable statute of limitations because it is unclear from the complaint when the medical care at issue occurred.
4) Plaintiff's complaint should be dismissed pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2), 12(b)(4), and 12(b)(5) for insufficient service of process.

ECF No. 23 at 1; ECF No. 23-1 at 1 - 2, 7.

         F. Plaintiff's Response in Opposition to Defendant RMH's Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 35

         Plaintiff contends that RMH's dispositive motion should be denied because it is “based on bad faith and [is] untrue.” ECF No. 35 at 2. He notes that RMH denied that Dr. Salkini has any affiliation with them and therefore they “are not responsible for his incompetence. However, on its own web page Dr. Salkini is listed as an Associate Professor for the hospital.” Id. Further, he asserts that in its motion to dismiss, RMH denied having received a copy of the complaint, “but in a letter addressed to Plaintiff . . . [declining his offer to settle, RMH] conceded that it . . . was in possession of the complaint.” Id.

         Plaintiff then attempts to refute RMH's arguments, contending that RMH is in fact subject to a Bivens action, because Bivens actions may be brought against private entities operating under color of federal law, in the same manner that § 1983 actions may be brought “against persons acting under color of state law.” Id. at 3. He contends that that despite claiming to be a private corporation, RMH “has little to no problem receiving[]g and correcting [sic] tens of millions [of] dollars from the federal government” including among other things, for providing medical services to state and federal prisoners. Id. He cites to United States v. Day[5] for the proposition that RMH and its employees qualify as agents of the federal government, providing medical service under the color of law. Id.

         Plaintiff states that Dr. Salkini's bladder stone removal procedure “was an act of medical malpractice in its purest form” and that RMH's failure to follow its own post-surgery follow up procedure was malpractice on its part. Id. He argues that before surgery, he was told he would have a “pin size incision” but woke to find a 6-inch incision.[6] Id. at 4. Further, his surgery was performed in a “back corner dirty room” rather than the “standard operating room” used for “other non-black patients.” Id. He further avers that he became ill in the recovery room and vomited; later, the first night after surgery, his blood pressure “surge[d] dangerously high.” Id.

         Plaintiff contends that despite these “post-surgery complications” Salkini discharged him without any further treatment or post-operative instructions on how to care for his wounds. Id.

         Plaintiff avers that in the over the eighteen months Salkini treated him, Salkini charged the government over $200, 000.00 for spending less than 30 minutes with him. Id. He concludes that “[n]o non-black patient has or would have received such inadequate medical service. This was medical malpractice.” Id. He reiterates his claim that he was to be seen two weeks after discharge, but because he developed an infection before that, the catheter was removed by “non-hospital personnel.” Id. A “non-skilled hospital employee following Salkini's instruction” attempted to reinsert the catheter without using anesthesia, but when Plaintiff became upset, “Salkini and the hospital employees recognize[d] their mistake and called the procedure off.” Id. at 5. He avers that he was discharged without an x-ray or examination of his wound, and “[t]o this day, no one from . . . [RMH] has attempted to follow up with” him about “the neglect he received” and he still does not know whether all the stones were removed; what caused them; whether any nerves were accidentally or deliberately severed during the procedure; and whether black patients are treated differently than non-black ones. Id.

         Plaintiff's response includes an excerpt which appears to have been copied/pasted from an unidentified source, titled “MEDICAL TEXBOOK . . . [STANDARD]” regarding the complications of bladder stone surgery, which includes the statement “[y]ou will probably be asked to attend a follow-up appointment where X-rays or a CT scan can be used to check that all the fragments of the bladder stones have been removed from your bladder” and a statement to the effect that “[o]nce the bladder stones have been removed it is necessary to treat the underlying cause to avoid new bladder stones from forming.” Id. He concludes that any “adequate” postoperative “follow up treatment plan” should have included an “ultrasound abdominal examination and or x-ray of the surgical area.” Id. at 6. Further, he avers that generally, “all patients are given a discharge instruction on caring for their wounds and a[n] emergency contact list.” Id. He states that “[e]ither of these options were presented to the Plaintiff.”[7] Id.

         Plaintiff alleges that “[a]ccording to Dr. Zia Abdi of Atlanta Georgia” who examined him, not only were proper pre-op and post op procedures not followed at RMH, “but during the surgery Salkini deliberately or accidentally severed several nerves resulting in impotence, back and lower leg pain[.]” Id.

         Next, Plaintiff raises a new claim, arguing that that RMH committed “bad faith” by failing to abide by FOIA's mandatory release requirements when it failed to respond to his request for “previously undisclosed documentation of systemic racism and racial bias, medical malpractice, and discrimination” that he sought before RMH filed its response, so that he would “be in a best position to properly reply[.]” Id. Instead, he contends, RMH moved for dismissal of the complaint, which was “nothing more than a ploy to prevent the release of damning documentation.” Id.

         He again attempts to refute RMH's claim that Dr. Salkini was not an agent, servant, or employee, by noting that on RMH's web page, Salkini is listed as an Associate Professor of RMH; he also includes what appears to be an excerpt from his operative record, which was signed by a resident of “West Virginia University Division of Urology” and is co-signed by Salkini. Id. at 6 - 7.

         Plaintiff argues that RMH's claim that the complaint should be dismissed for its failure to comply with the mandatory pre-suit requirements of the WVMPLA is a “ridiculous assertion” and that RMH is “attempting to use a state law to take issue with the Court's administration handling of this matter;” noting that “this is a federal not state matter[.]” Id. at 8.

         In response to RMH's argument that if the medical care at issue occurred more than two years before the complaint was filed, Plaintiff's claims might be barred by the applicable statute of limitations, Plaintiff contends that the complaint was filed on August 17, 2017, and his claims allege racial bias and medical malpractice that occurred between September 28, 2015 through July 15, 2016, within the two-year statute of limitations. Id.

         G. Federal Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 43

          In their dispositive motion, the Federal Defendants assert that the case should be dismissed because:

1) the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted [ECF No. 43-1 at 4]; and
2) the complaint fails to sufficiently allege personal involvement by any individual federal defendant. Id. at 6.

         The Federal Defendants attach the sworn declaration of Howard Williams, Legal Assistant at the BOP Mid-Atlantic Regional Office [ECF 43-2]; a copy of Plaintiff's Public Information Inmate Data [ECF No. 43-3 at 2 - 5]; and a copy of Plaintiff's Inmate History. ECF No. 43-3 at 7 - 9.

         H. Plaintiff's Response in Opposition to Federal Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 51

         Plaintiff's response contends that the Federal Defendants' motion to dismiss is “nothing more than a stall tactic to move the Court's intention [sic] off Plaintiff's June 4, 2018, Motion for Default Judgment, ” which he filed when the Federal Defendants did not timely file their response. ECF No. 51 at 1. He avers that the Federal Defendants overlook all the evidence submitted thus far, but notes that they have not argued that Plaintiff's claims “are false or incorrect.” Id. at 2.

         III. Standard of Review

         A. Motion to Dismiss

         “A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of a complaint; importantly, it does not resolve contests surrounding facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of defenses.” Republican Party of N.C. v. Martin, 980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th Cir. 1992) (citing 5A Charles Alan Wright and Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1356 (1990). In considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, a plaintiff's well-pleaded allegations are taken as true and the complaint is viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Mylan Labs, Inc. v. Matkari, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)).

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure “require only ‘a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,' in order to ‘give the defendant fair notice of what the ... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). Courts have long cited the “rule that a complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of [a] claim which would entitled him to relief.” Conley, 355 U.S. at 45-46. In Twombly, the United States Supreme Court noted that a complaint need not asserts “detailed factual allegation, ” but must contain more than labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citations omitted). Thus, the “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, ” id. (citations omitted), to one that is “plausible on its face, ” id. at 570, rather than merely “conceivable, ” Id. Therefore, in order for a complaint to survive a dismissal for failure to state a claim, the plaintiff must “allege facts sufficient to state all the elements of [his or] her claim.” Bass v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., 324 F.3d 761, 765 (4th Cir. 2003) (citing Dickson v. Microsoft Corp., 309 F.3d 193, 213 (4th Cir. 2002); Iodice v. United States, 289 F.3d 279, 281 (4th Cir. 2002)). In so doing, the complaint must meet a “plausibility” standard, instituted by the Supreme Court in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, where it held that a “claim had facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). Thus, a well-pleaded complaint must offer more than “a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully” in order to meet the plausibility standard and survive dismissal for failure to state a claim. Id.

         When a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) is accompanied by affidavits, exhibits and other documents to be considered by the Court, the motion will be construed as a motion for summary judgment under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

         B. Summary Judgment

         Pursuant to Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment is appropriate “if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” In applying the standard for summary judgment, the Court must review all the evidence “in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). The court must avoid weighing the evidence or determining the truth and limit its inquiry solely to a determination of whether genuine issues of triable fact exist. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

         In Celotex, the Supreme Court held that the moving party bears the initial burden of informing the Court of the basis for the motion and of establishing the nonexistence of genuine issues of fact. Celotex, 447 U.S. at 323. Once “the moving party has carried its burden under Rule 56, the opponent must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to material facts.” Matsushita Electric Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). The nonmoving party must present specific facts showing the existence of a genuine issue for trial. Id. This means that the “party opposing a properly supported motion for summary judgment may not rest upon mere allegations or denials of [the] pleading, but . . . must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256.

         The “mere existence of a scintilla of evidence” favoring the nonmoving party will not prevent the entry of summary judgment. Id. at 248. To withstand such a motion, the nonmoving party must offer evidence from which a “fair-minded jury could return a verdict for the [party].” Id. “If the evidence is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted.” Felty v. Graves-Humphreys Co., 818 F.2d 1126, 1128 (4th Cir. 1987). Such evidence must consist of facts which are material, meaning that they create fair doubt rather than encourage mere speculation. Anderson at 248. Summary judgment is proper only “[w]here the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party.” Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587 (citation omitted).

         IV. Analysis

         A. Deliberate Indifference to Serious Medical Needs

         In general, the Eighth Amendment prohibits “cruel and unusual punishment.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825 (1994). In order to comply with the Eighth Amendment, prison punishment must comport with “the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society.” Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 102 (1976). “A prison official cannot be found liable under the Eighth Amendment for denying an inmate humane conditions of confinement unless the official knows of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate health or safety; the official must both be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he must also draw the inference.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. at 837.

         To demonstrate that a prison official violated the Eighth Amendment by denying medical care, an inmate must show (1) that the deprivation alleged was objectively “sufficiently serious” and (2) that the prison official was “deliberately indifferent” to the inmate's health or safety. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994). With respect to the first element, a medical condition is sufficiently serious if it is “‘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 v. Lightsey, 775 F.3d 170, 178 (4th Cir. 2014); see also Gaudreault v. Municipality of Salem, Mass., 923 F.2d 203, 208 (1st Cir. 1990), cert. denied, 500 U.S. 956 (1991). A ...


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