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Holland v. Miller

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia

March 31, 2014

ERNEST C. HOLLAND, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
DR. D. MILLER, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

SAMUEL G. WILSON, District Judge.

Ernest C. Holland, Jr., a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se , filed this civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claiming deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs[1] against eight defendants (correctional officials and medical personnel) associated with Keen Mountain Correctional Center (KMCC) and under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) against two of those defendants[2] Holland complains about the adequacy or total lack of treatment for a host of medical conditions but the gravamen of this complaint distills to his lack of treatment for a painful hernia and the actions of two correctional officers who required him to comply with normal restraint procedures on one occasion despite his problematic medical condition. The defendants that have been served with process have moved to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) on the grounds that Holland's complaint fails to allege a plausible claim for relief against them.[3] The court agrees, except as to defendant Dr. D. Miller, the attending physician at KMCC, whom Holland alleges was at all relevant times "the physician and medical care provider at KMCC, who made nearly all medically related decisions regarding (Holland) while he was housed [there], " and who Holland alleges was deliberately indifferent in failing to order surgery for Holland's painful hernia. Accordingly, the court grants the various motions to dismiss except the motion of that single defendant. The court also dismisses Holland's claims against the two yet unserved defendants under 28 U.S.C. §1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

I.

The court summarizes the main trust of Holland's complaint. Holland has several chronic medical conditions, including back problems, knee problems, acid reflux, and a hernia. Holland's back problems resulted from an injury he sustained while housed in a Virginia Department of Corrections (VDOC) facility in the mid-90s. Since then, he has had multiple evaluations and diagnostic studies and received treatment at various VDOC facilities from multiple physicians for his back, and later for his left knee and a hernia.[4] some VDOC physicians discussed surgery with Holland, including one physician who told Holland surgery would worsen his back condition. Some physicians recommended and/or ordered surgery, including a physician at Powhatan Correctional Center on March 15, 2012.

The day after that recommendation, VDOC transferred Holland to KMCC, according to Holland, in an effort to interfere with his treatment. Holland has named, Gail Jones, an employee of the VDOC in the Central Classification Services Division in Richmond, Virginia as a defendant because he believes she was responsible for his transfer.

Upon his arrival at KMCC on March 16, 2012, Holland spoke with M. Coleman, an intake nurse, about his diagnosed medical problem sand the surgery and treatment that had been ordered. He complains that Nurse Coleman did not assess Holland or schedule any appointments for him at that time, and has named her as a defendant.

The day after arriving at KMCC, March 17, 2012, Holland fell and further injured his back and knee. Holland had asked to shower and, as part of a normal security procedure, the two correctional officers who arrived to escort Holland, Phillips and Horne, required Holland to kneel, be placed in leg irons and behind-the-back handcuffs, and then stand and walk backwards out of the cell. Holland told them that he could not comply with the normal procedure because of his back and knee problems. They, never the less, required Holland to comply, and Holland fell as he attempted to stand. Holland has named both Phillips and Horne as defendants.

Immediately after the fall, Holland filed an emergency grievance. Phillips signed the emergency grievance receipt; called C. Hawks, a Licensed Practical Nurse;[5] and then returned to Holland's cell and asked him if it was a serious issue. Holland replied that it was serious, but Phillips never the less, according to Holland, told Nurse Hawkson the phone, "I don't think it's that serious. I think he's faking. Don't rush over here." Nurse Hawks answered Holland's grievance five hours later, checked Holland's vital signs, informed him his grievance did not meet the definition of an emergency, [6] and instructed him to "take it easy." Holland has named Nurse Hawks as a defendant.

Two days later, March 19, 2012, Holland submitted a sick-call request citing all of his described medical problems and also asking to be tested for Hepatitis C and HIV. According to Holland, while waiting to be seen, his hernia "popped out" on March 23, 2012, causing him severe pain. He then filed another emergency grievance, without explicitly referencing the hernia episode:

I am having very sharp pains in my abdomen! My right testical [sic] hurts very bad [sic] and there is a large knot on the right side of my pelvis. I have followed proper sick call procedures as instructed... yet it has been over a week and I have still not seen the doctor here or received any of the medications perscribed [sic] to me on 3-15-2012. The pill call nurse seems unconcerned when I told her I am in pain! Why is this medical dept. dening [sic] me medical care and percribed [sic] meds?

In response, P. Goins, a KMCC nurse, replied in writing that his grievance did not meet the definition of an emergency and instructed Holland to use sick-call procedures. Holland has named Nurse Goins as a defendant.

Dr. D. Miller, who Holland alleges to be the "physician and medical care provider at KMCC, who made nearly all medically related decisions regarding [Holland], " saw Holland for the first time five days later on March 28, 2012 (12 days after Holland's arrival at KMCC). According to Holland, Dr. Miller talked to Holland through the cell door, did not do a physical examination, and refused to provide any treatment. Holland had listed his hernia on his original sick-call request form, but Dr. Miller required Holland to place an other sick-call request to address the hernia. Dr. Miller saw Holland again six days later. Dr. Miller did not recommend or order surgery for any of Holland's conditions. Instead, Dr. Miller told Holland he would "never have the hernia removed" while he was in the VDOC and offered to treat him with a hernia belt and medication, including Flomax and a fiber supplement.[7] Holland later sent Dr. Miller a request form asking "why he would never order an appropriate treatment for the hernia." Eugene A. Whited responded, stating "according to the physician's assessment, the hernia belt should take care of it at this time." Whited, who Holland states falsely purports to be a "Registered Nurse Certified by the Board (RNCB), " conducts all administrative and appointment activities, other than sick-call, in a "triage-like manner." He also arranges to implement physicians' orders. Dr. Miller did not order surgery for Holland, and Whited did not schedule any surgical appointments. Holland has named Whited and Dr. Miller as defendants.

II.

The court concludes that Holland's complaint states a plausible deliberate indifference claim against Dr. Miller concerning the treatment of Holland's ...


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