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Pipkin v. Kazlauskas

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division

January 9, 2015

Michael Anthony Pipkin, Plaintiff,
Dr. Kazlauskas and Nurse Jackson, Defendants.


GERALD BRUCE LEE, District Judge.

This Matter comes before the Court on a Motion for Summary Judgment filed jointly by defendants Dr. Vytas Kazlauskas and Nurse Margaret Jackson. The lawsuit was initiated pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by Michael Anthony Pipkin, acting pro se, who was a Virginia inmate when the complaint was filed.[1] Plaintiff alleged that he suffered cruel and unusual punishment in the form of deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment at three Virginia Department of Corrections ("VDOC") institutions: Baskerville Correctional Center, Lunenburg Correctional Center, and Deep Meadow Correctional Center. By Order dated March 20, 2013, deficiencies in the initial complaint were explained, and plaintiff was provided an opportunity to particularize and amend his allegations in an amended complaint. Dkt. 3. After the amended complaint was received and reviewed, the claim predicated on events at Lunenburg Correctional Center was dismissed as time-barred, and the claim regarding plaintiffs medical care at Deep Meadow Correctional Center was dismissed for failure to state a claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Dkt. 9. Defendants Dr. Kazlauskas and Nurse Jackson, who provided medical care to plaintiff at Baskerville Correctional Center ("BCC"), have submitted a memorandum of law and exhibits in support of their Motion for Summary Judgment, and provided plaintiff with notice and the opportunity to file responsive materials, as required by Local Rule 7(K) and Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975). Dkt. 14-16. Plaintiff has filed no reply. For the reasons which follow, defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment will be granted, and summary judgment will be entered in their favor.

I. Background

The following material facts are uncontested. Plaintiff was transferred to BCC from Lunenburg Correctional Center on February 25, 2011. Def. Ex. 2. His Intrasystem Transfer Medical Review paperwork indicated that he was scheduled for a follow-up regarding rectal bleeding and low hemoglobin. Id . Dr. Kazlauskas reviewed plaintiffs medical intake on February 28, 2011, and noted that plaintiff had a history of chronic anemia and that an "acute G1 bleed" had been worked up. Def. Ex. 1, Kazlauskas Aff. ¶3. The records indicated that both an upper and lower GI as well as a colonoscopy had been performed on February 16, 2011 and were normal. Id . Dr. Kazlauskas continued plaintiffs medications, including a stool softener, an iron supplement, folic acid, and Omeprazole for gastritis or ulcers. Id.

On March 7, 2011, Dr. Kazlauskas performed a physical examination of plaintiff. Id . ¶ 4. He noted mild epigastric tenderness and anemia of unknown origin, but also that plaintiffs epigastric pain had resolved and plaintiff wanted to work out. Id . The doctor ordered blood studies to check plaintiffs levels of iron, folic acid and vitamin B12, as well as a repeat CBC and a hemoglobin and hepatic panel.[2] Id . He also requested a copy of a camera endoscopy that had been done before plaintiff was transferred to BCC, and noted a follow-up visit for plaintiff in one month. Id.

On March 21, 2011, Dr. Kazlauskas reviewed plaintiffs lab work. He noted that plaintiffs blood cell counts continued to indicate anemia and the iron level was still low, and he ordered a repeat CBC in six weeks. He also ordered Miralax three times a week for plaintiffs constipation issues. Id . ¶5.

A week later, on March 28, 2011, Dr. Kazlauskas reviewed the report from the camera endoscopy that had been performed on plaintiff It showed gastritis and erosion in the duodenum, and he increased plaintiffs Omeprazole dosage as a result. Id . ¶ 6.

Dr. Kazlauskas examined plaintiff again on April 4, 2011. The doctor noted good bowel sounds, no tenderness in the abdomen, soft on palpation, no mass, and no distention. A rectal examination revealed no impaction, dark stool, and a normal prostate. Id . ¶ 7. Plaintiff complained of increased gas from his medications, and Dr. Kazlauskas prescribed a Ducolax suppository for two weeks, magnesium citrate orally, and a follow-up examination in six weeks. Id . In addition. Dr. Kazlauskas requested an outside consultation for plaintiff with a gastroenterologist at Medical College of Virginia ("MCV"). The request was approved on April 18, 2011 and the appointment was made for June. Id.

On May 2, 2011, Dr. Kazlauskas again examined plaintiff, who complained of increasing abdominal pain and stated that he had not had a bowel movement in two weeks. Id . ¶ 9. Upon examining plaintiff. Dr. Kazlauskas noted plaintiffs discomfort, and that on palpation he had guarding and tenderness on his left upper to lower abdomen, with no distention. Id . Dr. Kazlauskas had plaintiff transported in a BCC vehicle to the MCV emergency room for evaluation. Id . On May 5, 2011, he authorized prescriptions for plaintiff that had been received from MCV. Id . ¶ 10. And on May 9, 2011, Dr. Kazlauskas reviewed a report from the MCV emergency room, which indicated that plaintiff would be referred to the oncology and hematology departments for treatment. Dr. Kazlauskas indicated that he should be called to renew plaintiffs pain medication when it was due to run out. Id . ¶ 11.

On May 14, 2011, Dr. Kazlauskas renewed plaintiffs prescription for Vicodin for pain. Id . ¶ 12. He examined plaintiff on May 16, 2011 and reviewed the findings from MCV with him. Id . ¶ 15. He also requested a 30-day approval for Vicodin. Id.

On May 17, 2011, plaintiff had an appointment with the oncology department at MCV. Id . ¶ 14. Dr. Kazlauskas reviewed the visit with plaintiff. Id . It had been recommended that plaintiffs pain medication be changed from Vicodin to Percoset, but MCV had not sent a prescription for Percoset. Id . Dr. Kazlauskas tried to get Percoset for plaintiff both from Diamond, VDOC's pharmaceutical contractor, and also from a local pharmacy, but he was unable to fill the prescription from either source. Id . On May 24, 2011, he increased plaintiffs dosage of Vicodin. Id . Plaintiff was transferred to Deep Meadow Correctional Center three days later. Def. Ex. 4, Jackson Aff. ¶ 5.

The other defendant in the lawsuit, Nurse Jackson, was the administrator of the BCC medical department during the period relevant to this lawsuit. Def. Ex. 4, Jackson Aff. ¶ 1. In that capacity she was responsible for monthly activity reports, scheduling, and supervision. Her duties did not include inmate medical care unless the department was short of nurses. Id. In her role as administrator. Nurse Jackson entered plaintiffs vital signs into his chart on May 16, 2011, noted that he had returned from his MCV oncology appointment on May 18, and noted on May 19 that he was scheduled for an appointment with MCV's hematology department on May 25. Id . ¶ 3. On May 11, 2011, Nurse Jackson submitted a Medical Transfer Request Form to VDOC on plaintiffs behalf, seeking his transfer from BCC to a facility with 24-hour nursing care and situated closer to MCV, where he was scheduled to undergo surgery and follow-up care. Id . ¶ 4. As a result, plaintiff was transferred from BCC to Deep Meadow Correctional Center on May 27, 2011. Id . ¶ 5. Making the foregoing entries on plaintiffs medical chart and requesting his transfer were Nurse Jackson's only involvement with plaintiffs medical care at BCC. Id . ¶ 6.

II. Standard of Review

Summary Judgment "shall be rendered forthwith 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." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The moving party bears the burden of proving that judgment on the pleadings is appropriate. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986) (moving party bears the burden of persuasion on all relevant issues). To meet that burden, the moving party must demonstrate that no genuine issues of material fact are present for resolution. Id. at 322. Once a moving party has met its burden to show that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, the burden then shifts to the non-moving party to point out the specific facts which create disputed factual issues. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Matsushita Electrical Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). In evaluating a motion for summary judgment, a district court should consider the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all reasonable inferences from ...

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