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Davis v. Clear

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division

August 23, 2016

JOVON DAVIS, Plaintiff,
v.
STEVE CLEAR, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Hon. Jackson L. Kiser Senior United States District Judge

         Jovon Davis, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, filed a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Davis names Steve Clear, the Superintendent of the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail ("Jail"), and Mandi Smith, a licensed professional counselor and qualified mental health professional ("QMHP") at the Jail, as defendants. Davis argues that the lack of mental health counseling and the delays in meeting with psychiatrists at the Jail between December 2014 and July 2015 constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

         After reviewing the record, I find that I must grant QMHP Smith's motion for summary judgment and Superintendent Clear's motion to dismiss. Even though Davis is dissatisfied with the speed and type of treatments provided at the Jail, he does not establish that QMHP Smith was deliberately indifferent to a serious medical need or that Superintendent Clear is liable in this case for an alleged Jail policy prohibiting mental health counseling.

         I.

         A.

         Davis was incarcerated at the Jail in 2012, 2013, and 2014 before his more recent incarceration there between December 2014 and July 2015, which is the time at issue in this case. Davis' medical records from his prior stays detail his frequent need for mental health treatment.[1] As early as August 2012, psychiatrists associated with the Jail had prescribed him Vistaril, Remeron, Risperdal, Neurontin, and Seroquel to treat Antisocial Personality Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, and opiate and marijuana dependencies.[2]

         At an appointment on April 16, 2013, a psychiatrist associated with the Jail noted in the medical chart:

Inmate today reported that h[e] is depressed w/ crying episodes w/ anxiety. He also notes feeling increased feeling of dispar [sic] and hopelessness in [the morning] and passively suicidal with no intent of self harm. He endorses difficulty sleeping w/ nightmares. He denied any homicidal ideation, plans or intentions ....

         Although the psychiatrist ordered changes to prescriptions, the psychiatrist only recommended that Davis join an anger management course. Davis again reported being "passively suicidal" with no intent of self harm nearly a year later in March 2014. At some point thereafter, Davis left the Jail and received out-patient medication management services from a private provider.[3]

         B.

         Davis returned to the Jail in December 2014. During his intake examination by a Jail nurse on December 2, 2014, Davis discussed his mental health diagnoses, treatment at the private provider, and prescriptions for Remeron and Vistaril. Davis denied thinking of suicide or ever attempting suicide. The nurse noted these statements in his medical records and referred Davis to the Jail's mental health providers for follow-up. Jail staff administered the same prescriptions - Remeron and Vistaril - at different dosages after receiving a "complete copy of all records" from the private provider on December 15, 2014.[4]

         On December 26, 2014, Davis filed a sick call request asking to see a psychiatrist due to his desire to receive different medications and his "violent, " "real bad dreams." Davis explains that his dreams involved him killing his wife and brother, but this information was not disclosed in the sick call request.

         Two weeks later, one of the Jail's QMHPs met with Davis on January 12, 2015, and "educated [Davis] on coping with agitation and anger in a correctional setting." A psychiatrist examined Davis that same day, noting the following information in Davis' medical chart:

P[atient] is a 36 [year old] [African American male] with [history] of Mood [Disorder] [Not otherwise Specified], [Personality Disorder] [Not Otherwise Specified], polysubstantce use, [history] of suic[ide] attempts, who presents for return follow up. P[atient] has lengthy [history] of opiate, cocaine, THC use, as well as alcohol. C[u]rrently taking Remeron . . . and [V]istaril.... He reports the Remeron seems to help but overall he reports difficulty with mood regulation. Endorses feelings of frustration and irritability but does not seem able to expound more than that. Reports he has many stressors: mother, grandmother, [and] uncle have all died recently and his wife ran off with his brother and kids. P[atient] has been sentenced to 3.5 years which he was not expecting. P[atient] denies S[uicidal] I[deation]/H[omicidal] I[deation].

         The psychiatrist ordered that a follow-up appointment be scheduled three months later in April 2015.

         Nearly three weeks later on January 31st, Davis filed a request for mental health treatment, writing, "I'm requesting to speak or set an appointment with the psych Dr. ASAP ... It's very urgent[.] Please help. Thank you very much." A week later on February 8th, Davis filed another request for mental health treatment, stating, "I'm starting to feel closed in and it hard [sic] tobreath[e]. It's too small. This place is not condu[c]ive to my mental state. Help please." QMHP Smith replied to these two requests on February 16th, stating, "I'll see you very soon. Sorry to hear you are feeling that way, " and "You are scheduled for a follow up visit with the psychiatrist in April. I will work you into the schedule to see him sooner than April, and I will meet with you prior to the appointment." Davis filed an inmate request on February 25th, asking "to be evaluated and to speak to a counselor" about "very terrible bad dreams ...


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