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Muhammad v. Smith

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

November 3, 2016



          Hon. Glen E. Conrad Chief United States District Judge

         Abdul-Hamza Wali Muhammad, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, filed this civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that the defendant, a prison doctor, used excessive force and/or sexually assaulted him during rectal examinations and denied him adequate medical care related to his complaints of bloody stools. After review of the record, the court concludes that defendant's motion to dismiss must be granted, plaintiffs motion for summary judgment must be denied, and all other claims, added through amendment, must be summarily dismissed.


         Muhammad is incarcerated at Red Onion State Prison ("Red Onion"). The matter is now before the court on Muhammad's second amended complaint and a motion to dismiss by the defendant, Dr. Earl "Happy" Smith.[1] Muhammad responded to this motion by filing a document titled "cross motion for summary judgment" and numerous documents and two-page affidavits.[2]In this motion, Muhammad also moves for voluntary dismissal of his excessive force/sexual assault claims and seeks to add new defendants and claims related to his medical treatment for bloody stools at Red Onion. The court will allow this dismissal and amendment.

         Liberally construed, Muhammad's allegations, exhibits, and amendments offer the following sequence of events related to his claims. Muhammad's submitted medical records from 2015 indicate that he suffers from chronic constipation and lactose intolerance, in addition to other medical concerns. He first complained about seeing blood in his feces in early October 2015. On four occasions, appointments scheduled for Muhammad to see the prison doctor in October were cancelled. Muhammad was brought to the medical unit on November 3, 2015, for a prostate and hemorrhoidal examination to which Muhammad allegedly did not consent. Dr. Smith explained that the purpose of this rectal exam was to check for blood in the "anallingus cavity canal" (Am. Compl. 2, ECF No. 34.) Muhammad reported that he was not bleeding from the rectum, but had been seeing a moderate amount of blood in his fecal matter. A stool sample was taken, and he returned to his cell. The stool sample Muhammad provided tested positive for blood.

         Dr. Smith examined Muhammad again on November 10. Muhammad showed the doctor an article about an inmate with similar symptoms who had been diagnosed with stage three colon cancer. Based on the article, Muhammad asked for referral to a gastroenterologist and a colonoscopy to diagnose the cause of his bloody stools. Dr. Smith said that he, as the primary care physician, would decide the course of treatment for Muhammad's medical issues.

         Muhammad was escorted back to the medical unit on November 19 for another rectal examination to check for possible enlargement of his prostate and hemorrhoid issues. Muhammad told a medical administrator and Dr. Smith that he did not have either of these problems and wanted to sign a refusal of treatment form. Dr. Smith allegedly told Muhammad that if he refused the rectal exam, he should stop writing complaints about having blood in his stools. After performing the rectal exam, Dr. Smith placed Muhammad in a cell in the medical unit for observation and said that the medical staff believed Muhammad was manipulating his feces for attention.

         At an examination on January 12, 2016, Dr. Smith allegedly said that he would not provide treatment for Muhammad's continued complaints of blood in his stools. The doctor recognized that Muhammad had filed complaints under Prison Rape Elimination Act ("PREA") procedures, characterizing the rectal exams on November 3 and 19, 2015, as sexual assaults. Dr. Smith allegedly added, "You know that didn't happen, don't you." (Id. 5.)

         In early 2016, a woman named Abigail Turner, whom Muhammad identifies as his attorney, wrote on his behalf to Dr. Mark Ammonette, an administrator for the Virginia Department of Corrections ("VDOC").[3] Turner's letter expressed concern that although Muhammad "ha[d] found blood in his feces for several months, " Red Onion's "medical administrator ha[d] said no further assessments [would] take place." (ECF No. 53-1, at 62.) Dr. Ammonette responded by letter dated February 16, 2016, stating as follows, with respect to the complaint of blood stools:

Thank you for your correspondence regarding Abdul Muhammad DOC#l 005782. I have spoken to his treating Physician at Red Onion . . . and have also reviewed limited records on the offender as well as received an email from the Health Authority at the facility providing some information. Evaluation of Mr. Muhammad has shown that, while one sample provided by the offender was positive for blood, four other samples were sent for testing which showed no evidence of blood in the stool. Also, blood work was done which showed no evidence for blood loss and screening lab tests for some causes of rectal bleeding were negative. Based on these findings, Dr. Happy Smith, Mr. Muhammad's treating Physician at the facility, does not feel that further work-up is indicated at this time. He will follow Mr. Muhammad clinically and if it appears in the future that Mr. Muhammad's complaint does warrant further work-up Dr. Smith will refer him for additional appropriate consultation and/or evaluation....

(ECF No. 53-1, at 63.) Dr. Ammonette also indicated, "I cannot 'order' a physician to render specific treatment to an offender/patient. Our Physicians are trained and licensed practitioners who render care based on their own evaluation and medical judgment and, while I may discuss cases with our Physicians, I cannot tell them what to do." (Id.)

         Muhammad was escorted to the medical unit on March 10, 2016, where he learned that Dr. Smith intended to perform another rectal examination. Muhammad refused this exam, reminded the doctor that both previous rectal exams had showed negative results, and asked if the doctor would refer him to a gastroenterologist to diagnose the cause of his continued problem with bloody stools. Dr. Smith sent Muhammad back to his cell without performing the rectal exam.

         On March 29, Muhammad had an appointment with Dr. Smith, who prescribed high fiber packets for treating constipation. (ECF No. 53-1, at 9.) When Muhammad tried to talk, Dr. Smith allegedly said, "I am not going to have you having your lawyer contact my boss, Mark Ammonette on me, " and told Muhammad that if he said one more word, the appointment was over. (Id. 6.) Dr. Smith allegedly said, "I am not going to do anything about your bloody stools." (Id. 7.) Muhammad ...

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