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Payne v. Wilson

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

March 28, 2018

WILLIAM WILSON, et al., Defendants.


          Elizabeth K. Dillon United States District Judge.

         Christopher Nelson Payne, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging violations of his Eighth Amendment rights while incarcerated at both the Rappahannock Shenandoah Warren Regional Jail (RSW) and Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center (NRADC). In his verified amended complaint and affidavit, Payne alleges generally that RSW Director of Nursing and Registered Nurse Holt, RSW Superintendent Wilson, NRADC Director of Nursing Miller, and NRADC Superintendent Whitley denied him proper medical care for treatment of his HIV/AIDS, causing him pain and constant infections because he was not given medications needed to survive. (Dkt. Nos. 13, 54.) He alleges that at times he was not given all of his medications and that his Ensure (a nutritional supplement) was discontinued, causing him to have an empty stomach thus preventing him from taking medications that he was given. (Id.) The only specific allegations include the naming of defendants Nurse Holt and Superintendent Wilson with regard to denial of medical care on November 22, 2016, and February 4, 2017 (Dkt. No. 13), and references to Nurse Miller holding pills when Payne arrived at NRADC and stopping his prescription for Ensure (Dkt. No. 54). Other than these allegations, Payne notes in his affidavit that he relies upon his medical records. (Dkt. No. 54.) Defendants collectively filed a motion for summary judgment, with accompanying affidavits and medical records, arguing that Payne fails to establish deliberate indifference or any affirmative link between defendants' actions and Payne's claimed deprivation, that they lack personal involvement, and that they are protected by qualified immunity. (Dkt. No. 30.) Payne responded, making this matter ripe for disposition.[1] Upon review of the record, the court will grant defendants' motion for summary judgment.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Beginning on November 22, 2016, Payne alleges that he suffered from pain and constant infections “due to [RSW] medical staff [] not giv[ing him] HIV medication that is needed to survive.” (Dkt. No. 13.) He does not indicate which medications he was denied as of November 22, 2016. While housed at RSW for approximately two months, Payne was seen by the RSW physician's assistant at least eight times and was prescribed Prezista and Laivudine to treat his HIV infection. Nurse Holt assisted in scheduling Payne to see an infectious disease specialist, and Payne was evaluated at the University of Virginia (UVA) Infectious Disease clinic on December 19, 2016, where his HIV medications continued to be prescribed. Payne, however, refused to take his HIV medication and suffered from infections requiring additional treatment on several occasions at Warren Memorial Hospital. On January 6, 2017, Payne went to Warren Memorial for incision and drainage of an infected abscess on his upper right arm, and Nurse Holt received Payne after his treatment.

         Nurse Holt did not provide any direct clinical care to Payne other than when he returned from Warren Memorial Hospital. At that time, she reviewed the report from the hospital, examined Payne's dressing, and provided post-treatment instructions. She also made efforts to speak with Payne's attorney to notify him of Payne's refusal of both medication and mental health services. She notes that the records show that Payne was given his prescribed HIV medication, but he refused to take it. (Holt Aff. at 2-9, Dkt. No. 31, Ex. C.)

         On January 18, 2017, Payne was transferred from RSW to NRADC, at which time NRADC Director of Nursing Miller completed a medical screening of him. On intake that day, Payne was diagnosed with a seizure disorder, HIV, Hepatitis A, B and C, and candidiasis abscess on his right inner arm, and he was placed on several medications, including antiviral medications Norvir and Zidovudine for treatment of his HIV infection. Payne saw that Nurse Miller properly noted at intake all the medications he was previously taking at RSW. However, on January 19, Payne states that he was “only given 2 of 6 pills relating to HIV” and that the other pills were “on hold” by Nurse Miller. Payne requested to speak to the nurse because the nurse at UVA Medical, where he had been admitted previously on different occasions, told him that he should either take the dose as directed or not take the pills at all “because each one works with the other 7.” (Payne Aff. At 1, Dkt. No. 54.) As a result, Payne did not take the medications because he believed they were dispensed to him improperly. That same day, physician's assistant Robert Dryden, who is not named as a defendant, examined Payne to address his medication questions.[2]Payne told Dryden that he could not take his HIV medication because of reflux, so Dryden prescribed medicine to alleviate the problem. Despite this prescription, Payne continued to refuse both his reflux and HIV medicine the vast majority of the time. The medication administration record notes Payne's history of noncompliance with medical orders and refusal of medication. (Miller Aff. ¶¶ 2-3, Dkt. No. 31, Ex. A.)

         On January 24, 2017, Payne complained of severe pain and swelling in his throat and was admitted to the Winchester Memorial Hospital Emergency Room. Payne states that he was admitted because the infections were caused by going seven days without medication. Although he was admitted for odynophagia and candidal esophagitis, the CT scan and other tests did not support a diagnosis of candidiasis. (Dkt. No. 31-1 at 156.) While in the hospital, the infectious disease specialist refused to consult with the hospitalist regarding Payne because of Payne's prior history of noncompliance with medical orders. Even though Payne could eat a soft diet, he continued to refuse to take his HIV medication at the hospital. When the attending physician discontinued intravenous narcotic pain medications, Payne refused further treatment and left the hospital against medical advice. (Miller Aff. ¶¶ 4-5, Dkt. No. 31, Ex. A.)

         After returning to NRADC from Winchester Memorial, Payne states he was unable to take his medications because they were to be liquid only and only two of his three medications could be found, so he could not take them. Payne alleges he was “sent back to UVA” where his prescription was changed, but he does not specify any admission or discharge dates. According to Nurse Miller, Payne again refused to take his HIV medication upon his return from the hospital, despite being offered supplementary reflux medicines. (Miller Aff. ¶¶ 4-5, Dkt. No. 31, Ex. A.)

         On February 7, 2017, Payne was treated at the prison by Dr. Dalberg (not a defendant), who reviewed Payne's medical records and ordered that he be seen by an infectious disease specialist. The appointment was scheduled for March 2017 at UVA Hospital and, given the pending appointment and Payne's history of refusing prescribed HIV medicine, Dr. Dalberg discontinued the previously ordered HIV medicine. (Med. Admin. Rec. at 44, Dkt. No. 31, Ex. A.) Payne states that Dr. Dalberg saw him on January 20, 2017, discontinued his medicine because it was not clear who was monitoring Payne and “the medications [were] not correct as shown in his chart notes, ” and that he was later transported to UVA Medical where a nurse changed his medications to only three prescriptions. (Payne Aff. at 1, Dkt. No. 54.) Regardless of the actual date, it appears that Payne was seen by Dr. Dalberg who discontinued his HIV medication for a brief time pending his appointment at UVA Medical.

         On February 10, 2017, Payne received a prison medical order to have one can of Ensure daily until February 19, 2017, so that Payne would not need to take his other medications on an empty stomach. (Miller Aff. at 44, Dkt. No. 31-1.) Payne believes this was a UVA Medical order, but he had not yet been to his appointment at UVA Medical. He states that Nurse Miller “stopped the [E]nsure against the UVA orders.” (Payne Aff. at 2, Dkt. No. 54.) The medication administration records show that the order was limited in time and that Payne received Ensure daily from February 10, 2017, through February 20, 2017, as ordered. (Med. Admin. Rec. at 44, Dkt. No. 31, Ex. A.)


         A. Summary Judgment Standard

         A party is entitled to summary judgment if the pleadings, the disclosed materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Material facts are those necessary to establish the elements of a party's cause of action. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A genuine dispute of material fact exists if, in viewing the record and all reasonable inferences drawn therefrom in a light most favorable to the non-moving party, a reasonable fact-finder could return a verdict for the non- movant. Id. The moving party has the burden of showing “that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986). If the movant satisfies this burden, then the non-movant must set forth specific facts that demonstrate the existence of a genuine dispute of fact for trial. Id. at 322-24. A party is entitled to summary judgment if the record as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find in favor of the non-movant. Williams v. Griffin, 952 F.2d 820, 823 (4th Cir. 1991). “Mere unsupported speculation . . . is not enough to defeat a summary judgment motion.”[3] Ennis v. Nat'l Ass'n of Bus. & Educ. Radio. Inc., 53 F.3d 55, 62 (4th Cir. 1995).

         B. Denial ...

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