United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
PAUL C. THOMPSON, JR., Plaintiff,
H. W. CLARKE, et al. Defendants.
K. MOON, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Thompson, Jr., an inmate proceeding pro se, filed
this action under the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. §
1983, alleging among other things, retaliation for prior
lawsuits and prison grievances through deliberate
indifference to his serious medical needs. The defendants to
the medical claims-a doctor and four nurses (“the
medical defendants”) have filed motions to dismiss. For
the reasons stated, I conclude that these motions must be
medical defendants encountered Thompson while he was confined
at River North Correctional Center (“River
North”), operated by the Virginia Department of
Corrections (“VDOC”). He alleges, generally, that
they provided inadequate treatment for his blood pressure and
knee problems as a means of retaliating against him for
filing prisoner civil rights lawsuits and administrative
remedy forms. His claims are based on the following alleged
incidents at River North.
November 17, 2014, Thompson suffered injuries when he fell
out of his seat in a medical transport van because of an
officer's unsafe driving. After this incident, Thompson
“made numerous requests to have access to the medical
records involving this incident and they have [been] denied
and/or not responded to by Defendants D. Wells, RN, and C.
Hall, RNCB, ” medical supervisors at River North.
Compl. ¶ 131, Docket No. 1.
December 22, 2014, Dr. Potter saw Thompson for his complaints
of low blood pressure (“BP”) “most likely
caused by over medication of his BP.” Id. at
¶ 152. When getting up from a prone position, Thompson
would feel like he was about to black out. Dr. Potter wrote
an order that the medical staff should check Thompson's
BP every day. Nurses L. Tolbert and Shaffer often
“allocated Thompson's medication” while he
was confined “in (A-2) pod.” Id. at
¶¶ 26, 34.
December 28, 2014, Thompson filed an informal complaint that
nurses were checking his BP immediately after giving him his
BP medication. According to Thompson, “[t]he medication
had no time to get in [his] system, so the BP's taken
were meaningless to the issue they were ordered.”
Pl.'s Ex., at 15, Docket No. 130. Nurse Wells responded
that the doctor had ordered the daily BP checks until January
4, 2015, when the doctor would review his BP history.
Nevertheless, Thompson filed several grievances about the
timing of his daily blood pressure checks being ineffective
monitoring of his condition. The grievances were rejected
because he did not state how he had been harmed. The
grievance coordinator noted in the margin, “Per Medical
your blood pressures were taken per Doctor's
order.” Id., at 17. Without access to his
medical records, Thompson was unable to verify this
explanation. Over the next weeks, he refused to take several
doses of his blood pressure medication.
January 20, 2015, while Thompson was on suicide precautions,
he blacked out and fell, hitting one side of his face on the
concrete floor of his cell, which caused bruising. When he
complained about the fall and blamed it on low blood
pressure, he was scheduled to see the doctor for
reevaluation. Id., at 47. In early February, Dr.
Potter discontinued his blood pressure medication.
Id., at 35. At that time, the medical staff reported
that according to Thompson's medical records, he had been
only fifteen percent compliant with the doctor's ordered
January 2015, Thompson complained that the nurses had begun
crushing and mixing his medications. This practice prevented
him from knowing what medications or dosages he was receiving
and from refusing a particular medication or dose. Nurse Hall
responded that Thompson's medications were all placed in
one envelope and then labeled with his name, inmate number,
and housing unit for safety and security. Id., at
28. Thompson was also informed that he could refuse a
particular medication by submitting a request to the medical
unit in advance.
January 23, 2015, Nurse Tolbert brought Thompson his
medication and offered him two of his blood pressure pills,
although his prescribed dosage was one pill. Thompson refused
to ingest the pills and gave them to an officer.
January 14, 2015, Dr. Potter examined Thompson for complaints
of knee pain and ordered that his left knee should be
“aspirated in one-two weeks.” Walls Aff. Attach.,
at 24, Docket No. 48-1. On March 8, 2015, Thompson filed an
informal complaint, stating that he had filed multiple
requests for this treatment for his knee, only to be told
each time that he was “scheduled.” Id.
On March 16, Nurse Hall informed Thompson that that he was
scheduled to come to medical that same week. She explained
that his previous appointment had been cancelled “due
to [him] being on special precautions (SP).”
Id. Thompson filed a regular grievance on March 19,
claiming that the delay in having his knee aspirated
“caused [him] pain and discomfort as evidenced by his
[sic] withdrawing (12) of the measurement of the aspiration
needle.” Id., at 25.
filed his § 1983 complaint on January 3, 2017. See
Lewis v. Richmond City Police Dep't, 947 F.2d 733,
735-36 (4th Cir. 1991) (finding inmate's § 1983
action commenced for statute of limitations purposes when he
delivers complaint to prison authorities for mailing to
court). His pleading sets out five “counts”: (1)
retaliation for his past lawsuits and grievances against
prison officials, in violation of the First and Fourteenth
Amendments; (2) deliberate indifference to hazardous
conditions or serious medical needs and excessive force, in
violation of the Eighth Amendment; (3) denial of substantive
and procedural due process and equal protection, in violation
of the Fourteenth Amendment; (4) state law claims of assault;
and (5) violations of Article 1, Sections 9, 11, and 12, of
the Virginia Constitution. Thompson names all of the medical
defendants in Counts (1), (2), (3), and (5), but does not
name any of them in Count (4). Accordingly, Counts (1), (2),
(3), and (5) will be addressed below.
defendants have filed motions to dismiss (Docket Nos. 44, 62,
and 66), and Thompson has filed multiple responses to them
(Docket Nos. 100-3, 100-4, 123, 126, and 127). Thus, I
conclude that these motions are ripe for decision.