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Wilder v. Whitley

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

June 27, 2018

GLEN E. WILDER, JR., Plaintiff,
JAMES WHITLEY, et al., Defendants.


          Hon. Michael F. Urbanski Chief United States District Judge.

         Glen E. Wilder, Jr., a federal inmate proceeding pro se, filed an amended complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Defendants are associated with the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center ("Jail"): Superintendent James Whitley, Captain Allen Barr, Nurse Sheila Miller, and Physician Assistant ("P. A.") Robert Dryden. Plaintiff asserts that Defendants failed to provide adequate medical care, in violation of the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Defendants filed motions for summary judgment, and Plaintiff responded, making this matter ripe for disposition. After reviewing the record, the court grants Defendants' motions for summary judgment.


         Plaintiff lost his balance while walking on a wet floor at the Jail on November 20, 2016, and felt pain in his right knee. Two days later, medical staff examined his knee, noting his range of motion was good, his gait was within normal limits, he tolerated weight bearing without difficulty, his push/pull abilities were "good," and there was mild inflammation on the "superior aspect of the patella." A nurse authorized a knee wrap and ibuprofen, 200 m.g. twice daily for five days. An X ray was taken on December 5th, which revealed mild spurring and medial joint space narrowing but no fracture or dislocation.

         Plaintiff met with P. A. Dryden on December 15th. The P.A.'s exam was generally within normal limits, except for a note that the knee was tender to palpation near the patella and that Plaintiff reported limping. P. A. Dryden diagnosed a knee sprain and ordered Naprosyn, 500 m.g. twice a day for 30 days; Flexeril, 10 m.g. twice a day for ten days; and a follow-up in thirty days.

         Plaintiff returned to the medical department on January 6, 2017, complaining of increased pain and swelling and noting he had used crutches for the prior two days. The medical exam was generally within normal limits except for reduced motion due to pain. Plaintiff was prescribed Meloxicam, 15 m.g. four times a day for fifteen days, and told to report the efficacy of the treatment.

         On January 18th, Nurse Miller responded to Plaintiffs grievance about his dissatisfaction with treatment and wanting an MRI. Nurse Miller reviewed the medical record and replied, noting that Meloxicam needed three to four weeks for full effect and no one had yet authorized an MRI.

         On January 26th, Plaintiff had his follow-up appointment about the efficacy of Meloxicam. P.A. Dryden ordered an MRI, a neoprene knee sleeve, and Naprosyn, 500 m.g. twice a day for thirty days. The MRI done on February 3, 2017, revealed an ACL tear, and P.A. Dryden promptly referred Plaintiff to an orthopedist. On February 16th, staff scheduled Plaintiff to visit an orthopedist in March. On February 28, 2017, the Virginia Department of Corrections took custody of Plaintiff and transferred him out of the Jail.

         In support of his claims, Plaintiff asserts that he "told Defendants of [his] ongoing pain, swelling, and lack of movement in [his]knee[;] however, Defendants denied [him] proper medical attention and treatment." Plaintiff also complains that Defendants did not offer "physical therapy or surgery to stabilize his knee and repair the tear to [his] ACL."


         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 admissible evidence 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 is, pointing out to the district court - 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 admissible evidence 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." Ennis v. Nat'l Ass'n of Bus. & Educ. Radio, Inc., 53 F.3d 55, 62 (4th Cir. 1995). A plaintiff cannot use a response to a motion for summary judgment to amend or correct a complaint challenged by the motion for summary judgment. Cloaninger v. McDevitt. 555 F.3d 324, 336 (4th Cir. 2009).


         Plaintiff asserts that Defendants are liable for their deliberate indifference to his knee injury. The court disagrees and finds that Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity and summary judgment.

         A plaintiff must show that a defendant acted with deliberate indifference to a serious medical need to state a claim under the Eighth Amendment for the unconstitutional denial of medical assistance. West v. Atkins,487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Estelle v. Gamble. 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976); Conner v. Donnelly,42 F.3d 220, 222 (4th Cir. 1994). A serious medical need is a condition that "has been diagnosed by a physician as mandating treatment or one that is so obvious that even a lay person would easily recognize the necessity for a doctor's attention." Iko v. Shreve, 535 F.3d 225, 241 (4th Cir. 2008). Deliberate indifference requires a state actor to have been personally aware of facts indicating a substantial risk of serious harm, and the actor must have actually recognized the existence of such a risk. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 838 (1994). "Deliberate indifference may be demonstrated by either actual intent or reckless disregard." Miltier v. Beorn. 896 F.2d 848, 851 (4th Cir. 1990); see Parrish ex rel. Lee v. Cleveland.372 F.3d 294, 303 (4th Cir. 2004) ("[T]he evidence must show that the official in question subjectively recognized that his actions were 'inappropriate in light of that risk.'"). "A defendant acts recklessly by disregarding a substantial risk of danger that is either known to the defendant or which would be ...

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