United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division
Christopher D. Braxton, Plaintiff,
Director of Health Services, et al., Defendants.
ELLIS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on a Motion for Summary
Judgment filed jointly by the defendants. Christopher D.
Braxton, a Virginia inmate acting pro se, filed this civil
rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging
that he suffered deliberate indifference to his serious
medical needs at Greensville Correctional Center
("GCC") when appropriate actions were not taken
with respect to his allergy to celery. For the reasons which
follow, the Motion for Summary Judgment must be granted.
initial complaint, which is the operative complaint in the
lawsuit,  plaintiff states that he has suffered from
"a multitude of seriously painful,
life-threatening" food allergies since 2013, and he
receives the Common Fare diet at GCC. Compl. ¶¶ 5,
7. Among the foods to which plaintiff is allergic is celery,
and he contends that defendants were deliberately indifferent
to that serious medical condition in two ways.
on January 8, 2014, Dr. Miranda at GCC submitted a
consultation request for a radioallergosorbent
("RAST") test to determine if plaintiff was
allergic to celery to Corizon Company, a
"privately-owned medical contractor employed by the
[Virginia Department of Corrections] to provide medical
services and care for all prisoners." Compl. ¶ 6.
The request was approved by Corizon's medical director on
February 3, 2014, and on February 11 plaintiff underwent a
blood test which he believed was a RAST for celery. On
February 19, however, Dr. Miranda received a report stating
that the laboratory had been unable to perform the test
because Corizon's "prior authorization [was]
required." Compl. ¶ 15.
March 10, 2014, plaintiff again submitted to a blood test,
and again a report was sent to Dr. Miranda stating that the
test had not been performed because "authorization from
Corizon is required." Compl. at 6. Plaintiff alleges
"on information and belief that Dr. Miranda sought
authorization from Corizon for plaintiff to undergo a RAST
for celery from January 2014 until June 2016, but defendant
John Doe denied the requests on the ground that Corizon's
policy is not to authorize RAST's for celery for
prisoners. Braxton asserts that "said denials and said
policy constitute deliberate indifference or reckless
disregard under federal law." Compl. ¶ 20.
second component to his deliberate indifference claim,
Braxton alleges that GCC medical staff provided Mr. Creque,
GCC's Food Service Manager, with a copy of a diet order
from Dr. Miranda regarding his celery allergy on April 2,
2014. Nonetheless, since that date Creque and his staff have
continued to place celery on plaintiffs food trays. Compl.
¶29. Plaintiff filed informal complaints and grievances
regarding the situation, and was told to take the celery off
his tray and not to eat it. Compl. ¶¶ 30-31.
March 2, 2016, after the grievance process had concluded
unsuccessfully, plaintiff ate a meal from a food tray
"minus the celery," and suffered an allergic
reaction that consisted of "swelling of his face and
throat, chest pain, breathing difficulty, unbearable itching,
tightness around his waistline, wheals [sic] about his face,
neck, chest, armpits, and groin," as well as "great
fear that he was going to die." Compl. ¶ 34. During
a medical examination that same day "food allergy blood
testing" was ordered, but as before defendant John Doe
denied authorization for such a test based on Corizon's
policy. Compl. ¶¶ 35-36. The same scenario was
repeated beginning on June 11 or 12, 2016, when plaintiff
again consumed a meal "minus the celery,"
experienced an allergic reaction, and was denied a RAST test.
24, 2016, a medical provider at GCC discontinued the order
for a RAST test for Braxton because Corizon and its
representative refused to authorize it. Compl. ¶ 40.
original named defendants were VDOC's Director of Health
Services; Gregory Holloway, VDOC's Regional
Administrator; Carolyn M. Parker, an Assistant Warden at GCC;
Mr. Creque, GCC's Food Operations Manager; and the
Corizon Company. Compl. at 2 -3. Also listed in the style of
the complaint as a defendant was John Doe, an unknown
employee of Corizon Company who allegedly denied the
institutional health care providers' requests for a RAST
test for plaintiff. Compl. ¶ 19. In an Order dated June
28, 2017, Braxton's claim against Corizon Company was
dismissed with prejudice pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915A(b)(1) for failure to state a claim. [Dkt. No. 2] In the
same Order, Braxton was informed that service could not be
ordered on defendant "John Doe" until Braxton
provided the court with his or her identity and address. Doe
has never been served, and because it is now clear that he
was a Corizon employee and hence not a state actor, he could
not be liable to Braxton pursuant to §
1983. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42
(1988). Accordingly, Braxton's claim against him will be
dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1) for
failure to state a claim.
makes the following specific claims against the remaining
3. Defendant Creque violated the Eighth Amendment buy placing
celery on plaintiffs meal tray, and as a result plaintiff
suffered allergic reactions to celery on March 2 and June 11,
4. Defendants Parker and Holloway intentionally failed to
exercise their supervisory authority over defendant Creque to
stop him from placing celery on plaintiff's meal tray.
5. Defendants Parker, Holloway and Director of Health
Services Herrick failed to exercise their supervisory
authority to ensure that he would receive a RAST for celery.
Compl. at 13 -14. Plaintiff seeks an award of compensatory
and punitive damages as well ...